It’s human nature to laugh till it hurts when you watch someone take a tumble… and no, it’s not just me — there are actual TV game shows based on this very premise. From the Japanese 80s show Takeshi’s Castle to the US knockoff Wipeout, to the latter’s several versions in over 30 countries, people across the globe tune in to watch hapless contestants lose their balance and dignity as they navigate treacherous obstacle courses in a race against time, much to the audience’s glee.
Thanks to the folks at Activision, all the action from Wipeout can now be enjoyed on your Android device — with you on the show! The game sees you in the shoes of a contestant as you run, jump, slide and bounce your way through challenging levels with obstacles of epic proportions to earn prize money and make a name for yourself as the fastest survivor on the course. So is it more fun to watch the show or to actually take on the Big Balls? Let’s gear up and find out.
A lot of game menu systems are awkward and/or poorly designed, but Wipeout looks great right from the get go — the menus are designed to keep the excitement of the TV franchise alive, with graphic elements reminiscent of the show format. The game itself looks great, with pleasing graphics, fluid animations and smooth gameplay. Fans of the show will recognize a lot of the obstacles featured in Wipeout’s levels and will certainly enjoy finally having a chance to (virtually) try to get past all those spots they’ve watched contestants struggle with.
On launching Wipeout, you’ll need to select a character to play as, and you have an interesting bunch to choose from. You can customize your character with new outfits, as well as helmets that not only look gnarly, but also grant you special powers like improved jumping abilities and speed that will make getting through levels easier. These come at a price though — you’ll need to use your in-app currency to buy these, and those funds are sorely limited unless you shell out real money to buy more stuff.
Controls And Gameplay
Wipeout features a great control scheme that players will get used to in a pinch — and what’s great about this title is that you’ll find the game challenging no matter how much you play. Each level is presented in 2D side-scroller fashion, and you can run, walk, jump, duck and slide past obstacles to make your way to the finish line. For those unfamiliar with the show, said obstacles include everything from giant baseball bats and rubber snakes to foam bars on conveyor belts to tilting platforms and windmills.
The controls are simple enough to get used, so you can concentrate on getting your timing and jump distances just right, in order to beat the target times on each level. You’ll have to doge swinging bars, jump on moving platforms, avoid oversized swinging/rotating props and yes, get past the Big Balls, the infamous bouncy spheres erected in a pool of water that the show is known for. You’ll earn points for clearing these obstacles and for wiping out spectacularly as well.
Apart from the game’s tutorial (known as Audition mode), you can play Time Trials to earn in-app money, or go through Season Mode, where you complete levels as per the show’s format, running through the Qualifier, Knockout rounds and finally, the Wipeout Zone. In the Qualifier, you can resume from the last obstacle you wiped out at, but you’ll have to make the target time to advance. Knockouts aren’t as forgiving — you’ll have five chances to successfully complete the level without wiping out. The Wipeout Zone is similar to the Qualifier, but feature more difficult obstacles and a shorter target time.
There are six levels in all, and you’ll need to have completed the previous levels and have earned enough money to advance to the next one. If you don’t have enough money, you can replay the previous levels but at a slightly increased difficulty. While this sounds simple enough, keep in mind that you’ll need to successfully complete a level (consisting of a Qualifier, Knockouts and Wipeout Zone) to make it to the next one, and retrying any of the rounds within a level will cost you money.
The Usual Buzzkill Suspect: In-App Purchases
I don’t understand why developers think they can get away with chucking in-app purchases into a paid game. I wouldn’t mind so much if these only applied to character outfits and helmets, but you need the game’s currency to advance through levels as well, which means you’re forced to replay levels you’ve already completed. I really don’t enjoy games dictating my replay experience — I’ll replay levels if I want to and I shouldn’t have to, just to get my money’s worth.
Wipeout is probably the most fun 2D side-scroller I’ve played on an Android device, and that’s no small feat considering that there are no power-ups to be collected and no enemies except the obstacles in your path. It’s a blast trying to figure out the best techniques and timing to get past sections of difficult rounds, and the colorful locales and objects make this all the more enjoyable. You’ll no doubt while away many an hour getting through the game’s six levels and clocking record times.
That being said, I resent the inclusion of in-app purchases and the mandatory currency-based level unlocking mechanism. I wouldn’t mind paying for additional levels, but I certainly don’t want to play completed levels on repeat, especially since the completed rounds have the same obstacles as they did during your first playthrough. If you can get past that, this is a solid entertainer that’s worth $1.99 — and if you’re a fan of the show, this is a no-brainer. Let me know if you figure out a strategy to get past the Big Balls!