Best Games - Wipeout
The swirly, nature inspired, art nouveau in the early 1900s gave way to the more architectural and defined art deco of the 1920s and 30s. The psychedelic designs of the 60s and 70s provided a framework for the more angular, dimensional design of the 80s and 90s. The design of Wipeout fed directly off of the increasingly digital, splashy, design in the early 90s but leapfrogged into the future. The graphic design of this hovercraft racing game from 1995, when most games were still trying to evoke some aspect of grunge rock or gangsta rap culture, laid out a visual language roadmap for the next 20 years.
Shapes composed of parallel lines and strokes of a consistent thickness. Solid, vibrant color and smoothly radiused corners. This is the design language of modern technology. This is the language that defines the icons and controls on the computer, phone, or tablet you are reading this on right now. This was the same language used to represent fictional racing teams Feisar and Qirex and Auricom in 1995. Prescient, influential, or both Wipeout is pure, distilled graphic design from top to bottom.
It helps that Wipeout is a fantastic racing game. It combines the slippery speed of rocket powered hover ships with an on-track combat mechanic similar to Mario Kart. The game plays great and feels faster and more demanding than most other games of it’s era. That isn’t why Wipeout is important. That isn’t why it still resonates. It’s the visual design that endures.
Wipeout was made to feel, sound, and look like the future. That future, at least visually, became our present. Even if you have never played Wipeout you can see it’s influence all around you.
Now, knowing that, it makes you wonder what aesthetic being developed right now for some piece of pop culture will send its waves out into the future.
Wipeout is graphic design condensed into video game form, and it is one of the best games.