True to its name, Wipeout will make you wipe out again and again. But at least you’ll be smiling while it happens.
Wipeout for iOS is based on a game show that airs on ABC. If you don’t watch the show because all your TV time goes to doing heroic deeds and helping grandmothers cross the street (you liar), all you really need to know is that contestants run across crazy obstacle courses. When they inevitably get knocked off, they wind up in the drink. It’s all in the name of goofy fun, a credo that likewise describes the Wipeout game.
Like its source material, the premise behind the Wipeout is dead simple. You need to run from one end of an obstacle course to the other, dodging wacky pendulums and traps as you go. Each course must be completed within a certain amount of time, and/or within a certain amount of attempts. Above all else, you need to avoid falling and taking an involuntary bath.
When you get right down to it, Wipeout is platforming in its purest form. You run. You jump. You slide. You dodge, duck, and weave. You clamber over crazy objects. You survive—or you try to.
And ultimately, it works. Wipeout is simple, but it’s fun. When the game’s ragdoll physics get involved, it’s frankly hilarious. Your player tumbles, gets smacked around, and spills into the water head-over-heels. Every movement makes QWOP’s broken-legged run look as graceful as a sprint by Ursain Bolt.
Better yet, Wipeout knows it’s ridiculous, which is why it scores you for every single dumb thing you do. Each score marker has a name like “Oof” or “Eek” or “Splat” or “Boff.” It’s like playing through an episode of the ’60s Batman series.
As you compete, you earn in-game currency that goes towards frills like opening up new courses, gaining new contestants, or buying new hats. Each contestant has strengths and weaknesses, and the hats let you take advantage of special powers like the ability to super-jump. Plus, there’s no reason not to go around wearing an eagle-shaped helmet.
For all the good times Wipeout offers (including time trials for when you’re really ready to strut your stuff), it has a couple of problems. The controls can be problematic at times. You make your contestant run by sliding your thumb across the screen, but he or she will just amble along if you don’t push far enough. This becomes a problem if you need to build up speed for a jump, but there’s too much friction between your thumb and the screen.
Some courses also require you to slide, a move that’s tricky to master. A failed slide can cost you precious seconds, which can make the difference between victory and defeat. As a result, it’s easy to get frustrated with the game early on and toss it aside.
Wipeout also tries to get you to pony up for premium currency, but it’s not a free game to begin with. Most of the game is open to you regardless, but panhandling in a paid app is always a little off-putting.
Those are minor complaints, however, as Wipeout succeeds at its mission to make you laugh and have a good time. It won’t keep you busy forever, but it delivers a potent dose of fleeting fun.