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  • I get the feeling no one really watches Wipeout consciously. It's background noise, that thing

  • on Hulu you can queue up just so that whatever mundane task you find yourself grinding through

  • has the occasional punctuation of a distressingly over-eager person getting hit with a foam-rubber

  • obstacle really, really hard and falling into water. And then John Henson makes some vaguely

  • salacious remark at said over-eager person's expense. So when they take this idea of a

  • giant, video-game-style obstacle course for real people and turn it into an ACTUAL video

  • game, which requires attention and direct input... I dunno, I'm kinda lost. Sure, they

  • can do bigger and badder contraptions, defy the laws of physics in new and interesting

  • ways... and have a giant badger as a competitor... but you're actually paying ATTENTION to it,

  • and you can see all the seams and flaws. Especially when, y'know, it just acts all freaky.

  • So your ultimate goal is GET TO THE FINISH LINE, across any number of hazards, balance

  • beams, rotating drums, series of giant red balls of questionable physics, hockey equipment,

  • cheese, nutcrackers... figuratively AND literally... all negotiated through use of your nunchuck

  • and Wiimote. And when I say "Negotiated," I mean "move forward or don't, jump, jump,

  • slide, slide, and occasionally crouch." Sometimes you'll get some quicktimey events if you need

  • to fit through vaguely person-shaped holes in platforms. That's really all you need.

  • (And trust me, seeing those I thought, "AT LEAST I'M NOT PLAYING A KINECT VERSION, AMIRITE?")

  • With this thin but functional arsenal of tricks, you run. You run so far away, along a completely

  • linear path fraught with danger and rather strange traction. Sometimes you'll get going

  • so fast you'll be unable to stop and wind up crashing into something, costing you...

  • well, time and that's pretty much it. Fail three times on any particular obstacle and

  • you get a pass, though that's unlikely since the actual difficulty of any given segment

  • is fairly low, once you've got it figured out.

  • So, in order to make up for a perceived lack of difficulty, each stage is studded with

  • rings that float in midair for you to collect. Presumably, this is because the developers

  • - in an act of utter delusion - thought they were in fact making a Sonic the Hedgehog game,

  • one that just happened to have humans running around instead of stylized anthropomorphic

  • mammals. So that explains the badger. With the prize money you collect at the end of

  • each episode - because you're running through them more or less alone, setting record times

  • that Usain Bolt would be hard-pressed to challenge - you can buy new gear for your runners. New

  • characters, up to and including the producers and hosts of the show, unlock at intervals

  • according to your experience points - yes, there's EXP to be gained even in this monstrosity

  • - as do new episodes with new and interesting ways to kill a man. Wait. That's a Final Fantasy

  • XII reference, and if I'm throwing allusions to anything it should be that episode of Space

  • Ghost John Henson appeared on.

  • Wipeout 3, just like the two before it, isn't about to win any awards for gameplay, physics,

  • writing... it's a distraction at best, and a bad distraction at worst. But sometimes

  • you're of a mind where you need something absolutely stupid, and it's at least entertaining...

  • until you take a step back and wonder where your life took a turn. If you can avoid that

  • moment, you should be golden. Still, I feel like I'm missing something... um... oh yeah,

  • certain points in each stage cover you in mud, just for the purpose of obstructing your

  • view! It's a brown, onion-flavored nightmare down there! There ya go. My work here is done.

I get the feeling no one really watches Wipeout consciously. It's background noise, that thing

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