What just happened? At least three new PC ports of the original WipeOut have recently emerged, each repackaging the 1995 classic in different ways. The source code of a classic game can appear in the wild for various reasons, but they generally allow modders and independent programmers to do whatever they want with the title. One such leak has resulted in disparate reinterpretations of Wipeout, a game that the original publisher hasn't paid much attention to in years.
The WipeOut ports are possible due to a leak that exposed the game's source code last year. The most robust new conversion is WipeOut Phantom Edition, which introduces various enhancements. It enables high-resolution rendering, uncapped frame rates, improved lighting, keyboard and mouse controls, and other changes to guarantee accuracy to the original PlayStation version, which earlier official PC editions lacked.
Dominic Szablewski, who developed another version called wipEout Rewrite, extensively criticized the state of the released source code and the PC conversions from the 90s. He explains that WipeOut was specifically designed around the PlayStation hardware and that the following DOS, Windows 95, and ATI PC versions introduced many inaccuracies that degraded the experience.
Szablewski claims to have rewritten significant portions of the game to produce a port that supports Windows, Linux, macOS, and web browsers. Although wipEout Rewrite is still incomplete and isn't as feature-rich as Phantom Edition, it includes the source code, which Phantom Edition lacks.
Another conversion is under development by Timur Gagiev, aka XProger, the developer behind OpenLara, a source port of the first Tomb Raider game.
Because the source code was leaked – without Sony's involvement – the legality of the ports is less than clear, although Phantom Edition requires users to bring their own PlayStation disk image. Similar PC ports of classic games, however, have emerged due to the work of coders who reverse-engineered classics like Super Mario 64, two Legend of Zelda titles, and more.
Because the resulting source code in these cases didn't come directly from Nintendo, the company can't take them down the way it has fought against unofficial emulation. The recent launch of the Quake II remaster also accompanied an official release of the source code. Last month, someone uploaded the source code for the original Far Cry to the Internet Archive.
The original WipeOut – developed by Psygnosis which later became Studio Liverpool – was a launch title for the PlayStation in Europe in 1995. Lauded for its music, art direction, and futuristic racing gameplay, it launched a franchise that continued for over two decades. However, Sony closed Liverpool in 2012, and the last major series entry was the 2017 WipeOut Omega Collection – a PlayStation 4 conversion of the PS3 title WipeOut HD. Szablewski suggested that if Sony took action against the recent unofficial ports, then the company should work to offer fans a proper remaster, offering his assistance in doing so.