"There had been futuristic racing games before - Powerdrome on the Amiga and Atari ST (later unsuccessfully "remade" later for the Xbox and PlayStation 2) being a prime example - but it was Wipeout 2097 that suddenly charged the genre. It seemed to matter, and would become one of the era's psychic landmarks in gaming. It was an experience that everyone remembered from that time in their lives, like the biggest pop records on the charts, or the loudest Hollywood movies in the cinemas. It was spectacle, an event to be recorded.
"And then there was nothing."
I can only speak for myself, but the reason F-Zero GX didn't go over well with me is because of how hard it is. It is so hard, in fact, that I may have to use some vulgar language to describe it. Avert your eyes, children. It is fucking hard. What is the use of a racing game with 25 cars and at least as many tracks, when unlocking anything at all requires impossible reflexes and a superhuman resistance to frustration? I liked the game at first, and if any game could have gotten me into futuristic racing, it would have been that, but all the hoops you had to jump through crushed my soul. Now I can't even pick up Mario Kart without my blood pressure instinctively rising.
Agreed, to an extent. I loved F-Zero GX, I really did, but I just don't have the absurd twitch reflexes required to complete the story mode or unlock the last set of tracks. The fact that one-fifth of the game's tracks are unavailable to me simply because I'm not willing to invest hundreds of hours honing my skills still rankles when I fish the game out for a few races years later.
Also, I'm surprised the article didn't mention Wipeout Pure on the PSP. I'd thought it was comparatively well-received, but I only played it once or twice myself.
I was the producer on Wipeout 2097, and the producer/co-designer on Quantum Redshift.
It's great to know that those games were loved as much as they were, so thanks for the article.
If you want something new, that still pushes all the future racer buttons, then you should really try my most recent title "GripShift" on the PlayStation3 (downloadable title, only $10). It has multi-player weapon enhanced racing around crazy floating roller coaster tracks (and at the top end of the game, it has future racer speeds).
But it also introduces whole new elements of in-air control, physics stunt skills and platform/puzzle driving that offers something truly different. It doesn't set out to be the icon that Wipeout2097 was - but it does set out to offer something different in the fantasy-driving genre.
And as for the future of future racers ....... :-)