It seems the trend for gaming developers these days is to close up shop or sell yourself and then close up shop. It’s becoming harder and harder to stay afloat in what’s becoming a cutthroat industry. Psygnosis, which would later become SCE Studio Liverpool, developed games for well over 30 years. Most notable work being the WipeOut series, but also development greats like Lemmings, Colony Wars, and the greatest Formula One racers until Codemansters. Their closure saddened me the most out of the recent developers shutting their doors for good, leaving me to look back at all of the good times I had playing their great racers.
I was introduced to Psygnosis in my early years of PlayStation fandom in 1996. My first games were Resident Evil and Crash Bandicoot with WipeOut XL coming soon after. The PlayStation blew me away, the graphics were nothing I had ever seen before, since the Sega Genesis was my system before it, and everything was faster, brighter, more exciting. Resident Evil was scary and exhilarating, Crash Bandicoot made me laugh, and WipeOut made my heart pound and my adrenaline flow. WipeOut was something different, one of the fastest racers I would ever play, with air brakes, weapons, boosts, and team affiliations. The team’s ships and logos were incredibly well designed, and with every ships pros and cons, I got to choose the ship that best fit my play style, and quickly called the Qirex team my own. I loved everything about it, especially the music. I was a naive eighth or ninth grader, who didn’t know what techno was, and WipeOut was bringing it in full force, exploding my eardrums and opening my mind to it’s trance inducing beats. I would eventually end up buying the WipeOut XL soundtrack, that unfortunately eludes me today. Psygnosis would continue to development the WipeOut franchise and create their strongest and greatest WipeOut on the PS1, WipeOut 3, which I still own today.
Years later I would fall in love with Formula One racing and buy Formula One ’99, without knowing the creators of WipeOut also developed the title, I would enjoy that racing game until I upgraded to a PlayStation 2 in 2000 and subsequently raced the shit out of their F1 2001 title. It was Psygnosis’ ability to seamlessly create smooth and exciting racers that kept me coming back to them, although I technically never left.
The PlayStation 2 wasn’t too kind to the WipeOut series, Psygnosis got a name change to SCE Studio Liverpool and gave birth to WipeOut Fusion which is arguably the weakest of the series. The game lacked the older titles speed appeal. It just felt slower, and I didn’t have a connection I wanted with the teams. Besides lacking my team Icaras from WipeOut 3, you partnered with the pilots, not so much the teams. I’m the pilot, this is my team, so I didn’t play Fusion much, and technically never completed a season either. This drought would span until the fateful return on PlayStation 3 in 2008. Studio Liverpool spared no expense and brought the WipeOut series screaming back with WipeOut HD. WipeOut HD was faster, harder, louder, brighter, graphically superior, and brought my team Icaras back so I could “Fly High”. Online multiplayer and plenty of modes keeps me coming back to WipeOut HD even to this day. And sadly, now when I play it, the nostalgia I feel is trumped by knowing I will probably never see a WipeOut game of this caliber ever again.
SCE Studio Liverpool is almost like Nintendo to me, except their dead and Nintendo just lets me down, I get these rush of great memories. I’m sitting in my chair in my room, entranced by everything that’s in front of me, I am the pilot of this craft, and I will bring gold to my team. I understand that Studio Liverpool was just melded into another studio, but the post-mortem damage has been done. I will remember Psygnosis always, as the studio that introduced me to techno and created a love for racers no other developer could. Psygnosis, SCE Studio Liverpool, may your legacy and influence forever live on.
Back to the Farm.
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