Friday, February 28, 2014
Wipeout XL (soundtrack) - 1996
Wipeout XL, or Wipeout 2097 as it was called overseas, was the second game in the Wipeout series. My roommate had gotten a Playstation and we'd spent some serious time with the original Wipeout, so when the sequel came out, he picked up a copy. Needless to say, we were pretty excited, but I don't think we were quite prepared for just how much we were going to play the game, because we played the ever living shit out of it.
In terms of touchstones, the Wipeout XL soundtrack introduced me, for all intents and purposes, to techno. From this game alone, I found: Future Sound of London, The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, Fluke and Underworld. It was almost like someone had decided "Let's get all the great techno artists we can and slap them on one game," and got away with it. When the soundtrack came out on a retail CD later, I was initially going to pass, but saw it had a few other people on it, including Orbital and Leftfield. From this initial springboard, I also jumped to people like Propellerheads, who were on the Wipeout 3 soundtrack, coincidentally enough.
The Wipeout franchise has, sadly, run aground. There was a PSN downloadable game, which was actually a pretty good entry, but it didn't do well enough, and last I had heard, the studio had been shuttered, as so many great videogame studios have been in recent years.
Hilariously enough, Wipeout XL also had a sponsor - RedBull. At the time, I remember thinking that RedBull was a weird name for a fictional company inside of a videogame. (Seriously, I didn't think they were real. I don't know that any of us did.) Little did I know what a force they would be in only a few years time. To me, the soundtrack reminds me that incidental music can very much affect people, and that the music people put in movies, tv, videogames, etc., should be chosen with care, but also with an intent for discovery and diversity. You never know when you could be just ahead of the curve.