Want to play an improved version of famed futuristic racing game wipEout on Ubuntu?
Chances are you do as this game is considered something of a classic. A bona-fide hit on PlayStation when released (it also came to DOS and the Sega Saturn) its success spawned a slew of sequels and imitators on gaming systems that followed.
But forget about using ROMs in PSX emulators like Duckstation to relive the magic.
There’s a rewrite of the Wipeout source code (made possible by a 2022 leak) from developer Dominic Szablewski — and it’s well-worth trying.
Szablewski’s redo makes the original game look, play, and work better on modern Linux systems (as well as Windows, macOS, and WASM) than a standard ROM + emulator combo can.
Not perfect – room for improvement – but super enjoyable.
The catch? There isn’t an executable or binary build of this whipped-up Wipeout. To try it out you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and compile it by hand.
“That sounds hard”, your inner voice whinges — but no, it’s not. You can get the game up and running on Ubuntu in minutes using
Don’t believe me?
Building the Wipeout Rewrite on Ubuntu
To get primed, run
sudo apt install git make gcc libsdl2-dev libglew-dev. Assuming you download and install everything this asks you should be good to go — emphasis on ‘should’; these were the only things I needed to add to my vanilla-ish Ubuntu to make it, but YMMV.
Now clone the wipeout-rewrite GitHub repo.
Next, download the (music, model, etc) assets required for the game to compile and run. You’ll find a link to these in the ‘final thoughts’ section of the blog post linked earlier. You MUST download these assets to compile the game.
Having downloaded the assets, extract the .zip they come in and move the resulting ‘wipeout’ folder to the ‘wipeout’ folder in the
wipeout-rewrite git clone folder.
cd in to
wipeout-rewrite directory and run
make sdl to compile.
Once done you can run
./wipegame to launch the game — but don’t forget to connect a game controller for the best experience.
The developer behind this rewrite explains (in detail) what they did to improve the game for modern systems (and the areas still needing refinement). A concise overview:
- Improved renderer
- Better memory management
- Support for frame rates higher than 30fps
- New HUD, menus & intro
- No game loops
Since I’ve not played the original Wipeou… Sorry, wipEout (in the early 2010s I did review a game heavily inspired by it on this site as it was being sold through the Ubuntu Software Center at the time) I can’t tell you how well (or worse) any of these changes compare versus the original.
But during my brief play-through everything felt good.
The graphics remain “of their time” (i.e. polygonal and a little fuzzy on a 2K display) bit the rendering was without any hitch; the frame-rate felt phenomenally good; physics, weapons etc all worked; and I appreciate the (presumably new) touches like an option for interface scaling.
It’s just a shame I’m so bad at racing games to properly enjoy the experience before me!
I say: try it out
Whether you’re a fan of Wipeout or not, this rewrite is a commendable effort. Taking old code and making it work on modern devices is admirable, but to take old code and improve on it is next level dedication.