Destruction Derby. Reflections Interactive. (1995). PlayStation

Destruction Derby case

This is our first “request”, so it better be a goon ‘un!

You know what?  Destruction Derby is still REALLY fun to play!

Story

This is a racing game, you get in a car and race. End of!

The game

This is a game with surprising amount of depth, skill and fun. To ” win” a race, you need to score points, if you finish 1st, you get 10 points (8 for 2nd, 6 for 3rd etc) . But! If you cause a competitor driver to spin 360 (not that easy) you get 10, you get 2 points for 90 degrees, 4 for 180, and 6 for 270 degree spins. This means that on some tracks, you really need to focus on “crashing”, and with 20 cars in the race, there is plenty of scope for this!

At the end of the race, your points are tallied up, and added to your finishing position score. You then get your ” rank”, it is not uncommon for the top 3 racers to be people who came 17th to 20th. And you know what? That ACTUALLY makes sense! The guys who come last, usually blow up about lap 8, and they usually take others with them. So while you’re 3 laps ahead in the “lead” these guys are getting all the points. So it forces you into a difficult game of risk vs reward.

Now, depending on the track, this gives you 3 choices:

  1. Drive as fast as you can and win the race. This only really works on circular tracks, with limited coming together points.
  2. Balance out crashing into others, to get some points and try to win the race. This is the most common, some of the tracks are pretty dull, and offer little chance for crashing.
  3. Drive like you do in Grand Theft Auto and try to kill everyone and everything. This is sooooo much fun!

The game starts with you in “Division 5”, to get promoted you need to win the league. To do this, you can just go for option 1.

In division 4 you need to take option 2. Division 3 to 1, you need your “A” game! You need option 3.

Sadly, your car takes damage. The more damage you give, the more you receive! So you have balance the WREAKless driving, with actual driving. Your car gets a health meter. If your engine goes, you are done. But you can limp around the track with no back end, and it is not uncommon to see cars careening backwards round the track, in a last ditch attempt to get points. The screenshot below shows my car in a bowl, with this level of damage I can pootle along at 3 MPH (I died about 2 seconds after taking this picture).

Destruction Derby Damage Meter

Enemy AI

You know what, the AI is better on this than any racing game I can remember. The drivers don’t stick to the racing line as though they are a train on tracks, they react to other drivers. If you’re going into a corner with them, they will slow down, and try to spin you out. They will try and ram into you, or, feint an attack and simply take the corner normally.

The cars handle relatively well too, if you ever played a mid 90s racer, you’ll remember the bouncy barriers, no crashing, hit a barrier, and *POOF* you’re back in the middle of the track. In DD, you crash! and you damage your car. Plus, if you’re not quick enough, someone is going to ram into the back of you, and probably take your wheels out. The damage modelling is better on more recent games, but for a PS1 title, you can’t fault it.

THE BOWL, plus some other tracks…

The bowl/destruction derby is still the coolest race EVER! Frustrated with something? Play this track, it is cathartic! Seriously, Burnout seems to have modelled thier entire series on this one race.

Some tracks are designed for racing (the Oval), others such as Cross Over, you really need to be racking up the points as YOU AIN’T FINISHING! This is a figure 8 track, so you have 1 intersection. This means crashes, and a lot of them. There is no point trying to race this one, no matter how good you think you are, you ain’t finishing. You will be panged on one of the crossover bits, and you will end up driving the wrong way head-on into 5 cars!

Ocean Drive sucks for getting points, is it a normal race track, so unless you are really adept at the cornering maneuver to spin them out, you might as well just speed off and win the race.

While there is a limited amount of tracks (4 tracks),they get different configurations, so it keeps the game relatively fresh. Some with multiple intersections, some mirrored tracks.  SO all in all, it gives  about 12 track configurations, which is a surprisingly large amount for a game this era.

The Flaws

Now for the flaws! And yes, there are some!

Generic 90s dance game music! This could win the “Skrillex generic beeps and bleeps wub-step award”, if it didn’t predate Wub-step by about 15 years. It is seriously bad, even for 90s videogame dance music. Pop a pill, and you’ll gurn your teeth off to this music…

ARRRGH MY EYES!

ARRRGH MY EYES!

The graphics (or it could be the music) are really blocky, and induce a 90s videogame headache. The backgrounds whizz by you in ULTRA-LOW-RES, and does a brilliant job of inducing travel sickness. You can’t play the game for more than 15 minutes without taking a break. I genuinely believe this type of game is why you get the epilepsy warning on games.

The camera hovers at a strange angle which make it very difficult to judge depth to line up a hit, so you will often over/undershoot a hit and plough straight into a wall. You can adjust the camera, but all 5 angles are woeful. The “in car” view, is vomit inducing. It would actually make a good bet/dare, see how long you can drive in that view without puking!

Overall

Looking at review aggregators, this game only seems to average around 68%. You know what? I’m calling bullshit on that! It isn’t a “brilliant” game, but it is very good at what it attempts. I would love a HD remake/reboot of this series!

Pros: Tight little racer, surprising depth, THE BOWL! 20 cars per race!!!

Cons: Music… Graphics…

80%

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4 thoughts on “Destruction Derby. Reflections Interactive. (1995). PlayStation

  1. How didn’t this franchise survive on to the PS2???

    You are right with regards to the music and graphics. I view this in the same way I viewed Air Combat in that it kickstarted a franchise that would get better and better. Destruction Derby 2 was far superior in every way. My biggest gripe with this game was the “bit damage” that used to shatter away from the car. It was like driving through a rain storm comprised of rust – it just confuses you.

    Great review my friend. Keep up the good work.

    – Tony

    • II stopped gaming during the Xbox/ps2 generations, so I never played all the shit gen 2 ggames. Im told Dino Crisis 3 is in space!!!

      Was there a ps2 version of this?

      I am going to have to get a ps2, so much I missed!

      And thank you.

  2. Pingback: FIFA International Soccer. EA Sports. (1993) SEGA Genesis | Videogames Revisited

  3. Pingback: Z. The Bitmap Brothers. (1996) PlayStation/PC | Videogames Revisited

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