Review: Destruction Derby (Playstation)

In this review, we check out a vehicle combat racing game called Destruction Derby. We find out if this Playstation game is worth the replay or not.

This game was released in 1995 and was the start of a short series across many platforms.

This game has a few modes of play, but the big mode is the wrechkin’ race championships. The entire field is divided into 5 divisions. You enter the championship in division 5. If you beat everyone in your division by the end of the season, then you get to progress to the next division in the new season. Your reward for advancing into the new division is that the top of your car changes color and the next season grants you access to a slightly set of race tracks. Sometimes, the daylight has changed from morning to dusk, other times you drive the track in the opposite direction.

The one thing that separates this game from others is the fact that being the first to cross the finish line won’t really do much to improve your chances of victory. In fact, the first to cross the finish line rarely wins in this game. Instead, your goal is to accumulate as many race points as possible. Race points are earned through hitting your opponents along the way.

My main point of contention of this game, however, does revolve around certain elements of this scoring system. While you can earn points from actually wrecking an opponent, you simply earn points from spinning opponents out more than actual carnage. If you get yourself into a series of particularly hard collisions, you’ll earn a lot of cheers from the audience and encouragement from the announcer, but you’ll earn little more than a quick exit from the track. You’ll also find yourself at the bottom of the leader board in a hurry after. If you, however, nudge your opponents in the right ways, you’ll get “360” splashed across the screen from time to time and you’ll find yourself easily on the top of the scoreboard. Personally, I find this robs this game of a lot of potential fun. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this sort of ruins the game play.

You also play the Trash Man. If you want to play another one of the many characters found throughout the game, you, well, can’t. You are literally stuck playing one character an there’s nothing you can do about it. This was apparently a major sticking point for a lot of reviewers. I am no exception to this and I thought this really pulled this game back by a fair bit. You’ll also find yourself unable to customize your car in any way. If you want to upgrade and customize your car, you really can’t. What you receive from the start is pretty much all you get.

The tracks themselves do feature some varied environments, but they all have one very consistent element – they all have thin roads with each side protected by indestructible barriers. Sometimes they have intersections which can be the central location of some particularly big collisions, but that’s about it. The one exception to the rule is The Bowl. That track is just one large circle and is the only melee course in the game.

One positive aspect of this game is the fact that your car changes as you get more and more damaged. Actual damage is shown in the cars themselves. The added bonus is that the performance of your car decreases as you get more damage. Heavy rear end collisions reduce your cars ability to turn. Front collisions eventually kill off your car entirely. I thought this added a sense of realism to the game.

Graphically, for a game that was released in 1995, it was pretty good. It was released in that short period of time in the 90s when Sony had a superior system to Nintendo as Nintendo was experimenting with the Super FX chip on the SNES at the time. In 1996, the N64 pretty much dominated the Playstation after.

In the audio side of things, the biggest highlight for me was the taunting from other drivers. I thought this added a certain level of personality to the game. The commentary from the announcer was OK, but it sounded like he was high more than crazy. It was decent, but could have been better. The sound effects were pretty good. The music was OK, but as you hear more and more of the music, the audio tracks begin to blur together, leaving me with nothing particularly memorable.

Overall, in terms of technical achievements in graphics, this game earns a thumbs up from me. I also liked the efforts in realism with the performance degradation of your vehicle as you went along. In terms of actual enjoyment, though, the scoring system leaves a lot of to be desired in how points are earned. I like the idea of using race points, but how they were earned here was a real drag in this game. The utter lack of car customizeability and the inability to choose other characters really hampered this games lasting appeal. If you want a game that is enjoyable, there are numerous other games that fit the bill from this era. I can tell there is a start of a really good idea for a game, but unfortunately, this game fails to realize the dreams of excellence that could have been realized in the concepts found in this game. So, in general, this game is only able to earn an above average score from me.


Furthest point in game: Won division 1.

General gameplay: 13/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 10/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 62%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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