Destruction Derby

The original PlayStation was barely a month old when Destruction Derby was released in 1995. Developed by Reflections Interactive and published by Psygnosis, Destruction Derby was one of the early highlights for the PlayStation but was also released for the Sega Saturn, and Nintendo 64. Destruction Derbies are awesome to watch, would the fun translate to a video game console?

No plot to this game, just pick up the controller and join the mayhem or stick around and join the league as you work your way up the career ladder on the numerous circuits.

Destruction Derby doesn’t have the best graphics, but man does it work. They are messy and jumbled but you know what? It’s a destruction derby game and with polygons and chips flying all over the place it gives a sense of destruction that can only be found on the early PS1 with this game. On the tracks, the crowds look like tiny dots and the tracks are nothing eye-popping but you’ll see things in the background like billboards which give a little bit of atmosphere.

Before I forget, I love the music for Destruction Derby. It’s bizarre. It’s so weird with a mix of techno, and pulsating beats but when you are racing it’s like building a sense of anticipation, and when you zoom between wrecks or barrel in on a car it’s strange but the developers knew what they were doing. You can select your skill level from rookie, amateur, and pro. I raced on Rookie but I suspect I could probably be pretty competitive on pro after my results.

If you want instant action you can jump right in with a single event with “Wreckin Racing” a combination of racing around tracks and smashing cars, a real race where the object is to come in first, time trails, and finally the destruction derby which puts you in a giant bowl against other cars with the object being to cause the most wrecks while staying alive. If you want a little more to your experience you can play the championship mode which will put you in a league with about twenty other racers. I did the championship mode with the wreckin’ racing and destruction derby. I won every single race while blowing away everyone in the standings. For the destruction derby, I came in second place but the championship came down to the final derby. I lost to a man called “Trash Man” what trash!

Destruction Derby doesn’t offer deep gameplay but they put character into the game. If you have ever played the board game “Guess Who” you would have noticed the detailed character drawings. Destruction Derby features tons and tons of colorful characters that look silly but puts a face to your competitors. It’s great and it really made me want to beat them more seeing what they looked like. You had all kinds of people from old ladies, to black guys with dreads, to grumpy rednecks. It gave the game a lot of flavor and I loved seeing who I was racing.

Wreckin’ Racing is the most fun mode. It’s pure adrenaline running around the figure-eight tracks or cruising full-speed into an intersection waiting to see if you’ll be T-Boned by another car. It’s so simple but so much fun and that’s what video games are all about. Your car has numerous points of contact which are presented on the bottom right-hand corner. Each section of your car is represented with a green arrowhead and as that section of your car takes damage it slowly turns red. If that section turns black, your car is screwed and likely will be breaking down any second.

The developers did a great job with the mechanics of the car and how damage affects it. If the front of your car is damaged, your radiator may give out which is an instant breakdown. If the sides of your car are severely damaged it will change the way your car steers and makes it very difficult to steer left or right. For a simple game on the PS1, the car acts a lot like a realistic derby car. You’ll score points based on the impact of your car against other cars. The biggest points will be scored if you can fishtail another car causing them to spin out. In championship mode, you’ll start in the fifth circuit and if you want to continue to move up you’ll have five circuits to play through with each one getting tougher.

I’m not sure this memory actually involves Destruction Derby but it’s either Destruction Derby 1 or 2. Anyway, it was probably around Christmas 1995 when I was just a wee boy. My mom and dad had taken me with them to do some shopping. Where I’m from (a tiny farming community) you had to drive an hour just to get to stores like Walmart or Toys R Us. We had gone to a few stores and my dad took me to the video game section to entertain me while my mom shopped. I’m pretty sure we were at a Toys R Us and they had Destruction Derby as a demo for the PlayStation.

I was too small to reach the controller so I was on my dad’s shoulders as I played. This was the norm for me as I pretty much lived on my dad’s shoulders until I was like 25 or something. I loved cars back then and the only thing cooler than cars were crashing them. We played this game the entire time as my mom shopped. We eventually left but the memory doesn’t stop. We were driving in a blizzard and had to stop at a family friend’s house on the way home because the roads were so bad. I remember being confused and not knowing what was going on as I looked outside the window and saw nothing but snow pounding the windows. I loved that game so much my dad got me Demolition Racer a few years later which I loved.

Destruction Derby offers simple but addicting fun. You can easily burn through a Saturday playing hours of derbies or racing. The gameplay isn’t deep and the graphics aren’t special but the bottom line is that the game is fun. If you want a quick rush of plowing through an intersection while taking first place around the track Destruction Derby offers gamers a great soundtrack and simple fun from a game that gives a glimpse into the earliest days of the PlayStation.

Destruction Derby scores an 8.3 out of 10.

Do you remember when Destruction Derby first came out? Was it one of the first games you played on the PS1? What was your favorite game mode? Did you have a rival as I did with Trash Man? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!

If you’d like to own a copy of Destruction Derby, you can purchase a used copy of it for PS1 from eBay for around $10.

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