Ten Minute Game Review: Destruction Derby (PSOne)

Car, meet wall. Wall, meet Car. Car, you may explode into pointy polygons any time you like.

Game #17: Destruction Derby

Format: Playstation, PAL

My copy is: As mint as the day I bought it second-hand. Surprisingly good, really.

My copy even comes in one of those wacky double-thick PSOne boxes. Remember those?
My copy even comes in one of those wacky double-thick PSOne boxes. Remember those?

Whenever a new console launches, there’s always a key “launch title” that’s used to hype the system. The SNES had Mario World, the Saturn had Virtua Fighter, and the Playstation had Ridge Racer (with Toshinden bringing up the rear, as I often saw it being used to show off Sony’s shiny new machine back in 1995 as well). Tertiary titles got less hype, and often aged badly, although even hyped launch titles are often not much more than tech demos rather than fully fledged “games” per se. Anyone out there still playing Toshinden? No, I didn’t think so.

I don't think I'm getting my rental deposit back...
I don't think I'm getting my rental deposit back...

Destruction Derby was a tertiary title for the original Playstation, courtesy of Psygnosis software who, if memory serves, hadn’t been a subsidiary of Sony terribly long at that stage. My copy is second-hand, courtesy of a game store in West Ryde that isn’t there any more, so my hopes of getting a refund are pretty slim at this point. But would I want to? Digging out the trusty old PSONE with LCD screen – I could play it on the PS2 or possibly the PS3, but if I’m going retro, I figure I should go “proper” retro – I gave it the good old ten minute rundown.

Ten minutes later:

Sure, it’s aged badly from a visual sense. And I know the sequel is a little bit better, although I’m honestly not sure why I don’t own a copy of that. Still, Destruction Derby is a whole shed-load of fun, even if it does sometimes feel as though you’re driving a shed rather than a car.

THUD! Place
THUD! Place

I have to admit that Destruction Derby has a powerful nostalgic kick for me. The first post-University job I scored was doing office administration for a builder, a job that wasn’t the most thrilling. It also wasn’t much of a job; the builder’s wife has only given up the task due to pregnancy and couldn’t help but pop in and do things, leaving me with precious little to do. Having accepted a government grant to take me on (a story in and of itself), they were obliged to “employ” me, which basically revolved around me being stuck in the one room of a house they were renovating that wasn’t a crumbling OH&S mess for several hours a day, by myself. With a copy of Destruction Derby for the PC. Not that they supplied that, but once I’d shown the builder how to play, he didn’t care anyway. As such, I played a LOT of this back in the day.

And it’s still pretty good. It’s still pretty easy to “game” the scoring by trailing first place, and knocking that car around endlessly before nipping into first place on the last corner. But it’s got impact, race variety and controls that gracefully degrade as your car does. Plus, for some reason, I can’t help but giggle every time it’s announced that I’m in “THUD place”…

Ten Minute Game Verdict: Nostalgia sometimes is all it’s cracked up to be. A keeper.

Ten Minute Game review is Alex’s ongoing project to assess his retro games collection by playing each game for ten minutes only and work out whether or not a title is worth keeping.

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