By Dennis "CallMeBackdraft" Aspers on January 31, 2020
Welcome to a new year and, incidentally, a new decade dear fellow time adventurers. And what a new year it is promising to become. No, I'm not talking about all the stuff in the boring real world; I am talking about the world of gaming. A new console generation is going to be released this year and aside from that a lot of big games ranging from new IP's to tried and tested franchises will also be released over the course of the coming eleven months. But that all will be for our future selves to enjoy, now it is time to get back into the groove of traveling back in time to some awesome games from the days of old.
As you have read two weeks ago, my colleague Sadhonker was able to get back down from outer space after being evacuated at high velocity from our HQ due to his carelessness playing around with fireworks. I hope all of you where smarter around these festive explosives around the new year's eve celebrations and were able to enjoy the time with your friends and family like I have.
For now though, it is time for us to set off once again, and today we will visit the year 1997 and a game that became synonymous with digital vehicular manslaughter, Carmageddon. Now, this particular title was a racing game but with a huge twist, or should that be several twists? Let's have a look, shall we?
When originally pitching and prototyping the game, it was known as "3D Destruction Derby" and the publisher saw its potential, wanting to license the game so it could be marketed together with a similar movie. Originally the plan was to try and obtain a license for a Mad Max game, but the publisher had some trouble figuring out who to ask for said license. Failing that, they did manage to secure a license deal with "Death Race 2000", a movie from the 70's that was planning a sequel around the same time as the game was being developed. The original concept of the game, which I will get into soon, was thought up by the developers because they got bored of the regular racing games and started to ignore the rules in them, e.g. driving in the wrong direction and intentionally crashing into other contestants for the heck of it.
This is how the game was born for the most part, the intention of the game being racing against your opponents, passing checkpoints on the way. However, your time was very limited and checkpoints did not add time to your clock. Instead, to allow yourself to have more racing time, you had to crash into your opponents and try to wreck them on the way. During the development of this game, however, another game was released by another party with mostly the same concept: Destruction Derby by Psygnosis (Which we already visited here
In order to distinguish themselves from that game, the developers at Stainless Games decided to add the option to run over pedestrians during your races which, in its own right, actually wasn't all that new. The first game to do so was actually the 1976 arcade title Death Race, developed by a company called Exidy who, incedentally, also released a game called Destruction Derby back in 1975. In any case, to set themselves apart from Psygnosis' Destruction Derby, the team behind what would ultimately become Carmageddon chose to incentivize running over pedestrians by awarding points when you killed said unfortunate Bipeds. Another thing that set the game apart from other racing games was that instead of having to follow a set course or track you basically raced trough an open world like environment.
After a while it became clear that Death Race movie sequel was cancelled, which sparked interest in creating a new name for the game and Carmageddon was truly born, A racing game where the actual racing took a proverbial backseat to brutally murdering pedestrians and making sure your opponents cars where mangled beyond recognition. Now, remember when I said unfortunate "Bipeds"? Well, there is a reason for that, for it quickly became clear that a lot of countries took issue with the fact that running over human beings garnered you points and forced censorship into the initial release into the game. This was (somewhat reluctantly) done by changing the humans into Zombie pedestrians, however for some countries, like Germany, that still wasn't enough they where not going to allow the game to be sold unless that red icky stuff we all have in our veins was changed or removed and thus the monsters you ran over in those countries splattered into pieces and, lo and behold, green goop apparently runs in their veins.
All the controversy surrounding the game didn't actually do anything quell its popularity and for the time it sold quite well and gained some favorable reviews across the board. And just like with a lot of things people yell bloody murder about, it was never established that playing the game actually made people add sharp spikes to their cars and go on a vehicular rampage.
Well, that is going to be all for this week's adventures trough time! Now that Sadhonker has returned and I also came back from my holiday, it's high time for us to catch up by having a few beers and snacks. HA! Who am I kidding? A 'few' beers. I basically put in an order for a complete pallet of beer, so we should at least manage to get trough the weekend with those. Anyway, for now I bid you farewell and we will welcome you back in two weeks, when Sadhonker will take you on another trip down gaming memory lane.