By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on October 26, 2018
Welcome, dear readers, to another thrilling episode of the Big Red Timemachine. I'm sorry for the mess around he... zzzzzt zzzzt pfttttzzz... ime, but it have been a very eventful two weeks here at ou... krgggzzzz...ttrrrrrffff...krgkrgkrg... eadquarters. DAMMIT DUDE! STOP CROSSING WIRES WILL YOU?! No, don't start crying, I'm not going to shoot you. You know I promised Dennis I wouldn't do that anymore. Besides, I had therapy, so I'm all better now...
Sorry, what? Excuse me?! The fact that I'm cured of my homicidal urges does not mean you can start talking back to me! Oh yeah?! Really?!?! I'll tell you what... ouch...owowowoooow! My head... My head feels like it's tearing in two... The voices! THE VOICES TELLING ME TO KILL OBNOXIOUS PEOPLE ARE BAAAAACK... RUN! RUN FOR YOUR PATHETIC LIFE!!!
...aaaaand, he's gone! Hahahaaa, the old "Homicidal Maniac" routine... works every time! So, that's one bill we won't need to pay! I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, for the interruption, but things have been somewhat eventful these past two weeks. That guy I just scared off, by the way, was the electrician that we contracted to repair the damages to our electrical systems. Why? Well , sit back, because have we got a story for you! As you might recall, we are in the process of hiring a new crew... again. Now, as part of the selection process, the aspiring time travelers will have to pilot a motorized mockup of our Big Red Timemachine. Now, I don't really recall why, but Dennis and I decided that it would be a good idea to give the damn thing a V8 engine and wheels, as opposed to mounting it on a pneumatic moveable dolly system or something like that.
Long story short; one after the other, most of the applicants veered off the carefully planned track that we had laid out for them, using empty beer bottles as markers and totally demolished the lobby of our Big Red HQ. Oh well, Dennis suggested we remodel the lobby anyway, so now he has his chance to do so! He was pretty excited about his idea to build a beer fountain, so let's see how long it takes for it to go horribly wrong. Nevertheless, the botched driving tests did give me an idea for a game for this week. So buckle up as we blast off to 1995, in search of a game of motorized mayhem: Destruction Derby!
In October of 1995, British game developer Reflections Interactive and Liverpool-based publisher Psygnosis released Destruction Derby for the PC and the Playstation. The game invited players to take place behind the wheel of a genuine, honest to god stock car and knock the hell out of other drivers' vehicles. The game lacked a split screen multiplayer mode, although the Playstation version featured a System link two player mode and the DOS version even boasted an online multiplayer feature. But the lack of a local multiplayer was a shame according to a lot of people and I, for one, agree with them. Although the game was great fun to play by yourself, it would have been even more fun to be able to play with a friend on one machine.
So, what was the goal of Destruction Derby? Well, aside from having tons of fun bashing up cars, that depended on what type of race you chose to participate in. First up, the mode of which the game got its name: Destruction Derby. Now, this is, arguably, the most fun mode to play in the first Destruction Derby. It's just a lot of cars in one circular arena, lovingly called the bowl, that are trying to knock each other's proverbial lights out. You win when you're the last car standing... or, more appropriately; the last car that is able to move. Now, I'm not saying that the other game modes aren't fun, far from it; it's just that I spent most of my in-game time in the Bowl and loved every metal-bending, engine-stalling moment of it!
So, moving on to the Wrecking Race. This mode gives the player points for wrecking other cars during a race on an actual track. Points are also awarded for crossing the finish line in first place. The player with the most points at the end of the race, is the winner. Then, there were Stock Car Racing and Time Trial. I must admit, I personally didn't play these modes very often, because no points are awarded for wrecking cars and, be honest, where's the fun in that? Time trial didn't even feature opponents; it was just a literal race against the clock. So, seeing how I do clearly not excel at the actual racing, I was much happier in the first two game modes, where it was my mission to vanquish all other cars on the track!
You car was bound to get smashed up as you went along, and therein lay the interesting part, because as your car got damaged in certain areas, different things would happen. For instance, heavy damage to one or both of your front wheels could result in your car's complete inability to steer. Head on damage smashed the radiator of your car, eventually to the point where the engine would cut out and the race was over for you. To represent the amount of damage to every area of your car, a top-down representation of a car was placed in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Every area was represented by a little green arrow. As your car started to take damage, the arrows in the damaged areas started to turn from green to orange to red. If an area was completely bashed up, the arrow would turn black and that was usually when the effects of the damage started to manifest themselves.
Destruction Derby was generally well-received by both the gamers as the critics alike and even spawned a sequel the very next year. The fun thing about Destruction Derby 2 was that it was essentially a kind of remake of the original, and was jam-packed with loads of ideas that didn't make it into the final game the first time around. Destruction Derby 2 was, in turn, followed by a third installment in the series: Destruction Derby Raw, which did actually feature split screen multiplayer. It also inspired a whole cast of car brawling games for years to come. I think the fun that is to be had by playing Destruction Derby or one of its sequels stems from the fact that it doesn't use a range of weaponry to decimate your fuel-guzzling foes, like games like Twisted Metal or even Megarace. In Destruction Derby, your car is your weapon. And, like any piece of armament, if you're not careful, you are going to destroy it, leaving you helpless at the mercy of your opponents... and that's not something you want, is it now?
I really had hours and hours of fun playing the Destruction Derby games and am pretty sure a lot of gamers at the time did the same. It was a high-octane and crazy ride and you never wanted it to end. But, as all good things must do, so must our trip down memory lane because, sadly, that's all the time we have for today. Man, I'm just glad we got back safely from our little excursion into the past. Oh, hi Dennis. Excuse me, what did you say? Have I got a minute? Sure, what's on your mind? Ah yes, the thing that is so important to the future of the company. Well, let's have it then; you've been going on and on about it for two weeks now and I still don't know what's so important!
...You want to have what?! In here? Are you serious?! You want to know if I think it's a great idea to have a huge bouncy castle for an office?! What? With a large disco ball?! Oh Dennis, Dennis, Dennis my lad... there are times when I think you just lost touch with planet earth altogether. Some of your ideas are simply too moronic for words and have as much to do with brilliance as a lightbulb has to do with frozen yoghurt... but not this one! What a brilliant idea! You'd better order two castles though, because I also want one of those babies! And when you did that, come over for a beer, remodeling this place is thirsty work!
Well, dear readers, there you have it! Who would have thought that my colleague would actually have the idea of a lifetime?! I know I surely didn't! Somehow, the words "This can only end in tears" come to mind, but hell, at least we'll be having fun till then. So, hopefully we'll see you all again in a week or two, when it is once again time to brave the dangers of spacetime in our quest for the gems of gaming past!
Reflections & Psygnosis