Destruction Derby

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a game by Psygnosis, and Reflections Interactive Limited
Genre: Sports
Platforms: PC, Playstation
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 3 reviews, 5 reviews are shown
User Rating: 9.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Destruction Derby Games

I'm Thinking Of Starting A New pressure group. I don't know what to call it yet. All that matters is that it will have one of those annoying acronyms that's only been chosen for the sake of the acronym, and that really doesn't make any sense when you spell out what it's supposed to stand for.

The purpose of this new group will be to encourage companies to produce games for people who get bored with a game as soon as they have to put any effort in. For people who, as soon as they've finished their initial allocation of money in Sim City 2000, destroy it and start another city. For those who never bother learning all the special moves in a beat 'em up, and just take the easiest fighter to win with and pick on the token quadraplegic. And for those who avoid flight sims completely unless they can get the computer to do all the tricky bits. Let's face it, if a game gets too serious and you have to work too hard at it, it stops being a game and becomes work. Which is what work's for - games are supposed to be a diversion from the usual daily grind.

Take, for example, the serious car racing simulator: pesky gear ratios to adjust according to the characteristics of the track, fuel loads to balance, tyre cambers and downforce thingummies to fiddle with, multi-million pound cars to coddle and tweak to perfection. Sod that. Hands up who spent most of their time in the original Indianapolis 500 going the wrong way round the track, trying to take out as many different cars as possible in one go. And saving the most carnage-packed examples to disk to show their chums. Hands up who, after doing that for a while, only ever raced 10-lap races and never ever bothered racing a full race around that sodding oval track. Good, I think we have something approaching a target audience, here.

Car design for beginners

Destruction Derby only exists to satisfy the entirely natural urge to destroy large, powerful lumps of machinery; to create devastation where once there was a brightly coloured, fully-functioning automobile. And to smash the shit out of your fellow racers. All right, so they've given you four ways to play the thing, but be fair, if they didn't, there'd be complaints that it's all too samey. As if anyone cares anyway about the other bits. I suppose we ought to tell you what they are, just in case some greasy-haired, pullovered, moustachioed BT engineer in undercoat-coloured pastie shoes and a bri-nylon shirt writes in to complain: there's a straight race, where people who insist on doing these things chug about trying to win as if they've never heard of F1GP or IndyCar Racing and this is the only outlet for their compulsive need to be a pretend racing driver.

There are practice facilities for this, or they race in Championships, getting promoted from league to league, racing on harder and harder tracks until it gets so tricky that their revolting moustaches are slimey with sweat. There's a time trial, where the same people can race on their own, to improve the speed with which they can race on their own. There's a halfway-house sort of arrangement, where people who like the air of respectability a race imparts can still pretend to be racing, at the same time getting in a few sneaky nudges with other people's cars while they're not looking. And again, they can practice so that they're good enough when they first start a Championship and won't feel silly.

And there's the proper thing, the thing that gives the game its name, the Destruction Derby itself. Sixteen cars start in a large circular arena, parked around the edge, facing towards the centre. They drive towards each other at top speed. Much crashing and scraping of metal ensues as the competitors desperately try to accumulate points. "But just how does one accumulate points?" I hear you cry.

Driving without due care and attention

You get ten points for rotating a car 360 degrees in a collision, and another ten if you completely wreck an opponent's car, four points for a 180 degree spin and two for a measly 90 degree spin. But nothing, apparently, for a 270 degree spin. This, like life itself, seems harsh.

There are three cars to choose from, graded according to how fast they are, how difficult they are to control and how much abuse you'll get from your opponents when you write one off. One of the best features of the game is that your car registers damage logically, crumples up authentically and handles accordingly. Too many head-on, flat-out meetings with the walls or other cars, for example, and not only will your bonnet start to look like a prototype slinky, but also your steering will be jiggered. You'll find that your car's steering constantly veering to the right, or stuck totally to the left, or - oh-oh -maybe just completely inoperable. Too many rams from the rear and you'll not only get piles the size of basketballs, but your drive axle may well snap, turning you into a helpless and inviting target for other road users. And so on.

The other computer characters in the game are all supposed to have their own 'personalities' and their own ways of driving, although in the heat of the action with everyone smashing into everyone else, I can't say I could tell who was who. Come to that, who cares?

Joined-up fun

Where the game comes into its own is with its network options, of which it has plenty. The Duel, for example, allows you to face off in a Destruction Derby against another human driver (I'm assuming you're human yourself, here) on an otherwise empty track, and settle any differences you might have. Tag is a version of Total Destruction in which every computer car goes for you until you tag your fellow player, at which point they all go for him. Seek and Destroy is another variation on the theme, this time with seven other cars going for each of you until you hit them, at which point they join your side and pile into other people. But they seem to be getting a tad desperate to include plenty of options here, and I'm sure most people will just stick to the straightforward Destruction Derby. Especially as up to 16 people will be able to do this at once over a network.


The graphics are excellent, as you can see, and it's one of the few games where the cars look just as good when you're close-up (as in bumper-to-windscreen) to them. And the sound effects are very good. Glass shatters as you plough into someone and shatter their windscreen. Metal scrapes on metal and metal scrapes on concrete and your teeth try to leap from your gums and seek some kind of sanctuary elsewhere. All it really needs is one of those body jackets that whack you right in the chest when you collide with anything in the game. Think how proud you'd be, parading your broken ribs around to the admiration of your friends. There's not really much else to say. It's good. It crashes spectacularly well, it looks good, sounds good and it's a laugh. Perhaps the only disappointment is that the cars always stay on the ground, rather than somersaulting through the air like in Electronic Art's The Need For Speed, which cuts down on the chances of actually killing someone. Oh well.

57 varieties (well, five...)

Wreckin' Racing

Or, if you like, the best of both worlds. (Where did this phrase come from? Exactly what other world is it referring to? Sorry, I digress...) Drive around a number of circuits, for a set number of laps, in a race sort of way. But get bonus points for spinning other cars, smashing them into each other and breaking them. Get ten measly points for winning the race, but get ten points for just one 360 degree spin inflicted on another car, or one other car smashed beyond repair. A quandary: go for the win, or slam the car into reverse, ignore the race entirely, and concentrate on smashing your fellow competitors to smithereens (which is a small town in the Netherlands, in case you didn't already know). Perhaps it isn't such a a quandary after all.

Stock Car Racing

This is more like proper racing, with everyone going flat out to win, rather than attempting to boost the car repair industry. Of course, there are always one or two lunatics in the minority who try to spoil it for everyone else. And if you have any sense, you'll be one of them. As a straight race, it doesn't really work that well, and it's largely because of the tracks. The tracks tend towards the narrow, the straights tend towards the short and the corners tend towards the 90 degree type, and it's difficult to get anything like what Murray Walker would call "the raciiiingggg liyyyne". Especially with 412 other cars trying to go through the same small gap at the same time. So you just hammer everyone else about as normal, really, except that this time you're not getting any points for it.

Time Trials

Pick a track, any track. Drive around it as fast as you can (bearing in mind the point about the circuits' tendencies towards right-angled turns and short straights) and look at your completion time at the bottom of the screen when you finish. Now start shouting about how good it is. Be sensible and save it to the hard drive. Phone up all your chums. Tell them about how good your time is. Hear them laugh. Hang up.

Destruction Derby

This, as Brian Sewell might say, is the game reduced to its very essence. Stripped of frills, its non-essential elements pared away, it has an almost Bauhaus-like purity of thought and deed. Destruction Derby is this package's raison d'etre. In other words, there's none of this pissing about with circuits, and no pretensions towards being a race. All the cars start in a big circle, pointing inwards. Which in itself is perhaps symbolic of the modern American psyche. And everyone hurtles towards each other and smashes each other to shit, getting points for doing so. And the losers have to go and live naked in a ghetto and the winners wear braces and do Europe.

Total Destruction

Down in the murky, oxygen-free depths of the game's options, below Destruction Derby and Other Options, you'll find Total Destruction. In a game based entirely upon violent misconduct, this particular game is the Full-Bottle-of-Newcastle-Brown-to-the-back-of-the-Teething-Infant-Christ-Child's-Head. (Hmmm... - very confused Ed.) There's no room for sentiment here. As soon as you start your car, every other car will target you, coming for you at maximum speed. The sole point is for you to last as long as you can before your car's written off. It won't be very long.

The Destruction Derby Highway Code

General principles

The ideal driving position is comfortable, but intense. The steering wheel should be gripped so tightly that your knuckles look like ping-pong balls; head should be held low, sunk between the shoulder blades; breathing should be rapid, noisy and ideally through the mouth, punctuated by occasional wet gasps and guttural grunts. All movements should be violent, quick and jerky. Always try to make your every manoeuvre as unpredictable as possible to other road users. Remember at all times the maxim MSM - Mirror, Swerve, Mutilate.


Before reversing, make sure that there are obstructions behind you -children or animals would be the ultimate choice here for satiating any blood lust urges you may have, but unfortunately you're unlikely to find them in this game. Reverse with little or no care, especially if your car has a large 'blind spot'. Why not try reversing everywhere at first -admittedly it may take a little getting used to, but incurs less damage to your steering in head-on collisions, giving you greater control later in the race, and increasing your chances of massacring other road users with precision. On the other hand, it could ruin your ability to drive at all if you snap the rear axle. What the hell.

Lane discipline

Veer madly from side to side at all times, except when overtaking (see below).

Road junctions

Great care must be taken at road junctions because of the possibility of other traffic in the vicinity. Junctions are particularly dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. But, like the children and animals mentioned previously, unfortunately there aren't any in this. Check your mirrors on approach. Check your position (you should be in the middle of the road) and speed. Correct speed on approach is essential. Be prepared to accelerate at a moment's notice.

Check the road ahead for other traffic. Look at all traffic signs and road markings (if any), and ignore them - they're only there to distract you. If other traffic is approaching, prepare to give way to no one. Pick someone you dislike the look of and veer wildly towards their car. Put your foot to the floor, if it isn't already. (In fact, if it isn't there already, you may be marked down on your test.) Aim for the rear wing for maximum effect on impact, but if your enthusiasm gets the better of you and you inadvertently jump your car through the windscreen into the other driver's face, not to worry. It happens. Of course your examiner will make allowances for your nerves.

When all the smashing, crashing and banging has finally stopped, carefully extricate yourself from the mess, look around you using any mirrors still available, and move violently away.


Overtaking is a manoeuvre that should be performed with great care. Ensure that, if overtaking on a bend, you always do so on the inside. There will be more opportunity to nudge the opponent into the walls, spin them around, and generally run them over. If someone moves alongside you in an attempt to overtake, do not accelerate. Instead, allow their rear wing to come alongside you, then lurch to their side of the road, spinning their car until it is sideways-on to the direction of travel, whereupon it will hopefully either crash or roll over in a huge ball of flames, making the driver's eyes pop like little white balloons in the heat.

Download Destruction Derby


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Some people like to make things ... some people like to break things. The latter will be found playing Destruction Derby on the PlayStation, yet another title from the geniuses at Psygnosis. The object of the game? Run your opponent into a barrier wall! Ultra-smooth, realistic explosions, dents and smashes will keep your adrenaline pumping as you search for your next victim. This is stock-car racing on steroids!

This is definitely one game you will want to check out. You score points for smashing into other cars. The more damage you inflict on the other cars, the more points you get.

If you cause another car to wipe out and spin around, that's when you can score some really big points.

The sound effects of this game are incredible. It's the first game that features smoke coming out of the engine and back ends of the cars after they have sustained damage.

A damage meter in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen helps you monitor where your car has sustained the most damage. Once your car is damaged on all sides, black smoke will billow from the vehicle and it will be game over in more ways than one. The music is awesome. This is one game you should watch for.

  • MANUFACTURER - Psygnosis
  • THEME - Sports
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 to 5

Daytona with wrecks-that's Destruction Derby in a nutshell. You race big, fast stock cars on realistic-looking circuits, but unlike Ridge Racer and Daytona, damage is the name of the game. Inflict it, but also avoid it because your car will handle differently as it gets pounded. Ten-car pileups won't be uncommon on these busy tracks. A head-to-head racing mode and a no-rules attitude could put this one in the winner's circle.

The boys at Psygnosis should be riding high right about now. Being responsible for two of the best games we've ever seen on a home system is definitely reason enough. Rivaled only by its sister opus, Wipeout, Destruction Derby is sure to work gamers into a frenzy.

Tired of just racing around a track? For those of you out there who watch car races just for the crashes, bon apetit. In DD, you get to hop behind the wheel of a stock car. Choose from several tracks, including the ever-popular Figure 8, and watch the shrapnel fly! In addition to different tracks, games such as Tag are included, in which you and a friend can play chicken with your cars. Link-up capabilities allow for two-player play, as in Wipeout.

Snapshots and Media

PC Screenshots

Playstation Screenshots

See Also

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