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Remembering classic games: Destruction Derby (1995)

Who needs cultural impact when you can have actual, physical impacts?

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Given that we spent a good proportion of our childhood driving around backwards in racing games trying to cause as big an accident as possible, it’s remarkable that it took until 1995 for Destruction Derby to truly legitimise the pastime. Born in an age when racing games were becoming steadily more sophisticated, Destruction Derby offset a wave of sensible simulations with a welcome blast of vehicular anarchy straight out of Wimbledon dog track.

That’s not to say it wasn’t a technologically impressive achievement. Like fellow early PlayStation titles Ridge Racer and Wipeout, Destruction Derby boasted texture mapped polygons and the action progressed at a fair lick, at least until you unceremoniously T-boned another car and ground to a halt. The key difference was that, thanks to a smart physics engine, Destruction Derby featured realistic damage modelling across 10 separate areas of the car. Which is good, because otherwise they’d have had to just call it ‘Derby’.

The game featured a championship mode with races at a multitude of circuits in exotic locations, though bizarrely every single one of the tracks was flatter than a bum note from a first round X Factor reject. That’s fine, however, because the mode Destruction Derby is rightly famous for is the one that placed all 20 cars in a concrete arena called The Bowl and incinerated the rulebook.

It was unbridled chaos, of course, but don’t assume there wasn’t a strategic element too. You’d need to use reverse gear for as long as possible to avoid hobbling your radiator immediately, only switching to the forward gears at the point when the rear of your car looked most like a bulldog’s face.

Destruction Derby might not have had the cultural impact of Ridge Racer and Wipeout, but who needs cultural impact when you can have actual, physical impacts with 20 other equally battered stock cars? Not us.

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