Destruction Derby enjoyed great success on the Playstation, with its fast racing and fiery crashes
across a number of tracks and arenas. Now it comes to the N64. Will it thrive, survive, or simply
crash and burn, a battered shell of its former self?
In a word, colorful. In another word, blurry. Frankly, the second weighs more than the first. The
impression one gets from playing Destruction Derby 64 (DD64) is that it is a first-generation title trapped
in a time warp. The cars are nothing special, either in their intact condition or when damaged
(and some of the damage would leave a real vehicle undriveable). The crashes and explosions are
little better. Faced with a choice between offering realistic collisions or really rather spectacular
ones befitting an arcade title, DD64 does neither. Some of the tracks are engaging, but none are
especially spectacular; same goes for the arenas. There are the usual array of in-car and up-and-behind cameras, each of which works well (a rearview mirror would have added to the fun by
promoting putting the car in reverse and slamming into competitors coming up from the rear).
Unfortunately, given the blurry graphics and inferior resolution, it can become difficult to pick out
a car headed in your direction in time for you to react and smash into it. The damage indicator,
point totals, standings, checkpoint clock, and overhead course map are useful and easy to
interpret. The menus are bright but nothing special. In short, I found the visuals to this game to
be a step or two below what I have come to expect from racing games for the N64.
Not bad, especially for an N64 title. The music is okay, with a healthy selection of soundtracks.
The announcer keeps you informed of the need to hit another checkpoint or the destruction of
another foe; a second female voice is especially welcome, telling you when you pick up extra time
as a result of scoring enough points off of a collision.
There's nothing complex about DD64. There are four game modes: world championship, arcade
(a single contest), time trials, and several special multiplayer games. At first all of the cars
available to you are nearly identical in terms of speed, acceleration, handling, and durability; you
will have to press the Z trigger to gain a better understanding of each vehicle's strengths and
weaknesses. In order to open up more tracks and gain new cars, you are going to have to work
your way through the four levels of difficulty. The controls are also simple, emphasizing the "A"
for accelerate/"B" for brake/reverse format (R for emergency brake, L for toggling display, Z for
rear view, C for camera change). Why make things complex when your mission is to race and
As s single-player game, DD64 is too simple. I ripped through the entire championship mode in a
single sitting with absolutely no trouble the first night I opened the game. That's testimony to the
less-than-demanding gameplay, not my great driving skills (although you are free to credit the
latter). There is a little strategy, as you balance speed with aggression. At first I looked to be
selective when it came to doing in an opponent (look for the black smoke, then strike for easy
points). When I opened up some slow heavy hitters (example: the ambulance), I commenced
hitting everything in sight, as much for the bonus time I would pick up as for the collision points I
would amass. More challenging are the time trials, where you will need the right car or a good
run to put your name in the record book. It's left to the multiplayer contests (deathmatch,
destruction race, bomb tag, or capture the flag) to provide the title's real thrills.
I guess you could revisit the championship mode with various vehicles or explore the all-too-few
shortcuts (which are indicated on the course overlay map), or perhaps you just want to smash into
cars. Otherwise, you are going to have to look to the time trial mode (at least until you lock a fast
car) or the multiplayer games for any long-term interest. I've never completed a game so quickly
or with such little trouble. Even the Rugrats game put up a better fight.
Destruction Derby 64 is a shrug-your-shoulders title. There's nothing terribly wrong with it,
although one might want something more of a challenge in the championship mode (I sure did).
But the game's redeeming features are few, and are limited to the multiplayer versions--and,
frankly, even that will wear thin after a while. There are better ways to invest your video game
dollar. I would not be surprised to see copies end up in sale bins before too long. Having said
that, with all the talk about video games and violence, if you've had a particularly bad commute,
maybe it will help you blow off some stress if you flip on the N64 and ram some cars rather than
blow a fuse on the highway.