The Destruction Derby series is one of the lines of games that helped define the PlayStation in its youth. In its day, DD looked great and did the little things that we all hoped the newest and greatest platform would do. DD2 was highly anticipated, but it ultimately failed to truly expand on the original. Now, THQ has picked up the pieces that Psygnosis left behind by delivering the first N64 version of the game in Destruction Derby 64. While the game bears the same name and concept as the old PlayStation versions of the game, there's been a lot of changes, for better and worse.
The game's damage system used to revolve around the distance you could make the other car spin. Head-on impacts with enemy cars did little to boost your score. Now, the scoring is centered on causing big wrecks, killing opposing cars, and reaching checkpoints in the racing mode. The world championship puts you through demolition races and arena battles in a multirace quest for the best. Much like in the previous games, the race modes will force you to get into a lot of wrecks to earn points, but it will also require you to keep your car in good enough shape to actually finish the race with a decent ranking. Arcade mode is the game's exhibition mode, letting you race any track with no strings attached. The game also has multiplayer-specific modes. Deathmatch is a simple arena battle. Bomb tag is a version of hot potato. The bomb is passed from car to car as you tag back and forth. Capture the flag splits four players into two teams. You must somehow manage to get your opponents' flag back to your base to earn points. Points are also earned for blocking attacks and getting your team's flag back. Destruction race takes place on the racetrack, and it's a simple fight to the finish line.
Graphically, Destruction Derby 64 surpasses the old PlayStation games by quite a bit - not that that is a particularly hard thing to do, considering the age of the PlayStation series. My favorite graphical effect is when sparks shoot off your car during a collision. Beyond that, the game moves well, and the split screen doesn't detract too much from the game's presentation. The audio effects are pretty much what you'd expect from a Destruction Derby game, complete with some pretty good sounds of metal grinding against metal.
The control is still extremely simple - you use one button for forward motion and one for reverse. But rather than using a slow, swinging camera angle for direction changes, the game has a Z trigger, which is used for quick view changes, letting you see what's going on behind you at a moment's notice. It takes a bit of getting used to, and you have to hold the trigger down anytime you want to look behind you, but it works pretty well.
Destruction Derby 64 is a better game than its PlayStation counterparts, but overall, it's still roughly the same in its one-player mode. The meat of the game is in its multiplayer modes, and DD64 should make a fine party game for you and your friends. Give it a rent next time you're rounding up the posse for a day of gaming.