One of the best early PlayStation games that I played was Destruction Derby – a glorious demolition derby game which – for its time – had some very impressive damage modelling on the cars, making it incredibly satisfying to smash up the many opponents in the arena while trying to keep yours as blemish free as possible (spoiler: this was never very possible!).
Concept Destruction takes a similar approach, but instead of massive carnage in realistic cars, the action takes place on tabletops studded with cardboard scenery – with the cars themselves having a deliberately lo-fi, handmade look. Even the interiors show a battery and the sort of moving parts you’d expect if you were to make one of these cars yourself out of whatever bits and bobs you had lying around.
It’s a great idea and the thrill of smashing up enemy cars – particularly when they hilariously crumple, lose wheels or fail entirely as their battery flies out – is immediate. There’s a fun multiplayer mode in which you can take on another human player, along with a few other modes that you can try aside from the main event – the Championship.
There’s a few odd design decisions that mar the Championship mode, however. I couldn’t work out how many events there were or how many I had left to complete at any time – and completing a round isn’t as straightforward as you’d imagine. Each round has a time limit and a large selection of competing cars who’ll be gunning for each other as well as you, but in order to qualify for the next round you have to either be the last card standing or survive for the duration of the round. It’s an odd choice, especially as the on screen icon that shows your ranking could show you in first place, but one minor knock to your car can see you disqualified entirely and having to restart the round again.
Currency is handled in an odd way, with the points accrued from your Championship run being used to unlock cars – which seemed to happen automatically for me (and which led to all but one of the available vehicles being unlocked for me after I completed a single championship).
The amusing car damage is great – seeing your opponents missing most of the front of their car or limping along with wheels missing and still attempting to win never gets old, with some really nice effects to give the cars a very tangibly cardboard feel. However, all too often you can be knocked out of a race by what seems like an innocent hit or – even worse – by hitting another car deliberately yourself, in a manner that doesn’t seem like it’d do too much damage to your own vehicle. This can end a round at any time, which does seem a little unfair and can often be extremely abrupt, without any obvious warning.
The tutorial goes to great lengths to teach you how to flip your car over so that it’s upright if it ever ends up on its back, but then the main game has manual flipping turned off by default – which kind of defeats the purpose of learning this in the first place.
That said, it’s still a fun little game with a neat – ahem – concept, despite the few issues it has. Impressively, it’s the work of a single developer too. It’s reasonably priced – at less than a fiver – and does have a unique feel. If the idea of Destruction Derby meets Micro Machines sounds like it’d be up your street, Concept Destruction may well be worth a spin.
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