Rings of Saturn. Issue #4. “Destruction Derby” in CRASH! BANG! WALLOP! WHAT A VIDEO (GAME)!

Multi-plats can really make or break a gaming console. Despite what the gaming industry would hope, it’s rare to find a gamer who can own every single active console during a current generation. Some gamers do of course (bloody moneybags!) but a lot of us usually have to plump for just the one due to monetary constraints.

This is where the importance of multi-plats comes in. A multi-plat is essentially a game that appears on more than one console, “multiple platforms” if you will. Some of the more popular games tend to end up on more than one console so that the creators of the game can maximise their profits. After all, if you make a version of the game for every single format, there are literally millions of extra gamers who will be in a position to buy your game.

This doesn’t necessarily mean however the gaming experience on each platform will always be the same. Each machine will have its own strengths and limitations, which will in in turn have an effect on how the game plays. For this reason, if a console gets a reputation for producing bad versions of multi-plats it can have a very negative effect on the consoles success. If you can only afford one console, surely you want the one which has the best versions of the games you want to play?

Having weaker multi-plats isn’t guaranteed be the death knell for a machine of course. The PS2 for instance had inferior multi-plats to the Original X-Box, but still did incredibly well. It may also be the case that even if a console produces inferior multi-plats, it will still have a strong enough library of first party titles to win people over to its side. The SEGA Mega Drive would normally have much better versions of sports games in comparison to the SNES for instance, but the SNES had such excellent first party games that it was able to compete despite this.

On the whole though, if you want your console to be a success, you need to have multi-plats that at least match up in some form to the other consoles. If not, you may be looking at a struggle when it comes to attracting the masses to your machine. The previous four games that I have covered in these features have been first party titles. They were made for SEGA exclusively for the Saturn console. Destruction Derby was not exclusive to the Saturn and was also released both to the N64 and the PlayStation.

I should point out before we advance onward, that the Saturn I bought from Retro Reload has sadly ceased working. It struggled to play a lot of games, including this one, and the internal memory was absolutely shot to the point that I had to input the date and clock every single time I switched the console on. I even bought two copies of Destruction Derby, thinking at first it was the games fault, but sadly it was the console that was knackered. Thankfully I was able to pick up a new one online from Chill Out Games. I’m pleased to announce that thus far everything appears to be fine. The console arrived speedily and in excellent condition. I’m happy to recommend them at this juncture! I’ll keep you posted with any further developments.

Picture courtesy of www.theisozone.com

Lets have a look at what this idiot did in America!

Destruction Derby is game that was dwarfed not only by its sequel but also by its spiritual successor the “Burnout” series. It had excellent car damage for the time it was made, but graphically it was hardly exceptional and the gameplay was greatly improved in the second game. That being said, for a first attempt in this style of genre from Psygnosis, the game is thought of fondly by gamers of my generation.

There’s no doubt whatsoever though that the PlayStation version of the game is superior to that of its Saturn counterpart. Now granted, I didn’t vigorously replay the PlayStation version for this feature but I have played that game A LOT over the years and after comparing the Saturn version I’m afraid the PlayStation version is better. It has better visuals and better collision detection. Gameplay wise, it’s not especially smoother but the overall gaming experience on the PlayStation is a stronger one.

The Saturn version looks just generally rougher around the edges than its PlayStation counterpart and lacks transparencies. There were times when I was driving into an opposing racer and would pass straight through them like they were driving some kind of ghost car. Both the Saturn and PlayStation versions of the game contain the same game modes. You can play either “Wreckin’ Race”, “Stock Car Race”, “Destruction Derby” and “Time Trial”. The difference between Wreckin’ and Stock Car races is that in Wreckin’ mode you can earn extra points by smashing your opponent’s cars during the race, whereas Stock Car mode is just a straight race where you get points by getting a high finish.

Picture Courtesy of classicgamingpresents.com

I drive a car, but not like this!

Destruction Derby mode is the one that gave the game its notoriety back in the day, but it comes across as relatively tame in comparison to future games in both the Derby series and also other race combat games. 20 cars all driving around an arena and smashing each other to pieces was a big deal back when the game was first released and featured heavily in the games marketing. This mode provides some frantic fun at first as you ram into other racers to gain points before your own car is smashed to pieces. However, the game has only one arena for this mode, so the lack of variety impacts the games longevity.

The N64 version of the game is very different to the other two. The game itself was completely redesigned and released almost 4 years after the PlayStation version, so to compare it to the other two wouldn’t really be fair. I have also never played it and it wasn’t until I started researching this feature that I actually found out that it even existed! I’ve watched footage on YouTube and it looks like it would provide some arcadey fun, but there’s not much else I can add about it without actually playing it myself.

The Saturn was renowned for being difficult to program and for that reason quite a lot of Saturn ports were inferior to their PlayStation cousins. Power wise, the Saturn was a good bit of tech and was capable of some lovely graphics at times. It was hardly underpowered, it was just that very few developers were able to get the best out of the hardware.  In addition to everything else though, it really feels like the Saturn version of the game was rushed and could have used more time in the oven before being served.

Picture courtesy of www.emuparadise.me

But who bred this puppy?

SEGA published the game and had it developed by Perfect Entertainment. The game saw a European release in August 1996, roughly 10 months after it was released to the PlayStation.  Despite its inferiority in relation to the PlayStation version, the Saturn version of Destruction Derby is still playable and I did have fun with it. The game itself is probably one of those releases that has garnered its reputation more as a result of rose tinted glasses and the warm nostalgic memories it gives to the people like me who played it 20 years ago rather than based on its own merits. Looking at it through modern eyes, the game has a lack of longevity and some gameplay flaws that hold it back. The cars feel somewhat flimsy and the gameplay just lacks the oomph that it really needs to be a genuine classic.

Destruction Derby was very important at the time of its release and it is still fun to play even now. Its legacy can still be felt to this day and its eventual sequel was a very good game indeed and one that I think still holds up.

There are some very good comparison videos on YouTube which I’ll post at the bottom of the article if you want to check them out.

As always, thanks for reading.

Peace Out

Saturn Vs PlayStation comparison by Gaming Palooza Empire on YouTube

Second comparison video from Gaming Palooza Empire

Why not check out other great features and reviews on the website?

You can view Kane’s excellent piece on the console wars here

Sean has also reviewed the most recent Game of Thrones game here

And, Raul takes a look at Brawlhalla here

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