Me and my brother loved playing hours of Demolition Racer as kids. Days on end driving around a track trying to demolish your rivals to be the last one standing. We would have been six or seven at the time but, alongside FIFA 2000 tournaments and trying to teach my Grandad how to play Crash Bash, this stands out as one of the abiding video game memories of my childhood.
Retro games have made a big comeback in the last few years, with developers looking to capitalise on this wave of childhood reminiscence as inspiration for future releases. Thin Ice Games’ Concept Destruction follows in the path of 2019’s Wreckfest in a foray back to the demolition derby games of the 1990’s. Neither of these, however, have satisfied my lust for this long-forgotten nostalgia.
The indie developer’s latest title is essentially a demolition derby with ‘concept’ cars, where different makes and models battle it out to decide which is the best. There are two main modes in which to play the game: Championship Mode takes you through a number of different levels and opponents, aiming to win the championship; Survival Mode, meanwhile, blasts waves of enemies at you, and you must try and keep moving for as long as possible. Depending on your performance, you’ll be rewarded with coins that can be used to buy new cars.
Interesting idea, yes, but it is atrocious to play. The controls themselves are pretty simple and straightforward, and you’re given the option of a helpful tutorial if you need, but the cars are slow to respond to any input you make, making them nigh on impossible to control.
On top of this, a confusing on-screen display takes a few games to get used to and, even then, it’s unclear where you are in the current standings.
The damage mechanics add a bit of brightness to this shade of a game. Any damage you deal depends on the part of the opponent you hit, with cars getting distinctively harder to drive the more damaged they are. And it’s clearly visible too. On the flip side, the crashes aren’t spectacular to watch, but it’s nice to see the visible difference made to a damaged car. Add in the sketched design, on top of a tabletop cutting board arena, and mix in the rock/metal soundtrack and the game really feels the part.
But every level is sparse and, in general, there’s no desire to progress and unlock new parts of the game. New arenas are bare, with a few interesting nuances, but no distinctive or interesting mechanic to each one. I don’t really want to play them once, let alone replay them over and over again. The cars are samey too. If they’re supposed to be ‘concepts’, as the name suggests, why not make them more outlandish with flash spoilers, bubble pods (see The Simpsons’ Car Built For Homer), or unearthly body kits? Rather than run of the mill designs that you could find in your local car showroom, introduce something new and interesting to give the game a different dimension. The turbos each car has access to takes away any nature of being realistic, so why not go the whole hog?
At £4.99 Concept Destruction clearly isn’t going to compete with the likes of Wreckfest but, despite the difference in price, it’s tricky not to compare them. The later is a far better experience as a whole and even then was disappointingly overhyped itself. These games were big in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Destruction Derby, Demolition Racer and FlatOut are still nostalgic highlights of my childhood. Right now, however, it seems that nothing will ever live up to this genre in its heyday.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Concept Destruction Review
Gameplay - 3/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 5/10
Replay Value - 3/10
Trying to revive the demolition derby genre hasn’t worked for Concept Destruction. An interesting premise has been watered down to a game that, quite simply, isn’t very fun to play and is ultimately just a big car crash.
- Looks good, and well styled.
- Strong soundtrack.
- Weak gameplay.
- Tricky to control.
- No depth to the game.