Demolition Derby (70's)
Retro Coin Op Synopsis
Part of the appeal of video games has always been the way they let us try things most people wouldn’t consider doing in real life. Take, for example, Chicago Coin’s Demolition Derby. While there were, of course, real demolition derbies taking place in 1977, your average Joe had no plans to take his Dodge Charger into a mud-filled arena and lock bumpers with a dozen or so fellow smash-up enthusiasts. The arcade version let these mild-mannered citizens live out their car-crushing fantasies at a considerably smaller expense.
Rigged for one or two players, with a steering wheel, gas pedal and two-position shifter (forward and reverse) for each, Demolition Derby let players run mad in an overhead rectangular arena. Two computer-controlled drone cars entered the fray at a time, daring players to try to ram into them. In a rare move for the time, Chicago Coin programmed the drone cars to react to player moves, making it appear that the drones were actually evading the players’ assaults.
As the computer’s cars got smashed, new ones entered the arena, always maintaining the two-drone balance. Those that had already been destroyed left their metal husks on the floor, creating an obstacle-filled course as the game went on. Awarding one point per drone smashed, the game was a race to score more points than your opponent before time ran out.
Simple in design and almost primal in appeal, Demolition Derby let the road rager in every human being out for a brief run of mayhem. Chicago Coin neglected to produce a follow-up, but the concept wouldn’t die that easily. In 1984, Bally Midway produced its own Demolition Derby, including a four-player version, and the fender-bending festivities continued.