When it comes to racing games there’s only one question I like to ask. Why can’t I mount an axe to the front of my car, turn around and slice the other driver’s cars to pieces? There have been some games which do cater to this somewhat sick fantasy of mine but the one I remember fondly is Cel Damage Overdrive.
This little gem of a game was bought to us by Pseudo Interactive who bought us other “classics” like Full Auto and Full Auto 2. Both games were received well enough but nothing really special.
Cel Damage wasn’t much differently received with many critics praising the graphics but stating the game was repetitive, and they’re not wrong.
This game is mindless when it comes to what it does and what it does is Destruction Derby, the mindless of motor sports.
Of course it wouldn’t’ be a video game without some stretches to the imagination so this one takes place in a Looney Toons-esque world where various cartoon characters are shoved into vehicles, weapons are mounted onto their hoods and they proceed to smash the hell out of each other until one of them smashes enough.
So from that premise alone you can tell the game would be quite repetitive with the single player modes, and they are.
While fun at first the destruction modes aren’t really that close knit. The computer controlled characters suffer from PS2 era AI which means they’re unbelievably stupid. Granted not all bots could be dumb but for the most part PS2 AI was pretty stupid.
They hardly ever score any points and once the player has a lead it’s hard for them to even come close to matching their score.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. The mindlessness begins as soon as you pick a mode and map. Driving around, flipping vehicles, picking up power weapons, experiencing each character’s unique weapons. These are all fun memories I’ve had with this game and anyone could have.
Of course the multiplayer modes are much stronger. With a PS2 multitap and 4 controllers the destruction derby becomes incredibly intense, and nothing beats couch gaming with a few friends every now and again.
But of course this game has it’s flaws and the first one I’m about to point out isn’t one of the normal ones.
The instruction booklet is too small.
Yes, that sounds weird, but hear me out. The instruction booklet of a game should give background and setting to a game and do so in a way that involves the player in the game and helps with the immersion. The Legend of Zelda and Halo 2 did this well by offering colourful and detailed explanations of items and features in the game while remaining in character.
This booklet was the first of booklets that just showed the controls and that annoying page of tiny text that had helplines for every country that nobody ever bothered to call.
That sounds like a lot but for Throwback Thursday when we look back at what once was instruction booklets that I could take to the bathroom and read seem like a thing of the past.
Other than that the game is just very repetitive even in multiplayer. There’s only so many times you can be knocked into a tornado, cut a car in half or hear the characters spew some witty quip before eventually you lose your mind.
For mindless entertainment this game is amazing. For a deep, interesting and rich experience? You’ve come to the wrong game.
Do you have fond memories of Cel Damage? What was your favourite thing to do? Let us know in the comments below.