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Totaled!

Developer: Rage Software | Publisher: Majesco
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 07/29/02 | Genre: Action

Choose it. Paint it. Wreck it. That’s the name of the game in Majesco’s demolition derby title Totaled!. This is not a place for any Sunday driving. Get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and your totaled! Pick an arena and a challenge, then choose from almost a dozen different styles of cars with the paint job of your choice which vehicle you want to destroy. A great idea, but poor execution puts this title in the junkyard. With frustrating game physics, load times slower than grandma in the fast lane, and some rather pointless challenges, Totaled! smacks the joy in demolition derby somethin’ fierce.

Various arenas and contests look to shake up the monotonous “drive and hitâ€? formula, but just manage to arouse a pathetic sputter with challenges like bus jumping and X game-type tricks for cars. To practice your wrecking skills, enter arcade mode, but this is not suggested because if you’re going to wait to load the match, you might as well do it where it counts in career mode. To unlock all arenas, challenges, and other cool cars, you must crush your way through career mode. This may take awhile due to atrocious loading times, but once you get there, you and your friends can enjoy hours of uninhibited consequence-free mashing fests in the multiplayer mode.

While each arena presents three challenges increasing in difficulty and differing in types of contests, points are the deciding factor in most of them. Whether you’re smashing opponents or doing daredevil tricks in your car, not enough points means trying again. These points are, more or less, similar those in the television show Whose Line Is it Anyway?- completely arbitrary. Totaled!’s list is somewhat lengthy of point-receiving hits, but once broken down it can be summarized as this: you get points based on where you hit the car and how bad the damage. Names are given to these hits like moves in a fighting game, but you don’t press any button combinations to perform them. Controlling your car is simple gas and brake, and you can pull a sharp turn to avoid getting hit (or put yourself in perfect position to get crushed depending on who’s got you in their sights) with a simple button. You can look out the sides of your car by using the right analog stick, but this proves too awkward to do and still drive at the same time.

Each car has its strengths and weaknesses. Acceleration and Handling (called Grip) are pretty standard categories, but new is the Weight category, which is how much damage your vehicle can dish out and take before going kaboom. This is a cool idea, but is nullified in some matches which force you into only certain types of cars regardless of how many are available.

Graphically, the arenas look bland and lackluster, but since you’ll be spending most of your time looking to see who’s coming to hit you, it’s not a big deal. The cars are what you came to see, and they do look nice. Each type of car has a look unto its own and can sport different paints jobs of your choosing. This is probably the only time where it can be said that wrecking a car looks good. Pieces fly off of your vehicle each time it gets hit, and they stay on the course throughout the match. There is no real-time lighting, so the vehicles look the same whether at night, day, or in a lit tunnel. Totaled! definitely does not appear to belong on a next-gen console, especially considering the load times that are required for each match.

Choosing your car, paint job, arena, and contest are easy enough. But getting to the challenge is slower than watching a slug ooze across your driveway. Wrecking is easy and sometimes quick, and restarting the match requires the same load time as starting a new one. By far the most frustrating and unnecessary point in the whole game, Majesco should take this title in for an overhaul.

Totaled! sounds like a true demolition derby (provided you turn it up loud enough). Car screeches, bangs, and crunches sound real enough to make your cringe at the thought of what your dad would do if you did that to his car. The announcer is bland and repetitive, but the punk soundtrack from unknown bands keeps the action lively.

While this isn’t a NASCAR event, Totaled! turns demolition into a slow moving event. Sure your gauge reads 80mph, but you definitely don’t feel like you’re going that fast. Press on the gas too soon at the get go and you’ll stutter out of the gates, but hit it at the right time and you’ll get a quick boost ahead. This boost is quickly diminished, leaving you to work your way up to speed like you’re driving manual instead of automatic. Frequently your speed with drop off even though you’ve got the pedal to the metal, and even the faster cars would get passed by a toddler on a tricycle.

Multiplayer is this title’s bread and butter. Gather up to three other friends around the tube and take out any frustration on his/her car. Contests like Hunter and Last Man Standing give friends a reason to keep playing. Unfortunately to play on all the courses and challenges with all the cars to choose from, you must bang your way through career mode to unlock them all. But once that is done, you and your gearhead friends can have at it for hours of demolition fun- your mom should be happy because at least you’re not playing ball in the house anymore.

Replaying this game is really only done in multiplayer. Since you don’t go through the game with one vehicle of your choice, there is no option for changes in driving style. When you win, you advance. Winning unlocks the arenas, cars, and challenges. This formula leaves nothing left to do or find the next time around.

Overall, Totaled! is totally a bust for destructive car fans. While there are various arenas and challenges presented to keep you from falling in a “drive and hitâ€? rut, the challenges are not exciting, making you want to just drive the car off a cliff. If you’ve got friends who enjoy a good demolition party, Totaled! is a fair offering. But loading and slow cars lead to slow gameplay. Want a good race? Racing your Grandmother in her wheelchair and your little cousins in their tricycles would be more fun.

By Peter Humpton - 09/18/02
ESRB Details: Mild Lyrics, Mild Violence
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Screenshots for Totaled!

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