- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 29, 2002

The modern metallic gladiator challenge of Demolition Derby comes to smashing life through a driving simulation combining the subtlety of a Joey Chitwood daredevil show and an episode of "The Dukes of Hazzard."
Nothing officially sanctioned in this game by the International Demolition Derby Association or any major auto manufacturer but Majesco's tribute offers the thrill of the hunt with fiery collisions and myriad game types to give the player a fairly fun stress release and a chance to destroy some beautiful looking automobiles.
For those unfamiliar with the sport, its history goes back to the late 1950s and has challengers jump into customized vehicles, usually held in an open arena during a county fair, and ram each other until only one car remains functional.
Drivers begin their conquest in Totaled! by selecting a Hot Rod, Muscle or Performance car. Each has its own rated attributes, be it speed, grip or toughness, and their paint jobs can be altered, but nothing else can be upgraded or tweaked for maximum performance. Majesco has done a great job creating "Hot Wheel" grade vehicles that gleam colorful designs and slowly bust apart on impact.
One can play an arcade mode or, as I suggest, simply jump to the Circuit, where piling up points and winning translates into accessing more vehicles and tracks.
Game types, 18 in all, really work the drivers' patience and thumb sockets. I found the out of place "bus jumping" competition a breeze, the "free for all" (a death match in which either time runs out or only one car remains) a great way to rack up points but difficult and the infuriating "hunter" (one must hit a designated target or become the target and avoid wrecks). Players will scream for any type of a radar screen or just a rearview mirror during some of the intense action.
The point system is based on the amount of damage done to either vehicle in a collision. As two cars ram each other, the computer deems one the aggressor and grants it more of the points for specific damage infliction such as blindsiding (2,000 points) or reverse t-boning (1,500 points).
Eight tracks, based in fictional locales around the world, do not do the power of the Xbox justice and range from the indoor Thunder Bay Rumbledome to the icy Severnaya Snow Bowl to the dirt filled, bumpy Lightning Ridge.
The strengths of the game are its simplicity of controls and easy learning curve. Braking, accelerating, kicking in some limited nitro explosions and hand braking for a Batmobile U-turn can be easily accomplished with the flick of a button. I also thought the extended replay option was a nice way to relive some spectacular crashes.
Despite the apparent fun, one of the major flaws with Totaled! can be found in the painfully long load times between games. How a developer can create a fast-paced, racing simulation and make players wait to continue to the next level completely befuddles me. The 30 to 45 seconds gaps sucked away any excitement and, combined with a monotone announcer introducing the new challenge, had me nodding off.
I was pleased with the bizarre choice of music. Expecting more of a Country and Western twang here (pardon my profiling), instead I had punk bands pummel my ear drums as I tore off bumpers and crumpled side panels.
Totaled! will be attractive with its low price and chance for multiple video game buddies to enjoy a split screen destruction-fest. However, its limited options and sophistication will prevent it from competing with the existing lineup of awesome racing or vehicle-based action games on the market.

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