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Doritos' Dash of Destruction

Score: 78%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: NinjaBee
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Arcade/ Online/ Party

Graphics & Sound:

If you approached Doritos' Dash of Destruction without really understanding how it fits into the videogame universe, you might wonder why it is that you get to play a reasonably cool, but totally free, game. The free part doesn't make sense from a production value standpoint; Dash of Destruction is a good looking game that features crazy amounts of eye-candy and destruction, just like in the title... There is also dashing involved, but more on that later. The bar for quality on Xbox Live Arcade is pretty high, and Dash of Destruction squeaks over the line with several things that add up to a good gaming experience. First on the list is a dinosaur, but not just any dinosaur. A T-Rex is nothing to sneeze at, especially when it includes some funky gadgets and armor to stand out in the Jurassic crowd. Next up is that destruction, which Dash of Destruction does quite well. Destroying a city has been fun since the classic Rampage made the scene, and for some reason it never gets old. Dash of Destruction channels Rampage while adding in the kind of top-down visuals of chasing cars through the city that reminded us of the old GTA games.

Doritos' Dash of Destruction and its creator, Mike Borland, were part of the Unlock XBox competition launched in 2007. Borland entered the game to showcase his amateur game design and coding skills, neither of which suck. After overwhelming votes in his favor, Borland clinched the win and worked with NinjaBee studios to finesse the version of Dash of Destruction that appeared on Xbox Live Arcade in 2008. The main difference between Borland's demo and the final version is polish. Audio and visuals are improved, with a multiplayer experience that remains as fast and frantic as the solo version. The big winners in the game are Frito-Lay and NinjaBee for getting miles of free promotion through this program, but Borland's profile as a potential future Will Wright went up considerably. Being showcased in Live Arcade is, like that T-Rex, nothing to sneeze at.


The objective of Doritos' Dash of Destruction depends on which role you choose. Playing as the dino in Single Player, you'll simply have to chomp a delivery truck loaded with Doritos, by running through a busy city and often taking the shortest route through a building or three. Playing as the truck turns the tables and has you running away from a raging T-Rex, trying desperately to make chip deliveries to marked locations. Regardless of which campaign you choose, you'll be under pressure from other dinos and drivers, but mostly those dinos. There is a multiplayer feature where each player takes the opposite side, and up to four can play in a competitive mode that has you chasing checkpoints in your delivery truck, or attempting to chomp trucks before your reptilian competition. The tension ramps up quickly as you open new areas for play and see the obstacles mounting quickly against you.

The Doritos theme isn't overplayed, but you never forget you're playing a game about chips and chip trucks. Liking Doritos isn't required to play the game, and it's nice that there aren't any silly puzzles that require you to use chips or chip flavors anywhere in the game. The decision to focus on a fun, playable game over just some marketing vehicle masquerading as a game was a smart one. Having something fun to play (even as a distraction, or time waster) with your friends is a boon, and 200 points are worth earning in the short time it will take you to complete the game. Replay value is decent, since the mayhem of a team battle with one or more friends is well executed. Dash of Destruction shows off Borland's creative visions, NinjaBee's ability to bring a decent game idea to life without dropping the ball, and Frito-Lay's recognition of its demographic. The decision to build a game around snack chips is brilliant since any gamer worth his salt will tell you that Mountain Dew and chips are as essential to life on this planet as hydrogen and oxygen.


Maneuvering through town as either the truck or the dino has its challenges. Not great challenges, but challenges all the same. The dino has a limited turning radius, but can lunge forward to close the distance between it and a truck. The trucks fly around with loose controls reminiscent of a radio-controlled car, and can boost to extend the distance between you and a hungry dino, or reach the next checkpoint before your opponent. Unlike the dino, trucks are destructible. You can't be destroyed by running into anything, but missing a turn or getting hung up in rubble may result in you being gobbled by one of several dinos at large in the level. After the first few levels, the introduction of multiple dinos and trucks makes things very hectic. Multiplayer mayhem is good fun, but there's no additional depth to the game beyond the goals explained so far. By the time you realize that you've mastered the basics, Doritos' Dash of Destruction is wrapped up. Considering the entry price, we'd say you still get your money's worth.

Game Mechanics:

The biggest difference between Borland's demo posted to the "Unlock XBox" site among many other competitors, and the version put together after his consultation with NinjaBee, is the smooth quality of control. Compared to consoles, browser-based action games carry a certain amount of baggage due to limitations in connection speed, lack of power under the hood, and simplistic controls. Borland's demo outlined how he intended to implement features like multiplayer and outlined some nuances in the way Doritos' Dash of Destruction would feel once brought to Xbox Live Arcade. The final version largely comes through on all fronts. The best thing one can say about NinjaBee's work is that you don't have to think about the controls. The left stick handles movement and one button controls either the truck's boost or the dino's charge. Controls are responsive, if somewhat loose, but there are definitely differences between controlling the truck and the dino that you notice while playing. The biggest upgrade from Borland's demo is speed; the version currently available for download keeps everything running at a smooth clip. This all combines to make a fun solo session or an even better multiplayer round.

You'll run out of passion for Doritos' Dash of Destruction within about an hour, unless your game library is really, really small. The passion that shines through without fail is what Mike Borland and NinjaBee brought to the table, courtesy of the Doritos brand. Smirk all you like about adware, but there's no question that this is a win/win/win scenario. The fourth leg on that stool would be us, the gamers that get to play a fresh game thanks to Doritos' sponsorship and the creative talents of Borland and NinjaBee. In the current days of mega-game studios and games that are years in development with budgets like Hollywood movies, it's easy to forget that many of today's hallowed franchises began as garage projects between one or two creative souls. I'm not espousing adware as the exclusive model for the future of videogaming, but anything that brings new talent to the fore is okay by me. You grab a copy of Doritos' Dash of Destruction and decide for yourself.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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