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The Vehicular Carnage of Twisted Metal

The early days of the Sony PlayStation brought a slew of 32-bit titles of different genres onto the console from platformers, racers, and RPGs. But one game managed to break the mold of defining a new genre known as "car combat" that would turn heads of consumers and game critics. Twisted Metal was developed by SingleTrac and created by Dave Jaffe and Scott Campbell, and would be one of PlayStation's iconic franchises.

Twisted Metal (1995)

On Christmas Eve of 2005 in Los Angeles, the 10th annual Twisted Metal tournament is held and hosted by a mysterious man named Calypso with the unusual power to grant the wish desired from the winning competitor that comes out on top after demolishing the other drivers in the contest. The reward may sound convincing, but the winner must be very elaborate on the description of their wish, otherwise a lack thereof can cause the wish to go horribly wrong.

The many drivers of the game have their own modified car with twelve in total to choose from. Some examples include Crimson Fury, a fast sports car that can shoot laser beams, Sweet Tooth, a mental case clown in an ice cream truck that can fire deadly ice cream, and Outlaw, a police car that sends out a health draining taser.

Six level arenas await in the campaign, from the mazelike streets of Los Angeles, to a sprawling highway and rooftops with deadly drops that require careful driving to avoid, Aside from using your driver's signature special weapon, you'll also find weapon power ups laid about in random places such as a homing missile, a land mine, and a freeze missile that will immobilize opposing drivers for a short time to allow for landing extra damage.

Once you get to the rooftops you face the hulking tank, Minion. This beast of a vehicle will crush you if you're in the vicinity and strategy requires frequent movement while you drive from rooftop to rooftop, slowly chipping away his health. Once you're victorious, your driver's wish will be explained in a text crawl ending. Full motion video endings were originally planned, but the developer found them to be too cheesy to be put into the final game.

Twisted Metal 2 (1996)

Taking place after the first game (and a year after the 10th tournament) Twisted Metal 2 improved upon the presentation, gameplay graphics and the concept of level arenas. Rather than taking place in one location in the United States, now competitors had battlegrounds in different areas around the world. The streets of Los Angeles were now destroyed and in flames, Antarctica has drivers staying on an island that slowly crumbles away as time goes by, The streets of Paris has a destructible Eiffel Tower, and Holland is one big open area with no safe zones.

As you're halfway through the game, you'll run into Minion again in the lava filled wasteland of Amazonia, where there's little room for keeping out of the sizzling hot bath while staying on the narrow roads. You'll have to keep your distance again, as he'll have a freeze and homing missile combo that will really take a chunk out of your health.

Hong Kong Krunch is the final arena, cramped with opposing drivers as you drive around the streets of Hong Kong, detour through its train tunnels, and pray that you're prepared for the final match with Dark Tooth, Sweet Tooth's father, who isn't very happy that you killed his son.

Dark Tooth is an even more monstrous size of a car than Minion was, shooting the same ice cream as his son and will jump on your car for extra damage, and shooting his own fiery clown head at you when you're in the vicinity! ouch!

Unlike the first game, Twisted Metal 2 delivers comic book style endings to tell the outcome of the winner's wish, and in typical Calypso fashion, most of the endings are the demise of the drivers not giving a better description of their wish, leaving them in an unfortunate twist.

Looking back at the games now

Both games have had some growing pains in the controls department as the car handling hasn't aged well, fans who haven't played the games in a long while, or newcomers being introduced will find trouble in how they move, feeling loose and not exactly having that feel of being in full control. As for the enemy A.I., it can be very cheap at times, especially for hardcore gamers. Enemies will have frequent access to their special attacks, gang up on you, and freeze missile lock you for cheap hits. There are health pickups, but your best bet is to keep moving, and land a shot whenever you can. Thankfully, level passwords are your best friend in this regard.

Twisted Metal 3 and 4

During 1998 SingleTrac had taken a break from the Twisted Metal branding and worked on a one-off vehicular combat game called Rogue Trip: Vacation 2012 that took place in its own universe while 989 Studios handled the last two games of the 1990s era. Critic reviews were lackluster for feeling cheap compared to 1 and 2, the character endings were forgettable, and it just lacked the flair that SingleTrac had given the series prior. I admit that I had a lukewarm experience with them too, but I do get a guilty pleasure coming back to them despite not being as memorable.

 

What are your thoughts on Twisted Metal in the PlayStation 1 era? Leave a comment and as always, see you next article!

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Benjanime Posted on Sep 20, 2023 at 11:07 PM

@Mr Magic

Yep, apparently the same writers of the Deadpool movie were involved with the show and had no general knowledge of the game characters, so yeah, basically Sweet Tooth became a joke.

Mr Magic Posted on Sep 20, 2023 at 11:00 PM

@Ben:

Wait, wait wait! Sweet Tooth's twerks in the TM show?! Was going to watch, but after learning about that...

Benjanime Posted on Sep 02, 2023 at 03:21 PM

@Vaporman

Yeah, with that show out I figured it was a good time to give my own retrospective of the games. Sucks that the series will be known now for a twerking Sweet Tooth....

@Game Joy

My inspiration to write anything I can on here ;) thanks for reading, big brother :)

Game Joy Posted on Sep 02, 2023 at 02:46 PM

My little brother’s charisma and passion for interactive media.

Vaporman87 Posted on Sep 02, 2023 at 02:40 AM

Twisted Metal was a great game. The new TV show however...

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