Article Twisted Metal Retrospective

Written by Twisted Ideas

With the new Twisted Metal game set for release February, 2012 I want to remind everyone where the series came from.

Twisted Metal is a demolition derby game where drivers are competing for anything they wish. Players drive around massive stages arming themselves to be the last one standing. There are many destructible elements in each stage that would reveal secret passages or rooms. The series is famous for their vehicles most famous is Sweet Tooth the ice cream truck. Some vehicles appear in multiple games but the driver would often change. Each driver was competing for a single wish with no limits on time and reality. A theme to the series is to be careful what you wish for, you never know what you might get.

Twisted Metal (1995)

Twisted Metal was released a few months after the launch of the Playstaion. This is the game that introduced the killer clown Needles Kane often referred to as Sweet Tooth. The controls were touchy and difficult to drive without colliding into walls but players enjoyed the mayhem anyways. The story goes that the tenth annual Twisted Metal tournament has started and Calypso has invited twelve drivers to fight to the death for a chance to win anything they wish. Originally there were live action endings that were incredibly cheesy but they were cut from the final version. The endings were replaced with scrolling text and some were altered.

Twisted Metal 2 (1996)

Twisted Metal 2 is considered by fans to be the best in the series. A new year and a new Twisted Metal Tournament and Calypso wants it to be bigger than ever. Each level takes place in a different location around the globe. Taking advantage of the destructible environment TM2 had some iconic moments. You could destroy the legs of the Eiffel Tower and watch it topple over. In New York if you shot at the Statue of Liberty it would explode revealing the Statue in a bikini. Character endings were animated and were a vast improvement in storytelling. Marcus Kane the driver of Roadkill’s ending teased the idea that the world of Twisted Metal that the drivers are trapped in. This idea was reinforced in Black and Head On.

Twisted Metal 3 (1998)

The third instalment of the franchise ran into some internal disputes leading Sony hand the license to 989 Studios. The series shift from being dark to being camp. The first two games Calypso had twisted the words of some of the winners to cheat them out of their wish. TM3 took this to a comical extreme and cheated all drivers. These endings were short, pathetic and poorly written. 989 Studios even tried to link some of the drivers to TM2 but all it amounted to was a quick nod.

Twisted Metal 4 (1999)

989 Studios’ second attempt was an improvement but still retained the campy feel. The story was rebooted to have Sweet Tooth, who had followed and won Twisted Metal, wished to be the star of Twised Metal. Event. Sweet Tooth out of jealous took Calypso’s ring, which gave him his powers and left him for dead. With his new found powers he now runs Twisted Metal. This new dynamic didn’t change the structure of the game but did have Calypso as a playable character for the first time, that and clowns. The controls and level design were improved but as with TM3 lost the series original charm.

Twisted Metal Black (2001)

Twisted Metal Black was a released on the Playstation 2 and was a fresh start for the series that was getting old. Not only did Black turn the series dark it went even further and became brutal earning it an M rating. Calypso breaks into Blackfield Asylum and personally invites inmates to enter the tournament. This is the only game to have a prologue and a “middle” videos and between each stage drivers had their own monologue. Prior to Black, the biographies and the endings were the only resource to learn about the driver, name and face included. The stories were about death, murder, tragedy and redemption investing you into the characters making you want to see it through till the end.

There was an updated version that was given away that featured online play. This was released early in the PS2’s life cycle so online was still new for console games. Many players didn’t have network adapters. Sufficed to say TMB Online was never got huge.

Twisted Metal Small Brawl (2001)

Small Brawl was a spin-off that was released on the PS1 where the drivers are children. The game tried to find a happy balance between dark and camp with the drivers and their endings. They accomplished this to an extent but in contrast to Black it was a bland forgotten game.

Twisted Metal Head-On (2005)

Twisted Metal Head-On was a launch title for the PSP and was one of the few games worth owning early in the PSP’s life cycle. Instead of a follow up to Black, Head-On is a follow up of Twisted Metal 2 Twisted Metal 2.5 if you will. It reunited the cast from 2 plus new drivers/vehicles like Cousin Eddy, ATV and Tooth Tower. Head-On did feature online play but has since been shut down.

In 2008 Head-On was later ported to the PS2 with the subtitle Extra Twisted Edition. The port contained bonus content. There was a soundtrack, the aforementioned live action endings from TM1, an interview with the creative team behind the series and playable content from the scrapped game Twisted Metal Harbor City. Harbor city was set to be a sequel to Black which would feature a mode where you walked around as Sweet Tooth called Sweet Tour. There were four playable levels with no endings, two new vehicles and the cast from Black with bios containing their plots for the game. Sweet Tour contained factoids from the developers. The interview contained an hidden message when decoded wrote “Twisted Metal is on PSthree”. This was confirmed by David Jafee shortly after the game’s release.

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