Friday, December 24, 2010

Twisted's the Chutzpah of my passion! (A letter to David Jaffe)

Mr. Jaffe.  I think I called you this when I met you at E3 and you asked me politely to call you David, but I can't help it, I'm still a bit socially awkward when I'm around people that drive my passion.  Below you will find a rather wordy account of what Twisted Metal means to me.  I can't come up with any profound questions to ask as I picked your brain when I met you at the LA Convention Center.  Hopefully this serves, in the very least, to remind you and the team how important the series is to so many of us.

Twisted Metal resonates within me as one of the single most influential reasons I own and support the PlayStation platform to this day.  I, like many, were leery of Sony producing a platform that was disc-based and primarily 3D.  The tech, at the time, seemed so fresh and, perhaps, a bit rough around the edges.  Why wouldn't it?  It was so new and frankly a bit scary.

Titles like Battle Arena Toshinden really didn't do anything for me.  I understood the allure behind a 3D game, but I couldn't get past the "ugly" that seemed to bathe most titles of the generation.

If it wasn't a rough polygon, it was live action marring the experience.  The acting was never on par, nor did it seem to convey the same emotional ambiance as the game (save titles like Krazy Ivan which was fantastic in both respects, but that was probably because they ran with the campy nature of live-action cinematics).

Anyhow, moving to my passion...I came across an interesting title that hearkened back to my days of playing the Amiga back in '88 (I would have been 11 at the time), and a little gem that soaked up most of my time...AutoDuel, by Origin.  By today's standards it serves as nothing more than a relic of its time, but to me it certainly motivated my purchase of Twisted Metal.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit that this dated Amiga title would push me into a purchase of TM, there really is no's ugly and flat in design and depth, but honestly the core mechanic is there.  Vehicular Car Combat in a Post Apocalyptic setting.  I think that was a driving factor to my interest and the fact that I was completely enamored with movies like Mad Max and A Boy & His Dog before I ever really understood much of what the stories were trying to convey.

So I had a bit of nostalgia pushing my interest in Twisted Metal.  What happened afterwards would push an obsession that would last beyond my expectations and into weekly couch co-op tournaments with friends that would set the standard for "First to 50" sessions that would start in the early evening and push well into the wee hours of the morning.  Imagine, if you will, two (or more) equally skilled gamers paired in vehicular arena combat where we'd trade wins.  First to 50 wins became a staple of our household, an obsession really that would move onto even the more casual Vehicle Combat games, like Mario Kart's Battle Mode (we owe it all to Twisted Metal).

Twisted Metal not only became one of my personal favorite series, but always instrumental in unintentionally selling the hardware to friends who didn't own a PlayStation.  They'd come over, love the matches and want to practice up before the following week tourney.  I'm not sure if selling consoles was ever the intent behind Twisted Metal, but in my network of friends it certainly served that purpose.

What transpired beyond the original release would cascade into a purchase (and equal obsession) of every single iteration to follow and subsequent "tournaments" with friends.  Twisted Metal not only hooked itself into the nostalgia of my youth, but did so paving a new road and practice for how I would play games as I matured.  It just happened to do so by creating a compelling formula with equally compelling characters.  Never did the series feel like a chore, certainly challenging, but always rewarding and above all else...FUN!

So if you will, please excuse the wall of text above.  I did my best to keep it as short as humanly possible.  I could probably write a thesis on why a game about aggressively blowing up people in a battle for selfish gain did worlds of wonder for making me an upstanding man in society all while bridging social awkwardness at the same time, but I'll spare you...for now.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.  I'm digging up my PSone for a holiday tourney tomorrow!  Thanks for igniting the flame, David!

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