Twisted Metal Retro Review – Nothing Short Of Iconic

Everyone knows Twisted Metal… I mean literally everyone! Whether it is simply a childhood classic for you, or one of the worst, mind-corrupting disgraces to entertainment you can think of, you’ve at least heard of this iconic title.

Personally, I have always been a huge fan of the franchise, and I have very fond memories of playing the games with my cousins when I was very young. After all these years, multiple sequels and spin-off games, and even a TV show, let’s go way back to 1995 and see if the original Twisted Metal title still holds any weight in today’s gaming world.

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Introduction: Winner Takes Whatever They Want!

The game is pretty difficult even on easy difficulty.

The concept behind the original Twisted Metal is really very simple. Calypso, the mysterious man who runs the Twisted Metal tournament assembles some of the best drivers, criminals, and insane individuals that he can find and pits them in a car-based combat tournament until one winner is crowned champion. The winner of the Twisted Metal tournament gets, literally, whatever they want. With an iconic and suggestive cast of drivers, you can take control of any of their destinies and fight your way to the top seat of the Twisted Metal world.

Gaming has obviously come a very, very, VERY long way since 1995. I didn’t go in expecting to see some masterpiece in graphics, or even really be drawn into the basic game style much at all after so many years. My hopes for this title were more based on nostalgia and childhood memories, and I was taken right back to those childhood years sitting around the TV, passing the original PlayStation sticks with my kin. Let me take you through my ques of seeing just how well Twisted Metal holds up these days.

The Story: Fast-paced Car-Exploding Action

Calypso use to always freak me out as a kid.

I highlighted the basic story above and I don’t plan to spend any more time on it because there literally is nothing more to say. The story itself is quite simple and point-blank, as there is no actual “story mode” in the original Twisted Metal. Instead, you simply need to hit the options menu and check out the story video placed in-game. Reading through the character descriptions tcan also help you learn about the full story of the game. After you do that, the only link left to do is immediately jump right into the non-stop action. There’s not much more to the game than that, but back in 1995, you really didn’t need a story mode when you get to spend the hours of your day blowing other vehicles up.

Since there really is no story, I’m gonna use this section to talk about the nitty-gritty details of the car combat. First, let’s highlight the characters and weapons. Each character in the roster has a unique vehicle, as well as a unique special move that causes significantly more damage than the regular weapons you pick up while chasing down your opponents. This leaves room for plenty of replay options to keep the game going with limited game modes available. Each and every character in the game is absolutely awesome in their own right. With major franchise icons like Needles Kane, the killer clown and his ice cream truck dubbed Sweet Tooth, and Mr. Grimm, the motorcycle-driving Grim Reaper, you can’t go wrong with any choice. Along with your special move, you can also get different kinds of rockets, mines, and even an oil slick while playing to blast your enemies with and reach your goal of winning the Twisted Metal tourney.

Sweet Tooth is the face of the franchise.

Aside from the characters and weapons, Twisted Metal also features a handful of great levels to race around and shoot at your opponents in. My personal favorite, “River Park Rumble”, is a stage set in Beverly Hills, and features a small neighborhood and a big park to speed around and destroy. On other levels, like a massive freeway system, the warehouse district of Los Angeles and an underground arena level have no room for disappointment. Although the graphics of ’95 might be a little iffy, the original designs of these levels were pretty impeccable for their time.

Gameplay: Take Control! Spray and Pray!

I struggled returning to the archaic controls of PlayStation One.

The controls of Twisted Metal are no doubt the worst thing about the whole game. Not that they are bad by any means, as the developers did what they had to do to make it work. After more than a decade since my last time playing the game, it took some time to get use to them again.

Add the innate difficulty of the game to the difficulty of the controls, and a triumphant return to my childhood stomping grounds was not at all what I got. Instead of coming right back into a game I use to play often as a kid, I was sent to the scrapyard over, and over again. Once I was finally able to get the hang of simply maneuvering the levels, it started to come back pretty quickly, though, and I started thoroughly enjoying this nostalgic title.

Become a Twisted Metal god with the cheat passwords awarded after every win.

One additional note I would like to make is something I normally wouldn’t say about any game. With the original Twisted Metal though, I urge you… USE THE CHEATS! They are simply incredible, but I won’t ruin any surprises. I’ll let you discover them for yourself. You can easily find them all over the internet.

Graphics and Sound: Oh To Be A Kid Again

Look at it! Just look at it! We’ve come a long way.

I’m not going to sit here and trash the graphics of 1995. Twisted Metal in 2024 is honestly nothing attractive to look at, but if you’re a fan of the series, or just a fan of retro gaming in general, there is a certain charm to the crude, pixelated monstrosity that is Twisted Metal. From the boxy explosions to the unnatural landscape, it just screams ’90s. I love it and hate it equally, but mostly is the coolest thing ever. The ’90s were the best.

The soundtrack is absolutely great compared to the graphics, though. Through and through all the theme music in-game is excellent, and still sounds pretty good even in today’s standards. With adrenaline-pumping sounds and heavy metal-inspired tones, the music matches the gameplay perfectly. Maybe it’s just because I grew up with it, maybe it’s a masterpiece, who knows? You can judge for yourself, go check it out on YouTube, or play the game for ourself on the PS5.

Replay Value: It’s There Or It’s Not

Not many in-game options back in 1995.

Whether or not Twisted Metal has high replay value or not is strictly based on one thing. When you went to the arcade, did you spend all of your quarters on your favorite game? Or did you spread the love around to multiple machines? If you were a one-trick quarter pusher then Twisted Metal might have extremely high replay value for you. If you’re more like me and specialized in many games, well, then Twisted Metal is good for maybe a buck or two. Regardless it was an amazing amount of fun to replay after all these years. I’ll definitely be keeping a note to revisit this gem again in the future.

Conclusion: Solid As A Statue

Seeing this screen was a big relief back in the day.

Twisted Metal will live on throughout time, there is just no denying that. I thoroughly love the franchise, as I mentioned before, and maybe my rating is a little biased due to that, but I can’t finish this article with anything less than a solid 9 out of 10 for this title. I have my criticisms on some elements of the game, but they are heavily outweighed by how much I still enjoy the game. This classic title built the foundation of some of my favorite past times, and I’ll forever be a fan because of that.

While you can nitpick different points or even disagree with me fully, Twisted Metal was, is, and always will be a great game. It is nothing short of iconic and will live on in history. I recommend trying to find a copy of your own if you still own a PlayStation One, though you might have to pay a pretty penny for it. If you have a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5, you can purchase a digital download of the game for $9.99.

Twisted Metal was published by Sony Computer Entertainment and released on November 5th, 1995, for the PlayStation. It has since received multiple sequels and reboots spanning all PlayStation consoles, and has even been adapted into a TV Show on the streaming service Peacock.

Joys

  • Iconic title
  • Amazing characters
  • Great soundtracks
  • Non-stop action
  • Nostalgic charm

Cons

  • Difficult even on Easy mode
  • Graphics are rough in today’s world

Twisted Metal (PS1)

9
Excellent

This game earned its exceptional rating, time and time again. A classic and iconic title that will be remembered forever.

Zachary M. Cain
PS1 version reviewed.