Twisted Metal Black + War of the Monsters + Kinetica = ?

Why are these three PS2 games bundled together on the PS4 store? Especially considering how few PS2 games are available on PS4 in the first place? Heck if I know. But together, they cost less than six Canadian dollars, so, having never touched any of them before, I took the plunge.

I've spent very little time with them so far, but holy cow. At first blush, they sure do seem to epitomize some kind of hilarious influenced-by-The-Matrix, early 2000s mall-trash, not-made-in-Japan video game aesthetics. I can't tell whether to love them or hate them, or both, but War of the Monsters feels like it could potentially be good if the controls weren't so weird and floaty. Somebody must be nostalgic for this junk, but that person isn't me!

Should I bother digging deeper into this collection? The fact that they've been stuck together (in a way that reminds me of how we used to apply second-rate shrink wrap with a hair dryer to used and non-used but still opened games when I worked at EB Games (Canadian Gamestop)) suggests to me that they're illustrative of some noteworthy era or design principle that's worth exploring.

Is there actually any "there" here? Or was this just a dumb impulse purchase, to be enjoyed for one sit-down and never thought about again, like an overpriced latte?

My brother and I used to play a ton of War of The Monsters splitscreen versus and that‘s kind of a hoot if you’re into that. Otherwise I don‘t think the single player mode is much fun on it’s own.

Kinetica always seemed really weird to me and that's because having wheels on your hands and feet is just unnatural. Part of racing games are the machines and in Kinetica's case they seem to be scantily clad women. The studio would go on to make the God Of War series but this was their first game. I might make a thread about "future themed" racing games and how they informed and reflected our vision of the future and the word "hauntology" will show up once at least.

Never played Twisted Metal Black, I feel like car combat was a fad and couldn't get past it's biggest problem of having to steer and aim at the same time, too awkward for combat

i believe they were all published by sony.

i wonder what the process is like for a third party to get their ps2 game on ps4. the selection of games is endlessly bizarre to me, if we got god hand & chulip as ps2 classics on ps3 why aren't those on ps4?

Yeah, my sense is these are games published by sony that maybe they felt couldn‘t stand on their own, so they bundled them - it’s more like throwing the three games you have together at a yard sale than it is some sort of creative through-line.

I've said this on the show, but I kind of think the PS2 era is a pretty bad one for games. You've got 3D that's decent enough to expect modern design/control conventions, but it's far enough back that most of the time you don't have them. They wind up feeling "older" in their playstyles than many 16 bit games, just down to the complexity of what they're trying to do, and the inability (design or tech-wise) to realize that complexity in an intuitive way.

so that might be what you're getting here!

Twisted Metal and War of the Monsters are also both made by Incog Inc, so I think they share a similar engine. Of the set Twisted Metal Black is the best one. Though it is an acquired taste to be sure. It is also done no favors by being up ported to the PS4 as the original game is not pretty in it original 480i, and was overly dark / drab even for a PS2 game. On PS2 however, the game was a least very responsive which is something else that get lost in the port (I have always found PS2 games on PS4 very laggy). There is a fun, somewhat janky game there though, you can skip all the story stuff though, that hasn't aged well. Just slam around and blow stuff up, feel free to use cheat codes, and just get into the spooky atmosphere.

That said, Twisted Metal Head On from the end of the PS2's life cycle is a vastly better game the improves on Black's engine and drops all the grim dark trappings. Sadly that one doesn't seem to be available on PS4.

i bought war of the monsters on release day with my birthday money that year. it‘s pretty fun and there are some cool easter eggs. you can watch an entire 50’s sci fi movie for example.

twisted metal black was one of the first games i bought with my ps2 along with dmc1. it's really pretty good imho and the pinnacle of the car combat genre? idk

@exodus#5786 I can see that. Slightly off topic, but I had a theory/fear during the PS2/GC/Xbox era that kids growing up with that being their influential era of games, where literacy for the medium develops, that they may become adults that think bad camera systems are actually good play design.

I realize now that sells people way short. I mean, the NES was that console for me, and most people my age agree that a good chunk of that library wasn't great/could've been better. A lot of modern games influenced by that era build off the good and make it better.

Yeah, I think you‘ll always have your nostalgia types who just like anything with that vibe and lack a critical lens. But the actual critical thinkers (theoretically those who create things should get there eventually) will be able to see what’s good and bad about the past.

One thing I've noticed, releasing games like Oh, Deer! - people don't remember the bad bits of games they liked so much. People were constantly saying Oh, Deer! is "just like out run," when in fact out run has no drifting, doesn't can't do rotation, and displays roughly 1/50 the number of sprites on screen that we do. But it plays like their memory of having fun with out run, and that's what matters. So I think it's all fine!!

@family_computer#5872 what, I didnt know that. I'll have to find out how to unlock it

So what's interesting for me about playing all these nearly-20 year old games for the first time is this:

I've been playing games consistently for 30 years, so I know exactly the phenomenon that @exodus is describing, about only remembering the good bits about games I'm nostalgic for. I'm reminded of this phenomenon almost every time I try to revisit an old favourite from 15 or 20 years ago. It's always fun, going back to old console generations, because you discover what design principles have carried through to the present day, and what weird experiments were happening back in those days that didn't quite pan out or go the way the developers had hoped.

But! Despite having played a whole heck of a lot of games in the PS2/Xbox/Dreamcast era, I never played these specific ones, so I have no nostalgia for them, which means I've been having the inverse of the experience of revisiting old favourites. When you go back and play a game you used to love, you begin with a rush of nostalgia, and a big ol' smile. And gradually, cracks begin to appear, and some of the luster starts to fade (except in the case of stone-cold classic bangers). With these three dumb old games, however, I'm slapped in the face by the stuff that doesn't hold up anymore, and have to dig a little deeper to find the stuff that is still fun, and was perhaps a unique form of fun, specific to the PS2 era.

I'll tell you what though. While "futuristic racer" and "cars exploding each other up" no longer seem like enticing pitches to me, I'd love to see a brand new take on "gigantic monsters have a free-for-all wrestle-fest in a fully destructible city." Somebody please make that game!

@whatsarobot#5906 Car Combat is one of the weirdest genres because it is entirely defined by one series (Twisted Metal). Like not even Street Fighter holds such dominance over fighting games. If you like Car Combat you kind of have to play Twisted Metal.

I really think that's why it really isn't a thing any more other than say Rocket League, but that's less about blowing each other up. Not only was there only ever one really appealing version of the idea, but as you say the idea itself just isn't appealing anymore. Rage certainly wasn't a mega hit. There have got to be other genres or ideas that have just died since the PS2 era, but none of them jump out to me more than Car Combat. Maybe arena fighters though that genre actually is very similar in that it has been reduced to one (much more successful series) in the form of Smash Bros.

@robinhoodie#5908 That‘s a cool point that I hadn’t given consideration. There aren't too many other examples of such a dominant/singular entry in a genre, are there? I guess Seaman was kind of its own thing.

Part of the reason why Car Combat seems so unappealing now is because of what's actually going on in the world, with people taking stands, and being met with real, vehicular violence. On a recent Nintendo partners presentation, they showed a trailer for some World of Tanks game, which showed tanks just driving around American-looking cities, blowing each other up.

Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but that struck me as incredibly tone deaf, with everything people are fighting for these days.

@whatsarobot#5909 I put my finger on the tip of my nose and pointed it at the screen. Yeah. I could FOR SURE see not feeling okay about a game where you run people over in this moment in history. The series tried to get away from it's edge lord aesthetics a bit with Small Brawl which is the same kind of game but with RC Cars

No there is an idea I am surprised no one has tried to make something new with. I guess I never see kids playing with RC cars anymore though.

Aaaarguably Wipeout is the other dominant car combat game, and the entire kart genre, though I guess the emphasis is more on racing than combat. There's also, of course, earache extreme metal racing :sunglasses:

Speaking of games that skate towards the car combat genre AND would be difficult to release today: Carmageddon comes to mind. That game had a pretty significant following BITD, but I remember it mostly selling itself off the vehicular manslaughter context. The discussions IRL about it didn‘t seem to revolve around if it was a good or bad game to play. Just, "You can run people over and that’s hilarious!"

There was a Carmageddon on the current gen, but it does not look good, and really seems to be going for the same running people over hook. I also don't think I have ever seen it in the wild, though physical copies apparently exist.

whoa, this has a real “my first 3D level” kind of vibe to it. I did not know this existed!