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What is Twisted Metal Based On? Get to Know the Video Games Behind the Show

Twisted Metal, Peacock's new series, is based on a long-running video game franchise. Here's what you need to know. 

By James Grebey

Move over The Super Mario Bros. Movie and The Last of Us. There’s a new video game adaptation in town. Twisted Metal, a 10-episode action-comedy series, will premiere exclusively on Peacock on July 27. The series is based on the popular PlayStation video game franchise of the same name, but it seems like it’s going to be a fairly standalone event that requires no significant familiarity with the source material. (Of course, fans of the games will probably spot lots of Easter eggs.)

In the Twisted Metal TV show, Anthony Mackie plays John Doe, an amnesiac mailman living in a post-apocalyptic United States. The major cities have put up walls around themselves and John takes a dangerous courier job, forcing him to drive his gun-equipped car through a dangerous Mad Max-esque wasteland. Along the way, he’ll encounter dangers like Sweet Tooth, a killer clown who is the mascot of the video game series. 

There are other characters in addition to Sweet Tooth who will appear in the series in some form or another, like Neve Campbell’s Raven and Thomas Haden Church’s Agent Stone. But, the basic premise of the show is different from the games, though it maintains the signature vehicular madness and sense of humor. 

What Are the Twisted Metal Games About?

The first Twisted Metal game came out in 1995, though it was set in the then-future of 2005. A mysterious man named Calypso who lives underneath Los Angeles hosts a contest, called Twisted Metal, every year. It’s a demolition derby, and players select a character and compete to be the winner. It’s not until the sequel, released the following year, that the setting becomes post-apocalyptic, though even then Twisted Metal has not been the most story-focused game over the course of its 10 releases. 

What is consistent across the games is the basic premise. Calypso — who is basically the devil — offers to grant all the contestants’ wishes, even if doing so would require some sort of supernatural power. (Example wishes: Go back in time and undo a horrible mistake, be able to fly, become the greatest serial killer of all time by getting rid of any compassion for human life.) Some wishes are more mundane, but no matter the case, Calypso tends to grant them in a Monkey’s Paw-style way, where the wisher technically gets what they wanted but they’re worse off. 

Unless the trailers are hiding something (which is not unlikely), it does not appear that Calypso or his wish-granting powers are a part of the show. Campbell’s Raven, who is a contestant in the games, appears to be taking on a more Calypso-like role in the series, offering to grant John Doe’s with for “two-ply toilet paper.”

The main draw of the Twisted Metal games, though, is the gameplay, as players can choose from a variety of vehicles and drive around fairly big levels while attempting to ram, shoot, blow up, or otherwise eliminate their competitors. It’s fun stuff, and the series seems like it’ll capture the spirit of the gameplay, regardless of any other adaptational changes. 

How Many Twisted Metal Games Have There Been?

There have been 10 Twisted Metal Games. The first two, Twisted Metal (1995) and Twisted Metal 2 (1996) were for the PlayStation and PC. Twisted Metal III (1998) and Twisted Metal 4 (1999) were PlayStation exclusives. Twisted Metal Black (2001) came out for the PlayStation 2, and it was a darker, less cartoony installment than the previous games. Twisted Metal: Head-On hit the PlayStation Portable in 2005 and Twisted Metal: Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition, a PlayStation 2 port with added content, came in 2008. The most recent game in the main series was Twisted Metal (2012), which was for the PlayStation III. 

There have also been two spin-off games, the PlayStation’s Twisted Metal: Small Brawl (2001) and the PS2’s Twisted Metal: Black Online (2002).

When Does Twisted Metal premiere, and how do you watch it?

All ten episodes of Twisted Metal will premiere exclusively on Peacock on July 27. 

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