The first two Twisted Metal games are freaking awesome. The third and fourth…well, the less said about those the better. So with the reigning champion of car combat sitting at home, drinking itself into a stupor and reminiscing about the good old days, where was a gamer to turn for a nice, healthy dose of vehicular manslaughter? Try two letters down in the alphabet to ‘V’. As in Vigilante 8.
While Vigilante 8 made its debut today in 1998 on the PlayStation, a few months before Twisted Metal 3, to rave reviews in the gaming press, it took a while for the momentum to shift. As gamers discovered that 989 Studios wasn’t performing up to par with Calypso and Sweet Tooth, the search for a viable replacement began. Fortunately the gang at Luxoflux had the right idea. The 70s retro craze was in full swing, so the idea of a disco-ain’t-dead-era car combat game set in a post-apocalyptic US wasteland where the police were powerless to stop the evil Coyotes gang was right in line with the times. Enter the Vigilantes, the only hombres rough and tough enough to take on the Coyotes mano-a-mano.
Vigilante 8‘s sequel, entitled 2nd Offense, hit in October of the following year and pretty much everyone agreed it was better than the original in every way. But then, the series just stops dead in its tracks. No third game. No more franchise. What happened?
We need only look to Littleton, Colorado. The mass school shooting which took place at Columbine High School on April 20th, 1999 put virtually ever gamer and game developer on edge once politicians and an overly-reactive media started blaming violent video games and certain musical artists for luring the perpetrators into committing the massacre. And while Twisted Metal‘s main mascot has always been Sweet Tooth’s ice cream truck, Vigilante 8‘s mascot, featured on the cover artwork, was a school bus. While it’s redesign for the sequel converted it into a prisoner transport, it was hard for the public to look at a bus armed to the teeth with a minigun, dual missile launchers, and a top-mounted swivel turret and not feel a little uncomfortable. And just like that, Vigilante 8 went the way of leg warmers and lava lamps. We’ve not seen it since.
But all you would care about is getting your hands on a copy for the PS1, N64, or even the Game Boy Color, if you were around today…in retro gaming. Here’s your two-page retro ad goodie, for being awesome like always.