Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sinner Sandwich

Topless Robot, a pop culture website that specializes in very specific lists, yesterday posted a countdown of the ten most bizarre video games made by mainstream publishers. Such a post promises the kind of trivia that I cannot resist, so, of course, I clicked through. I do not regret this clicking-through. The list features titles I would have expected — Killer7 (which features the character Trevor Pearlharbor, though that’s the least of what makes it strange) and the equally horribly named Sega game Seaman — but also a few I hadn’t heard of before. Foremost among these: this year’s PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 oddity Deadly Premonition.

(Before I get into it, what the hell would a deadly premonition be? A psychic vision that kills its beholder? If so, what good could such a premonition actually do?)

Deadly Premonition actually takes the top spot in this list, and Topless Robot’s blurb on it notes that it incorporates a whole lot of Twin Peaksiness. Again, I couldn’t resists the urge to click. This is what I found:

So let’s see… An awkward, seemingly superstitious FBI agent in a small town, at a diner, all set to a soundtrack of incongruous jazz. It’s really too much. And a turkey, strawberry jam and cereal sandwich? The “sinner sandwich”? That almost one-ups “That gum you like is going to come back in style.”

The post offered one more clip.

This is the clip:

So the protagonist FBI dude has high standards about his coffee? Also very David Lynchy. The Zach that Mr. FBI mentions, by the way, is his own alternate personality but also, in effect, the game-player himself. Cute.

Baffled as to how one should play this game — is the object to drink coffee? to weird out people you share meals with? — I looked it up on Wikipedia and found that it’s actually Resident Evil-style survival horror. (Of… course?) According to Wikipedia, the announcement of the title back in 2007 prompted several gaming critics to note the similarities between it and Twin Peaks, ultimately forcing Access Games to push Deadly Premonition in a different direction and delay it for three years. Therefore, what you saw in those preceding two clips, strange as it is to say it, represents the final, un-Twin Peaksified version of the game. The initial go at it, which debuted with the working title Rainy Woods, owes even more to the cult David Lynch series.

Here’s what people in saw 2007 as a preview:

From what I’ve read about the title, the premise glimpsed here — protagonist arriving in a small Northwestern town to investigate the brutal murder of a young woman — survived into the final version. No clue about the two identical (twin?) dwarves chanting “red tree,” the Dorothy Valens-esque chanteuse crooning in what looks like Blue Velvet’s Slow Club, or the law enforcement agent who looks like the lovechild of Michael Ontkean and Michael Horse. But yeah, the fact that this title exists — for systems I don’t own, I should note — boggles me, to say nothing of the fact that it hit shelves so recently without me noticing. This totally blows the Legend of Zelda-Twin Peaks connection out of the water. Or, to use a more appropriate metaphor, it beats it to death, wraps it in plastic and tosses it in the river.

All that said, it makes me happy to learn that Twin Peaks’s legacy continues so far beyond its brief life, all Laura Palmer-like.

Lynch, previously:
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  1. Deadly Premonition seems to be turning into The Room of video games. I would also like to play it, but I don't have an Xbox 360, nor do I want to spend $80 to import the PS3 version.

    If you want to hear a serious discussion of the game (including questions posed to the creator read by the voice actor of Deadly Premonition's protagonist), you should check out episode 5 of the Warning: A Huge Podcast is Approaching podcast (it starts around the hour 3 mark). The one interesting fact that I learned about the game is that the development team actually went to the town in Washington where Twin Peaks was filmed to develop game locations, yet the developer denies that Twin Peaks had much influence on the game.

    Or, if you'd like to check out another Twin Peaks-ish game, look up D2 for the Sega Dreamcast. It's both awful and awesome!

    1. This is really too much weirdness. I hadn't realized that there was a sequel to D/D's Diner. And I hadn't realized the significance of the lead character being named Laura.

  2. Anonymous9:26 PM

    Now, if they somehow made this sinner sandwich into a religious ward against the powers of satan & was somehow more important thank a fucking sandwich, this game would be far weirder & more lovable.

    1. I cannot posit as to the importance of actual sandwiches in the game.

  3. For those who are morbidly interested in this game (myself included), there is actually a full playthrough available at GiantBomb.com (http://www.giantbomb.com/endurance-run-deadly-premonition-part-br-01/17-2280/) that has two of the team playing through the entirety of the Game. Please note that this will take up many, MANY hours of your life. Also, if you look through the wiki-like entry, there is a director's cut of the game coming to PS3 in 2013... I only assume that means it will hit North American shores as well.

    1. Frankly, I'm shocked that anyone cared enough that this game would warrant a director's cut.