Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal)

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Sweet Tooth
Twisted Metal character
Sweet Tooth PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.png
Sweet Tooth in PlayStation All-Stars Battte Royale
First appearanceTwisted Metal (1995)
Voiced byJ.S. Gilbert (Twisted Metal: Black, Twisted Metal, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale)
Fred Tatasciore (Twisted Metal: Head-On)
Motion captureRobert Goodens (Twisted Metal (1995)

Sweet Tooth, real name Marcus "Needles" Kane, is a fictional character from the Twisted Metal video game series.[1] Sweet Tooth is designed around the premise of a killer clown that drives a combat ice cream truck, and his face has been featured on the cover of every Twisted Metal game to date, making him the series mascot.[2] While being in every title of the series, he has not always been immediately available, requiring to be unlocked in some. He is the only character (besides Marcus Kane), to drive more than one vehicle in any of the games, being the driver of Head-On's Dark Tooth, Tower Tooth, and as of Twisted Metal: Lost, Gold Tooth.

Sweet Tooth has the most relationships to any group of characters in the entire series: his father Charlie Kane (driver of Yellow Jacket in the first game)[3] and Marcus Kane (split personality,[4] Roadkill's driver). The final level of the second game features a boss fight with his father as Dark Tooth. Spectre's ending in the first game strongly hints that Sweet Tooth was the serial killer who killed the driver of Spectre five years before the competition.[5] He has an unnamed brother that only appeared in Twisted Metal: Black, who drove that game's Yellow Jacket vehicle.[6] He is also directly responsible for the creation of that game's Axel, whose wife he killed,[7] and Cage, who wishes to be a greater killer than Sweet Tooth.[8]

The character has gone through several redesigns differing from game to game, similar to fellow character Calypso, and his personality has grown progressively darker along the way. Despite the changes some factors remained uniform, notably the perpetual flame on his head introduced in the second game. Starting with Twisted Metal: Black, his design became a large, somewhat overweight bare chested clown with a flaming mask locked into a permanent maniacal smile. Head-On expanded on this idea, changing the mask to face paint and the smile to his own.[9]

Design and history[edit]

Sweet Tooth's original look featured him as a green haired, slim simple circus clown who had escaped from a mental institution.[10] The design was expanded upon in the second game in response to changes to the truck's design, notably due to the clown head adorning the truck now featuring a personality of its own.[11] The result gave Sweet Tooth the flaming head design seen on the character since. 989 Studios, who handled the next two games, put more emphasis on the clown design, redesigning his attire to that of a ringmaster in Twisted Metal 4; neither design was held in high regard by the developers, with David Jaffe stating his dislike of III's look.[12] As of Black and beyond, the design was modified heavily, giving him increased bulk and other features that would be called his "classic look" by Incog Inc.'s design team.[2]

The ice cream truck was actually designed well before the driver himself, and Black's incarnation took six months and many concept sketches to finalize. Labeled early on "DEMONIC ICE CREAM TRUCK", attention to details such as the head adorning the vehicle and the contents of the back of the truck were focused on during development.[13] Boss variants of the truck have also appeared regularly in the series starting with Dark Tooth in the second game (which was a re-textured version of the original Sweet Tooth vehicle). While the designs for the vehicles have progressed steadily, care has been emphasized to keep them rooted to the simple yet unique ice cream truck structure, something that has become harder and harder for the team as the games go on.[14]


Twisted Metal: Black[edit]

In Twisted Metal: Black, Sweet Tooth had a big make-over design-wise, giving him a more maniacal homicidal appearance. His personality also changed and became much darker. His background was expanded upon, stating he was a wanted mass murderer that survived the electric chair, to later end up at the Blackfield Asylum. It's revealed that the flames on his head were product of a curse imposed by the Black character Preacher, the driver of Brimstone, before execution. He was cursed with the burden of the fires of Hell upon his head, which burns him endlessly and causes him pain.[15] He wants nothing more than for it to be gone, and that's what Calypso offers him as a prize. However, in his ending Calypso reveals that in order to break the curse, he'd have to renounce to his obsession for murdering innocents, to which Sweet Tooth responds by killing Calypso himself. Sweet Tooth also has an unnamed younger brother who drives Yellow Jacket alongside a dead zombified Charlie Kane. However, due to the surreal setting of Black and his apparent disconnection from the mainstream games, the game's plot is considered an alternative storyline. In Twisted Metal: Lost, it is said in the bio of Yellow Jacket that his brother and Charlie were attempting to kill Needles, then themselves, to "end the bloodline of generations of murderers and psychopaths."

Other media[edit]

Sweet Tooth returns as a car in the child-themed spin-off game Twisted Metal: Small Brawl, based on RC cars instead of real ones. In this game, Sweet Tooth is the youngest and most mischievous kid in the contest, and enters looking for some ice cream.[16] His ending shows that Calypso offers him an ice cream from his familiar Ice Cream truck, but Sweet Tooth instead steals the truck to terrorize Calypso.

Sweet Tooth is also an unlockable character in War of the Monsters (2003) for the PlayStation 2, a game in which Incognito used the TM:B engine to make a movie monster fighting game. One of the characters, Agamo, has Sweet Tooth as the fourth skin. To unlock it, one must beat the story mode of Twisted Metal: Black with Sweet Tooth and have the save on the memory card. Sweet Tooth is represented by a tall mech with the signature flaming clown head, and often breaks out in his usual laughter throughout the game.

Sweet Tooth appears as a playable character in the crossover fighting game for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.[17]

Sweet Tooth's ice cream truck appears as a vehicle customization in the 2015 Psyonix game Rocket League.

Sweet Tooth appeared as a combatant in the web series Death Battle, where he fought the Joker from DC Comics and lost.


Sweet Tooth was placed second by Joystick Division on its list of "The Top Ten Video Game Clowns Of All Time", remarking he "has become one of the most recognizable figures in the Playstation portion of the video game world,"[18] while GamesRadar listed him as one of the scariest clowns in videogames, stating he is "[p]erhaps the only other whiteface to rival Kefka in terms of fame, the rampaging maniac of Twisted Metal has become the franchise's principal icon",[19] and PlayStation Official Magazine ranked him as the seventh best clown on PlayStation.[20] He was listed second in the Cheat Code Central list of "Top 10 Psychopaths Of This Gaming Generation".[21] IGN called him one of the most notorious anti-heroes in gaming, saying "There's no real good guy in the Twisted Metal series" but that "Sweet Tooth ... stands out as a figurehead amongst this crew".[22]

GameSpy placed him third in their 2001 list of top villains in games.[23] He was included in GameSpot's "All Time Greatest Video Game Villain" contest and reached the "Sinister Sixteen" round before losing to Sarah Kerrigan.[24] Sweet Tooth was elected the 25th coolest videogame character by Entertainment Weekly.[25] UGO Networks ranked him as the second "Best Twisted Metal Characters and Their End Game Videos", adding "[i]f there was a psychopathic clown college, the Joker would be the dean and Sweet Tooth would be its top professor."[26] In 2013, Complex included him among the 25 greatest video game mascots at the number 21, saying "Inhabiting our nightmares is certainly one way to become an effective mascot."[27]

Frosty Treats, Inc., filed a lawsuit against Sony contending that Sweet Tooth infringed on the company's trademarks for their "Safety Clown". The Safety Clown is a set of decals on their ice cream trucks and directs children to cross the street behind the van so that passing cars are more likely to see them. Frosty Treats' CEO, Carl Long, stated testified that "they don't look the same way, but if the Safety Clown had a brother who was nasty and mean, it would look somewhat like Sweet Tooth." In Frosty Treats, Inc. v. Sony Computer Entertainment America, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled against the trademark claim because, even if Sweet Tooth was derivative, it was unlikely to cause confusion among consumers.[28]


  1. ^ "Two classic characters, one class brawl: Optimus Prime (Transformers: The Game) vs Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal Series)," GamePro 235 (April 2008): 24.
  2. ^ a b "As you can see from the photograph taken during filing of the Twisted Metal 1 end movies, Sweet Tooth was at the start simply a circus clown. He did not even have his trademarked flaming hair. But by Twisted Metal: Black, the classic look of Sweet Tooth had emerged. From chicken scratch sketches to full blown CG character models, no expense was spared in bringing this mascot character to his current incarnation." Factoid 10 in Sweet Tour, Twisted Metal Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition
  3. ^ Yellow Jacket ending cinematic from Twisted Metal
  4. ^ Marcus Kane bio, Twisted Metal: Head On
  5. ^ "For the last five years, you have been a spirit, a ghost, a dead guy. Stabbed by a maniac serial killer at a local circus, you were killed instantly."-Spectre's ending from Twisted Metal
  6. ^ Yellow Jacket storyline cinematics from Twisted Metal Black
  7. ^ Axel ending cinematic, Twisted Metal: Black
  8. ^ Cage bio, Twisted Metal:Lost
  9. ^ Dark Tooth ending cinematic from Twisted Metal: Head On
  10. ^ Sweet Tooth's Twisted Metal: Urban Assault storyline
  11. ^ "The Darkside vs. Sweet Tooth image marks the first time an artist gave the ice cream truck head a living personality, seeing the clown with such an evil personality inspired the team to flesh out the driver of the truck itself, applying the vibe of the head on the truck to the driver inside." Factoid 4 in Sweet Tour, Twisted Metal Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition
  12. ^ Twisted Metal documentary bonus video, Twisted Metal Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition
  13. ^ "The ice cream truck for Twisted Metal: Black took six months to design, with over three hundred concept sketches done before the team locked on the final version. In the following images you can see the attention to detail that went into everything from choosing the right clown head to figuring out what was inside the back of the truck itself. You can also see the original art of the ice cream truck labeled DEMONIC ICE CREAM TRUCK that was designed well before the character of Sweet Tooth was even conceived." Factoid 25 in Sweet Tour, Twisted Metal Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition
  14. ^ "With each title it gets harder and harder to design a Sweet Tooth boss that is unique and special enough to be a boss character while still retaining the core elements of the very simple ice cream truck design." Factoid 7 in Sweet Tour, Twisted Metal Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition
  15. ^ Sweet Tooth storyline cinematics, Twisted Metal: Black
  16. ^ Sweet Tooth bio, Twisted Metal: Small Brawl
  17. ^ Dykstra, Chloe. "PlayStation All-Star Battle Royale: Really, though? (preview)". VentureBeat.
  18. ^ Hawkins, James (July 28, 2011). "The Top Ten Video Game Clowns Of All Time". Joystick Division. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  19. ^ Sterling, Jim (January 6, 2011). "The scariest clowns in videogames". GamesRadar. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  20. ^ "PlayStation's best: clowns". PlayStation Official Magazine. May 28, 2012. Archived from the original on December 15, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  21. ^ "2. Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal)". Cheat Code Central. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  22. ^ "Gaming's Most Notorious Anti-Heroes". IGN. March 5, 2012. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  23. ^ Schwartzman, Cary (October 2, 2001). "Top 10 Villains in Games". GameSpy. Archived from the original on July 9, 2007. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  24. ^ "All Time Greatest Video Game Villain". GameSpot. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  25. ^ "25 Coolest Videogame Characters". Entertainment Weekly. May 5, 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  26. ^ Genovese, Vincent (June 29, 2010). "The Best Twisted Metal Characters and Their End Game Videos". UGO Networks. Archived from the original on August 20, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  27. ^ Knight, Rich; Turner, Gus (August 23, 2013). "The Best Video Game Mascots of All Time". Complex. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  28. ^ Arnold, Morris Sheppard (25 July 2005). "FROSTY TREATS INC v. SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA INC". FindLaw. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 30 August 2015.