Laban Ng Tansan: The Real Tin Pin Slammer

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I was playing a Nintendo DS game entitled "The World Ends With You" the other day, and in that game there was a mini-game of sorts called the Tin Pin Slammer. The Tin Pin Slammer is basically a game wherein one player attempts to knock the other player's pins out of the battlefield by slamming against each other, with Powerups and special battlegrounds that the player can use to his or her advantage.

pictured: TWEWY's Tin Pin Slammer

I thought, hey, that's cool. A lot of videogame critics hail the mini-game as one of the more addicting features of the DS game f0r being simple and innovative at the same time.

It's nice. But you know what? In my book, it's neither new nor innovative. As a matter of fact, 17 years ago we already had the very same game we played as kids. Sure it wasn't as popular, but it wasn't inferior to the DS version either.

It didn't have a formal name, but we called it "Laban ng Tansan" (Battle of the Bottle Caps).
pictured: The 2-decade older predecessor

Nowadays fewer and fewer kids are able to get their soda in bottles and unless bottled beer starts getting served in schools (legally), this sport is bound to die out. My memory isn't as good as it used to be either so I'll do my best to try and leave a record of the game's mechanics on this page for the future generation's reference.

The premise is not too different from Tin Pin Slammer. Each player uses one or any other number of "tansans" (bottle caps) against the same number of tansans of another player. The end goal is to either knock the cap of the opponent out of a ring, destroy the cap, or flip the opponent's cap upside down. For multi-tansan battles, the game ends once all the tansans are put out of commission.

Movement is done by flicking the tansan with the index finger or the middle finger ("pitik"). Any other method such as pushing with the finger is illegal. Also, you cannot flick a tansan when a cap is headed its way - this is to prevent your finger from absorbing the impact of the other tansan. Because of this, turns develops during a game.

Playing fields can determine other rules for victory. If there are water hazards nearby (like a creek, canal, or gutter), falling into the water (or whatever putrid liquid is flowing through) is a loss. The same goes for high places, which are well known for shattering certain types of caps.

Like any other sport, there are different types of tansan designs used. I'll be explaining the types, how to make them and their advantages and disadvantages. Variations of these types also exist, but we will not be discussing them in this article.

1. Ordinary Configuration
Well balanced in both offense and defense, this is a very good beginner's tansan. It's also the most common configuration, because kids who play this game are mostly the lazy types of kids who can't be bothered to work on more complex projects like a saranggola or toy carts.

How it's made:
This is basically your default tansan, ready to rock after being removed from the bottle.
The tansan is very easy to flick and control. By being symmetric on all sides, it cannot be flanked or attacked from behind.
This configuration is weak against every type in the list, though when controlled by a skilled player, a win against every type is not really impossible.

2. Fully-flattened Configuration
A more defensive type, the fully-flattened tansan is the rarest type in the list.

How it's made:
The tansan is laid on a very flat cement surface and then pressure is applied directly on top by using something hard like the back sole of a shoe or a large flat rock. The impact must be directly above the tansan or the tansan will warp and will be rendered unusable by its unstable shape.
This tansan's strength is it's stability. Having a very low profile means, short of getting knocked out of the ring, flipping it over on a very smooth surface is very very hard. The flatter the tansan is the more stable it gets, putting emphasis on the quality of its construction.
Whatever defensive capabilities you get with this configuration, you lose out on offensive capabilities. You're flat and very very light. Goliaths (overlapping configuration) won't even move even if you execute a full forced pitik. It's very possible for your tansan to go straight under the opponent's also.

3. Wedge Configuration
Well, we don't really call it wedge back then, because we didn't even know what wedges are at age six. Anyway, this configuration is also called bulldozer because of its scoop-like front.

How it's made:
The tansan is laid on a flat hard surface and then flattened with the force applied only to the 1/4 of the surface. This should cause half of the tansan to form a parabolic ramp and a normal back. If the normal half gets bent in any way, the tansan will become unstable and unusable.
A properly made tansan can send any type of tansan flying after it either gets hit or hits from the wedged side. Having this kind of advantage makes it one of the better offensive types in the list.
Being asymmetrical in shape, controlling the tansan is very hard, and many a flick will be wasted in aligning the wedged side to face the opponent.

4. Goliath, Overlapping Configuration
Dubbed as the goliath by my seven-year old friends, the goliath is basically multiple tansans pressed together to form a heavyweight monstrosity.

How it's made:
For double layered overlaps, two tansans are placed directly on top of each other, and then force is directly applied on top, just enough to make the top cap expand to the shape of the bottom cap. The edges of the cap can be hammered in to keep the overlap locked in place. For more layers, either the double layer is placed on top of a normal cap and then hammered down or three caps are placed directly on top of one another. Each layer added increases the chance of the build to be broken. The max layers I've seen is five, and it was very unstable already.
It's the normal configuration's big bad brother. Weighing twice or thrice, it's almost an unfair advantage. It's normal for a player using other configurations to refuse a match. Goliaths are often played against other goliaths, just to be fair.
Overlapping configurations are just makeshift caps placed on top of each other, so any impact on their weakpoints can make them shatter. Falling from a high place can have the same result as well.


To be fair, I know this game is rather old already, and it doesnt have the super powerups or proper hygiene standards of Tin Pin Slammer, still I think it's one of those great games that only sheer boredom could have created - and deserves as much preservation as possible.

Also, in case you lose in TWEWY, you can't use your "pin" to murder your opponent in a burst of rage. The tansan on the other hand, well, let's just say I forgot to mention how much of an advantage a flat configuration is during after-game brawls.

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