From the sputtering farts of the Game Boy to the devastatingly realistic sounds of alien tanks exploding in our living rooms, audio in video games has come quite a way. But such improvements aside, one thing remains unflinchingly consistent: Rock stars will always want to make their own games, and the results will always be perplexing as hell.
6The Def Jam Trilogy Is Mortal Kombat With Rappers
Def Jam has put its fingers in everything from music to stand-up comedy, and they decided to dive right into video games as well. In the mid-2000s, the company released a trilogy of games: Def Jam Vendetta, Fight For NY, and Icon. Beginning as primarily a wrestling game set to rap music, things began to, uh, get loose from there.
Clearly ahead of its time, Def Jam let you break Macklemore's neck years before everybody on Earth wanted to.
All three games share effectively the same storyline. You're a street fighter in a world in which street fighters somehow find enough time in their day to make music and have stellar rap careers. After climbing to the top, you're betrayed and/or injured and forced to ... eh, it's not important. It's a video game about punching people in the face, only some of those people are rappers like Snoop Dogg, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and, uh, Henry Rollins and Danny Trejo. Seriously, everybody short of retired U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman are in these damn games.
Def Jam Wrestling Wiki
The plot is one centaur Cumberbatch away from turning into Internet fan fiction.
In real life, Snoop's method of knocking out a dude usually involves Swishers. But in Vendetta, seamlessly kicking ass enables you to activate an embarrassing something called Blazin' Mode, a set of moves that look like 50 Cent hired a three-legged Rottweiler to develop his choreography. And in Fight for NY, you eventually wind up fighting while disguised as a billboard for brands such as Reebok or Air Jordan, because brand-based conflict of interest means nothing in this game.
Paying $35 for a Jordan throwback is easily the most unrealistic part of this whole series.
As for Icon, you can acquire extra points for sacking your opponent in time to music. Your rewards are straight out of an episode of The Price Is Right, co-hosted by Vanilla Ice and Michael Bay. There's everything from twinkling hubcaps to fireballs shooting out of the ground. If this trend had continued, the fourth game would've been Transformers-themed, and T.I. would gain the ability to transform into a hovercraft.
5Omikron: The Nomad Soul -- Soul-Swapping Madness Starring David Bowie
One of the better games to come out of the late '90s, Omikron: The Nomad Soul threw the whole "first-person vs. third-person" debate to the wind and hit us with Inception-style character development while Leo DiCaprio was still reeling from not getting an Oscar for Titanic. The main character is you, playing a gamer, playing a detective in a dystopian dimension who has to prevent a demonic army led by a supercomputer from taking over the world. There was probably also some cocaine involved.
... or a lot.
If you're thinking, "Hm, this sounds like a game that should play 'Space Oddity' or 'Life On Mars' in the background, or at least in the commercial," then you aren't alone. Game director David Cage decided to bring in David Bowie for the soundtrack ... and also the storyline, level construction, and design of two characters. One of whom, we have to guess, was supposed to be Bowie as imagined by someone who hadn't been completely sober since roughly the age of six.
Roughly 100 percent of players had to ch-ch-ch-ch-change their underwear after seeing him for the first time.
His other role was playing the frontman of a rock band trying to bring down the system -- an admirable goal slightly undercut by the fact that, rather than cranking out hardcore-yet-uplifting protest tunes, they specialize in playing unreleased David Bowie material. We can only guess that the omnipotent dimension-ruling supercomputer has a weakness for weird English guys. There's no real way to tell.
The bad ending is "Let's Dance" blared at 500 decibels while your "off" button freezes forever.