6 Completely Inexplicable Video Games Starring Rock Stars
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.
The 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.
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.
Omikron: 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.
Motorhead -- A Metal Fan's Wet Dream
If there's any rocker out there who deserves his own video game, it's Lemmy Kilmister, the lead singer and desiccated half-man, half-goat of Motorhead. He drinks, he swears, he fucks, he plays rock n' roll, he casts magical spells, he-- wait, what?
Sandman Motorhead, a 1992 game which finds Lemmy engulfed in a world of rock 'n' roll and mystical, liver-bending beasts. Tasked with rescuing his kidnapped bandmates from an evil alliance of goths, rap musicians, and cowboys, this game is styled like Super Mario Bros. if it had any balls at all.
"Thank you, Lemmy. But our princess is in another dive bar."
What's interesting is that the game doesn't ever play any music by the band. Instead, we're treated to countless hours of Lemmy grunting his way over (much like Super Mario) the best synth-rock that the makers of this game could buy.
It sounds like someone took a Deuce Of Spades.
Then there's his hitherto-unknown magical abilities. If you beat up enough dudes, you can collect special "Golden Motorheads" that fill your magic meter. Once it's filled, you can do anything, from turning your guitar into a magic lightning bolt gun to summoning a demon groupie who will sex your enemies into a coma of a refractory period, allowing you to kill them and giving new meaning to the phrase "dick move."
Like their young, smooth, symmetric, non-warty faces ever stood a chance.
For those who stick with this game, there's also a bunch of mini-games that have you take part in such traditional rock 'n' roll activities as smashing up rock hotel rooms, picking up groupies, drinking 'til your eyes pop out of your head, and eating a ton of sushi. That last one might seem strange, but trust us; we modified this to replace Motorhead with Led Zeppelin, and you don't want to know where those fish ended up instead.
Give My Regards To Broad Street ... Starring Paul McCartney
As far as video games based on movies are concerned, the bar for "Eh, not bad" is low. As far as movies based on things The Beatles cared about are concerned, the bar isn't much higher. The overlap of that Venn Diagram is Give My Regards To Broad Street, a video game based on a 1984 musical film of the same. It that has a whopping 23 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The game itself is a Grand Theft Auto wannabe sandbox-style circle jerk about how great Paul McCartney's life must be. The problem here is that, unlike in the movie, there's a central conflict driving the plot forward. One of Paul's songs has been deleted, so he has to stalk his bandmates across London, recovering snippets of the song. That's it: Sir Paul driving through an empty English capital reminiscent of 28 Days Later, praying he doesn't get a parking boot, all while the main hook of "Band On The Run" resonates from the heavens for eternity. Why wasn't this the next Pac-Man?
The game doesn't tell you any of this, so the player is left to assume that McCartney is a crazed god presiding over a dead world.
Xplora1 -- Peter Gabriel's World Of Puzzles
As part of the band Genesis, Peter Gabriel was responsible for popularizing (among other things) 18-hour songs, the weird moments in those songs where the beat breaks down, and pretension as a musical genre. His venture into the video game world was no different.
As was his ill-fated venture into the passport industry.
Enter Xplora1, a game so incomprehensible that it reads like the dictionary of a dead language, and then smacks you upside the head with that very dictionary. Made as a companion to his 1992 album Us, Xplora1 is what happens when narcissism meets hedonism in a weird yoga class on the wrong side of Portland.
Alongside an encyclopedia of his life, as well as a tool that allows you to play his collection of exotic instruments, the main task of the game is to ... fill a suitcase with his stuff. You aren't told what stuff precisely, and in some parts of the game, you can't progress until the right stuff has been located and packed. But yeah, go get 'em, tiger. In hindsight, this doesn't read like a game so much as an experiment in how much bullshit gamers would put up before smashing their heads against a wall.
Don't forget the Phil Collins voodoo doll. Gabriel never does.
But don't worry! If you ever get stuck, the floating head of Gabriel will appear, as if someone read from the wrong religious text under the blood moon. He gives you hints, chats with you, or encourages you to move your mouse if the whole experience insta-atrophied your brain. And that's not all! Dotted around the environment are a series of random mini-games, including tic-tac-toe (Tic-tac-toe? Are you kidding, Peter? Did you not get the rights to tag?) and a weird one co-starring Brian Eno in which you have to match famous musicians to their music.
"It's dangerous to go alone. Rock out to this."
This game was released in 1994, so needless to say, it got its ass kicked by such releases as Final Fantasy III, Warcraft, and ... wait, it won a ton of fucking awards? Well, shit. What do we know?
Holy Diver -- A Japanese Fantasy Game Starring Ozzy Osbourne And Ronnie James Dio
It's often said that the past is a foreign country. And you know what? It is. More precisely, it's Japan. If not, how else do you explain the Castlevania ripoff Holy Diver, a game starring Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, and a whole bunch of other guys whose names you only remember from the CDs in your badass uncle's truck?
And featuring enemies that were airbrushed on the side of said truck.
You play Randy Rhoads, who's on a quest to rid the kingdom of an ancient demon king called the Black Slayer before he can usurp the Crimson Emperor or the game writers could rip off any more band names. You're accompanied by Zack "This Guy" Wylde and later adopted by Ozzy Osbourne, proving that -- even with the help of magic -- Child Protective Services is as worthless as a candle in the wind.
If you didn't know you were playing as rock royalty, you'd assume that this was a standard old-ass Nintendo game ... which is to say that there is literally nothing else to do with rock music in this game. There's no music, no themed levels, not even a single drink anywhere. It's like the manufacturers were forced to make a rock game as part of their contract, and made the most incomprehensible piece of shit ever out of pure spite. Which itself is pretty rock 'n' roll, you guys.
It was nice of them to give Sharon a cameo, though.
When you think about it, this game also puts you in the really awkward position of having you fight demons and otherworldly nightmares under the banner of fucking Black Sabbath. This is a band who, if they ever ran across a demon, would be more inclined to high-five it and take it to a strip club than magic-murder it. That's not to say that we'd want a game where you blow up angels and shit, but ... seriously, guys.
Be sure to check out The 5 Most Absurd Video Games Starring Rock Stars and The 5 Most Baffling Celebrity Appearances In Video Games.
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