6 A-List Stars Who Made Insane Cameos In D-List Video Games
Gamers live in an era where their mission briefings are given to them by Firefly's Nathan Fillion, their main enemy is Jon Snow from Game Of Thrones, and their phone apps are advertised by naked Kate Upton. The point is, adding a celebrity to your video game is completely commonplace. And yet these six games managed to make it weird. Really, really weird.
Bruce Willis In Apocalypse
Taylor Kitsch in John Carter and Taylor Kitsch in Battleship each showed us there's no point in making a huge action movie if you don't have a top-notch action hero. The people at Activision were of the same opinion and tried to apply the idea to video games. So, in 1998, they hired Bruce Willis to star as Trey Kincaid, the main character in Apocalypse.
This idea was groundbreaking enough to get a lot of mainstream press and gamers were eager to play a game not adapted from an action movie but created from the ground up to actually be an action movie. It couldn't possibly go wrong! Well, aside from the fact that it was advertised like this ...
Ohh, so it was fire that caused his hair loss!
... and actually looked like this:
Yeah, the dream of playing as Bruce Willis didn't quite work out -- those twelve pixels don't really draw you into the idea of possessing Bruce Willis's body. But at least you get to see him during the cutscenes, right?
No, not really. Apparently each of Bruce's facial features had their own contract disputes.
So you're not quite Bruce Willis. So what? You're used to that. But here's where things really went off the rails. Delays, complications, and even a cancellation plagued the project. Activision originally intended for Bruce to play a sidekick -- he was meant to run along next to you, the game's real star, and deliver quips as he helped you kill bad guys. But, predictably, at some point during the chaotic development he was bumped up to lead.
They threw in some poorly animated strippers and just hoped you wouldn't notice the poorly done everything else.
Unfortunately, they only had audio recordings of Bruce Willis saying silly murder quips. There was no way to build a story out of a pile of absurd one-liners, right? Well, yes. You're exactly right, and that's why the results are completely absurd. Bruce Willis hardly ever talks unless it's to awkwardly open a barely-relevant one-liner. He sadistically laughs at his own slayings and talks to himself like a lunatic. "OPEN UP A CAN OF WHOOP-ASS! THAT LAST STEP'S A DOOZY!!!"
It comes across as a mean-spirited parody of an action hero starring the man who helped define that archetype. It's singularly bizarre, and we'll never see anything like it until they get Bruce Willis to star in his own Die Hard porn parody.
Jeff Goldblum In The Goosebumps Game
In 1996, Jeff Goldblum made the brave decision to take his skyrocketing career to the next level. Coming off of Jurassic Park and Independence Day, he took the role of Count Dracula in an FMV game called Escape From Horrorland alongside Isabella Rossellini.
Providing his own wardrobe, of course.
If that name sounds familiar, it's because you're the exact right age to recognize Goosebumps book titles. Escape From Horrorland was the 11th in the"Goosebumps HorrorLand" series and the follow-up to the hit, Help! We Have Strange Powers! In other words, for an actor coming off a couple of the highest grossing films of all time, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"I'm, that is to say, I ... well ... BLAH!"
As you might imagine, his role involves a relentless battery of cheesy lines and tooth puns. And each one is delivered through fake fangs and presented with terrible graphics.
Or as Goldblum calls it: "Foreplay."
However, the most toe-curlingly embarrassing part of the performance comes in a sequence where Count Goldblum grabs hold of the young female protagonist and uses all his sexual magnetism on the little girl, which is no small amount, to coerce her into a dance. It's hard to explain, but imagine walking in on your parents boning, only one of them is 14 and the other is Jeff Goldblum in a vampire costume. If that's sexy to you, you're definitely going to end up in prison.
"BLAH! So, I, we, you ... would, uhh as they say, like to DANCE here, with me, yes?"
Then, Goldblum takes hold of her hands and the two swirl around in a sheepishly disturbing ballroom dance, during which the protagonist asks the player to use this opportunity to pick the Count's pocket. So not only are you expected to watch this tornado of creepiness, you're expected to stick your hand directly into it.
Do not use that hand on any other part of Jeff's body. Just trust us on this.
Picking Goldblumeratu's pocket is accomplished by taking the cursor (in the form of a, gasp, severed hand) and clicking all over his body. This takes place while the girl twirls around him, ducking under his robes as he lifts them. Again, it's hard to explain, but try to picture a bullfight in an elevator, only you're pawing at Jeff Goldblum in a vampire costume.
It's only then when you realize that the true horror was unfolding right in front of you all along: you are watching a man whose enormous talent could not prevent him from this nightmarish career decision. It could happen to you, too!
Michael Jackson in Space Channel 5 and ... Ready 2 Rumble Boxing?
In 1999, Sega was finishing production on Space Channel 5, a game about an intergalactic TV ratings war where a young reporter fights off an alien invasion with dance. Still with us? Good, because we have a lot more strangeness to navigate.
So as they were finishing the game, they got a call saying Michael Jackson wants to be in it. After all, dance combined with insanity was Michael Jackson's wheelhouse.
"I was a little surprised to hear that I'm not already in this."
And obviously, when the King Of Pop and star of the very first deranged dance battle title wants to be in your video game, you say YES. So they added him as Space Michael and his dance moves, hisses, and whinnies became instrumental in defeating the aliens. By Earth standards, it's remarkably weird, but for Michael Jackson and outer space, all of these things are pretty ordinary.
In space, no one can hear you SHAMONE.
But Michael Jackson's video game appearances got strange by any standards later that same year when he showed up in the boxing game Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2. It's one thing for MJ to appear in an intergalactic dance off, but this was a man whose nasal cavity was protected with a thin layer of modeling clay and spirit gum. He should not be anywhere near a boxing ring. And sure enough, the results were ... unsettling.
Unrelated to Michael Jackson in the boxing game, here is a picture of a fragmented witch soul screaming for help from between dimensions.
At the risk of making things weirder, the makers of Ready 2 Rumble didn't simply stretch a Michael Jackson-like face over a skull and call it a day. That was, of course, the job of Michael Jackson's personal assistants every morning. No, the developers actually had Michael Jackson come in and perform his own motion capture and sound recording.
That's right, someone called in the 42-year-old performer of "Heal The World" to faithfully animate his fighting style. Which seems especially stupid because as any Michael fan knows, his fighting style is sexily transforming into a car or a panther and then leaving.
Who could hit that face? Who could even be sure that WAS a face?
Michael Madsen In The Reservoir Dogs Game
The Reservoir Dogs game came out in 2006, just 14 years after the Tarantino film. Critical reception ranged from mediocre to worse, but most agreed it was faithful to the original's story -- something a surprising number of film-based video games manage to screw up. The game fleshed out several of the violent off-screen incidents mentioned in the film and did such an outstanding job, Australia decided to ban it for promoting "the infliction of extreme violence and extreme cruelty ... for the purpose of entertainment." America made it a commercial success for the exact same reason.
You might be thinking, a hyper violent game based on a hyper violent movie is the most ordinary thing you've ever heard. But one weird thing about Reservoir Dogs is that not a single cast member from the original film wanted to come back and reprise his role. Except Michael Madsen. Michael Madsen, star of BloodRayne, Water Wars, and Alien Battlefield, doesn't even know you're allowed to say no to roles.
"Put the paycheck in the bag!"
So, while the role of Mr. Blonde stayed in the hands of acclaimed CobraGator star Michael Madsen, the rest of the cast was replaced with actors without as much star power. As in, you might have met them personally and you still wouldn't recognize their names. And after the 3D artists got done "rendering" them, you wouldn't recognize their faces as human. The game features an unkind caricature of Michael Madsen, but the rest of the cast looks like unfinished clones who crawled out of their pods a week early.
We're not sure the artists have ever seen humans, let alone the movie.
Look at those shiny, moon-faced monstrosities. It's as if the developers were personally upset at the other actors for refusing to do the game and wanted to get revenge in the most impotent, petty way possible. "Oh, Tim Roth's too good for a video game? Well, let's see how his face likes looking like a Jon Gruden sex doll! And how his voice likes being Kobar from Captain Planet!"
The Incredible Hulk wasn't the only time Roth was a CG abomination.
No disrespect to the journeyman voice actor who gave us Kobar from Captain Planet, of course, but Michael Madsen agreeing to do this game (and the disinterested performance) seems to support the theory that he died in 1996 and his corpse is stumbling around on muscle memory. It may seem like an insane conspiracy theory, but if you've seen him act in anything in the last 20 years, you know his agent drops him off at different locations where his limp, dead body releases gasses that seem almost like speech. It's inhuman, and it leads to strange situations like this where he is both the only famous actor working on a project, and also the only terrible one.
Christopher Walken and Clive Owen in Privateer 2
We previously talked about how the 1996 video game Ripper was definitely, objectively the worst performance of Christopher Walken's career. But it was not the only video game he starred in that year while giving 10 percent effort. He also appeared in Privateer 2: The Darkening, a sequel to the genre-defining game from the Wing Commander series. It featured an all-star cast of Clive Owen, John Hurt, Brian Blessed, and David Warner, and like most sequels, managed to disappoint almost everyone.
"I. Am looking AT. A computer."
The game had almost nothing in common with its predecessor and was filmed almost entirely in close-up. The plan may have been to get so far up the actors' noses no one would notice how bored everyone was. Or, maybe they were forced to shoot the thing in front of a single green sheet in somebody's studio apartment.
Also the same look on Clive's face when he wasn't on camera.
It was set in a remote part of the Wing Commander universe no one had ever heard of and focused on a clueless Clive Owen dealing with the loss of his memories. He truly embraced this aspect of his character by delivering his lines as if he was reading them from illegible cue cards.
The game featured annoyingly large number of full-motion cutscenes, which meant two things: One, the game was lethally dull. And two, they didn't have time to get a lot of takes. Scenes involving action, movement, or characters interrupting one another felt like awkward dress rehearsals never meant to be in the final cut.
It also follows the old writing rule of "Never say in one line what you could say in 17 minutes of meandering dialog and a slow-motion walking scene." The only good things to come from it is that we now know with certainty that 1) it's difficult to film compelling high-concept drama with only a tiny room and a green screen and 2) it's apparently clinically impossible to kill a Sci-Fi audience with boredom.
"Look, if we use the gun on ourselves we can leave this shitty story forever."
Dennis Hopper In Any Video Game
Dennis Hopper is best known in the world of gaming for playing Steve Scott, the adult industry's answer to Steven Spielberg, in GTA: Vice City. But it's easy to forget that he actually graced a whole bunch of other games with his presence, almost all of which are completely batshit crazy. For instance, here he is as a character named Mr. Beautiful.
A beautiful disaster.
Mr. Beautiful was a demon in a 1994 game called Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller. It was a point-and-click adventure set in a dystopian future where America is under the control of an all-powerful fascist government that can send people to hell and bring them back at will. And it was apparently made several seconds after someone learned how to make their first 3D models.
Half the game's budget went into rendering that guy's nips.
The effects are so bad you're not sure if characters' heads are supposed to be detaching, if they need to pee, or if they're having a violent stroke. Dennis Hopper seemed to know this project would end up awful, and so he just hate fucked every line of the script. Watch here as he adds 30 seconds of violent coughing to his dialog and then delivers his lines as if the words are trying to date his daughter.
Four years later, Hopper played Walter Pensky, a retired agent in an interactive movie set in the 1940s that ties the real-life unsolved case of the Cleveland Torso Murders to theories of Nazi occultism. Hopper delivers his lines as if he's just won a Diazepam eating contest, which may be because his character is in a wheelchair, but is almost certainly because he loathes every second of it. He will stop several times a sentence to take a breath and control his temper. It's like he simply can't believe he's Dennis Hopper and he's actually fucking doing what he's fucking doing.
Neither can we.
But despite what seems to be obvious contempt for the medium, Dennis agreed to do another video game for the Wii called Deadly Creatures. In this one, he and Billy Bob Thornton play humans looking for Civil War gold. You might have thought it was odd we mentioned he was "human," but it's because you yourself play a scorpion. The point is, video games are weird and you might be starting to understand why Dennis Hopper hates them.
It's possible video games hate Dennis Hopper back. Deadly Creatures almost feels like a revenge fantasy against the actor. The developers cast him as the game's final boss and you, as a scorpion, can only beat the game if you crawl down Dennis Hopper's pants and sting him on the dick. THREE TIMES. This is not a joke:
Never pick a fight with video games, Dennis Hopper.
Follow Dibyajyoti Lahiri on Twitter.
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Nightmarish villains with superhuman enhancements. An all-seeing social network that tracks your every move. A young woman from the trailer park and her very smelly cat. Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, a new novel about futuristic shit, by David Wong.