Many of us will rush to the cinemas and theatres to see the latest blockbuster from our favourite actors and actresses, but when similar faces pop up in our favourite video games, it can be as surprising as it is suspicious.
A number of movie stars, famous athletes, television actors, and musical artists have made an appearance in a number of video games over the years, either as themselves, as unique NPCs, or as cameo Easter Eggs.
Below are some of our favourite famous faces in video games.
Ariana Grande and Katy Perry – Final Fantasy and Fortnite
They’re probably not the first two people you’d think to call upon if your world was in peril and on the imminent verge of being plunged into an eternal abyss of darkness, but the pop stars Ariana Grande and Katy Perry have both had incarnations within the mobile title, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. The former of the two singers has also recently been featured in the Rift Tour within the Battle Royale title, Fortnite.
On the surface it may be perplexing as to why the pair would be appearing in one of the most popular JPRG series of all time, but this spawned from the fact that the vocalists each recorded an exclusive song for the game (Touch It for Grande and Immortal Flame for Perry) and had their own in-game characters off the back of that.
Michael Jordan – Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City and Space Jam
Back in the early to mid 1990’s, Michael Jordan was one of if not the hottest athlete on the planet, his tenure with the Chicago Bulls reformulating the team into a winning unit and dominating the NBA for a number of years. Being that he was at the apex of his sport, everybody wanted a piece of the new MJ, and companies, brands, and sponsors all took advantage of this and struck the proverbially scorching iron..
Being a savvy minded individual, he grabbed almost every opportunity that came his way just like the basketballs he so often dunked on a weekly basis. This included a drug PSA for Mcdonald’s, and his own video game, Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City.
The story goes that Mike’s charity match teammates have been kidnapped by Dr. Max Cranium, and it’s up to him to save them by venturing all across Chicago (albeit in some very unusual and un-Chicago locations).
The game is actually a pretty decent platformer in most respects. It’s all just very confusing as to why it exists. A question that still plagues people to this day.
Shaquille O’Neal – Shaq-Fu/Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn
Rolling right off the back of Air Jordan’s surprisingly fun and well-made platforming lay up is a more of a shot clock violation from former Miami Heat legend and meme superstar, Shaquille O’Neal.
While some developers looked to partner with stars from different avenues of sports to endorse video games of their respective fields like Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball and Ronaldo V-Football/Soccer, EA wanted to make an absolutely off the wall project by launching a hail mary buzzer beater by casting the Miami Center in his own fighting game, Shaq-Fu.
The game, sadly, was quite poor but got a random reboot/revival in 2018 with Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn which was more tongue-in-cheek and self-aware. This proved to be better, but ultimately fell quite short of being anywhere near classics like Streets of Rage or similar games in the genre, but it at least salvaged the game’s reputation (to a degree).
Also feel free to check out O’Neal’s feature films Kazaam and Steel for some motion picture absurdity.
Michael Jackson – Moonwalker & Space Channel 5
The late King of Pop took part in some interesting media projects during his life. He pioneered the idea of music videos being short films, he used jet packs to make a futuristic exit from his concerts, and he also dabbled in the world of video games from time to time.
His own video game, Moonwalker, was spawned off the back of his own short film of the same name and was actually a decent beat ’em up in its own right, complete with recognisable MJ dance moves and licensed music, packaged exclusively for the Sega Genesis.
His other foray into video games is slightly more bizarre. Well, bizarre for the general public. Not so bizarre for a man who lived in a theme park and had a pet monkey.
The smooth criminal’s likeness and name were used in the eclectic music project of the two Space Channel 5 games, Michael’s role being mostly a cameo in the first game but more prominent in the sequel.
Uncommonly, it was Jackson who approached Sega about being in the game after seeing it near it’s completed development. At which point the team scrambled to crowbar him in the game in some way (hence his minor appearance) but they were far better prepared to have Mike moonwalk his way into the second game as the head of Space Channel 5 itself.
Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter – Halo 4
In true Halo fashion this was an obscure and random Easter Egg that was tucked away in Halo 4 in mission six, Shutdown.
Known officially as the “Crate Guarding Marines” Easter Egg, before Master Chief hops into a Pelican to take the Didact’s shields offline, he can head over to a pair of marines in the corner of the hangar who are meticulously and diligently guarding a bunch of crates.
Initially the marines will be silent, but after a minute or two, the pair will begin speaking, and those with a keen ear will be able to identify the duo as late-night talk show host and former The Simpsons writer Conan O’Brien and his muse, Andy Richter.
They discuss their union, purchasing Oriental rugs, and how they don’t want to annoy the alien in his “slumber”.
Conan “Coco” O’Brien also pops up in the Amazon delivery simulator Death Stranding as a hologram at the Cosplayer Facility. He even gives you a special Otter Hat.
What a nice guy.
Snoop Dogg – True Crime: Streets of LA, Way of the Dogg, Call of Duty Ghosts
Never one to turn down any opportunity (literally, any opportunity to do anything), Long Beach native Snoop Dogg has lent his voice and likeness to a number of video games over the years, whether that be as a cameo, an unlockable extra, or his own complete game.
In True Crime: Streets of LA, a special cheat code would change usual protagonist Nick Kang into the D.O double G, with Snoop adding in some unique voice lines. In 2013, the “Big Boss Dogg” got his own rhythm-action game with Way of the Dogg, where you beat people up to some of Snoop’s best known tracks like “Pump Pump” and “Murder was the Case”.
Also appearing in Def Jam: Fight for NY with a host of other hip hop/rap legends, Snoop was a downloadable announcer for Call of Duty Ghosts multiplayer mode, where he put his own twists on various standard lines, such as “Trinity Rocket in your back pocket!” and “Loki offline, happens all the time…”
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson – Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
Aside from his own third-person shooter games of 50 Cent: Bulletproof and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (games featuring the hip hop royalty Dr. Dre, Eminem, and the members of G-Unit), Curtis Jackson has sneaked some voice work into one of the pinnacle games of the Call of Duty franchise, namely Modern Warfare 2.
In this Call of Duty entry, “fitty” had the pleasure of lending his vocal chords to the miscellaneous remarks made by various marines in the missions featuring the American military force, as well as for the USMC Rangers in the multiplayer.
Aerosmith – Revolution X
Having never heard of this game is nothing to fear, for its a very niche title that was confined to arcades for the most part, but did eventually make an appearance on home consoles of the time like the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive.
Revolution X was a rail shooter arcade cabinet developed by Midway in the 1990s featuring you as the saviour of the globe, fighting against the tyrannous and devious New Order Nation and their nefarious forces. However, to fully vanquish their presence, one needs the help of the one, the only……Aerosmith.
Over the course of the levels that span various continents and locations around the Earth, you’re tasked with destroying all the NON operations as well as saving all the band members like lead singer Steven Tyler and drummer Joey Kramer, all culminating in a full band reunion with 4 identical bikini models running in to join the party.
A true family experience.
Who is your favourite celebrity to appear in a video game? Let us know in the comments.