Rock Arcade: 6 Musicians Featured In Video Games

Recently Green Day have been trying to promote their latest album by infiltrating all forms of mainstream media and somebody in the band must have realized that Angry Birds is a thing so why should it be left out?

That is, presumably, how the world came to see Green Day members immortalized as green pigs for an Angry Birds cartoon spin-off and the Facebook version of Angry Birds, because if you're going to combine Angry Birds and Green Day, why not mix it up with Facebook as well?

Then this video of Freddie Mercury as an Angry Bird came out too. It would seem no one wants to be left off the Angry Birds train, not even dead people.

But the idea of musicians being awkwardly stuck into video games for the sake of promotion and capitalism is nothing new at all. In fact, it's been around almost as long as video games themselves, just like all those horrible video-game adaptations of movies. Have musicians fared any better in the gaming world than films have, though? Well, you be the judge.

6. Fred Durst in WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It

This one was a bit of quid pro quo rather than a marketing scheme. Back in the long-ago days when "World Wrestling Entertainment" was the "World Wrestling Federation," the Playstation was on its second incarnation, and Limp Bizkit was still a cultural sensation among much the same people who watched professional wrestling, The Undertaker was doing a badass biker gimmick and coming to the ring to the tune of Limp Bizkit's "Rollin'," because that is the kind of music badass bikers listen to.

When the WWF wanted to use "Rollin'" in its latest video game, Durst agreed but had a request: To put him in the game as a playable character. So they did, they just made it extremely difficult to unlock him, presumably in the hopes no one would actually do it and find out what horrible, dirty things they had to do just to secure the rights to a song. For what it's worth though, they at least made him a decent wrestler to use in the game.

5. Ronnie James Dio in Holy Diver

This one is just bizarre. In 1989, Nintendo made a game based on Ronnie James Dio slaying dragons and doing generally badass things like that. This really shouldn't come as a surprise considering Japan's deep obsession with '80s metal. Actually, it's probably more surprising that there isn't an Yngwie Malmsteen game.

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Anyway, the game itself only came out on the NES in Japan, but you can find it on the Internet to play on an emulator. I did it when I was 16 and firmly in my "Dio is God" phase. The truly strange thing about all this is that the game itself is pretty good. It's a total rip-off of Castlevania, but putting that aside it's a lot of fun.

4. Aerosmith in Revolution X

Like Holy Diver, this arcade game was pretty much a rip-off of another game, specifically the Terminator 2 arcade game. Revolution X takes place in a dark, dystopian future where something called the "New Order Nation" has taken over the world. This New Order Nation may or may not have featured ex-members of Joy Division, but either way one of their goals was apparently ban all forms of music, which doesn't sound particularly out of character for Peter Hook, come to think of it.

Long story short, New Order Nation captures Aerosmith and it's up to you to a) kill the NON and b) rescue Aerosmith. If you succeed, you get to be a VIP at an Aerosmith concert. Honestly, I'd be a little disappointed if I saved the entire world and that was my reward, but that's just me. From what I understand, this game was absolutely awful, which sounds par for the course for Aerosmith in the '90s.

3. The entire Def Jam Records roster in Def Jam Vendetta, Def Jam: Fight for NY and Def Jam: Icon

There's nothing record labels love more than promotion. They will do anything to get their artists to the public. Anything, no matter how ridiculous the concept is, especially when it comes to things that are trendy at the moment. In the early-to-mid '00s, somehow professional wrestling video games were trendy.

Actually, maybe more trendy than professional wrestling was anymore. The reason is anybody's guess. Maybe it has something to do with the actual competitive nature of a video game. I don't know. But you can bet that at least one record label had their eyes on this lucrative market and that record label happened to be Def Jam.

Consequently, in 2003 the label launched a video game series about an underground wrestling ring pitting the player up against their roster of rap royalty. The concept is, of course, ridiculous, but the games were well-received. That being said, there's still something somehow disheartening knowing that the realest of the real, Ghostface Killah, let his likeness be used for this. For shame, Ghost.

2. 50 Cent, G-Unit, Dr. Dre, and Eminem in 50 Cent: Bulletproof

Well now, you didn't think that Def Jam was going to be the only hip-hop label to get in on the video game action did you? 50 Cent's reasons though had less to do with money and more to do with what a strange, petty person he is.

After being asked to voice CJ in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Fitty said he would only voice himself in video games and promptly created a video game to do exactly that, along with all his friends. This one is just a basic action game where you go around looking for the guys who tried to kill Fitty and then you kill them. Simple, right? How could it go wrong?

Well, it could have completely dreadful game mechanics. That would sink a game pretty fast. And it did just that. On the other hand, a few years later Fitty did a sequel called 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, refusing to drop the egomaniacal naming motif of his video games, and that one actually improved upon many of the problems of the first one, receiving actual factual critical acclaim. Way to go, Fitty.

1. Michael Jackson in Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

Back in 1988, Michael Jackson put out a strange and amazing film called Moonwalker to promote his album Bad. (See, it all comes back to promotion.) Anyway, the film itself was essentially a big ad for the album, but then you have to have ads for the film.

So what's next? You create a video game to advertise the film to advertise the album. Wow. So the people who handle these sorts of things dutifully went to work and created an arcade game based on the movie and then a Sega Genesis version.

I've never played the version made for the arcade, but I have played the Sega Genesis one. And you know what? It's actually an awesome game. If you can get past how odd and prophetic it is that you play as Michael going around rescuing small children, the game is addictive and ridiculously fun.

It has all the things you would want from a Michael Jackson video game: You can moonwalk, every level has midi version of his songs, and there are things you want but never even realized you wanted, like Michael turning into a giant robot and fighting in space for absolutely no reason at all, just like in the movie.

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