In order to broach the subject of musicians appearing in video games, we're legally obligated to mention Rock Band
and Guitar Hero
in the first sentence, so there. Putting aside those big franchises, several other games have featured musicians in increasingly unusual capacities.
Both The Beatles
and English punk act The Stranglers
appeared in text-based home computer games for the ZX Spectrum in the early ''80s; Journey
peddled absolutely horrid-looking 1983 arcade action game; Aerosmith
were the selling point of a 1994 gun game (which also weirdly featured a riff on the Nine Inch Nails logo
); and NBA Jam: Tournament Edition
had the pleasuring of hosting Will Smith
, Jazzy Jeff
, and all three Beastie Boys
. Michael Jackson
has been in at least three titles himself: Moonwalker
, where he rescued kids (seriously); Space Channel 5
, where he danced with Teletubby-esque aliens; and Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
, where he had the opportunity to punch Shaq in the face if he pleased. We're not even going to delve into the sundry pinball games devoted to rock bigwigs such as The Rolling Stones
, The Who
, Elton John
, and Guns N' Roses
In 1999, Staten Island's signature hip-hop ensemble joined this esteemed list with the release of a PlayStation fighting game called Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style. It's not a very good game--actually, it's mostly awful--but seeing as the Clan play the Grove of Anaheim tonight at 7.p.m., there's no harm in revisiting this strange curio from the band's history.
First, some backstory: Back around '98, game developer Paradox Development devoted significant time and energy to creating Thrill Kill, another PS1 fighting title whose primary selling points were 1) a four-player mode, and 2) its desire to elevate Mortal Kombat violence to the next level (meaning that allusions to orgasms and BDSM accompany the piles of excessive gore). Thrill Kill had all kinds of hype and hope driving it--this really was a controversial and ballsy approach to a fight game--but then Virgin Interactive, the game's publisher, was gobbled up by Electronic Arts. EA subsequently decided that the blood-and-blowjobs angle might tarnish its reputation, so they scrapped the title weeks before its scheduled street date. The game ended up never officially seeing daylight, but bootlegs can be found pretty easily online.
In the wake of the Thrill Kill debacle, Paradox developed Shaolin Style using the scrapped game's engine. Activision released the Wu-Tang tie-in in November '99 alongside a clunky but cool-looking controller in the shape of the group's logo.