Gaming's memorable celebrity knock-offs
Except by 'magic', we mean 'shameless cloning'.
Here we present the most memorable cases of well-known names appearing in video games, just not quite as themselves. Sometimes theres a legitimate reason for the dupe a footballer being pedantic about his image rights, for instance but more often its a case that a game-maker has been inspired by a celebrity but unable to cough up the cash required to feature the real thing. So in they go anyway, under a slightly altered alias. Or in Contras case, barely even that. This bunch truly are gamings great pretenders.
Image: Boxing Hall Of Fame (opens in new tab)
The yolk's on Teddy
While Robotnik's PJs were upgraded to a red jacket and black trousers, the compact bifocals, twirly 'tache, and sinister chuckle all remain unmistakably Teddy. Roosevelt died in 1919, taking all secrets surrounding the chaos emeralds' final resting place with him.
Don't Juno who I am?
Page wasn't too happy about it, either. On an 'Ask Me Anything' Reddit discussion (opens in new tab), she made her feelings very clear: "I guess I should be flattered that they ripped off my likeness", she said, "but I am actually acting in a video game called Beyond Two Souls, so it was not appreciated." Ellie's design was tweaked, and (ironically) The Last Of Us turned out to be waaaaay better than the game to which Page was officially attached.
(Thanks to The Average Gamer (opens in new tab) for the superb comparison pic.)
The raging Bal'
biting opponent's ears off (opens in new tab)
Which is precisely why his name was changed, from M Bison to Balrog, in Western editions of the game. Fearing legal action from the lisping pugilist, Capcom rotated the handles of all bosses other than Sagat. We in fact got lucky, getting names that much better suit the characters. In Japan to this day red-hatted super-git Bison is Vega, while the flying masked Spaniard remains Balrog. Wrong, so wrong.
The incredible not-Hulk
Sensing it might land them in hot water Sega changed its packaging for the Western releases, but not the in-game character designs, most of which are clearly based on grap favourites of the era. As well as Morgan/Hogan, there was Dom Dambuster (Road Warrior Hawk, also visible on the above image), Sledge Hammer (Bruiser Brody) and Buckskin Rogers (Stan Hansen). The game was great, however, and we'd welcome an updated version featuring Leslie Octagon, Mark Urncarrier and current WWE champion King Italy.
Ronaldo gets milked
Perhaps Ronald McGoal-nold was feeling shy after having Brazil's shambolic performance in the 1998 World Cup final placed on his shoulders (he played for 72 minutes despite having a convulsive fit in the build-up, and Brazil lost three-to-nil). Thankfully, the enforced name change was easily reversed using the in-game player editor. One thing that couldn't be fixed? Him looking, as Joe (opens in new tab) points out, like Kryten from Red Dwarf (opens in new tab). Ouch.
Arnold on the Sly
Arnie had kicked ass in Commando and just finished Predator when the game hit, while Sly was only halfway done with drilling goons and chewing wasps in the Rambo flicks. At the time it seemed like shrewd marketing. Now? Blatant, almost admirable identity theft.
Willis' Dynamite doppelganger
Apparently Bruce Willis is alright with this arrangement (or, more likely, unaware), as the character also appears in Dynamite Deka X: Asian Dynamite, The House Of The Dead 2, and Project X Zone. All of which are vastly superior to A Good Day To Die Hard, so there's no doubting whose side we're on.
You Kahn not be serious
With that kind of attitude, he was never likely to be pleased at a video game using his likeliness without *some* kind of personal thanks. A bottle of Piwasser, perhaps. A David Hasselhoff box set. Some currywurst. Sadly, agreement couldn't be reached with publisher Sega over his image rights ahead of Football Manager 2006's release, and so Oliver Kahn became... Jens Mustermann. Which, if we're honest, is actually an improvement. Das joke ist am you, Herr Kahn.
Honestly, the neuve
No surprise, then, that Villenueve kicked up a fuss over Sony including him in great-to-this-day PS1 effort Formula 1 '97. With Villeneuve copyrighting his face and image, developer Bizarre Creations was forced to use a silhouette for his driver likeness, commentator Murray Walker instead referring to Williams Number One or The Canadian.
Be my Abadade
Warr er, Abadade appeared in SoRs 1 and 2 before tapping out of the series, and wasnt the only example of developer Sega adopting ideas conceived elsewhere. Claw-wielding baddie Souther (opens in new tab) very obviously got his slash-tastic fingerblades from 80s horror favourite Freddy Krueger. Pity that guy when he gets an itch down below.
Disco zombie are you ok?
said publisher Popcap (opens in new tab)
Even so, a different tap-happy favourite introduced its own loveable disco-zomb last year, as part of its Hallowe'en storyline. The Simpsons Tapped Out's version wasn't quite as obvious as PvZ's interpretation, but the influence was very clear the only way it could move was by moonwalking backwards.
Brad, Brad, really, really Brad
In fairness, it's hard to knock this. Developer Sony Cambridge evidently set out to ape movie favourites within the genre, with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre house and Alcatraz Prison from The Rock among the obviously-borrowed settings, and plenty of nods to a certain phantom-chasing movie from 1984 whose name suddenly escapes us. (Spookbreakers?) For excellence in the field, we award Sony Cambridge (and Pitt-atello) a free pass.
Carlos kick-a-ball wins the day
Footy games had done the fake-name trick before (remember Sensible Soccer legend Raan Goggs?), but this was the first to use appearances in order to mimick real players. Valderrama proved so popular with ISS admirers that Konami signed him up as the North American cover star for its 1998 edition of the game. This time with his real name included.
Bah gawd King, it's Tike Myson!
Given the details of his inclusion in Steve Austin's historical Showcase mode, here's no mistaking who The Enforcer is intended to represent: the very famous gentleman who interrupted apparent ally Shawn Michaels' match with Austin at WrestleMania 14, thumping his supposed buddy upside the chin and thereby kick-starting Stone Cold's first world title reign. The event transformed WWE's fortunes and was a catalyst for rival WCW's collapse. Probably wouldn't have happened that way with Marshmallow Dave on ringside duty.
Glass of Vin?
After TimeSplitters 2, EA saw the Metacritic and came to us," studio co-founder Steve Ellis told Eurogamer in 2012 (opens in new tab). "I don't actually think they'd looked at the game very much." In the same interview, business partner David Doak elaborates: "EA turned up with this stuff that was supposed to help us. And it was just big boards with pictures of Vin Diesel on them. Wesley Snipes was on one in his Blade outfit." Way to kill off one of last-last-gen's greatest series, guys.