10 Weirdest Celebrity Appearances in Video Games

by Valery Kratovil

Here at VideoDunce, we love nothing more than to examine the weird aspects of video games. And it really doesn’t get much weirder than unnecessarily shoehorning celebrities into video games. Whether it’s to make the game relevant, to give the game some star power, or to make the game a little more realistic, celebrity appearances in video games are almost always head scratching. So, join us as we take a look at the ten weirdest celebrity appearances in video games

 10. Pauly D and Vinny- NBA 2K13

We begin this list with people who really stretch the definition of the word “celebrity.” In NBA 2K13, a celebrity team was featured, including the likes of pint sized singer Justin Bieber, rapper Wale, has-been rapper Bow Wow, and the two most popular meatheads on the Jersey Shore, Pauly D and Vinny. The duo had decent stats, and managed to be pretty good at playing b-ball. But seeing that the pair has basically faded from the public eye following the cancellation of their guilty pleasure show, it may have been a bit short sighted to put them on the Celebrity team.

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9. Susan Sarandon – Dishonored

I can’t envision Susan Sarandon in anything other than “Stepmom”. Dear God, I balled like a baby in that movie. Why couldn’t she and Julia Roberts’ character work things out sooner?! I’m putting this on the list for sheer randomness. What’s the star from “Thelma and Louise” doing voice overs in an apocalyptic steampunk PS3 and Xbox 360 game? It’s also worth noting that Carrie Fischer (the very Princess Leia that awoke so many strange and new feelings in us younger nerds) lends a voice in the game as well.

8. The Rock – Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run

Dwayne Johnson contributed quite a bit with this third part of a mediocre series. He provided voice over for more than one character, and it was supposed to tie in somehow with a side-by-side movie release, but.. the movie never came out. What makes his cameo weird, however, is how kind his character sounds in game. He’s not yelling so loud that he’s spitting everywhere in the WWF ring. And he isn’t making some sarcastic, cringe-worthy joke at the camera as he reloads his assault rifle on the big screen. He sounds like a guy you’d have a cup of coffee with. He isn’t yelling/asking if we can smell what The Rock is cooking.

7. Drew Carey – The Sims: House Party

Welcome to The Sims, where you’re in total control and the well-being of your customized Sims is completely up to you. Seriously, these guys can’t take a shit without permission. But don’t you want THE coolest Sims in the neighborhood?! Of course you do, you narcissist. If you and your Sims throw the absolute coolest party that’s just crunk enough, a sleek black limo will pull up. It would seem as though party animal Drew Carey heard how turnt up things were getting and decided to come check it out.

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6. Burt Reynolds – Saints Row: The Third

Burt Reynolds plays himself as the mayor of the town of Steelport. He first makes his appearance in the game during the mission “Zombie Attack”. The protagonist asks “Burt-fucking-Reynolds?!” in disbelief, to which Burt replies “Who else could keep this town running?” Oh, Burt. How true that is. Depending on actions in the game, you can make Burt your homie, have him re-elected for mayor, or kill him. But come on, who hasn’t dreamed of speeding their 80’s muscle car off into the sunset with Burt Reynolds?

5. The Burger King – Fight Night Round 3

This game definitely pushed the bounds on product placement, between eye sore Dodge ads littering the game to having the strange, retired Burger King mascot as your ring man. I could name one thousand people I would rather have in my corner than the Burger King. Scratch that, I have one hundred thousand people I would rather have in my corner than the Burger King. You’re able to have him as a personal trainer to your boxer. The only thing I see the Burger King training, is how to awkwardly offer you Burger King products with that silent, creepy stare.

4. General David Petraeus – Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Who? You may be thinking to yourself. Remember that CIA Director who had an affair with his biographer? Yep, that’s him. About a week before the scandal broke, too. Awk. Ward. The mega EA Franchise put this game in a futuristic, cold-war, female President led new age warfare alternate-universe. If only the General’s slimy scandal had stayed in another universe.

3. Phil Collins – Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

All hail the king of the 80’s. And to combine the GTA franchise with Phil Collins, well, it’s an honor to both as far as I’m concerned. Phil Collins plays himself, appearing in three missions in which he enlists the help of the main character to save a Genesis bandmate from gang trouble. Many famous voices lent a hand in the making of this game, but Phil gave both his voice and identity for Rockstar to play with. You even get tickets to a concert upon completion of a mission he offers!

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2. Bill and Hillary Clinton – Ready 2 Rumble: Round 2

The Ready 2 Rumble boxing games have always been a little outrageous with their extra characters, but Bill and Hillary were president and first lady at the time of this games release. Hillary has a few scary lines. “The White House isn’t the only house I dominate!” She yells at one point. I think I even saw one of the veins on the side of her head bulge a bit during a close up. I can only imagine the terror Bill endured when Hillary found out about Monica.

1.Barack Obama – Mercenaries 2

To give credit, Barack Obama was only a potential president candidate. I mean, who would have ever had guessed that he’d actually make it into office? I guess that kind of rationale defends the actions his character takes in game. Our 44th murders an air traffic controller, hijacks a tank, and even fancies using a bazooka.

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Editorial: Death and Ressurection of the 3D platformer

There was a time not long ago when games like Banjo-Kazooie, Crash the Bandicoot, and Spyro the Dragon ruled the shelves, pulling in millions of dollars and spawning sequel after sequel. They were the pinnacle of 3D platforming games, with plenty of doodads to collect, enemies to smush, and adventures to embark upon. Big name 3D platformers were marquee titles, moving systems on names alone. Games like Donkey Kong 3D and Super Mario 3D were packaged with systems to help them sell better, and it worked.

But as time went on, the 3D platformer started to wane in popularity. Gamers had grown bored with the genre, and companies no longer saw the games as relevant. Eventually, the 3D platformers time in the spotlight had ended.

But why? Was it an overcrowded market? Disinterested gamers? The search for something new and different? Yes to all three.

When Super Mario 64 launched with the N64, it heralded a new age in gaming. No longer was gameplay constrained to a 2D field; gamers now had full range of movement, with giant, interesting worlds to explore. Super Mario 64 was a game changer, and the rest of the industry was eager to follow in it’s footsteps.

Soon, every company was pumping out 3D platformers, meeting with various degrees of success. For every Banjo-Kazooie, there was a Croc. For every Spyro the Dragon, a Glover. The market was being flooded with 3D platformer games. But gamers weren’t sick of it yet. 3D platformers managed to sell like hot cakes. Even mediocre platformers such as Gex the Gecko managed to ride the coattails of the success of the genre and get a couple sequels.

But gamers eventually got wise. After all, they reasoned, there are only so many different ways to collect trinkets and beat bad guys. There were also genuine gripes with the genre, such as universally bad camera control and repetition. If the 3D platforming genre wanted to survive, it would have to evolve.

And evolve it did. As the era of the N64 and Playstation ended, Sony and Nintendo saw a perfect opportunity to release 3D platformers that were different. Nintendo touted Super Mario Sunshine as a Gamecube killer app, with it’s beautiful graphics and tight gameplay. It built upon the gameplay in Super Mario 64 and added the FLUDD, a water cannon that allowed for hovering and cleaning, completely changing the flow of the game. Meanwhile, Sony would eventually release Ratchet & Clank and Jak  & Daxter, both 3D platformers that sought to stand out from the crowd. Ratchet and Clank emphasized gunplay, with the platforming taking a backseat to the action. Jak & Daxter was a little more earnest in it’s platforming gameplay, but it managed to build on the formula in new and inventive ways.

These games paved the way for a new generation of 3D platformers, with acclaimed games such as Psychonauts and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg using the genre to deliver fun gameplay that felt totally fresh. But the resurgence was short lived. While there were a handful of great 3D platformers released during this era, they eventually faded into obscurity, leaving fans to reminisce about the games of yesteryear.

But gaming is cyclical. A semi-recent resurgence in 2D platformers has found the genre catapulted back into the limelight. Games such as New Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country Return have revived the genre, with more 2D platformers being released every day. Indie games such as Braid and Super Meat Boy have also helped to kickstart the genre, using retro presentation to deliver modern gameplay.

Video game analysts are predicting that 3D platformers could soon return to the spotlight. Big name games such Super Mario 3D World are managing to sell millions of titles, and indie title such as A Hat In Time are using the genre to deliver fresh, original gameplay.

It could also be argued that the 3D platforming genre has evolved, moving past the emphasis on collecting trinkets and jumping on platforms. Games such as Uncharted and Mirror’s Edge are considered platforming games, with the same collection and exploration mechanics as the games of yesteryear, but with gunplay. The levels are bigger, the polygon count is higher, but at their core, they’re similar to the platforming games we grew up with.

But for those looking for more traditional 3D platforming games, they may soon return. We could very well be on the precipice of a new golden age of 3D platforming.

You Probably Missed This: Nier

by Ben Hopkins

Now, I’m not saying I’m the kind of guy that goes digging around in the bargain bin to see if any of the $1.99 games were perhaps just overlooked and are actually golden. I am, though, the kind of guy who is cheap and realizes he’s played all of his games and ends up digging through his roommates games and came across this title.

 

Nier came out for both the 360 and the PS3 back in 2010 and was met with bad to mediocre reviews, holding a 67 on Metacritic. It’s an open world-ish (I’ll explain the -ish later) action-adventure game with some role-playing elements to it. The fighting style is definitely reminiscent of the whole God of War/Bayonetta/DmC series excepted with the over-the-top, in-your-face attitude scaled down.

 The game starts off in the not-so-distant future with a man and a young girl trekking through some bleak-ass, modern looking city in the middle of a terrible snowstorm. They wind up hiding in an abandoned grocery store only to be attacked by evil shadow creatures, almost a la Twilight Princess. The battle gets more and more intense as you’re introduced to the variety of the magic-based attacks you get to combo in during fighting until you take down a big baddie and it wraps up.

 

 After you’re victorious in the fight, the man heads back inside of the store and you get to see the little girl coughing badly. The game then jumps 1,312 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE. While the introduction scene ultimately plays a role, the fact alone that they jump so god damned far into the future makes you almost feel like your intro fight you just finished was for absolutely nothing. Nothing!

 So, once you’ve come to terms with the fact that you’re over a thousand years into the future, you find yourself looking at two characters, a man and a young girl, that look identical to the characters from the first scene. The main difference is that they live in a seemingly-post apocalyptic, medieval-esque village that is built upon an old town and are dressed as such. Also the whole so far into the future thing, that’s a pretty big difference.

 This man, Nier, the titular character of the game, is out to find the cure for his daughter Yonah’s terminal sickness. From there the game goes on to evolve into a pretty fun, albeit simplistic, game. You soon find your companion, Grimoire Weiss (which, I also may have not mentioned earlier, I can’t remember if you can put in Japanese voices, but if you can you should. It’s not Dynasty Warriors bad, but it’s not the greatest at times) who allows you to use the shadow-comb-type attacks you get so enamored with during the first fight. Now, these attacks range from shooting you forward lighting fast to shooting out floating-homing-shadow lances that pierce your enemies.

 You eventually find yourself with more travel buddies, of which one is of course the obligatory big breasted gal wearing next to nothing found within most Japanese titles. At one point there’s another time jump, and, well, I gave you the introduction I’m not going to ruin the damn thing for you. What I really want to talk about for a second though is the music in this game. It’s beautiful. It’s so well composed and I was honestly so surprised. It’s a blend of the dramatic and the relaxing with both organic and electronic elements. There’s profuse use of choir-like vocals and reminded me somewhat of certain elements of the persona 3 soundtrack. It’s definitely got a new-age vibe with it, but as someone who grew up in the 90’s and was forced to listen to the emergence of new-age music on the radio I have a soft spot for it. If you can’t get into the gameplay, do yourself a favor and at least listen to the soundtrack.

 So, while I wouldn’t say that it’s even Nier-perfect (oh ho ho!), it’s not a bad way to kill some time on occasions. I’m glad I played it and I think you should as well. Hell, it’s cheap to pick up so you don’t really have an excuse.

Clueless Review: Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3

Clueless Review is a feature where a gamer reviews a game based on a series he is unfamiliar with.

When I was but a knee high nerd, I was a big fan of the Shonen Jump series. Bleach, One Piece, and Naruto all seemed so cool, and I kept up with every one. As I grew older, I eventually stopped keeping up with Bleach and Naruto, but I could never let One Piece go. Later, I found out that Naruto had gone through a “time skip,” and had re-branded itself as Naruto Shippuden. The characters were older and much more powerful, with new enemies and old foes to fight. I thought about getting back into the series. After all, ninjas rule, and what my friends told me about the series sounded awesome. But there was just too much to watch. I was way too behind at this point, so I resigned myself to not getting into Naruto.

And then the Ultimate Ninja games started coming out. Lightning fast and ridiculously easy to pick up and play, they drew me back to the series. I knew the old characters, sure. Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura were all there, as were Kakashi, Kiba, and my personal favorite, Rock Lee. But the cast had grown exponentially since then. A rapping man who turns into an octopus, a floating midget who control rocks, a feminine guy with mouths in his hands; Naruto had gotten bigger and weirder.

Undeterred by the fact that I had no idea who 95% of these characters were, I decided to pick up Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. It’s a blast to play, but damn is it confusing.

This isn’t the games fault, though. This is the third title in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series, so it pretty much assumes you know what the fuck is going on. It doesn’t waste time explaining to you what is happening in the game’s ample story mode; it just plops you down and sends you on your way. The story covers a big chunk of Naruto, but even after playing the whole thing, I am no closer to understanding what is happening. But here’s what I took away from it: The ninjas of the various lands have to put aside their differences to team up together and take on the insidious group known as the Akatsuki. The Akatsuki seek to take the various monster things that have been sealed inside characters, which they will then use to rule the world. Or something. For a game with so much expository dialogue, it was surprisingly difficult to follow.

But the story is just for the hardcore fans. The real meat and potatoes of the game is the killer gameplay. Zooming around the map, throwing shurikens at your enemy, while exchanging Earth rattling punches is great fun, and the controls make looking like a badass a breeze. Fighters have basic attacks, shurikens for long range poking, special attacks, super special attacks, and a poorly explained item system they can utilize, though I rarely did. There are a range of fighting styles, with some characters specializing in getting up close and personal, while others hang back and knock around their opponents with special moves. When a character gets into a combo, the opponent can utilize a Substitution bar to escape the combo, allowing them to get back on the offensive. This makes for exciting matches that never get too one sided, ensuring everyone can have fun.

Select characters can charge their chakara to go Super Saiyan (or the Naruto equivalent of Super Saiyan), becoming incredibly strong or transforming into screen filling characters. While you think this could lead to fights becoming one sided, Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (Jesus, that’s a mouthful) does a good job of keeping it balanced. Sure, the oddly named Killer Bee can turn into a massive octopus-thing, but you can still take him down.

Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 is also a gorgeous looking game, using cel shading to look like a playable anime. Characters have speed lines when they dash across the screens, Japanese words pop up during special attacks, and close ups on characters eyes let you know they’re going Super Saiyan. The game does a wonderful job of evoking the look of the series.

So, while I’m no closer to understanding the series, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. Is it the best place to start if you’re new to the series? Definitely not. But it doesn’t matter who’s who or why characters are fighting when the game is so damn fun.

Deep Cutz: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Deep Cutz highlights great video game music that you should check out!

While Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is being praised for it’s action packed gameplay, tight controls, and imaginative worlds, it’s soundtrack also deserves a highlight. The DKC series has always been known for it’s wonderful soundtrack, thanks to composer David Wise, who is responsible for the most memorable tracks to grace the series.

Wise has returned to the series he made famous for Tropical Freeze, teaming with Kensuke Tanabe, the composer for 2010’s Donkey Kong Country Returns. Together, they have crafted a truly fantastic soundtrack that deserves a listen. There are remixes of beloved songs, and brand new tracks that can already be labeled “classic.” Do yourself a favor and check it out at this Youtube playlist.

Fan review: The Wolf Among Us

By Meagan Sutherland

Episode two of the Fables inspired video game, “The Wolf Among Us,” just released and it was awesome! It is a balanced blend of video game melodrama and comic book sequences. Every second playing the game felt like I was reading a back-story by Bill Willingham in a Fables encyclopedia. Telltale games incorporates the characters we love (Bigby and Snow White) and also those that I hate (really just Jack). But it brings the characters together in a completely new story, and so far it feels like I’m playing a film noir detective version of Fables.

The Fable’s comic series follows the characters from various collections including Hans Christian Anderson, Aesop’s Fables, Brothers Grimm, Arabian Nights, etc. The characters depart from their home worlds because they are being overtaken by a tyrant. They escape to upstate New York where they have to work in order to keep Fabletown alive (the city they have created and hidden). Witches hide the city by using magic to create glamour’s and this is how Bigby Wolf is able to work as Sheriff for Fabletown and still appear human.

Though I knew the game was a prequel, I didn’t know when it would be taking place. The episode starts with Bigby going into a seedy apartment building which creates a set-up that reflects the dark tone of the comics. The art direction uses a dark color palette containing lots of purples and neon highlights to contrast with the darkness. Most of the scenes take place at night which creates a more serious and sinister setting compared to a comic book frame. However, the beginning dialogue was on point with the comics, incorporating dark humor and punchy lines.

You play as Bigby Wolf, the big bad wolf, and he uses a glamour to appear human, however he is prone to transforming back into the big bad wolf in times of extreme pressure which creates a ticking time bomb effect.

The game starts when you are called by Mr. Toad to investigate a fight happening upstairs in his apartment building. The Huntsman (who’s from the same story as Bigby, “Little Red Riding Hood”) is beating up a pretty girl who we find out is a prostitute and also a Fable, but not a recognizable one and not one from the comics. What set the Huntsman off is that this girl didn’t know who he was. This actually made me stop to think about the entirety of the fables existence. Part of the Huntsman’s whole character is being a savior to a poor little girl and being the hero of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Now in Fabletown, no one even remembers who he is. He hires prostitutes and has no real authority. To top it off, he is being looked down upon by the big bad wolf and everyone else. This duality is what makes the comics great, because the characters themselves are only as important as their stories and the folklore surrounding them. If you take that part of them away and they become equals, then they lose the parts of themselves that made them distinguishable in the first place.

In the comic, Bigby comes across as one of the only characters with purpose and he seems to have the whole investigation figured out from the get-go. He is strong, brutal, unforgiving and tough. However, playing as Bigby, I constantly make stupid decisions. The path I chose made Bigby appear subdued and less likely to make a scene. Other options were available, so I’m wondering now if I just avoided making the tough decisions and created this other personality for Bigby or whether it was part of the game.

Snow White is basically the second in command of Fabletown and a buffer between the citizens and the mayor. She is the counterpart to Bigby in both the comics and game. There are definitely differences between the comic and game versions of Snow. The first comic begins with her in a meeting with Beauty and Beast. During this exchange, she is upfront and callous, as she has to do what needs to be done. As second in command, she can’t coddle anyone. She appears angry and bitter towards her work, but she also knows that the small underground government of Fabletown has to work if the fables are going to continue to exist there. In game, however, Snow has a completely different voice from

what I imagined. When I read her dialogue in the comics, I imagined a sultry and sassy voice, but in game, she is overly sweet, like a fairy tale princess. This change in her character allows me to believe that she is nicer, less callous, more of the Snow White we picture cleaning and singing to birds. In the comics, she holds a masculine demeanor which allows her to appear merciless and less like the fairy tale she once was. I’ve always thought of her as the no-nonsense tough girl, and in game she is more agreeable but still manages to hold her own against Bigby.

Telltale games rely on story-telling and dialogue more than action based survival like typical shoot ‘em ups. This game style allows you to enjoy a unique experience (but it still has its action and finger-pressing moments). I had more fun finding out what a split-second decision of mine would be in a critical moment than I did randomly shooting CP’s. At times, the game forced me to make a decision in less than ten seconds. But it became more stressful when I was faced with a long amount of time to decide because that meant it would be a tough one. For instance, I had two suspects and only had enough time to capture one which caused me to stress out and doubt whether I made the right decision. AHHHH! Even now I wish I could go back.

“The Wolf Among Us” is a lot like Telltale’s previous “Walking Dead” games. Both follow the same schema and sometimes you have to decide who to rescue and ultimately, someone may turn up dead. If I felt that I made the wrong decision in either game, then I felt that I really did allow someone to die and that I was responsible for all the pitfalls during the story. I was continually doubting myself and wondering whether things would have turned out different or even better if I just made a different decision. The game follows the path that I have chosen and even now I feel the need to replay the first two episodes for nothing else than just to see what would have happened in a different scenario.

So far, I think the game is well done and allows the tone of the comics to seep through. It’s interesting how the game incorporates characters that were never involved in the comics or has characters that were mentioned but never seen, and you get a new back story for them. It keeps me invested even though I know what’s going to happen in the long run. Before I played the game, I figured it would either be for the die-hard fans of the comics or it would be a boring replay of what’s already happened, however it is a good median: exposition is there for newcomers, and there are still enough surprises to keep the experience fresh. My goal in the game is to be the perfect Sheriff, unfortunately it seems all of my decisions have tough consequences. Sometimes, you can’t know the outcome, however this makes “The Wolf Among Us” that much more enjoyable to play.

Kickstart This Shit, Internet!: Hot Dog Heartache

Kickstart This Shit, Internet! is a weekly article spotlighting great games on Kickstarter that haven’t hit their funding yet

Hot Dog Heartache has come along to fill a void in the world of video games: the lack of platforming games starring sentient hot dogs.

Developed by the appropriately named Fever Brain Studios, Hot Dog Heartache is a bizarre platformer starring a hot dog who has been cast out by his beloved creator, Chef B. Hole, after Chef Hole discovered that our protagonist is actually a tofu dog. Thrown out into the harsh, cruel world, the hot dog embarks upon an epic quest to regain the love of his creator.

Beginning life as a browser based game, Fever Brain Studios wishes to turn the title into a full fledged game. In the new and improved Hot Dog Heartache, players will have to contend with hungry hobos, cats, dogs, birds, and sentient utensils, all while navigating a world filled with perilous jumps and obstacles to overcome.

Hot Dog Heartache has raised a few eyebrows due to it’s truly bizarre premise, but underneath all the weird beats the heart of a solid 2D platforming game.

As of this writing, Hot Dog Heartache is far short of it’s $25,000 goal, with only 13 more days to go. It looks like it may be curtains for Hot Dog Heartache, but not if you kickstart this shit, internet!