The Absurd Adventures Of 16-Bit Celebrities

by Dan Ryckert on Oct 06, 2009 at 10:55 AM

Celebrities have long been a part of the gaming landscape, although it's usually in traditional roles such as movie tie-ins or sports games. Vin Diesel lent his likeness and voice to The Chronicles of Riddick, Ken Griffey Jr. starred in several of his own baseball games, and The Rock played a standard action hero in Spy Hunter. There's no shortage of celebs that have graced our gaming consoles throughout the years. However, some of these appearances involved nonsensical, hilarious, or downright bizarre storylines, especially in the 16-bit era. Here's a look at some of the biggest offenders.

The Celebrity:  Steven Tyler and the members of Aerosmith

The Game:  Revolution X

The Story:  In the futuristic, Orwellian hellscape known as November of 1996, the "corrupt neo-industrial-governmental-militaristic oppressive alliance" New Order Nation takes over and bans all forms of entertainment. Anyone between the age of 13 and 30 is imprisoned, and live music is only performed in pseudo-speakeasies. Aerosmith, the rebellious and still-totally-relevant-in-the-90s rock band, decides to give the middle finger to the NON by playing at Club X, LA's hottest nightclub. After battling through waves of NON gestapo by shooting CDs at them, you stumble upon a videotaped message from Steven Tyler informing you that Aerosmith has been kidnapped. He says it's up to you to stop them, and that "music is the only weapon". With this statement, the Muppet-faced lead singer proves his incompetence in military planning, as the enemy's machine guns prove to be far better weapons than music.

Funniest Moment:  After a grueling final stage consisting of shooting CDs at a wall of television sets, it's finally time to face NON's leader - a dominatrix named Helga. She immediately (and inexplicably) transforms into a giant lizard monster named Mongo that flies around in a floating throne, and you have to blast away at his arms, legs, face, and groin to beat the game. Your "reward" is a backstage party with Aerosmith, where a compressed version of "Dude Looks Like A Lady" plays on repeat. It's not the entire song, mind you...this is 16-bit we're talking about. You're treated to an endless snippet of the chorus, specifically Steven Tyler singing the phrase "Dude Looks Like A Lady" roughly 14,000 times.

The Celebrity:  Michael Jordan

The Game:  Michael Jordan's Chaos in the Windy City

The Story:  His Airness shows up for a charity basketball game only to find that the arena is empty and his teammates are nowhere to be found. A basketball with a note attached comes crashing through the skylight. Signed by "Dr. Max Cranium," it instructs Michael to go to the Egyptian Room of the field museum at midnight, and to come alone. Without notifying the authorities that an entire professional basketball team has been kidnapped, he heads to the museum in the dead of night and goes through a hidden door. He notices that he's entered an underground prison, and that's when the player assumes control of Michael. Within the first five seconds of the game, you're throwing basketballs at vampire bats and basketball-headed zombies (that throw their basketball heads at you, naturally). A hostage who may or may not be Karl Malone informs Michael that "a little dude with a big head" has locked up NBA players all over the city. "Karl Malone" teleports away in a cloud of purple energy, and MJ proceeds to sprint through Chicago's laboratories, factories, and haunted houses utilizing basketballs, flame basketballs, ice basketballs, basketballs colored like baseballs(?), and golden flaming basketballs. It's basically Castlevania.

Funniest Moment:  Michael's shoulder-shrugging death animation when he falls down a hole.

The Celebrity:
  Shaquille O'Neal

The Game:  Shaq-Fu

The Story:  While strolling through Tokyo in full basketball attire, Shaquille O'Neal stumbles upon a small Kung Fu dojo. He speaks with an old man behind the counter who believes Shaq is "from the stars". A boy named Nezu has been kidnapped, and only a magic man from the stars can save him. Understandably, Shaq asks the man to elaborate. He is told that there's no time, and that he must jump into a portal immediately. Because Shaq is stupid, he jumps into the portal and has to dropkick goblins and mummies to save a random little boy.

Funniest Moment:  Shaq's bio in the instruction manual - "A dominating force on and off the court; Rookie of the Year, perennial all star, and founder of Shaqido...an extremely advanced form of martial art. FAVORITE MOVE: The mighty Shaq-uriken. By summoning a devastating whirling blade, Shaq can strike evil fiercely from afar."

The Celebrity:  Bill Laimbeer

The Game:  Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball

The Story:  It's the year 2030. Notorious basketball bad boy (read: ***) Bill Laimbeer comes out of retirement and takes over as commissioner of the sport. In a Laimbeer-esque move, he fires all the referees, makes all fouls legal, and allows cloning companies to manufacture an army of super-athletes. Fans debate whether or not Bill has used cloning technology on himself to maintain his youth and playing ability. He is on a quest for revenge against the sport's higher-ups that forced him to retire because of his unorthodox and violent style. As a slap in the face to the starch shirts who formerly ran the league, he allows ticketholders to toss cash, land mines, homing missiles, and saw blades onto the court, which the armored players compete over.

Funniest Moment:  See above. Also, on the game's boxart he's dunking on a dude while simultaneously punching him in the face.