Kurt Cobain in Guitar Hero
As a counter culture icon, Kurt Cobain’s 2007 resurrection as a cartoon lip-syncing to Bon Jovi would have had the Nirvana man spinning in his grave more violently than a 90s Seattle grunge scene mosh pit. Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic described themselves as “dismayed and very disappointed” by his inclusion in the game. They can say that again.
Aerosmith in Revolution X
You’d be forgiven for thinking a game from Aerosmith, spandexed kings of cock rock, would be a pretty light affair. WRONG. This 1994 SNES shooter saw you battle an oppressive militia known as the New World Order, hell bent on wiping out all entertainment. Your weapon? Music. Literally. You have a gun with fires CDs into goons’ faces.
Phil Collins in Grand Theft Auto
From Public Enemy’s Chuck D to Axl Rose, the aptly named Rockstar Games have sneaked more musicians into their GTA series than you can shake a blood-splattered chainsaw at – but none more memorably than the Genesis man’s turn in Vice City Stories. The player must escort Collins to his concert after his manager’s gambling debts catch up with him.
50 Cent in 50 Cent: Bulletproof
After spurning a part in GTA: San Andreas, Fiddy’s first foray into console gaming was a puzzle game akin to Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training, challenging players to put their wits to the test in a colourful… oh, hang on, no, it was a violent shoot ‘em up in the GTA mould, ‘cept with awful mechanics and graphics blockier than Tetris.
Michael Jackson in Moonwalker
It’s hard to know quite what’s going on in this Michael Jackson 1989 platformer. Chased by sumo wrestlers and men on tricycles, you play MJ, hopping and “HEE-HEE!”-ing your way through some sort of cosmic strip club collecting keys and microphones. Oh, and on the final level, pet monkey Bubbles turns Jackson into a robot.
Kanye West in Kanye Quest 3030
A Japanese RPG featuring the rapper, who defeats enemies by throwing croissants at them? What’s not to love! Tupac Shakur, Nicki Minaj and Jay-Z also feature in this unauthorised online game, which is soundtracked by awesome 8-bit versions of Kanye classics. Awesome.
Wu-Tang Clan in Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style
Even Method Man admits Wu-Tang’s 1999 beat ’em up was a bit of sub-par: “it stinks,” he admitted years later. Way better than the game was the limited edition Playstation controller you got with some special copies of the game – in the shape of the Wu symbol.
Radiohead in PolyFauna
Earlier this year, Radiohead released a mobile game that lets you adventure around a hypnotic alien sandbox-style world, to the sweet sounds of ‘Bloom’ from 2011’s ‘The King of Limbs’. Fans had hoped you’d unlock new music by completing the game, but you can’t have it all, can you? No you can’t.
Avenged Sevenfold in Call of Duty: Black Ops
“The song is about the game,” said A7X frontman M. Shadows about the track ‘Not Ready To Die’ he and his bandmates wrote specially for COD. “I’m a big fan of the game, I play it all the time, so I got caught up in the story.” The band appear in pixel form to play the track in the game. For some reason.
Kiss in Kiss Pinball
The unimaginatively titled Kiss Pinball was a universal flop due to its clunky controls and overcomplicated scoring. Playstation Magazine scored it 1/10, and Gamespot declared: “KISS fans will be disappointed by the distinct lack of KISS, and pinball fans will be disappointed by the distinct lack of pinball.” Oh dear.
Kiss in Kiss: Psycho Circus
Another Kiss video game, this one no more succesful. ‘Psycho Circus’, inspired by their Marvel comic, painted Gene Simmons and co as supernatural beings known as the Four-Who-Are-One or The Elder: the Demon (Simmons), the Starbearer (Paul Stanley), the Beastking (Peter Criss) and the Celestial (Ace Frehley). Still following? No, us either.
Mac DeMarco in Squish ‘Em
The kind of guy it’s easy to imagine hanging out in the local arcade playing Whack A Mole growing up, Squish ‘Em is a modern slacker take on an old classic. Playing Mac, you have to stub out bugs with cigarettes, in an online game that’s a lot harder than it initially seems. One for the 3am ‘still drunk and can’t sleep’ blues.
Bon Jovi, Avril Lavigne and more in The Sims
The Sims’ “Superstar” edition was awash with musicians, including Bon Iver (whose grainy blockishness they totally captured, dontcha think?), Avril Lavigne and Paramore, who re-recorded early track ‘Pressure’ in ‘Simlish’ for the game.
Frankie Goes To Hollywood in Frankie: The Computer Game
Back in the glory days of Commodore 64, even Frankie Goes To Hollywood had their own video game. It was an energetic affair – a pixelated quest for sex, war, love and faith. For those who like a bit of mild peril, it also had a shock murder, forcing the player to explore each room for clues.
Motley Crue in Crue Ball
Crue Ball pretty much did what it said on its proverbial tin – pinball, but to the sound of three of Crue’s biggest hits. Nothing particularly clever, but then they never were a band famed for their rocket science intellect.
Metronomy in I’m Aquarius smart phone game
Pitting fans against each other to compete for a test pressing of new record ‘Love Letters’, Metronomy hatched a free iPhone game earlier this year that saw players control a spaceship through a ‘cosmic wilderness’ in order to gain points. A fitting accompaniment to the celestial track.
Chromatics in Chromatics: Soundplay
Another game in Pitchfork’s Soundplay series, Chromatics lent their track ‘Lady’ to artist Ivan Safrin, who crafted a dizzying world of technicolour around it. Inspired by analog video effects of the late 70s and early 80s, it was a darn sight trendier than Flappy Birds.
Ludacris in Def Jam Vendetta
Who wouldn’t want to play as Ludicris, brawling with other members of the Def Jam fraternity? No one, obviously, which is why this Xbox beat ’em up was a cult hit. And yes, that is a random cameo from Henry Rollins. Deal with it.
Spice Girls in Spiceworld: The Game
‘Spice World: The Game’ was excruciatingly awful. The graphics suck, the story is shallower than a Saharan paddling pool and the song selection is pitiful, featuring the same 5 tracks over and over again like some sort of hellish pop nightmare. Step away from your Playstation.
Fred Durst in Fight Club: The Video Game
Considering that the number of people who want to punch Fred Durst in the face is probably close to equally Fight Club’s opening week box office, the Limp Bizkit man’s cameo in this belated game tie-in was a stroke of marketing genius. Sales and reviews were poor, though. Enough to make you want to break stuff, ain’t it Fred?
Metallica in Tony Hawk Pro Skater
As if teenage Tony Hawk fans needed any more reason to wear three-quarter length shorts and throw horns at the nearest passing stranger, they only went and whacked Metallica in as bonus characters on a special edition of the game. Taking on a different kind of shredding, James Hetfield’s likeness wasn’t half bad.
Insane Clown Posse in Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This At Home
Backyard Wrestling feels like a pretty natural extension of their dumb, meathead music. Watch as members of their wrestling federation (the Juggalo Championship) pummel, punch and prat around like Jackass never happened, all to the toilet humour pop-punk of Sum 41, Bowling For Soup and of course, ICP. Only in 2003.
Snoop Dogg in Way Of The Dogg
Way Of The Dogg saw Snoop take to the hood, fighting his way through a series of locations as a poorly drawn Tekken reject whose rival ‘Angel Face’ killed his girlfriend, for reasons that are never particularly explained. The game was panned, with Xbox Magazine labeling it ‘a squandered opportunity to fill a genre gap in the Arcade.’ Not the shizzle.
Cut Copy in Cut Copy: Soundplay
Cut Copy enlisted former member Bennett Foddy for his HTML tekkers in 2012 when they teamed up with Intel to create an ‘interactive programme’ driven by their music. So far, so geeky, but what ensued was actually pretty mesmerising: players control two characters up a pulsating hill, capturing glowing embers between trails of light. Epic.
Journey in Journey Escape
If you thought Journey’s legacy couldn’t get any naffer than that Glee cover, we refer you to Journey Escape, their Atari platformer which called upon fans to save the band from the clutches of “Love-Crazed Groupies, Sneaky Photographers and Shifty-Eyed Promoters.” Weirdly, the Journey song of the same name never features in the game.
Beastie Boys in NBA Jam
If you like your b-ball with added bs, NBA Jam for Xbox 360 boasted an unlockable level where all three members of the Beastie Boys appeared with Al Gore, J.Cole and Barack Obama. Ever wondered if Mike D can dunk better than the leader of the free world? This game was your way to find out.