Everyone has their own favourite character. Whether it’s Street Fighter’s Ken and his devastating hadouken, or Tekken’s Heihachi and his shining fists. They’re usually fictional, though - the spiky haired daydreams of Japanese game designers who grew up on a staple diet of manga, manga, and more manga.
But plenty of fighting games have taken real life characters for their inspiration - and we don’t mean they’re gaming copycats. The latest, Battle For Presidency, comes from indie developers CanDax. In it, US presidents from the days of the founding fathers to now switch out the Oval Office for a no-holds barred cage match.
In CanDax’s universe, George Washington is so brawny he can’t wear shirts with sleeves, while Abraham Lincoln ended the civil war with his own bare fists. It’s a hilarious take on the beat’em up, but far from the first to feature real life personalities and celebs. Here, we take a look back at the best (and worst) fighting games which let you duke it out with real world stars.
NBA star Shaquille O’Neal might be best known for powering down the line and dunking from ungodly distances, but that’s not his only talent. At least, in his mind. Back in the days of the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive, he released a beat’em up, Shaq Fu, which saw him taking on karate masters, women, and, er, evil Egyptian mummies. There wasn’t a sequel.
Jerry Springer is no stranger to fighting, often goading guests on his show into scraps, but the former mayor of Cincinnati seldom went wailing in himself, microphone in hand. That is until 2003, when he became a playable character in the game version of Celebrity Deathmatch, MTV’s daft and brutal claymation comedy. Check out the clip above, in which he and Carmen Electra battle to the death, before giving post-match interviews as skeletons.
Wu-Tang Clan: Taste The Pain was the inevitable conclusion of the rap group’s obsession with old Chinese martial arts movies. The 1999 PlayStation game sees you wading through the 36 Chambers (yes - also the name of their first album) to take on the evil Mong Zhu, with some shocking humiliation moves along the way, much like Mortal Kombat. Our favourite character? Method Man, and his giant hammer.
It’s rare that video games change their name after release, but that’s exactly what happened with Punch-Out for the Nintendo Entertainment System in the early 90s. That game soon became Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out after a Nintendo exec saw Iron Mike in a fight and licensed his likeness for the game, pitting him as the final boss. When the deal expired it returned to being Punch-Out once more, and Mike Tyson’s character became the eerily similar “Mr Dream”.
Like Wu-Tang and even Aerosmith before them, Rock legends Kiss also made the step into video games in 2000, with a surprisingly playable shooter for PC and Dreamcast, Kiss: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child. Multiplayer carnage with lots of face paint ensued.
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