Over the past three decades, two institutions have constantly remained near-universal pastimes of the young and young-at-heart: Rock 'n' roll music and video games. Despite myriad changes in the sound, style, technology and sophistication of both mediums, video games and rock music have endured as uniting forces in an ever-evolving youth culture that places increasing importance on individuality.
It's no surprise, then, that the two have also been intertwined since video games first rose to prominence in the early '80s. Long before games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band turned gamers into "rock stars" with instrument-shaped controllers, there was the infamously shitty Journey arcade game, in which you played as all five band members, trying to retrieve their respective instruments in time for an outer space gig.
The relationship seems to be a little one-sided, however. Rock stars showing up in video games is relatively commonplace, but when was the last time you saw a two-dimensional, pixelated video game hero playing in a real live rock band? With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the most popular video game characters over the years and speculate on what direction their musical careers might have taken, had things gone differently.
Simon Belmont (Castlevania) as a Random Member of Manowar:
To be honest, when I first started formulating this list, I had Simon pegged as more of a goth band kind of guy. After all, the guy spends most of his time in dimly lit castles, searching for vampires and other nefarious creatures of the night. Then I did a Google image search for him, and I realized that I was so very, very wrong. Simon Belmont clearly would have been a member of Manowar. The boots are perfect, but he might have to lose the shirt. Speaking of which...
Little Mac (Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!) as Marky Mark:
If Little Mac, the diminutive hero of the Punch-Out!! series, had chosen a career in music, he obviously would've been rapper-turned-underwear-model-turned-actor Marky Mark Wahlberg. What they both lack in height, they make up for in athleticism, gritty determination and a propensity for fighting. The fact that Wahlberg recently starred in The Fighter just solidifies it. These two are cut from the same cloth.
MegaMan as MegaRan:
This one is just so obvious. I mean, how can you not picture MegaMan as a video game-obsessed indie rapper who also happens to be a middle school teacher? The resemblance is uncanny...
Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII) as Billy Idol:
I've never actually played any of the Final Fantasy games, so I have no idea what Cloud's personality is like, however, I do know that Billy Idol is the only person, rock stars and regular Joes alike, who has actually pulled off that hairstyle in real life.
Carl "CJ" Johnson (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) as 50 Cent:
Okay, so Fiddy is from New York and CJ is from a fictionalized version of the West Coast. That's about the only thing these two don't have in common. Both came from hardscrabble backgrounds, fell into criminal activity at a young age and eventually rose to the top of their respective careers. Plus, they both seem to get shot at an awful lot...
Samus Aran (Metroid) as Grace Perry (Landmine Marathon):
Gamers old enough to remember the original Metroid for the Nintendo Entertainment System will fondly recall that initial "What the fuck?" moment when, in the game's closing scenes, the badass, metallic main character, Samus Aran, is revealed to be -- SPOILER ALERT! -- a smokin' hot chick. First-time listeners could easily have the same reaction when they find out that the vocalist behind Landmine Marathon's metallic grunting, growling and screaming is actually -- you guessed it -- a smokin' hot chick.
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Link (The Legend of Zelda) as the Blond Dude in Boys Like Girls:
Link doesn't talk much, so it's hard to get a read on his personality, but he's definitely got the right hair for an emo band. Since he spends the majority of his time trying to rescue the oft-kidnapped Princess Zelda, Boys Like Girls seemed to be an appropriate band for him.
Pac-Man as Sam Kinison:
Okay, so Kinison is best known as a comedian, but he did record an awesome cover of "Wild Thing," the video for which featured the always lovely Jessica Hahn. When it comes to big-mouthed '80s icons with an insatiable appetite for white lines, Pac-Man and Kinison reign supreme, so it would make sense that the former's career would mirror the latter's, had Pac-Man decided to take up music and/or stand-up comedy.
Random Multiplayer Character (Call of Duty: Black Ops) as Justin Bieber:
Granted, there's no physical resemblance between these two, and a nameless grunt battling it out on the front lines doesn't really have anything in common with a teenage pop sensation. It's just that whenever I'm playing Domination and my team is getting spawn-raped by a bunch of noobtube-toting bitches, this is the little douchebag I imagine on the other end. You know the one - he's the shithead with the "xXx" at the beginning and end of his username and a crudely constructed penis or swastika (or some combination of both) as his playercard emblem. On the other hand, that makes it all the more satisfying when I pull out my crossbow and plant an explosive-tipped arrow right in his chest. Turn that hat around, punk...