Dec 13, 2017 Last Updated 12:00 PM, Dec 12, 2017

Games with Bad Raps and Rappers with Bad Games

Published in Editorial
Read 1314 times
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Tagged under

Many games are based on real-life events, but to my recollection, I’ve never witnessed a real-life event based on a video game. That is, until the recent rivalry between entertainer Chris Brown and rapper Soulja Boy, which resulted in negotiations for a sanctioned boxing match between the two. It took 15 years, but the Def Jam fighting games have finally crossed over into reality with what could have been the story arch for the next entry in the series.

Def Jam Vendetta, released in 2003 for the PS2 and GameCube, (more or less a rap veneered WWE game) introduced mainstream gaming to the hip-hop fighter genre. Vendetta generally received favorable reviews and resulted in the sequels Def Jam: Fight for NY, Def Jam: Icon, and the portable title Def Jam Fight for NY: The Takeover.

The Def Jam series might have been the first AAA hip-hop fighter release, but it wasn't the first attempt to mix hip-hop and the 3D fighter genre. In 1999, the PlayStation release of Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style – a title that you’d think would result in a decent fighting game, given the artists and subject matter – took a stab at mixing the disparate genres, but received less than stellar reviews.

One could argue that the original hip-hop fighting game would be the 1996 PS1 title Parappa the Rapper, which was an amalgamation of hip-hop, 3D fighting, and rhythm, but that’s a specious argument: only the first stage, where you rap-battle the onion-headed karate instructor Chop Chop Master Onion, features hip-hop.

One year before the release of Parappa the Rapper, the SNES basketball title Rap Jam: Volume 1 (a game so bad, there would be no Volume 2) attempted to cash-in on the video game industry. Rap Jam featured the likenesses of rappers from the 90s, such as Coolio, Warren G, and House of Pain (among others), which makes it feel even more dated, in retrospect. Mediocre gameplay, combined with 16-bit era limitations, resulted in a truly awful game, unable even to handle the music of its featured characters.

Marc Eckō's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, a 2006 action-adventure beat ’em up set in a dystopian future, was heavily inspired by hip-hop culture. Getting Up’s protagonist is voiced by rapper Talib Kweli, but ultimately the release didn’t qualify as a fighter. However, it is still one of the most robust attempts to combine rap and gaming. I enjoyed Getting Up and, of all the titles mentioned, it is the only one readily available on Steam.

As of today, the fight between Brown and Soulja has officially been called off, leaving hip-hop heads searching yet for the rap video game holy grail – but what an entry into the series the scuffle could have been. Video game veteran Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson was also promoting the fight (50 Cent starred in two titles of his own; 50 Cent: Bulletproof and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand). I’m imagining cameos from Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, and Floyd “Money” Mayweather. Alas, the bout of near-pugilism and drama between Chris Brown and Soulja Boy may not be the fight we need – nor deserve – but it does serve as a reminder of the history of hip-hop gaming nostalgia, for better or worse.

Related items

  • Headup Games Announces Bridge Constructor Portal

    Developer and Publisher Headup Games announces that for the last year, they've been secretly working in their underground labs on the next iteration of the million-selling Bridge Constructor series. This new stand-alone title will release on PC, MacOS, Linux, mobile devices, and console, and fully embraces the Portal license, one of the most beloved video game franchises of the last decade.

  • Amazon Retro Zone Invites You to Compete Nov.14-15

    Amazon Appstore’s Retro Zone, which claims to be "the ultimate online destination for all things retro gaming," is partnering with Twitch influencers this Nov. 14-15 to stream retro games available on the Amazon Appstore and compete in speed runs against viewers.

  • Paris Games Week: OPN Meets Ninpo

    The most intriguing game of PGW was Vanishing Stars Colony War, developed by Ninpo — mostly since we were surprised to hear that these two genres could be merged into one; the independent scene allows this type of originality. And to hear Cedric's passion for his tower defense MMO, we can’t wait to play it!

  • BadLand Games Announces Do Not Feed The Monkeys to Release Q1 2018

    A story-driven title in which you invade the privacy of dozens of strangers while you witness their most intimate moments, trying to keep up with the rent payment and have enough money to buy some food from time to time... 

  • Gravel: Devs Announce Four Disciplines To Be The Number One

    Gravel, Milestone’s latest IP, is back with a new Dev Diary focused on the career mode developed around the Off-Road Masters, the annual TV show where the best riders in the world compete in races all over the planet, organized by the Gravel Channel, the extreme sports TV channel completely dedicated to off-roading.

  • It’s-a-me, Mario!

    He captured our hearts and minds since he was 8-bits of pixel jumping across abstract floating platforms, smashing similarly-floating bricks with his gloved hands. Mario (Mario Mario, to be precise) is one of the most iconic figures of anything in the world – not just gaming.

  • eSports

    It’s hard to pinpoint the inception of the esports movement, but much speaks for placing it somewhere around the year 2000. Fueled by fears of the end of the world (brought about by the Y2K bug), public sentiment took a downturn. In Asia, specifically South Korea, a financial crisis had ravaged the economy and conjured a bleak outlook onto the future. Scores of yuppies were fired and turned into NEETs. Instead of browsing the internet and doing nothing at their office jobs, they now passed their time in cyber cafes, playing online multiplayer games.

  • Is Early Access Worth It?

    Early access games give developers and players a unique relationship as a game goes through early-to-final development stages. As a player, you don’t have to be among the select few for the game’s alpha and beta phases; you can play immediately and experience a new perspective as the developers continue to build and improve the game based on your feedback.