Pop Stars In Video Games


Everyone likes music. You just can’t trust anyone who says they don’t really like music, can you? And if you’re reading this you probably like video games, or you thought NGB stood for National Goat Bulletin and you’re currently feeling quite disappointed. Either way, with the impending release of serial barber-dodgers Iron Maiden’s new game, Legacy of the Beast, it seemed a good a time as any to review the (few) successes and (many) failures of times when bands and consoles have snuggled up in the metaphorical marijuana-filled tourbus of computer games.

Ed Hunter

The first trip onto the video game stage for East London’s ageless vest-fans Iron Maiden, one of only two British bands to have a top 5 hit with a song about anal sex (the other being, of course, this banger from TV-friendly hip-hop crew Blazin’ Squad). You play the titular Ed Hunter, a detective who is tracking down sinewy zombie mascot Eddie. Released alongside a fan-voted greatest hits package, the game sounds exciting; a tour through the history-loving moshers’ back catalogue of artwork, accompanied by a soundtrack of their finest galloping anthems. The result? A linear rail shooter criticised for being predictable, unoriginal and repetitive. Still, you can’t say they didn’t do a good job of reflecting heavy metal as a genre.

In summary: Run to the hills/away from this gaaaaaaame

ABBA: You Can Dance

No: you can’t

In summary: No no no! No no no no, no no no noooooo! (to the tune of Waterloo).

Only One

On occasion, Kanye West takes time off from being Twitter’s resident clown and/or knowing PR expert to make music. Contrary to increasingly popular opinion, I think West is a genuine talent, blighted by being either an unfiltered motormouth or a one-man publicity machine depending on how much credit you want to give him. During the release of most recent album, The Life of Pablo, Mr West slipped in news of this, his first venture into virtual reality. Details of the game are sketchy at the moment; you seem to play Kanye’s late mother (‘late’ as in dead, not unpunctual) as she ascends to heaven. It’s even less clear about why Kanye chose to release a video game; is it through a love of the medium or just a need to make some dollar, thereby keeping his family in fur coats? It essentially looks like Sega Saturn classic Nights Into Dreams reimagined by a religious narcissist. Because that’s exactly what it is.

In summary: I ain’t saying he’s a gold digger, but this video game appears rushed and unnecessary, frankly.

Beatles Rock Band

The biggest band in the history of the world get their own game. Sadly, if you got stuck on the drum parts there was no cheat code to draft in Paul McCartney to play them for you instead, like Ringo did during the White Album sessions.

In summary: Bigger than Jesus Rock Band

Journey/Journey Escape

Here I am, all set to make a ham-fisted joke regarding mysterious PlayStation desert-em-up Journey being about the 70s stadium rockers of the same name, only to find there is IN FACT a video game about the 70s stadium rockers of the same name, entitled Journey Escape. I haven’t played it because it came out before I was born and, I can’t stress this enough, it looks fucking terrible. You trot around as the band members, realised as stick-men with photos of their heads bolted, retrieving your instruments from alien planets to play a show. I cant help but feel it would have been easier to just BUY REPLACEMENT INSTRUMENTS back on earth. Either way; it’s like the fucking Clangers with worse music.

In summary: Anyway you want it…. Except this. Anything except this.

Guitar Hero: Metallica

A game has never been more ‘what it says on the box’ than the Metallica edition of Guitar Hero. It’s Guitar Hero, but with Metallica songs, allowing you to experience life as a member of the biggest selling metal group of all time. Sadly missed the opportunity of a mini-game in which you have to console Kirk Hammett during the St Anger recordings because he wasn’t allowed to play any solos. Still, a ripe opportunity for all those James Hetfield impressions you’ve been aching to do.

In summary: Gimme fuel/gimme fire/gimme a further instalment to a tired franchise. OOOOH AAAAH!

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker

While the console port offered a standard side-scrolling, dance-until-the-enemies-die-then-turn-into-a-robotic-Michael-Jackson affair, the arcade version was slightly different. At least 90% of the side-scrolling beat-em-up gameplay was taken up by horrendously overdone dance sequences, sort of like Streets of Rage: West Side Story Edition. Not a terrible entry to this list, although somewhat let down by it’s soundtrack, which unforgivably reduced magnificent pop milestones such as Bad and Thriller to tinny 8-bit renditions. Inevitable perhaps, but still disappointing, sort of like Terminator sequels.

In summary: It’s (not) bad, (not) bad, you know it.


The continuing story of Agent 47, an emotionless killer with one striking physical feature, because obviously if you wanted a discreet mercenary no one will remember you’d use a guy with a FUCKING BARCODE TATTOOED ON THE BACK OF HIS HEAD. Either way, the Hitman games marked the console debut of tight-lipped, suit-clad rapper Pitbull in the role of the aforementioned assassin. Swapping dropping beats for dropping assassination targets, Pitbull… What? It’s not Pitbull? Ah. Right. Makes more sense, now, actually.

In summary: Look, they just look fairly similar.

Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style

A comically-gory 3D fighter starring all your favourite Wu Tang members. RZA! ODB! Ghost Faced Killa! The…. other ones! Most notable these days among collectors for coming with a special edition controller designed by someone who had never heard the word ‘ergonomic’. Since then, the Tang-ers have moved onto antagonising the current holder of the World’s Worst Human-Being Award, Martin Shkreli, by selling him a one-off album under a contract that allows them to steal it back; a move possibly even more dangerous than fighting through the 36 chambers, depending on whether you think Shkreli is a genuine psychopath or just a jumped-up little shitbag. Or both.

In summary: Consoles Rule Everything Around Me

So, that was useful wasn’t it? Let’s all look forward to the new Iron Maiden game, and hope that Blazin’ Squad finally get the recognition they deserve and get their own app, too. The filthy young scallywags.

Rough approximation of a human. Reviews and Features Editor at NGB.


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments