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Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (1989-1990, various platforms)Several different versions of this beat 'em up were produced, all of them based on the 1988 film of the same name. The 1990 Sega Genesis version is notable for its pretty dope synthesized versions of MJ classics. Players moonwalked across 6 action-packed levels to find and rescue young blonde children. Yep.
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50 Cent: Bulletproof (2005, PS2) + Blood on the Sand (2009, PS3 & Xbox 360)
Ever dreamed of taking down hitmen, terrorists, and DJ Whoo Kid? No? What if you were playing as 2003's hip-hop godking, 50 Cent, or any of his G-Unit crewmembers? Don't tell me you're not interested now! Wait, come back!
KISS: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child (2000, Dreamcast and PC)
Sheesh, sure you got enough colons there? This first-person shooter revolved around a KISS tribute band getting supernatural powers and using them fight evil, based in the world of Todd McFarlane's Psycho Circus comic books. Players had to gather and utilize the astounding powers of KISS: The Demon, The Starchild, The Cosmos, and the uh, Kitty Cat.
8 video games where you can play as musicians
Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style (1999, Playstation)
The plot of this PS1 beat 'em up followed the Clan in their attempt to defeat the evil kung fu master Mong Zhu. The special edition of the game came with a controller in the shape of the stylized Wu "W". Talk about a babe magnet! Because of its weird shape, it was extremely difficult to use.
The Thompson Twins Adventure (1984, ZX Spectrum)Released on a vinyl record, anyone who wanted to play this text adventure following the exploits of the British pop group first had to record the game to a cassette tape to render it playable. Yeah, I'm sure the 3 Thompson Twins fans/IT professionals who followed through had a blast.
Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes The Neighborhood (2004, Playstation 2, Xbox)
A backyard wrestling game that was a huge critical flop where you can play as BOTH members of Insane Clown Posse, and Andrew WK? Be still my heart.
Def Jam Vendetta (2003, Playstation 2 and Gamecube)
Choose a combatant from such huge names as DMX, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and uh, Keith Murray, and square off in the ring against other hip-hop luminaries. Sequel Def Jam: Fight for NY was released in 2004 for multiple platforms.
Journey: Escape (1982, Atari 2600)
As this cash grab's manual states: "it's up to you to guide each Journey Band Member past hordes of Love-Crazed Groupies, Sneaky Photographers, and Shifty-Eyed Promoters to the safety of the Journey Escape Vehicle in time to make the next concert!" Sounds thrilling, can't wait to sock it to those shifty-eyed promoters and make it to my Escape Vehicle! An arcade version was produced in 1983, screenshots of which have to be seen to be believed.
No one is immune to the allure of quick licensing dollars, least of all superstar musicians, who aren’t the most spendthrift people at the best of times. But be honest, if Electronic Arts was offering you a cool 100k for the right to use your likeness in, I don’t know, Brian Masterson Turbo Paintball Night 2: Single And Loving It, you gotta admit you’d at least consider the offer. Not everyone has the long-term foresight to think hmmm, maybe permanently attaching my image to some poorly-programmed, soon-to-be forgotten cash grab is the best move for ensuring the survival of my personal brand.
On the other hand, some video games are sweet as hell and the art form is only getting better (best evidenced by the fact you can now describe it as an art form and not be laughed out of the room), so try not to act too shocked when Ed Sheeran’s Big Buck Hunter: Blimey She’s a Biggun! hits store shelves next month.
As a primer, here are 8 already-released video games in which you can play as your favourite artists. In the interest of… well, interest, we’ve excluded rhythm and music game series like Guitar Hero and Just Dance.