The celebrity video game cameo is a sacred institution that, when done well, can lead to amazing things (Burt Reynolds surprise appearance in Saint’s Row: The Third is a major highlight). However, all too often they’re shoehorned in to set up an awkward parody, or else the celebrities themselves are desperately clinging to relevance years after their prime. Often the game and the person go together like whiskey and shoelaces: They just don’t make any sense at all.
10 Gary Coleman In Postal 2
If you know anything about violent video game controversies, you’ve probably heard of the game Postal, in which the player character goes on a serial murder spree for no apparent reason. The sequel, Postal 2, is every soccer mom’s nightmare of what games can be: You can murder civilians, pee on people, and do a bunch of other depraved stuff. It was banned in multiple countries for years because of its “abhorrent content.” Also, Gary Coleman’s in it.
In the game, you can go to the mall to get Coleman’s autograph. If you suddenly decide that waiting in line with the other peasants is too much of a hassle, you can just skip to the front, whip it out, and urinate right on his face. In retaliation, he’ll pull out an assault rifle that’s as big as he is from his pocket and open fire.
Amazingly, this was no parody: Coleman provided his voice and likeness to the character in the game, which is simultaneously the saddest and funniest thing he did in the last decade of his life, other than his role in John Cena’s music video. He had to have been in a pretty desperate financial position to willingly let himself become a litter box.
9 Justin Bieber In NBA 2K13
Despite his muscular arms, there are very few people who think “sporting prowess” when they think of Justin Bieber. But those who do would still suggest this 5’7″ teenager play any other sport than basketball. In order to make him at all useful as a playable character in NBA 2K13, they increased his below-average height to a hefty 6’4″, and his stats from “none” to “max.” In fact, his rating is higher than most of the best pros, which Kevin Garnett might have a bit of a problem with.
Bieber is part of a Fantasy Celebrity Super-Team that includes other actors and rappers, including Chamillionaire, Bow-wow, JB Smoove, and the worst people from Jersey Shore. Also, the dumb guy from The Office for some reason. Even compared to all them, Bieber is by far the most out-there choice. He may be able to afford court sides at Kobe’s games, but he sure can’t dunk like him.
8 Fred Durst In Fight Club And Other Wrestling Games
Most sane humans gave up their love for Limp Bizkit the second they graduated middle school, but unfortunately for us, Fred Durst still needs employment even after doing it all for the nookie. That’s why he willingly motion-captured himself as a special character in the god-awful Fight Club video game released for the Playstation 2 and Xbox.
Beating the game unlocks Fred as a playable fighter in a game that barely even works as a fighter in the first place. According to Fred, the character is “raw and realistic” and totally not an excuse to show off his back tatts. The way he got involved in the game is even more hilarious: The developers wanted him to remix a Limp Bizkit song to play during the game, but Fred suggested the idea of a special character instead of forcing people to hear his music over and over. Hey, gotta give him credit for being self-aware. Although, he also seemed genuinely disappointed that Brad Pitt and Edward Norton didn’t sign on to this crappy game with him.
In addition to this, Fred has also appeared in a couple of WWF wrestling games, which should really drive home the fact that now that we’re all older and wiser, all anyone wants to do is beat him up.
7 Barack Obama In Mercenaries 2
Say what you will about Obama’s hawkish foreign policy, but it’s pretty unlikely that he would ever personally jump into a firefight with a bazooka.
The developers of Mercenaries 2 thought it would be a cute idea to include then-Presidential hopeful Barack Obama in their game about violently overthrowing a Venezuelan dictatorship. Here he is hijacking a tank with his bare hands. As you can see, Obama Call-of-Dutifully climbs up the barrel, murders the operator with a grenade and climbs in.
The game also included a skin for Sarah Palin, who probably hunts with a grenade launcher in real life anyway. Notably absent is John McCain, the only 2008 candidate who was ever actually in the Army, probably because it wouldn’t be very believable. You know, because he’s old.
6 Danica Patrick In Sonic & All-Stars Racing
To compete with the popular Mario Kart on Wii, Sega began its own kart racing game on current gen systems called Sonic & All-Stars Racing. In the sequel, the karts can transform into boats and aircraft and throw things that they can’t legally call “blue shells” at each other. The game features a few Sega characters from days past, and also real-life NASCAR racer Danica Patrick.
Patrick is one of the few female stars in a sport that is primarily watched by people who call what they are wearing a wife-beater without irony. As you can imagine, her good looks and driving skills combine and create a supernova that makes her extremely popular with the old white man crowd. Which, as the astute among you will point out, is probably not the target audience of a Sonic the Hedgehog Wii game.
In the game, Patrick drives her own car/boat/plane/thing emblazoned with the logos of her real-life sponsors GoDaddy.com, makers of those over-sexualized commercials from the Super Bowl that never even mention what the company does. Even the most sexually liberal person would probably agree that this is not something a 7-year-old Sonic fan should be exposed to.
5 Drew Carey In The Sims
The Sims has always been known for giving its players the ability to play God. You can build a beautiful town full of happy, productive little Sims, create a BBQ deathtrap and burn them alive, or anything in between. The popular series has also been known to feature many expansion packs that entice collectors to add pets and themed furniture to their metropolis. One such pack, The Sims: House Party, even adds a celebrity. If you create a sweet enough party at your house, a black limo pulls up and—oh look, it’s Drew Carey [around the 2-minute mark].
He says that he heard about this party and decided to come by. All your Sims know who he is and start talking to him, and it’s hilarious hearing him respond with the nonsense sounds that is the in-game language, Simlish. He walks around your party, gets a phone call from someone he calls “baby,” and then leaves, saying you’ll be the talk of the town.
Although it’s a bit random (is Drew Carey known throughout Simlandia for being a party animal?), it’s likely Carey had something to do with it, as he regularly parodied the Sims in his late-great sitcom.
4 The Clintons In Ready 2 Rumble: Round 2
The Ready 2 Rumble Boxing games have always had a roster that contains parodies and stereotyped caricatures, some more overt than others. But in Ready 2 Rumble: Round 2 for the Dreamcast, they went a little overboard with the crazy.
The developers decided to include then-President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary as boxers. The grey-suited Hillary engages in such hilarious political quips as “I’ll give you a background check!” and “The White House isn’t the only house I dominate!” while pummeling her opponents. If you choose to play as Bill, his first fight involves him beating the crap out of a woman with a moveset that includes some sort of backwards humping. Presumably, you could also make the two fight each other, making this is probably the only Sega Dreamcast game to feature domestic violence.
The game also includes Michael Jackson as a playable boxer. Speaking of which:
3 Michael Jackson In Space Channel 5
From his Moonwalker arcade game to the rumors of his involvement with Sonic 3’s score, Michael Jackson always had a soft spot for Sega. His love culminated in a small cameo in the strange rhythm game Space Channel 5 for the Sega Dreamcast. For those unfamiliar, the game lets you play as a space alien named Ulala as you try to defeat other aliens at a televized dance-off in order to get the highest ratings.
According to creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Michael Jackson expressed interest in the game and asked to have a cameo even though the game was already pretty much done. So the developers shoehorned “Space Michael” into the last part of the game, where the player must use the power of dance to free him.
He even came back as a full-on supporting character in the Japan and Europe-only sequel. Check out the trailer above if you wanna see one of the weirdest things Jackson did before he got weird.
2 Shrek In Tony Hawk’s Underground 2
Those familiar with the Tony Hawk franchise may remember THUG2 as the pivotal point where the people still playing it didn’t even notice that the series had already started to go downhill (get it? Skateboarding? Never mind). It was by far the most juvenile entry in the series and featured all the stars from Jackass. But that’s not even the weirdest part.
If you beat the game on easy, you unlock the lovable ogre Shrek as a playable skater. This is par for the course for the Tony Hawk games, which in the past included Spider-Man and the guys from KISS. But this one is made much more unsettling by the fact that turning on the “Super Blood” option causes Shrek to fall into a pool of his own blood every time he bails. That’s right, a children’s cartoon character graphically eats curb. Even stranger is that this was an official tie-in with the movie Shrek 2. You see, the Shrek 2 game was published by the same company as Tony Hawk. So, presumably, they saw this footage of Shrek writhing in blood and said, “Looks good! Ship it!” That would be like PBS putting Barney the Dinosaur in Street Fighter.
1 General Petraeus In Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Say what you will about the Call of Duty franchise, but the series has been a cash cow. After milking World War 2 and present day warfare dry, the series moved to Cold War pseudo-history with Black Ops and its sequel, set in the future. It’s so different! There’s a female president! And super-cool future weapons! Apparently the developers decided to anchor the sci-fi elements with a dose of credibility in the form of four-star general and former Commander of the US Forces in Afghanistan. And he would have added credibility—if the game had been released a week earlier.
Unfortunately the once-lauded name of Petraeus was now associated with such headlines as “CIA Director Has Affair with His Biographer.” Although obviously the story was written and the game finished many months prior, this piece of spectacularly bad timing left Activision in an awkward position—their heavyweight cameo had become a liability the week before the launch. They took the high road by refusing to comment on the scandal, pointing out that he wasn’t paid, and adding that “His service to his country and career accomplishments are a matter of public record.”
If it was awkward for Activision, it must have been even more awkward for Petraeus. In the wake of the affair, he was forced to resign as head of the CIA, and probably didn’t enjoy watching his avatar play a role that he no longer had any chance of ever stepping into.