"In my last article I mentioned that Killer Instinct had a character that was a bit of a rip off of the Predator.
This got me thinking about which other gaming characters have been "inspired" by real life individuals (or film characters).
And when I say "inspired" I mean most likely copied without the approval of the person it was based on.
Honourable mention: All non official football games
Every football game in recent memory without an official license tends to give players and teams names which vary slightly from reality. Commonly the names will not differ too much from real life so that the gamer can identify who the player is meant to be, but will not be too similar, to avoid a lawsuit being made. Best examples include Roberto Larcos, Ronarid and Backham! (I loved P.Sheringhum in the SNES version of Kick Off 3 - Rich)
Honourable mention: Ash (Evil Dead Series)/ Alisa Boscononvitch (Tekken 6)
Ok, so these characters actually look nothing alike, but the one thing that they do have in common is chainsaws for arms! Apparently Tekken Project director Katsuhiro Harada, when asked about the design of the character, admitted that he was a huge fan of Evil Dead. If only Alisa was given a "Groovy" sound effect, as well, it would truly take her character's popularity to new heights
10. The Big Boss Man/ Edi E (Final Fight)
Ok so for this one, I'm not 100% sure if one really influenced the other, however both feature a heavily set bearded man, who happens to be a bad guy and an authority figure, with a blue uniform and who uses a nightstick as their weapon of choice! Coincidence? Perhaps!
Big Boss Man was a wrestler who debuted in the WWF in 1988; primarily playing a heel (i.e. bad guy), he had a number of feuds with Hulk Hogan and The Million Dollar Man.
Edi E is a boss character from the 1989 game Final Fight. As a member of the Mad Gear Gang he would face the protagonists at the end of level 3. I remember him being pretty annoying to play against since he was deceptively fast for a big (I.e. fat) man and also a bit sneaky for using his gun during the fight
9. Blade/ Zach (Dead or Alive)
A black martial artist who fights without taking off his shades? It’s a shame, that there are no vampires in Dead or Alive though.
8. Jean Claude Van Damme/ Johnny Cage (Mortal Kombat)
The Mortal Kombat character, Johnny Cage is a martial arts film actor and star of "Sudden Violence". One of his signature moves is where he does the splits and punches his opponent in the groin.
Jean Claude Van Damme is a martial arts film actor and star of "Sudden Death". In the movie Bloodsport, he does the splits and punches E Honda in the groin.
Johnny Cage entered the Mortal Kombat tournament to prove he does not use special effects in his movies. In 2012 Jean Claude Van Damme announced that he would have a real fight against a pro Thai kickboxing champion. (Sadly my understanding is that this fight never took place. However if it had happened, Van Damme would surely have won via "Dim Mak" aka "Death Touch!")
7. Jackie Chan/ Lei Wulong (Tekken)
Lei Wulong's character from Tekken seems to be a clone of the martial arts comedy actor Jackie Chan. His move set is similar to Jackie Chan's - alternating between snake style kung fu (like the movie, Snake Under Eagle's Shadow) and Drunken boxing (Drunken Master and Drunken Master 2). His nickname is "Supercop" and one of the variations of his costume include a police officer costume (similar to the one Jackie Chan wore in the Police Story movies).
6. The Predator/ Fulgore (Killer Instinct), Yoshimitsu (Tekken)
I admit I am a huge Predator fan, and so it is no surprise that variations on the character have been used in a number of games. Both the Predator and Fulgore are humanoid figures fused with futuristic armour and technology. Both wear helmets and both can turn invisible!
With regards to Yoshimitsu, he didn’t look like the Predator in his initial appearances, but somehow over the years he has morphed from a human looking samurai to a futuristic alien warrior. I suppose this doesn’t matter too much, given that his gameplay style remains unchanged, but the transformation over the years is slightly odd!
5. Andre the Giant/ Andore (Final Fight)
Andre the Giant was a 7 foot plus, WWF Wrestler who was primarily active in the 70s and 80's. He also happened to star in one of my favourite films of all time, The Princess Bride!
It was a classic family movie with great lines ("You killed my father, Prepare to die" or "I know something you don't know….I am not left handed") and great actors (Columbo, the kid from the Wonder years and Jenny from Forrest Gump)
Andore was yet another bad guy from Final Fight, "coincidentally" his name was similar to Andre and he also happened to be a wrestler above 7 foot in height.
4. Lightning (Big Trouble in Little China) / Raiden (Mortal Kombat)
Big Trouble in Little China was one of my favourite movies as a kid; it had action, martial arts, the great Kurt Russell, and was fun. There were 3 brothers who played villains in the movie; Lightning, Thunder and Rain. Lightning wore a distinctive hat and had the powers of lightning. Sounds familiar?
Well apparently Raiden who is the God of Thunder, also wears a silly hat and can also control lightning!
3. Mike Tyson/ M Bison (Streetfighter 2)
Balrog in the Streetfighter 2 series is a boxer who remarkably looks like Iron Mike. Now although it is quite well known now, when I first played the game in the arcades, I didn't realise that the character was originally called M Bison (which of course rhymes with Mike Tyson). In the Japanese version of the game Balrog was originally named M Bison, Vega was Balrog and M Bison was called Vega. I believe this renaming was done in order to avoid any kind of lawsuit in America.
What has always struck me as odd though is how the renamed names, strangely seem to fit the characters even today. Balrog to me sounds like a name that would fit a bulky muscular character, whilst Vega sounds like a Spanish name and M Bison somehow suits the look of the final boss.
2. Bruce Lee /Fei Long (Super Streetfighter 2), Martial Law (Tekken)
Bruce Lee's likeness must be the most commonly used one in the history of video games, I mean just look at Fei Long in Super Streetfighter 2 and Martial Law in Tekken! These games have not only taken the costume designs from his movies (the iconic yellow jumpsuit from Enter the Dragon is in Tekken and the shirtless/black trouser combo from Way of the Dragon is in Super Streetfighter 2), but have also duplicated his sound effects as well! All those "Hwooors!!!" and "Hwaars!!!" are typically associated with the great man and even his movement (the trademark bounce and stances) have been "borrowed"!
1. Ellen Page/ Ellie (The Last Of Us)
This one is extremely unsubtle, the names Ellie and Ellen are similar and the character looks exactly like Ellen Page. They look so alike in fact, that many people assumed that the character was played by Ellen Page herself! The actress was none too impressed, and commented to IGN, "I guess I should be flattered that they ripped off my likeness, but I am actually acting in a video game called Beyond Two Souls, so it was not appreciated." There may be a silver lining for the star of Juno and Inception though, if a movie version of The Last Of Us is made, she would be a shoe-in for the main role!
So that's my list, if I had to add another name I would have probably said Haggar from Final Fight was inspired by Jesse Ventura (But I only just thought of that now!).
There have also been a few other gaming characters who have been inspired by the actors who played them (for instance Camilla Ludington has influenced the look of Lara Croft in the new Tomb Raider games) but this list was always primarily about "borrowing" likenesses.
As always thanks for listening"