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Tracing the Influence: Stolen Images in Games

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Part 6: Character portrait galleries

American Action Movies vs Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

The first Metal Gear didn't have much of large enough graphics to replicate anything recognizable from the real world aside from its rip-off cover, but Kojima's team rectified this for the MSX-sequel, which shows a little portrait for every radio dialog partner throughout the game. Suffice to say, nearly every face is stolen from a famous action movie, from Rambo to The Hunt for Red October. Even a famous portrait of Albert Einstein (who admittedly is not an action movie) got recycled, and you can put a cigarette in snake's mouth to make him look even more like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. By the time Konami re-released the game as bonus material in the later games, they noticed that this probably wouldn't fly so well, anymore, and replaced all of the portraits with original art.

Many of the original references still couldn't be identified; be sure to let us know if you recognize any of them:

And just in case you still weren't convinced that Solid Snake is Mel Gibson, have a look at the final image:


The Music Industry (and Andy Warhol) vs Metal Fangs

What's got a bunch of pop music icons and Andy Warhol got to do in an obscure Japan-only racing game for the Sega Mega Drive? As cyborgs?! Hell if I know, but it sure is awesome. Some of these attributions are guesses, and there are a lot unidentified faces left from the roster, as seen below. If you know more than us, once again hit the forums!


The World vs Super Monaco GP

Another racing game that took real life photos of celebrities for the portraits of the contestants. Once again many of the above examples are quesses, and there's a whole bunch left unidentified:


The World vs Shadow of the Comet

The first of Infogrames' officially licensed Call of Cthulhu games features very convincing, oil painting-style character portraits. The reason they're so convincing is the same as always: They're taken from actual pictures. Most obvious is the scary Jack Nicholson from Shining, but Glenn Shadix in his role as Otho in Beetlejuice is also very obvious. Melanie Griffith also seems to be there. Another portrait looks uncannily similar to the late great Walt Disney and/or the late great Vincent Price (damn, those two could have been brothers), the other apparent sibling is based on Eli Wallach. The oldest reference is probably Lilian Gish, which was at the height of her career in the 1920s, but there's also '50s Western star Katy Jurado. The rest of the portraits is likely no different. Unfortunately, we don't have the full set of portraits yet.


The World vs Battle K-Road

Now things get real. Only half of the characters in Battle K-Road are movie star clones. The other half comes right from the source - real martial artists. Volk Han as Wolf might be subject to debate, though, as he also looks a whole lot like Silvester Stallone and might as well be rooted in an image from a beaten-up Rocky Balboa. Also not sure if Quantum Leap was ever big in Japan...

Most of the unidentified characters are Japanese, which probably means they're references Westerners are not likely to get:


The World vs Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic

Electronic Arts' science fiction RPG also contains a number of portraits taken from movie characters and real life personalities.

Once again there are many more unidentified ones:


The World vs Attic

Now Attic's artist were true masters in the art of ripping off stuff. The early title Spirit of Adventure even contains an image showing the three head honchos of the little company as in-game characters, but there are also a lot of celebrities, including a character from the Astérix comics, an odd change in style from the rather realistic other portraits. The game's cover also looks like Willow is really suffering on there.

The first two entries in their magnum opus series Realms of Arkania are a bit low on references, since the ordinary character portraits are so small, but there are a few interface icons showing more familiar comic book characters (Obélix and Hägar the Horrible). The ending of the second game then features a magnificent profile of the elven king David Bowie, which more than makes up for the former shortfalls.

For Shadow over Riva, which concludes the Realms of Arkania trilogy, the legally dubious cyber casting is once again in full swing. Unfortunately, only a fraction of the faces could be identified so far, with the vast majority remaining a mystery:

Here's even one reference for Attic's early adventure/RPG hybrid Lords of Doom, the count Orlok from the silent film masterpiece Nosferatu. The character portrait below also looks suspiciously similar to Sly Stallone.


The World vs Murder on the Atlantic

Murder on the Atlantic is just a rather boring, entirely menu-driven adventure game, but it contains a whole ton of tiny black&white, low-res portraits of famous personalities. The references come from all possible sources, be it cartoons or actual persons (including an unsettling amount of Third Reich Nazi leaders, it seems), and they seem to be older than usual, so it's no surprise that the less obvious ones are hard to figure out.


Hollywood & Gucci vs Neverwinter Nights

Bioware's Neverwinter Nights is a surprisingly recent, surprisingly high-profile title to photoshop well-distributed photos of movie stars. It is told that Bioware accidentally got a false OK to use the photos through an agency, although with some of them the artists really should have known they wouldn't go unnoticed in the internet age. As the fauxpas became known, Bioware proceeded to replace the portrait images with subequent patches. These are taken wholesale from the NWNWiki, with the original photo to the left, followed by the derivate character portrait and their revised later replacements.

Joseph Fiennes

Angelina Jolie

Catherine Zeta-Jones

Gucci Advertisement

These few have no perfect photo equivalents yet, but seem to be safe guesses concerning their identity:

Jane Seymour

Leonard Nimoy

Robert De Niro

This profile got changed as well, but it is not known whom it is based on:


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Schwarzenegger and Stallone

Page 2:
Illustrators and painters

Page 3:
Other: Boxart and ads

Page 4:
Other: In-game graphics

Page 5:
Character portrait galleries

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