101 Video game facts
01. Sonic The Hedgehog isn’t only the name of Sega’s speedy mascot, but also a gene on chromosome 7 of the human genome. Well, it was until recently when the science community decided to ditch all of its ‘comedy’ names for genes. Party poopers.
02. Matt Damon refused to appear in the recent Bourne Conspiracy game because he thought it was too violent. Not fussed by the violence in the films then, eh, Matt?
03. Ever wondered what happens to Leon’s cool leather jacket in Resident Evil 4? It inexplicably disappears after the scene in the village. Well, on the PS2 version, go through Ada’s side-quest and one of the Ganado villagers will be wearing it.
04. In the early stages of its development, Half-Life 2 featured a friendly alien that would follow Gordon Freeman around, feasting on the bodies of his fallen enemies. It was taken out when Valve discovered that the AI would be too difficult to convincingly program.
05. In 1986, Nintendo released a special Disk System peripheral for the NES in Japan. Among its features was a microphone in the controller, which certain games used, including an updated version of the original Zelda. You could only destroy a certain enemy by shouting into the mic.
06. The famously awful E.T. game for the Atari 2600 actually sold more than its most famous game, Space Invaders. E.T. sold 1.5 million, while Invaders only shifted a million.
07. A boss character called Binbag was removed from Rockstar’s Manhunt early in its development. He was a psychopath wrapped in black refuse sacks. Lovely.
08. Rockstar also removed a character from Grand Theft Auto 3, although this time it was said to be because of the terrorist attacks on September 11th. He was called Darkel, a homeless guy who’d get you to rig buildings with explosives.
09. In the video game sequel to John Carpenter’s seminal sci-fi horror film The Thing, the legendary director made a cameo appearance as a character called Doctor Faraday. He also oversaw the production of the game to make sure it was faithful to his original vision.
10. In Pilotwings 64, the character Lark is actually the mascot for famous American games magazine Nintendo Power, Nester. His name was changed at the last minute, probably because PAL gamers wouldn’t know who he was.
11. Oscar-winning actor Marlon Brando recorded dialogue for EA’s Godfather game shortly before he died, but it was deemed unusable due to the bloated thesp’s ageing, mumbly voice. Instead, they hired in a sound-alike. What a waste of money, eh?
12. Vivendi’s underrated Scarface game also featured a sound-alike, but this one was personally chosen by Al Pacino himself, hence the spot-on likeness. His name is Andre Sogliuzzo and he’s a veteran video game voice actor.
13. DJ Atomica, the (some would say) annoying announcer in Burnout Paradise, is the same guy who provided the commentary for SSX 3. In Paradise, he makes reference to SSX several times, suggesting it’s supposed to be the same character.
14. The Little Sisters from BioShock didn’t start their life as little girls at all, but rather tiny mole-like creatures who scuttled around Rapture collecting Adam. Early concept art also shows them as retro ’50s-style robots, too. We think they made the right choice.
15. UK Radio One DJ, Chris Moyles, was an enemy in the game spin-off of hit TV show 24. He played an Eastern European terrorist, who Jack Bauer found himself fighting at the end of an early level. It was only his face however; the voice was provided by another actor.
16. Another unlikely celebrity cameo is UK chat show host Jonathan Ross, who ‘starred’ in Halo 3. He supplies the voice of one of the marines who helps Master Chief, although it’s very rare that one of his lines comes up -it’s a totally random, and rare, occurrence.
17. In The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, the advisor from the SNES version of Sim City, Dr Wright, appears in a house. He’s named after Will Wright, the creator of the Sim series.
18. In Fallout 2, there’s a hidden room in Junktown, in the Cafe Of Broken Dreams, where you can find Dogmeat, the Vault Dweller from the first game’s faithful hound.
19. In the original Super Smash Brothers Melee, the Princess Daisy trophy had a mysterious third eye on the back of its head. Unfortunate glitch? Or something more sinister?
20. Sony’s beautiful monster-toppling adventure game Shadow Of The Colossus was originally going to feature groups of characters on horseback working to take down the colossi cooperatively. This proved too taxing for the PS2’s hardware, sadly.
21. There are currently over 100 million Game Boys in the world; both the original and the colour variant. 32 million of them are in Japan, and there are 44 million in America.
22. Before they settled on its unique, painted look, the developers of Okami, Clover, originally intended the game to look realistic. You can unlock a concept video of this by finishing the game. It was changed because the PS2’s hardware wasn’t sophisticated enough.
23. Online gaming isn’t as recent a development as you may think; in the ’90s, a modem peripheral called the Satellaview was released for the Super Nintendo. It let gamers download gaming news and specially-designed games. They were mostly remakes of retro classics.
24. Early iterations of Nintendo’s failed Virtual Boy console included a gun you’d set vertical on a flat surface that would project a 3D image into the air.
25. GoldenEye’s famously brilliant multiplayer mode originally contained three Bond actors as playable characters; Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton. Their data was left on the cartridge, but you couldn’t select them without using a cheat device.
26. Namco developed a special PSone controller to be used with Ridge Racer Type 4. It was called the Jogcon and had a wheel in place of the analogue sticks.
27. In critically panned crime caper Driv3r, there was a Hawaiian shirt-wearing character called Timmy Vermicelli – a clear parody of the star of GTA: Vice City, Tommy Vercetti. The character wore swimming bands, poking fun at the GTA hero’s inability to swim.
28. In Grand Theft Auto 3, one mission saw you chasing a “badly animated” (in the words of Asuka) character called Tanner, who bore more than a passing resemblance to Driver lead character of the same name.
29. The PSone was originally planned as a Nintendo console, with Sony set to design its electronic components. When Nintendo ditched the project, Sony decided to make a console anyway.
30. The death screams of the bad guys in the original Golden Axe are digitized from screams used in the films First Blood and Conan The Barbarian.
31. Star Fox Adventures originally started life as Dinosaur Planet, a game developed entirely by Rare. It starred a blue fox called Krystal, who later became part of the Star Fox crew.
32. The damsel-in-distress that Mario rescues in the original Donkey Kong is called Pauline. In the Japanese version she was known simply as ‘Lady’.
33. Guitar Hero: Aerosmith wasn’t the wrinkly rockers’ first videogame appearance. In 1994 they starred in an on-rails shooter called Revolution X where you had to rescue the band from kidnappers in a dystopian future. No, really.
34. In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty, a scene was removed from the final game where Snake is chased through the sinking tanker by a rush of water. Kojima said it looked good, but wasn’t fun to play. Footage still exists of this in early trailers.
35. The first western-developed Xbox 360 game to break into the top 10 of the Japanese game chart was Gears of War. It made its debut at number seven after selling 33,000 copies. It charted in January 2006, over two years after the Japanese launch of the console.
36. Attacking the fat, black pig on Outset Island in The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker will eventually cause it to attack.It’s 100% invincible, though, so watch out.
37. Mega Man is known as Rock Man in Japan. This was changed in America because ‘rock’ is well-known slang for crack cocaine, and the name stuck.
38. The name Atari comes from the Chinese game Go. ‘Atari’ refers to a situation where a stone or a group of stones is in imminent danger of being taken by another player; a state Atari ironically found themselves in when the brand was bought by French company Infogrames.
39. The Xbox was originally named DirectXbox, as it was initially designed to show how Microsoft’s Direct X graphics technology could benefit the console market.
40. The Texas Instruments TI-83 calculator has more graphics processing power than the Commodore 64. Amazingly, some basic C64 games can even be programmed into it.
41. The Original Devil May Cry was originally intended to be the next chapter in the Resident Evil series. The gun juggle move was a glitch, but became part of Dante’s move set.
42. Alien Hominid, a hardcore PS2 shooter, was originally a popular Flash internet game. It was downloaded more than 6 million times before being brought to the PlayStation 2.
43. In the NES era, Nintendo had strict licensing rules in an effort to maintain quality control (hence the gold Nintendo seal of quality badges on the cartridges). They only allowed third-party publishers to release 5 games a year for their systems.
44. Final Fantasy VII was originally designed for the Nintendo 64, but Square cancelled the project and moved to the PSone because of the lack of space in the console’s game cartridges. FFVII would’ve filled 13 cartridges.
45. To create the gruesome Necromorph monsters in their game Dead Space, the devs at EA Redwood Shores studied photos of car wreck victims. They also watched hundreds of horror movies to get ideas for in-game scares.
46. Final Fantasy got its name from the fact that it was supposed to be Square’s last ever game. They were struggling to become popular with dodgy games like Rad Racer and World Runner 3D, and were going to bow out of the industry gracefully.
47. Sixty percent of all Americans age six and older, or about 145 million people, play computer and video games. The average age of a gamer is 28 years old.
48. Captain Commando was a sci-fi superhero who served as Capcom’s mascot in its early days, but was replaced by Mega Man after the Captain proved unpopular with gamers.Capcom’s original name was Capsule Computing.
49.The name Kratos – as in, God Of War’s angry hero – is taken from the Greek word ‘cratos’, which means power.
50. The first game to feature multiple endings depending on how you played the game was Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest on the NES.
51. If you bought Shenmue 2 on Xbox, you’ll remember the Shenmue Movie DVD that came with it, containing all the major cut-scenes from the first game. Well, in Japan, this was actually shown in some cinemas, such was the popularity of Yu Suzuki’s epic series.
52. Midnight Club: Los Angeles is the first game to feature branded trophies/achievements. One’s shamelessly sponsored by T-Mobile.
53. Sonic The Hedgehog has appeared in four TV series; Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic Underground, The Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog and Sonic X. He’s also appeared in a comic book series. None of them are as good as the games.
54. F-Zero X has an unlimited amount of courses. If you take part in the X Cup, the game will randomly generate tracks. They’re mostly awful, but sometimes you’ll get a good one.
55. The Magnavox Odyssey, released in 1972, contained 40 transistors and no microprocessor. The newest Pentium 4 microprocessor contains 42 million transistors on the chip itself.
56. The Nintendo N64 marked the first time that computer graphics workstation manufacturer Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) developed game hardware technology.
57. The Nintendo GameCube’s proprietary disc can hold 1.5 gigabytes of data – 190 times more than what an N64 game cartridge can hold.
58. In the 1980s, a service called Gameline allowed users to download games to the Atari 2600 over regular phone lines. It was a commercial failure, but eventually formed part of the foundation for America Online, the world’s largest Internet service provider.
59. Silent Hill 4 wasn’t originally a Silent Hill game, but rather a separate franchise being developed by Konami simply titled The Room. When SH producer/composer Akira Yamaoka came across it, he decided to make it part of the official series.
60. In its heyday, the Dragon Quest series was only ever released on weekends in Japan, because mid-week launches would see thousands of people pulling sickies to go and play it.
61. The Atari Jaguar proudly boasted that it was the first 64-bit console, but in reality it was two 32-bit chips stuck together – so not truly 64-bit. Those liars.
62. It’s only humanly possible to press a button on a controller 16 times per second. This record was set by Toshuyuki Takahashi, a Japanese gamer.
63. A game called Malice starring singer Gwen Stefani as the titular lead character was supposed to be a big-budget system-seller for Xbox. After years of delays it was finally released at a budget price on the console, and on PS2. Gwen Stefani’s recorded dialogue was never used, nor was the planned ‘No Doubt’ soundtrack.
64. There’s a full book you can read in Deus Ex. It’s called The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton and shares some plot similarities with the game. The chapters were spread throughout the game in datacubes.
65. If you cheated while playing the Sega 32x version of Doom, after the game ends you’re taken to a fake DOS prompt. You can’t quit out of it, and the only way to escape the screen is to reset the console. If you didn’t cheat, you get an extra cutscene.
66. In the French localisation of Final Fantasy IX, Zidane was renamed Djidane because of the similarity to the country’s most famous footballer, Zinedine Zidane.
67. Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokemon, got the idea for the worldwide Game Boy phenomenon after collecting caterpillars as a child and watching them change into butterflies.
68. The voice of Shodan, the insane AI in the System Shock series, was performed by the wife of the audio director at Looking Glass. Cheaper than an actor, eh?
69. Duke Nukem 3D was one of the first games to employ a real-time audio effect to its sounds. If you went underwater, a calculated reverb was applied to sounds being played to make gunfire sound muffled and gurgly.
70. In the underground facility in Resident Evil 2 there’s a locked room containing a dead Nemesis. Resident Evil 2 takes place after 3, which suggests Umbrella released more than one into Raccoon City.
71. In World Of Warcraft there’s a dungeon called Uldaman where you can find and recruit three ‘lost dwarves’, who look very similar to characters from The Lost Vikings on SNES.
72. The first Fable was originally going to have a multiplayer mode. Four players (one hero and three sidekicks) would be able to work together to complete unique quests. This feature was cancelled in March 2004 due to time constraints.
73. Super Mario World for the SNES took 29,000 hours to program. Luckily, it went on to sell 17 million copies and was the best-selling game of its generation.
74. In the loading screen for the original Ridge Racer on PSone you could play a Galaxians-style minigame. If you destroyed all the enemies you’d unlock 8 additional vehicles.
75. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 was one of the first ever games to have a simultaneous, worldwide release date. This was known amongst gamers as ‘Sonic2sday’, as it appeared in shops on a Tuesday. November 24, 1992 to be exact.
76. Ico was originally meant to be released for the PlayStation, but the development was halted and then continued for the PlayStation 2. In the early version, Yorda had horns on her head, not Ico. You can find early concept footage of this on YouTube.
77. The first Broken Sword game’s theme tune was composed by Barrington Pheloung, also known for writing the theme to grannies’ favourite Inspector Morse.
78. Fans of Master System classic Alex Kidd In Miracle World will remember the former Sega mascot munching a hamburger at the end of each level. Originally, this was a Japanese rice ball, or onigari. It was changed because rice balls aren’t as recognisable outside of Japan.
79. Violent, pedestrian-squishing racer Carmageddon was only allowed to be released in the UK with zombies instead of people roaming the streets. In the Indian version, the cows were removed, and it was banned altogether in Germany.
80. The music for the first Jak & Daxter game was composed by Mark Mothersbaugh, a member of cult ’80s band Devo, and composer of all of director Wes Anderson’s films including The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic.
81. If, for some strange reason, you still have a Madden NFL 06 save game on your memory card, a special Madden van will be unlocked when you start up Burnout Revenge on PS2.
82. The Metroid series doesn’t take place in any kind of order, so the plot can be confusing. Chrologically, Samus’ adventures take places as so: Metroid (NES), Metroid Prime (GC), Metroid 2: Return Of Samus (Game Boy), Super Metroid (SNES) and Metroid Fusion (GBA). Make sense now?
83. In the first Max Payne, Max’s face was digitised from series writer Sam Lake, but in the second game they used an actor called Timothy Gibbs, who starred in ladies’ favourite Sex And The City.
84. At the end of a game of Civilization IV, players are rated based on their performance by a comparison to one of 10 world leaders. The lowest rating compares the player to former US Vice-President Dan Quayle, who is legendary for such wisdom as “If we do not succeed, then we run the risk of failure”.
85. PC hit Grim Fandango was originally titled ‘Deeds Of The Dead’, but was changed because LucasArts didn’t want a reference to death in the title. In a game primarily about death, the afterlife and the grim reaper. Yes.
86. The Secret Of Monkey Island came with a code-wheel copy protection system, in which you had to mix and match pirate faces and assemble their names. It was taken out of future releases as it proved too annoying.
87. In Japan, insanely difficult shoot-‘em-up Ikaruga came with a DVD of the country’s top players completing levels with unbroken chain combos and beating the bosses in record times.
88. In Germany, copies of Medal Of Honor: Frontline had to be reprinted because there was a swastika on the back cover. The developers also had to go back into the game and take out all the Nazi flags and other paraphernalia.
89. In the first Fallout, if you create your own character with less than 4 intelligence you can’t converse with anyone; your only dialogue options are various grunts or other guttural noises. This makes the game insanely difficult to finish.
90. The secret boss Kurt Zisa in the first Kingdom Hearts was named via a contest held by Squaresoft in the US to promote the game.
91. Brutal PC FPS Kingpin featured a boss called The Jesus, named after the character from The Big Lebowski. He even repeated some of the lines from that film, including the immortal “Nobody f**** with the Jesus!”
92. A commercial for horror game Siren was pulled in Japan after complaints from parents. The advert featured a girl knocking on a window from the outside, begging her parents to let her in. The view then switches to the inside and shows the terrified parents, in fear of their daughter, who is revealed to be a bloody zombie. Sony said that the fear factor made people uncomfortable.
93. There’s a difference between the Japanese and US versions of Resident Evil 4. It occurs whenever Leon is killed by Mr Chainsaw. In the US version, his head is chopped off by the ‘saw. However, in the Japanese version, it cuts off part of Leon’s face, exposing half of the front of Leon’s skull and a single eyeball.
94. The first game to go online with Sony’s terrible PS2 network adapter was SOCOM: Navy Seals.
95. One of the player forms you can unlock in Rez for the Beyond’ levels is simply Morolian. This is the name of the alien invaders from UGA’s previous game, Space Channel 5.
96. Thanks largely – we hope – to being bundled with a Wii-mote, Wii Play has sold around twice as much as Halo 3, shifting some 16 million copies.
97. Many of the in-game sounds and even the main font in Streets Of Rage for the Mega Drive were lifted directly from Revenge of Shinobi, and the special attack police car was ripped directly from E-SWAT: Cyber Police. How lazy.
98. More German censorship, this time Command And Conquer: Red Alert. Hitler (who is key to the plot) was removed from the intro cutscene, and all the soldiers were replaced with cyborgs.
99. Starcraft is the first computer game to have ever physically made it into space. It was sent aboard Shuttle mission STS-96 on May 27, 1999 by Mission Specialist Daniel T. Barry , who is also a Starcraft fan.
100. If you select a sheep four times in Warcraft 2: Tides Of Darkness (keep clicking it with the left mouse button), the sheep will say “bo-ram-u”. This is the sheeps’ password from the 1995 movie Babe.
101. In the original Japanese version of River City Ransom, the characters wore schoolboy jackets and belonged to high schools instead of gangs. This was changed in the American version because the jackets could be mistaken for bath robes and beating up evil gang members seemed like a more worthy cause.