NOTE: This blog post was originally published on September 18, 2012, but has been revised twice since its original publication and will be stickied from October 28 to November 4, 2012 in anticipation of the movie’s release.
With the release of Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph – which is shaping up to become the video game equivalent of Who Framed Roger Rabbit – a little over seven weeks away, I thought it might be fun to add to the already rampant online speculation by not only summarizing what my fellow nostalgia gamers have managed to piece together thus far but also trying to figure out what other games are present in Litwak’s Family Fun Center myself (and thus also which other characters could potentially make cameo appearances) from existing publicity stills and footage from all of the trailers that’ve been released.
Before we start, I’d like to clarify that I’m only sticking to 100% verifiable information and purposely omitting lawyer-friendly cameos such as the ones made by the Kano and Smoke lookalikes. I’m also going to be working under the assumption that all the cabinets present house exactly one game each (as opposed to multi-game arcade machines such as Nintendo’s PlayChoice-10, for example).
So, let’s get down to business! Based on the following external shot of Game Central Station – the “transportation hub for travelling from game to game within the arcade”…
…there are twenty-three arcade cabinets present in the establishment. Of those twenty-three, three are the fictional games exclusive to this movie and homes to the four main characters: Fix-It Felix Jr. (Fix-It Felix Jr. and Wreck-it Ralph), Sugar Rush Speedway (Vanellope Von Schweetz), and Hero’s Duty (Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun). So what are the other twenty games? Well, if you do the math, all of them have been accounted for either directly or indirectly, believe it or not…
1. Confirmed Titles
The following video games have either been explicitly named or enough of their distinctive screens and logos are visible to identify them beyond a reasonable doubt:
2. Educated Guesses
While the following titles aren’t confirmed to be present, there’s a reasonable amount of circumstantial evidence to support the idea in each case (mostly in the form of cameos by their characters).
Talk about blink and you’ll miss it! Even though we’ve already firmly established the presence of Pac-Man – the orange ghost Clyde even has a supporting role in the movie! – this shot of Game Central Station not only features appearances by his compatriots Pinky, Inky, and Blinky, but also by one of the flying ostrich-riding knights from Joust , the nameless paperboy from Paperboy  (who is seen crashing his bicycle behind Ralph at one point), and the paddles and ball from Pong .
While the plight of the down-on-their-luck refugees from Q*bert – specifically Ugg, Slick, Coily, Wrong-Way, and the eponymous character himself – is certainly heartbreaking, the fact that their machine is unplugged means that it doesn’t count towards our total (unfortunately). On the other hand, we can add another fictional game to our list, as we see a yellow Tyrannosaurus Rex standing in the entrance to a game called Dino Havoc . Also note that, to the far right, we see Chun Li walking alongside of Zangief.
And finally, at Ralph’s Bad-Anon meeting, we see, of all people, Neff, the main antagonist of Altered Beast  in his anthropomorphic purple rhinoceros form. And, of course, the generic, dual hatchet-wielding zombie Cyril from The House of the Dead on the far right.
3. Complications, Curiosities, and Uncertainties
Be warned: major spoilers ahead.
In the previous two sections, I purposely avoided using information from the opening sequence of the international trailer to support any of my guesswork unless there was additional evidence to corroborate it. And this was done for a very good reason: though not explicitly called attention to, the difference in appearance of establishment owner Mr. Litwak at the beginning and end of it…
…coupled with the rapidly moving people and shifting arcade cabinets indicate that this is supposed to be a time lapse sequence covering the last thirty years of the Litwak Family Fun Center’s existence since Fix-It Felix Jr. premiered there in 1982. While we see several games, both real and fictional, as the camera pans out, there’s no direct evidence either supporting or disproving the idea that they’re still around in 2012 with the sole exceptions of The House of the Dead and Sonic Championship – as Cyril, Sonic, and Dr. Robotnik’s cameos in the movie’s present will attest to – plus one other title that I’ll be naming at the very end of this section.
What makes this montage particularly interesting is that, even though many of them only appear on screen for one or two frames, the names of some of the titles have been blurred out by censor bars, even though their distinctive logos make it blatantly obvious which ones they’re supposed to be. In some cases, the reasons are likely due to copyrights or trademarks issues, where permission had either never been acquired or not yet been granted at the time this montage was assembled. In other cases, legally acceptable parodies were created as placeholders. And then there’re some head-scratchingly baffling examples, such as Space Invaders being one of the games whose names was censored out in the international trailer even though it appeared uncensored in trailers released several months earlier and even in other trailers which have (parts of) the same time-lapse sequence incorporated into it. Go figure.
One extremely plot-relevant detail worth mentioning at this point comes in the form of a fictional overhead arcade racing game, which we catch a brief glimpse of at the very beginning of the sequence, sitting right next to the Fix-It Felix Jr. cabinet.
In two of the trailers and previews that’ve been released so far, M. Bison, Fix-It Felix Jr., and Q*bert all refer to Ralph’s actions of breaking typecasting and game hopping as “going turbo”. Given the onetime existence of a game called Turbotime in this particular arcade, we can draw a pretty reasonable conclusion about what this otherwise puzzling statement means: at some point in the past, the main character from this game, whose name was presumably Turbo, decided to do the exact same thing and ended up getting his machine unplugged and both it and himself removed from the establishment…which explains why all of Ralph’s associates are getting so jittery and nervous when he begins displaying subversive behavior.
And while we’re on the subject, two more brief plot points that aren’t immediately apparent: not only is the unassuming-looking King Candy likely a secondary villain – or at least a misguided antagonist – based on his biography on Disney’s official site for the movie, but the primary menace in the movie come in the form of the Cy-Bugs from Hero’s Duty, something that Entertainment Weekly hinted at way back in February. In the international trailer, Ralph is seen accidentally stepping on a cute baby Cy-Bug…
… both he and it are accidentally ejected into Game Central Station. The rest you can probably guess: the Cy-Bug escapes, and, without Sergeant Calhoun and her soldiers to contain it, is now free to multiply, infiltrate, and infect the other games in the arcade. Well, at least until the end of the movie, where I’m betting that we’re going to see a mind-blowingly awesome, multi-world, crossover battle sequence where video game heroes and villains alike are forced to team up in order to contain the infestation and Ralph ends up learning the true meaning of being a hero by (seemingly) sacrificing his life to destroy them. And, lest you think that death is meaningless in this movie given Fix-It Felix Jr.’s played-for-laughs resurrection in one trailer, I’d like to emphasize the fact that, as Sonic the Hedgehog points out in his public service message announcement, the rule is that characters are only able to respawn indefinitely within their own game worlds. If they’re killed outside of it, their deaths will be permanent. Yeah, this is a Disney movie and I’m pretty sure nothing too terrible’s going to happen, but still…
But we’ve wandered way too far off-topic already. Let’s get this train back on track by taking a closer look at the remaining titles (which you’ll need judicious use of frame-by-frame replaying in order to independently verify):
…the Atari version of Star Wars from 1983 and Fatal Assault (a fictional game)…
…and Hoop Jamz: All-Star Edition by Halfway (an obvious reference to Midway’s NBA Jam: Tournament Edition).
In the closing shot of the montage from the present day, you’ll see that one machine from the opening is still present, having only swapped positions with Street Fighter II in the intervening years:
Yes, that’s right, Dragon’s Lair  has apparently been a mainstay in this particular arcade for three decades, which may just be the most ridiculous premise that this movie is asking us to accept considering that the laserdiscs players which shipped with this game were notoriously prone to failure and the earliest cabinets had a life expectancy of between as little as 650 hours (less than one month) and as much as 50000 hours (a little over five and a half years).
And finally, here’s a list of established characters from the movie whom I haven’t previously mentioned or posted pictures of yet:
…Dig Dug and the nameless frog from Frogger…
…Ryu and Ken…
So, in conclusion, here’s an alphabetical list of the twenty-three arcade game cabinets known to be present at Litwak’s Family Fun Center:
- Altered Beast (real)
- Burger Time (real)
- Dance Dance Revolution X2 (real)
- Dig Dug (real)
- Dino Havoc (fictional)
- Dragon’s Lair (real)
- Finish Line (fictional)
- Fix-It Felix Jr. (fictional)
- Frogger (real)
- Hero’s Duty (fictional)
- The House of the Dead (real)
- Joust (real)
- Pac-Man (real)
- Paperboy (real)
- Pong (real)
- Sonic Championship (alias Sonic the Fighters) (real)
- Space Invaders (real)
- Sugar Rush Speedway (fictional)
- Street Fighter II (real)
- Tapper (real)
- Time Hunter 4 (fictional)
- Tron (real)
- Virtua Cop (real)
How many did you spot? 🙂
Oh, and this goes without saying, but if anyone reading this happens to find anything that I missed, let me know. 😀
UPDATE (2012.09.25.): New information from the release of the “Game Changer” television spot yesterday was added.
In the original version of the article, I stated that the fact that we see Chun Li in her classic outfit combined with the presence of Cammy (also in her original costume) suggested that Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, or Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition was one of the games at Litwak’s Family Fun Center. The new commercial has since proven me “wrong”, as the pictures of the establishment floor, the arcade cabinet, and the screen itself – specifically the sunset version of Ryu‘s dojo rooftop stage – all point it being a regular Street Fighter II machine.
Just to be clear, my placement of the word “wrong” in quotation marks isn’t due to sour grapes but because the movie’s creators have apparently made a continuity error. The three games that I mentioned are the only instances where Cammy and Chun Li appear in the same game together wearing those particular clothes. Cammy wasn’t even in the original Street Fighter II. She first appeared in 1993 – two years after the release of the original game – in Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers.
Still, as someone on a message board thread pointed out, considering that the entire movie requires us to buy into the premise that there’s still a profitable video game arcade being operated in North America in 2012, I think that I can live with this mistake. 🙂
UPDATE (2012.10.28.): The original article has been heavily revised with new information from the various trailers and previews released during the past month as well as plot speculation and spoilers.
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