Before Wreck-It Ralph premiered in theaters a little over one year ago this month, a couple of online articles – including one featured on GamesRadar – stated that the creative team was toying with the idea of including a trivia track pointing out all of the video game references in the movie when it was released on home video…something that was incentive enough for me to preorder my copy of the Ultimate Collector’s Edition of the movie. So you can imagine how I disappointed I was to discover that the Blu-Ray special features only included a director’s commentary on deleted scenes from an extremely early version of the movie – which bears only a superficial resemblance to the finished product – and The Gamer’s Guide to Wreck-It Ralph, ten minutes’ worth of short segments narrated by Chris Hardwick that, while entertaining and informative, were the merest shadow of what a genuine trivia track could (and should) have been.
Well, if none exists, then make your own! So, in commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the movie’s release, I’ve decided to write a two-part series filled with trivia about Wreck-It Ralph that other fans and I have stumbled upon after watching the movie way more times than can possibly be considered healthy for normal human beings. Please note that at least some of these easter eggs, especially the text-related ones, will require both a Blu-Ray version of the movie as well as a high definition, large screen television to be visible (and even then just barely).
1. Lies the Trailer Told Me
Movie trailers have become rather infamous for including footage that is taken out of context, misleading, or doesn’t even appear in the film itself. And Wreck-It Ralph is no exception. A hefty chuck of the dialogue and sequences in the original trailer seems to have been created just for it, including an external shot of Litwak’s Family Fun Center sign at around dusk…
…an armorless Wreck-It Ralph hiding behind a rock in Hero’s Duty (“Everything changes now!”)…
…an unnamed soldier yelling at Ralph (“Get out of this game, buddy!”)…
…and Ralph awkwardly riding Sgt. Calhoun’s cruiser to Diet Cola Mountain while being chased by Cy-Bugs (stills of which, in the following collage, have been slotted between the existing scenes from the movie to where they would’ve chronologically fit in).
Then there’re some scenes that were altered for aesthetic reasons, such as Sgt. Calhoun being helmetless while speaking to the unnamed female gamer Moppet Girl, presumably so that viewers could get an unobstructed view of her face.
What’s more surprising, though, is that many of the shots from the trailer which, at first glance, appear to have made it into the final movie unaltered actually aren’t. These differences range from subtle, such as characters or background elements being added, removed, or positioned slightly differently…
…to more profound, such as certain scenes having been completely revised or rewritten. Some examples of the latter include the one where Ralph disembarks from the train upon his initial arrivial in Hero’s Duty…
…his frantic attempts to flee from the attacking Cy-Bugs and subsequent interaction with Moppet Girl through the First Person Shooter Robot (notice how the trailer features an in-game display name identifying Ralph as “Private Markowski: Explosive Specialist, Heavy Weapons Training”)…
…his reaction to the Cy-Bug-destroying beacon (I think that the trailer’s version of this scene is more impressive than the one in the film, to be honest)…
…Fix-It Felix Jr.‘s interaction with Calhoun and the explanation of why he came to Hero’s Duty (note that the background is also completely different in the trailer, with hexagons being the dominant shapes rather than triangles)…
…the escape pod launch sequence (to say nothing of the completely redesigned launch bay area)…
…and Ralph looking over a very different incarnation of Sugar Rush from the top of the cliff the shuttle crashed into (as opposed to surveying it from atop the branch of a nearby candy tree).
2. High Score Symbolism
If you’ve seen The Gamer’s Guide to Wreck-It Ralph, you probably know that the high score seen on the Fix-It Felix Jr. game cabinet – 120501 – is a reference to Walt Disney’s birthday: December 5, 1901. So it should come as no surprise that the high score seen on the home video release’s menu screens – 110212 – is also significant: it’s the date of the movie’s release in theaters: November 2, 2012.
3. Déjà Vu
If Fix-It Felix Jr. seems strangely familiar to you, there’s a good reason for that: the game is a pastiche of Donkey Kong, with Wreck-It Ralph and Fix-It Felix Jr. being the direct counterparts of the eponymous gorilla and Mario/Jumpman, respectively, the hero being a handyman of some sort – a carpenter/contractor as opposed to a carpenter/plunber – and using a hammer, and the idea of the villain climbing a building being just a few of the common elements shared by both games. These parallels even extend to the game cabinet designs and artwork themselves, as can be clearly seen in the following image:
Virtual Arcade: Level Two by Lunar Archivist
4. Reaching Across Worlds
Never underestimate the resilience of Penny Forrester and George! The lipstick-stained contract from Paperman and one of the “Lost Dog” posters from Bolt are seen pinned to the bulletin board at the Bad-Anon meeting.
5. The Writing on the Wall
While Chris Hardwick pointed out a handful of these in The Gamer’s Guide to Wreck-It Ralph, here’re explanations for all the non-gamers out there of the remaining video game graffiti in-jokes and pop culture references seen scrawled on the walls of Game Central Station.
Aerith Lives: A reference to the character Aerith Gainsborough and her heartbreaking death scene in Final Fantasy VII.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us!: The infamously mangled English translation of a line from the opening cutscene of the side-scrolling shooter Zero Wing.
EZ Living: A reference to Extreme EZ Livin’ 2, a fictional game from an early version of the script that ended up being excised from the final film.
Free Pauline: A nod to Pauline, the damsel-in-distress whom Mario needed to rescue in the original Donkey Kong.
K.C. and Turbo: References to Turbo and his alter ego King Candy, respectively.
l33t and pwned: The leetspeek words for “elite” and “owned”, respectively. Humorously enough, these words appear prominently alongside of “K.C.” and “Turbo” in the above screenshots and could thus be interpreted as “K.C. l33t” and “Turbo Pwned”, hinting at upcoming events and later revelations in the movie.
Leerooooy and Jenkins: References to Leeroy Jenkins, a player character whose recklessness ends up ruining the carefully laid-out attack plans of his fellow World of Warcraft team members and getting them all killed.
No Campers: A reference to the video game tactic of “camping”, where a player remains in a stationary spot on the map that offers some kind of inherent strategic or tactical advantage.
Sheng Long Was Here: A reference to one of Ryu’s victory quotes from Street Fighter II – “You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance!” – where “Sheng Long” is a (partial) translation of the Japanese term for “Dragon Punch” (“Shouryuken”) into Chinese. The ambiguous nature of this translation led to the widespread misconception that Sheng Long was the name of a person rather than a special move, a fact that video game magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly took advantage of in order to stage an elaborate (and infamous) April Fool’s Joke in 1992.
6. Shameless Plugging
In Game Central Station, the plug sockets all bear the stamp “MOORE U.S.A.” , a reference to Rich Moore, the director and one of the three writers of the film.
And while we’re at it, Private Markowski is named in honor of Steven Markowski, one of the story artists who was credited as the “story watchdog” for the movie.
7. The Portraits at Tapper’s
Like the Great Wall of Hollywood at the Brown Derby or the famed New York restaurant Sardi’s, one of the walls at Tapper’s has framed caricatures of many of its most famous customers lining it. There are 38 in all, of which 35 can be positively identified based on screenshots and additional information provided by artist Bobby Pontillas, who drew them together with John Musker. Here’s a quick rundown:
Left side of door (top to bottom):
1. Neff from Altered Beast
2. The unnamed frog from Frogger
Right side of door (top to bottom):
3. Fix-It Felix Jr. from Fix-It Felix Jr.
4. Zangief from Street Fighter II
Hallway (top row):
5. The unnamed Roman centurion protagonist from Altered Beast
6. Mr. Egg from Burger Time
7. Unknown; not clearly visible
8. Sagat from Street Fighter II
9. Unknown; not clearly visible
10. Mr. Hot Dog from Burger Time
11. Sorceress (blue-skinned woman from the Bad-Anon meeting)
12. Miles “Tails” Prower from Sonic Championship
13. Ryu from Street Fighter II
14. Ken Masters from Street Fighter II
15. Slick and Sam from Q*bert
16. Chun Li from Street Fighter II
17. Sonic the Hedgehog from Sonic Championship
18. Peter Pepper from Burger Time
19. Saitine (devil-like character from the Bad-Anon meeting)
20. Coily from Q*bert
21. E. Honda from Street Fighter II
Hallway (bottom row):
22. Gilius Thunderhead from Golden Axe
23. Unknown; not clearly visible
24. Mr. Pickle from Burger Time
25. Blanka from Street Fighter II
26. Balrog from Street Fighter II
27. Gene from Fix-It Felix Jr.
28. Guile from Street Fighter II
29. Ugg from Q*bert
30. Thomas Rogan from The House of the Dead
31. M. Bison from Street Fighter II
32. Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik from Sonic Championship
33. A space invader from Space Invaders
34. Rich Moore, the director of Wreck-It Ralph
35. Q*bert from Q*bert
36. Cyril (the zombie) from The House of the Dead
37. Joe Musashi from Shinobi
38. Dhalsim from Street Fighter II
As a special bonus, here’s a collage of all 27 caricatures that have been released to the public.
The observant will notice that one not mentioned previously – specifically that of 1011001, the yellow robot with the buzzsaw for hand seen at the Bad-Anon meeting – is among them. While it’s supposedly among the ones present at Tapper’s, I’ve yet to find a clear enough shot from the film that I can use to verify this, so it stays off the official list…for now.
8. Now at Litwak’s Arcade on Route 83
While the exact locatiion of Litwak’s Family Fun Center is never explicitly mentioned in the movie, the fake commercials advertising the arrivals of Wreck-It Ralph, Sugar Rush Speedway, and Hero’s Duty at the arcade all mention that it is located on U.S. Route 83. (For those who’re wondering, the verisimilitude of all this ends here, as the maps do not appear to correspond with any real world location along that extremely lengthy stretch of road).
This narrows it down to one of six possible states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, or Texas. The only outdoor shot we ever see of the building…
…strongly suggests that it’s located in central or southern Texas, as those’re the only area with climates warm enough to support the growth of the giant palm trees seen on the left. The section of elevated highway on the right that runs perpendicular to Route 83 is apparently an interstate highway, which would make it I-10, I-20, I-35, or I-40.
9. The Tough Love Approach
After Ralph steals and dons Markowski’s suit of armor, aside from the binary version of tic-tac-toe being played in the upper right corner, the most noteworthy thing on the helmet’s HUD is a text exchange between one Private Marco and Sergeant Calhoun. These instant messages – which are visible on the center left hand side – hammer home the point that she’s a major hardass (as if that wasn’t abundantly clear already).
YOU HAVE 390,499 UNREAD MESSAGES
SGT. CALHOUN: Report in, Squad! Any of you ladybugs seen Markowski?
PVT. MARCO: Golly, I haven’t seen him since 03:00 hours, Sarge.
SGT. CALHOUN: What was he doing? Practicing the ballet?
PVT. MARCO: He was freaking out, Sarge. Kept going on about the bugs…
PVT. MARCO: I don’t know if he’s Corps material, Ma’am.
SGT. CALHOUN: Corps material or not, if he doesn’t get his bright, shiny boots
SGT. CALHOUN: back to start pose by quarter drop, I’ll have him transferred to
SGT. CALHOUN: Undead Apocalypse slathered in meat tenderizer.
10. Processing Code
While it’s extremely difficult to make out, what follows is a rough approximation of all the text displayed on the screen of the First-Person Shooter robot from Hero’s Duty:
5 4 3 2 1 0
Player Linkup 01 v.12.11.02
Distributed by TobiKomi Co 2012
11. Common Origins
Several of the fictional arcade games in the movie – most notably Fix-It Felix Jr., Sugar Rush Speedway, and Hero’s Duty but also Target Bravo: One Shot, One Kill and Finish Line – were all created by the equally fictional TobiKomi Corporation.
12. Not Just Rose-Colored Glasses
While Felix’s love-at-first-sight reaction towards Calhoun is played for laughs, what makes it doubly amusing is that, upon closer inspection, everything that he says is technically accurate. Her skin texture, which has minor blemishes and even some faint freckles, really is higher definition than his. She even has detailed eyelashes and veins around the edges of her eyeballs!
When the escape pod from Hero’s Duty experiences engine trouble after entering Suger Rush Speedway, one utterly pointless status message and one completely inappropriate suggestion appear on the shuttle’s navigation screen.
! ENGINE FAILURE !
something has gone terribly wrong
The rest of the message appears to be a random jumble of lower case letters.
 Do a barrel roll!
The remaining items on the list are completely illegible, though what little is visible of the third one on the list – no more than the first three or four words – suggests that it may read, “Please return the tray table to its upright position.” This is far from certain, though.
14. The Good Samaritan and the Ladies’ Man
During the panning shot of Game Central Station which takes place while Calhoun is making her speech about the nature of Cy-Bugs, Peter Pepper is seen offering a pie to Q*bert and his homeless compatriots Ugg, Coily, and Slick. Surge Protector, on the other hand, is seen flirting with – and checking out! – Chun Li and the two unnamed princesses in the very same scene.
15. Candy Car Flavors
According the Kart Bakery’s oven settings, there are five classes of race cars in Sugar Rush Speedway: roadster, coupe, dragster, muscle, and stock.
16. Product Placement
The Kart Bakery’s security guard, Beard Papa, is actually the mascot of a Japanese-owned international confectionary chain store of the same name specializing in cream puffs (a fact that his mumbling “Mmm…cream puffs!” in his sleep is alluding to).
Note that one of the posters on the booth wall is actually an oversized nutrition label. I suspect that the other posters are something in a similar vein – such as food color or pH charts, baking instructions, etc. – but the writing and images are too small to positively identify anything else.
17. Police Officer’s Motto
Doughnut cops Wynchell and Duncan have badges which read, “To Heat and Serve“.
18. The Turbo Seal of Approval
While I’ve pointed this fact out on this blog once before, it bears repeating that, following the big reveal about King Candy’s true identity of Turbo, for one single frame while he’s glitching back and forth betwen his two identities, he breaks the fourth wall by looking directly at the viewer and giving them a “two thumbs up” sign.
19. Switching Rides
I’m not sure how many people noticed this (or how obvious this even is), but, when Vanellope Von Schweetz rescues Ralph during the movie’s climax, she’s seen driving Crumbelina Di Caramello’s race car rather than her own.
For those who’ve only just now become aware of this and are wondering why this is, well it’s due to the fact that her own car was rendered undrivable when, after being thrown in the air by a Cy-Bug geyser erupting beneath her, it crashed and lost its front right wheel on impact.
This, of courses, raises the question of just how she managed to locate Crumbelina’s car amidst all the chaos and destruction. Turns out that she didnt have to glitch all that far to reach it: Crumbelina was seen driving right up to the rainbow bridge leading to the game’s exit while she and the rest of Sugar Rush Speedway’s inhabitants were fleeing from the Cy-Bugs and probably passed Ralph and Vanellope, whose was riding on his shoulder, on the way there.
20. Colleagues to Brothers
This is something that I can’t claim credit for noticing, but it’s pretty neat in its subtlety, so props to whoever it was that originally picked up on it.
While they spend most of the movie apart from each other, it’s interesting to note that Felix seems to sense a growing kinship with Ralph at a subconscious level, something which becomes clear when you take a closer look at the way the former refers to the latter and how it evolves over the course of the movie to suggest an increasing level of affection and intimacy.
21. The 30-Year Grudge
If you ever wondered what the source of Gene’s animosity towards Ralph was, it probably has something to with the fact that he’s the guy who not only has his apartment broken into and trashed at the beginning of each level, but also ends up being manhandled and hurled across the screen to god-knows-where all the time.
The fact that the new status quo established at the end of the movie adds being blown up by living dynamite during the Bonus Level to his list of responsibilities probably won’t do much to improve his sunny disposition.
22. The Bonus Stage is Acceptance
And, to top it off, here’s another subtle but cute little detail: while Ralph’s job may not have changed, his different outlook on life is clearly reflected in his sprite’s design: he’s gone from sporting a toothy scowl to an equally toothy grin.
And that’s it for Part 1 of this series! Check back soon for Part 2, where we’ll be going over some of the continuity errors and inconsistencies that pop up throughout the movie!