If there’s any band that’s ascended into the realm of rock legends it’s the British Rock band, Queen and it seems that there are plenty of video games that believe the same.
Numerous video games of all genres and styles for one reason or another feel the need to pay tribute to Queen and Freddie Mercury so we thought it’d be fun to take a look at some of the more notable ones.
Guilty Gear – Sol Badguy
Of course, we decided to start with the most notable of them all. Guilty Gear is a love letter to anime and heavy metal but series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari has always had a soft spot for Queen in particular.
The main protagonist of Guilty Gear Sol Badguy is a concentrated mass of Queen references. The name Sol Badguy comes from Freddie Mercury’s solo album, and song Mr. Badguy. Sol’s real name is also Frederick Bulsara. The first name is obvious but the last name comes from Mercury’s birth name Farrokh Bulsara.
Sol also wears a headband that says “Rock You” and a belt that says “Free”, references to the Queen songs “We Will Rock You” and “I want to Break Free”. His original theme “Keep Yourself Alive” is also the name of a Queen song and the theme lefts several chords from the song “Stone Cold Crazy”.
Finally, it’s outright stated in his bio that Sol’s hobby is listening to Queen and his prized possession is his Sheer Heart Attack LP.
Guilty Gear – Everyone Else
Ishiwatari’s love of the Queen extends beyond Mr. Badguy though. The character May is supposed to be a reference to Queen’s guitarist Brian May and her fear of bald men is a reference to Brian’s magnificent head of hair.
Axl Low’s original theme “March of Wicked King” is believed to be a reference to the song “March of The Black Queen” and his move “One Vision” is likely also named after the Queen song of the same name. Finally, Potemkin has a movie called Hammer Fall which is named after the song “Hammer To Fall”.
Finally, while it’s not a direct reference the music in the later Guilty Gear games by Naoki Hashimoto seems to take a lot of inspiration from Queen music. Songs like “Birthday Train”, and “Lily”, sound particularly Queen-like with their combination of hard rock with vocal harmonizing. The standout track, however, has to go Guilty Geat Strive’s main theme “Smell of The Game” which features a choir breakdown eerily similar to the one in “The Prophet’s Song”.
Street Fighter – Eagle
Guilty Gear isn’t the only fighting game to be singing the praises of Queen. Capcom also seems to be fans of the band with their own walking Freddie Mercury reference, the Britsh brawler from the very first Street Fighter game Eagle.
When Eagle first appeared in Street Fighter 1 as one of the two UK fighters, he was just kind of a generic bartender-looking guy that fought with two sticks. When he returned years later in Capcom Vs SNK 2 he was overhauled with a new look. He basically became Blonde Freddie Mercury.
This was further cemented by several of his quotes. During battles he says the lines “No Time For Losers” and “The show must go on” and it’s also very unsubtly implied in several win quotes that he’s gay. Eagle would later appear in the GBA and PSP versions of Street Fighter Alpha 3 but beyond that, we haven’t seen much of him. It’d be cool to see him return in Street Fighter 6. Capcom did however reveal updated artwork for him in preparation for Street Fighter V
The Mortal Kombat character of Rain has always been a walking Prince reference (he’s a Prince dressed in Purple whose name is Rain) but in MK11 we learn that he seems to be a fan of Queen as well.
For one of Rain’s fatalities: Power Washer, he briefly assumes the iconic Bohemian Rhapsody pose with ninjas Reptile, Ermac, and Smoke filling in for the other members. A hard rock guitar rift plays in to truly flesh out the moment before the opponent gets their own flesh sliced in half.
From fighting video games to a JRPGs series, the cult classic Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre series are filled with Queen references and they’re right there in the title: Ogre Battle, a reference to the Queen II song of the same name.
If that’s not enough the earliest games also have Queen in their subtitles:
- Ogre Battle: The March of The Black Queen – A reference to March of The Black Queen
- Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together – A reference to Teo Torriate (Let Us Cling Together), which is also the only Queen song to have Japanese lyrics.
If that’s not enough there’s also an ocean in the original Ogre Battle called the Ryhan Sea, an obvious shoutout to “Seven Seas of Rhye”.
Unfortunately, the Ogre Battle series would stop using Queen songs for the next two games: Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Calibur and Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis. I must admit though, “Person of Lordly Calibur” certainly sounds like it could be the title of a Queen song.
So the Ogre Battle games were directed by Yasumi Matsuno who later joined Squaresoft to make Final Fantasy titles, and while he didn’t put sing names in the titles anymore, he did bring his love of Queen with him.
Matsuno would specifically work on Final Fantasy games set in the world of Ivalice which include Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, and Final Fantasy XII. Within these games, Final Fantasy Tactics has a chapter called “Somebody To Love” and there’s a boss in Final Fantasy XII called Hashmal who has an attack called “Rock You”. You just can’t keep Matsuno down.
Queen: The eYe
So far we’ve seen games that make reference to Queen but how about a game that has an entire soundtrack of actual Queen music?
Queen: The eYe is a 1997 MS-DOS game developed by Destination Design and published by EA. The plot of the game itself has nothing to do with the band itself but is loosely based on the Jukebox musical We Will Rock You. It’s about a dystopian world where all creative expression is outlawed.
The game contains a give disk OST of Queen music remixed by the band’s drummer Roger Taylor and fellow English drummer Josh Macrae. Notable tracks include “We Will Rock You”, “I Want It All”, and “Made In Heaven”. The game got fairly mediocre reviews when it came out but hey, if you can get Queen to do your entire soundtrack, you got to be doing something right.
Queen in Japan
One thing I noticed while making this article was that while Queen is a British icon, they have always had a large following in Japan, which is why so many Japanese games pay tribute to them. Japanese Journalist and music critic Tōgō Kaoruko (via Nippon.com) who interviewed Queen several times throughout their career said this about the band’s emergence in the land of the rising sun:
“They were much more handsome in real life than I’d expected from the photos I’d seen. There was something about Freddie, an aura of excitement and edginess, that I knew would appeal to Japanese girls, who tend to go for the androgynous, boyish type.”
The band members themselves had likewise had a fondness for Japanese culture. This is best shown in their song “Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)” which has a verse in Japanese and was sold as a single in Japan. The song was even included in the charity album “Songs For Japan” to raise money for the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
Hail To The Queen
It’s said that Freddie Mercury once told his manager “Do what you want with my music, just don’t make it boring” and it’s clear that these game developers have done just that.
There are multiple other Queen references in video games like the terrible 16-bit rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody in the Wayne’s World SNES game but the ones listed above are the most noteworthy.
Do you know any other references to Queen in video games? If so let us know. Ultimately, Queen made good music that transcended any language, cultural barrier, or medium of entertainment. They truly are the champions even as the years go by.
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