Photogallery Neverwinter

Neverwinter Nights Platinum Edition

Tracing the Influence: Stolen Images in Games

Part 6: Character portrait galleries

American Action Movies vs Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

Mel Gibson
(Lethal Weapon)

Solid Snake

Sean Connery
(The Hunt for Red October)

Big Boss

Richard Crenna

Roy Kyanbel

Albert Einstein

Petrovich Mandar

Tom Berenger

Frank Yeager

Dolph Lundgren
(Red Scorpion)

George Kessler

Brenda Bakke

Holly White

Bob Hoskins

Yozef Norden

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.

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

River Phoenix

G. Turner

Robert De Niro

G. Alberti

Joe Pesci

A. Asselin

Richard Dean Anderson

E. Pacheco

Tom Hanks

C. Tegner

Emilio Estevez

E. Tornio

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 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...

Andy Hug

Anthony Hawk

George Foreman

Jeff Howard

Robert Patrick
(Terminator II)

Cyborg D-9F

Scott Bakula
(Quantum Leap)

Rick Simpson

Arnold Schwarzenegger
(Terminator II)

Cyborg T-8P

Volk Han


Dan Moroboshi
(Ultra Seven)


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

Christopher Lee

(Spirit of Adventure)

Oliver Hardy

(Spirit of Adventure)

Sean Connery

Yakka Deepshaved
(Spirit of Adventure)

The Seer

(Spirit of Adventure)

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 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.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
(Conan the Barbarian)

Player Character Portrait
(Spirit of Adventure)

(by Boris Vallejo)

Player Character Portrait
(Spirit of Adventure)

Sandahl Bergman
(Conan the Barbarian)

Player Character Portrait
(Spirit of Adventure)

The first two entries in their magnum opus series 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.

Sir Ben Kingsley

Temple of Effert

Gerard Depardieu

Burian Rodebrecht

Pierce Brosnan

Nameless Commoner

Meg Ryan

Isida Ingstrock

Audrey Hepburn

Inn "At the Trenchside"

Rene Auberjonois

Quenya Stardust

Billy Drago

Malmodir Elin


Temple of Firun

Kurtwood Smith

Jurge Torfinson

Michelle Pfeiffer

Inn "Blue Kvill"

Amy Yasbeck

Tempel of Rajah

Steve Buschemi

Inn "Riva Parlour

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:

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