2003 – Def Jam: Vendetta
Behind The Music: Long before hip-hop and karaoke successfully mated in Def Jam Rapstar, fighting was the genre of choice for blinged-out video game tie-ins. In Def Jam: Vendetta, rap’s premier record label unleashes its roster of living caricatures (Ludacris, DMX, Ghostface Killah et al) on unsuspecting haters in a WWE-style battle royale that goes heavy on the urban machismo. Hip-hop and you don’t stop… smashing rival MCs’ faces in with punches, roundhouses and occasional shots to the groin, that is.
Why It Rocks: Just like the far-superior sequel Def Jam: Fight For New York, Vendetta gave urban artists the perfect outlet to showcase their exuberance and outsize personalities. In keeping with the genre’s sometimes misogynistic roots, women could also fight to become your girlfriend and serve up revealing photo spreads.
Did You Know… The similarities to traditional wrestling games shouldn’t have come as a surprise, since Def Jam: Vendetta was developed by Aki—the same developer that created WCW/nWo World Tour and WWF WrestleMania 2000.