Sudden Video-Game Moment

Above: How the series looks.
Below: This trope in action.

That moment when, in a live-action film, anime, comic strip or other non-video game medium, one suddenly gets video game graphics for a scene. Can be either meant as a self-ironic joke, a would-be profound comment, or for purposes of narrative distantiation. If it's Played Straight, it's Watching a Video Game. Sometimes, instead of getting video game-like graphics, the show starts to briefly follow video game rules or use a video game-like display.

Doesn't count if the characters are actually playing a video game: It becomes a Show Within a Show with the occasional Deep-Immersion Gaming sprinkled on. When done accidentally, it's Conspicuous CG. See also: Medium Blending.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Beginning with a very Grand Theft Auto look and feel, a Coca-Cola ad soon becomes Lighter and Softer due to the Player Character making more positive choices within the game world environment.
  • In this ad an unsuspiciously labelled bottle with the message "the perfect beer for stepping outside for some old school fun" leads a not completely inebriated man from a local bar to an exclusive indoor live action game of Pac-Man, with no admission cost and no waiting in line. With no rules being given at the onset of this game, thankfully no one was hurt.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Perhaps the defining example: every single episode of Bug-tte Honey features a sudden video game moment, which makes sense considering it's an extremely loose adaptation of the first Adventure Island for the NES. The scenes are often inspired by or even parody Adventure Island and other Hudson Soft Nintendo games, with shots at Bomberman, Milons Secret Castle, Nuts And Milk and numerous other Hudson games too obscure for even the most devoted retro fans to know of. The series also integrates other Hudson characters such as Bomberman, Milon and Milk into the main story of episodes.
  • Happens frequently in Pani Poni Dash!. This is Studio Shaft, after all.
  • Also Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei.
  • Oh, so many times in Lucky Star.
    • When Konata describes her rescuing Tsukasa from a foreigner, she is depicted as a character in Street Fighter II, defeating an opponent who looks like Guile on Ryu's stage.
    • Konata says that when she races, she visualizes herself winning. What do we see? Track And Field, complete with someone using increasingly effective methods of pressing the buttons quickly.
    Kagami: That's some old-school visualization you've got there.
  • At one point in Shaman King, as Anna catches Yoh slacking off from his Training from Hell, the world briefly turns into a Fighting Game while she punishes him.
  • Excel Saga episode 4 weaves in and out of a dating sim.
  • An entire episode of Genshiken was portrayed as if it was a Dating Sim.
  • Lambada in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is defeated with a continuous stream of these. In the manga, the finisher is based on an actual Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo video game.
  • The Tower of Druaga has a scene where, caused by a trap-spell, everyone gets temporarily trapped in the 8-bit version of The Tower of Druaga. Hilarity Ensues when characters confuse each other for rocks/blocks or whatever due to the horrible 8-bit image quality.
    • In a later episode, the main character has to go into a section of the tower where he has no control over himself, and instead someone else has to control him using an old fashioned arcade machine.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! had a Fission Mailed sequence which looked like a "bad ending" screen from a Visual Novel, complete with a "Continue/Quit" screen drawn by Haruna as a visual aid.
  • Because of its Exam Summoning Battle system, this occurs very frequently in Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts, which is from the same director as the aforementioned Pani Poni Dash!.
  • Episode 7 of Katanagatari uses this several times.
  • Pokemon Special is drawn manga-style most of the time, but switches to the game sprites for the Pokedex displays.
    • The very first scene of the very first episode of the anime begins with a recreation of the Nidorino vs. Gengar cutscene seen when booting up Red, tinny 8-bit music and all. It quickly transitions into something befitting the show proper, though.

    Comic Books 
  • Runaways starts with The Invisible Woman, Captain America, Daredevil and The Hulk acting wildly out of character; the next page shows they are video game avatars in a Marvel themed MMORPG. By volume two this turns out to be a Plot Device All Along.
  • Scott Pilgrim gradually becomes more and more assimilated by its video game moments as it progresses.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 has a Pac-Man homage where Po and the Furious Five inside a dragon costume go through the streets "eating" guards.
  • During the Training Montage for Titan/Tighten in Megamind, one of the exercises involves running up scaffolding while Minion throws barrels from the top. Sound familiar?
  • Wreck-It Ralph, naturally, has plenty of these. For example, Tapper heading off to serve some customers is rendered as gameplay taken from the first level of Tapper, and the end credits feature Ralph and Vanellope in Street Fighter II.
  • Wave Twisters has its story interspersed with Retraux Art Shift action scenes resembling retro games including Asteroids, 2D space shooters and sprite based 2D side-scrollers. There are samples taken from games including StarCraft. The cover resembles Pitfall's Atari 2600 box art.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: "All's Fair in Love and Friendship Games" has a moment in which a battle between Lyra and Bon-Bon is seen as being part of a fighting game, complete with two fists coming together to signify the beginning of the round.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Leonardo DiCaprio's character Richard suddenly experiences this in ''The Beach'.
  • Yi Yi: When the neighbor's boyfriend murders her lover, the scene is played as a videogame fight.
  • The Street Fighter scene in the Jackie Chan City Hunter movie.
  • Meet the Spartans has a sequence which parodies Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, complete with jerky movement and weapon pickups. You have to give them credit for averting Pac Man Fever...
  • The scene in Shaun of the Dead where Shaun is shooting at zombies trying to come through the broken picture window in the Winchester. Set up as an Ironic Echo of an earlier scene involving a FPS video game.
  • Not so much outright video game graphics, but in The Incredible Hulk, the title character uses several moves from the video game The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, such as turning a car into a pair of boxing gloves.
  • Doom was originally supposed to be entirely shot from the first person perspective of a Space Marine fighting monsters. Instead, it got one scene near the end which was done like that. And it was the best scene in the film....
  • Uwe Boll did this in House of the Dead, with questionable results.
  • The Hong Kong zombie flick Bio-Zombie has a climax where the main character shoot their way out of a mall filled with zombies, filmed as a light gun-style shooter — complete with "RELOAD!" graphics.
  • The (hilariously awful) made-for-TV movie Max Knight Ultra Spy's climax is rendered in the Half-Life engine to simulate the battle in cyberspace.
  • The Travel Montage in Top Secret ends with the streets of East Berlin turning into the maze in Pac-Man.
  • In Superman III, the scene where the computer is launching missiles against Superman looked and sounded like an Atari video game, and was actually animated by Atari Inc. (then owned by Warner Bros.). Atari did plan to release a Licensed Game based on the movie, but it was never finished.
  • A fight scene in The Crimson Rivers is overlayed with fight noises from Tekken 3, which the (Skinhead?) non-heroes were playing before the fight started.
  • In Street Fighter, the supreme military commander and dictator of a South East Asian nation launches a technologically advanced attack on a band of insurgent rebel fighters by remotely detonating a series of explosive charges in an attempt to stop the incursion. Believing the operation was a strategic success, the commander raises his arms and declares GAME OVER!!!. The viewscreen and controls for the interface launching this attack appears to come from a heavily modified Street Fighter II arcade cabinet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Seinfeld has a bit where George is trying to get a Frogger arcade machine across a car filled street, which is filmed to look like Frogger.
  • One of the April Fools' episodes of The Drew Carey Show had a scene filmed in The Sims.
  • Spaced:
    • Tim and Daisy have an argument that's interspersed with clips from Tekken 3. Every time Tim or Daisy makes a verbal attack, Paul Phoenix or Nina Williams respectively land blows in the game. In the end Daisy wins and Nina's victory animation is shown. Daisy then turns and does the same action for a "Daisy Steiner wins!" screen complete with HP bars, voice-over and pixelated videogame-like graphics.
    • There's also Tim's speed-induced (and later, Twiglet-induced) conflation of Resident Evil with Real Life, and even repeats a line from from a cutscene we saw earlier. (This episode inspired them to make Shaun of the Dead.)

    Video Games 
  • Almost a meta-example: in Law's ending in Tekken 5, the cutscene briefly switches into a round of Tekken.
  • Likewise, Amy's ending in SoulCalibur IV ends with her shoving Raphael over the edge of a stage and a big "RING OUT!!" appears on the screen, just like would happen in a real match.
  • No More Heroes:
    • In the second game, whenever Travis takes a job, it is presented as an 8-bit video game, as are the training segments.
    • The first game also features a dream sequence presented as a top-down shooter.
  • Another meta-example occurs in Yume Nikki, where one of the protagonist's dream worlds is presented in the manner of an 8-bit RPG.
  • Rather after the fashion of the No More Heroes example, Little Kings Story features a mock 8-bit intro to the boss fight with King TV Dinnah.
  • Chapter 4 of Lollipop Chainsaw is filled with these. Throughout the chapter, Juliet and Nick keep being pulled into (fictional) arcade games. While these arcade games are still in 3D and running on the Unreal Engine just like the rest of the game, they are all parodies of old arcade games, such as Pac-Man and Elevator Action.
  • At one point in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Mario and Luigi are separated and Luigi is on a barrel. During that, there is a point where Mario goes up a hallway while barrels keep going down, resembling the first level of Donkey Kong.

    Web Animation 
  • Happens from time to time in Homestar Runner, going as far back as In Search of the Yellow Dello.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Megas XLR had quite a few moments when the status screens in Megas resemble video games. This is par for the course, obviously.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
    • In the pilot movie, Bloo being chased by a giant monster through a junkyard suddenly turns into a Pac-Man pastiche, complete with music.
    • Destination Imagination has a sequence inspired by Super Mario Bros., including Mac growing in size upon eating a vegetable (a pumpkin in this case, instead of a mushroom).
  • Futurama
    • Special mention goes to the "Anthology of Interest II" episode, whose middle segment is one long series of Sudden Videogame Moments. They are all 1970s-early 80s "classic" video games, like the sort Fry played back in the past at his old job, as seen in the pilot episode.
    • Also, on "Fear of a Bot Planet", two robots are building a wall with Tetris-like bricks. When they fill up a gap, most of the wall disappears, as in the game.
    • One of the segments in the season six episode "Reincarnation" depicts the Planet Express crew in the style of an 8-bit video game.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Atlantis Squarepantis" has a scene in which the characters are shrunk to microscopic size and are viewed as 16-bit graphics.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer gets angry at a Mario lookalike and behaves like Donkey Kong. In another episode, Homer attempts to put all the stuff bought at a garage sale into the car — Tetris-style!
  • The Simpsons episode Marge Gamer shifts between the game characters of the MMORPG Earthland Realms and the players who look just like them. Or vice versa.
  • South Park
    • "Hot Catholic Love": A quest through the treacherous hidden passages of the Vatican is depicted as a game of Pitfall.
    • Then there's the episode centered around World of Warcraft.
  • Cyborg attempting to get through an ancient battle in Teen Titans turns the screen into Frogger.
  • In the Kick Buttowski episode "Battle for the 'Snax", Kick's attempts to lead a crowd to Gunther's restaurant features a progress bar on top of the screen, and a graphic reading "Angry Crowd!" flashing near the end. Another episode, "Not Without My Cereal", has Kick chasing his sister, Brianna, through a supermarket, and the animation turns 8-bit as Kick tries to avoid shopping carts. As Kick is hit by two shopping carts, the animation goes back to normal.
  • When Buster and Plucky are tunneling out of prison in one episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, they amuse themselves by recreating Pong and Pac-Man using their glow-in-the-dark eyes.
  • Drawn Together has a few, mostly involving Wooldor. In one, he's in Dig Dug, digging his way out of a grave, Kill Bill 2 style. In another, he's the dog in Duck Hunt.
  • Happens less often than you might think in Wakfu considering that it's based on a video game.
  • Viva Pinata has this in "To Catch a Piñata" of Frogger with Paulie, Fergy, and Langston. Predictably, Langston, despite being a frog, is the only one to fall into the river.
  • Skunk Fu!: Skunk's story in "The Art of Remembering."
  • The Amazing World of Gumball had an insult fight scene between Gumball and Darwin in the episode "The Words." The "fight" was styled as a Street Fighter match; there were life meters and combo tracking for both characters, as well as a continue screen at the end. This is lampshaded when it suddenly cuts out of the game to the actual world showing the background characters unimpressed by the two barely actually doing anything, implying this was all just being imagined—yet somehow Gumball's harsh words demolished a wall.
  • During a space adventure, Danger Mouse once drove into a game of Space Invaders.
  • In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "Party With a Pony", Princess Pony Head plows through a group of nerdy square people at the Amethyst Arcade, who proceed to fall back into place in the style of Tetris (complete with a sound-alike of Korobeiniki).