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Sudden Video-Game Moment

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Above: How the series normally 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. 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. See also: Medium Blending.


    open/close all folders 

  • 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, Milon's Secret Castle, Nuts & 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.
  • Lucky Star's anime adaptation has quite a few moments like this:
    • When Konata describes how she first met Tsukasa by rescuing her from a foreigner, she is depicted as a character in Street Fighter II, defeating an opponent who looks like Guile on Ryu's stage.
    • When Tsukasa asks Konata how she's so good at running, Konata replies that it's all about visualization. What does she visualize? Running in the style of the NES game Track & Field, complete with a close-up of someone's hands using increasingly effective methods of Button Mashing (such as the coin and ruler tricks) to win the game.
      Kagami: That's some old-school visualization you've got there.
    • Another episode of the anime features Konata and Nanako having an argument that soon cuts to a Super Robot Wars style battle, with them piloting the Arbalest and Codarl respectively and arguing in the dialog boxes.
  • Mikagura School Suite: Episode 8 features Eruna searching for a hairbrush and lipstick in the style of Dragon Quest, switching to a battle scene when Kurumi appears.
  • 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. 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.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi 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's anime adaptation, which is from the same director as the aforementioned Pani Poni Dash!.
  • Episode 7 of Katanagatari uses this several times.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Adventures 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.
  • Dr. STONE has an Item Get! popup whenever he builds a new piece of technology, e.g. "Acquired Stone Tools!"
    • The trip into the caves to find tungsten begins with a "Character Select" screen as Senku ponders the advantages and disadvantages of the rest of the cast. The visuals then change to a 2D platformer as he describes the plan.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War:
    • Kaguya's first attempt to use her routine against Shirogane is depicted as a 2D fighting game, comlete with lifebars, super meter, and a timer.
    • During the culture festival, Kaguya's panic over Ishigami's depression over Tsubame potentially ruining her date with Shirogane is depicted as a Shout-Out to Resident Evil, complete with static camera angles, tank controls, and Wallbonking.
  • Meat Or Die depicts Yans' and Gans' scheme breakdowns as 8-bit platformer levels.
  • Zombie Land Saga Revenge: In episode 3, Kotaro debriefs Franchouchou about Iron Frill's arrival while carrying a a water-gun rifle and acting like a soldier. Then it cuts to a P.O.V. Cam where he starts shooting at the girls in a manner reminiscent of a First-Person Shooter, complete with cross-hair on the screen and right-handed weapon view.
  • In episode 2 of Mob Psycho 100's second season, the scuffle between Shinra Banshoumaru and a flasher in a red coat is briefly represented as a 1-vs-1 fighting game, including lifebars and special moves.
  • Game Tengoku was a video game about video game characters traveling through the game world inside arcade cabinets. When The Anime of the Game (two shorts) was made, it naturally featured this trope, but in a disappointing way: there was only a brief scene imitating Jaleco's Field Combat and the rest felt like a totally generic anime, with nothing besides the characters relating to all the featured games.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 2 episode 27, there's a brief scene during the Supermen's training session where the art style goes 8-bit and turns into a platform game. Said scene features what are meant as the "?" blocks from Super Mario Bros. as a Shout-Out.

    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 

    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.
  • Doom was originally supposed to be entirely shot from the first person perspective of a Space Marine fighting monsters. Instead, it has one scene near the end which filmed in the first person, with similar beats to the then-latest game in the series.
  • Uwe Boll did this in House of the Dead, using the attract-mode footage from the original, already-decade-old arcade game.
  • 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 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., and overseen by PDI founder Carl Rosendahl). 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.
  • Stretch this trope out over an entire movie and you have Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
  • Tetris (2023): Sprinked throughout the trailer are moments when video game graphics are imposed upon the real world - Rogers describing his experience with the game as Tetrominos descend behind him and a car crash suddenly being rendered as a pixilated image - as well as moments portrayed as video game pixel art such as travel montages and car chases.

  • John Dies at the End: One chapter set at an abandoned mall suddenly becomes this, complete with Money Spider and Crate Expectations. Genre Savvy John quickly figures out what's going on:
    "A key. Good. Now, if I know what's going on here, and I think I do, we'll have to wander around looking for that door. Behind it we'll meet a series of monsters or, more likely, a whole bunch of the same one. We'll kill them, get another key, and then it'll open a really big door. Now right before that we'll probably get nicer guns. It may require us to backtrack some and it might get really tedious and annoying."

    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.)
  • Chappelle's Show had a skit that showed Dave acting like a video game character in a Grand Theft Auto clone, complete with him engaging in a car-jacking, pulling weapons out of Hammerspace, and so on.

    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 King's 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.
  • the white chamber has a section where you're sucked into a retro gaming system, with everything pixellated to 8-bit (and it's possible to die). When it ends, it has no effect on the plot apart from your character deciding not to do that again.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • Part of Homestar, Strong Sad and Pom Pom's quest in "In Search of the Yellow Dello" involves the trio appearing in a pastiche of Pitfall. A deleted scene features an alternate version with the Atari 2600 game Barnstorming instead.
    • When Strong Bad attempts to kill Pom Pom "in the name of science" and whiffs his attack because he's blindfolded, the pummeling he receives in response comes with an on-screen combo counter, finally culminating in a "1 UP" message on the final hit. All accompanied by sound effects from Super Mario.
    • An Easter Egg in "On Break" has Homestar, Strong Bad, and Coach Z in their mascot costumes, bouncing around the first stage of Burger Time while the Brothers Chaps hum the music from the game.
  • Happens once in Chris Niosi's Balancing Act short from 2011, in which Chris Frost goes full Megaman for a brief scene.
  • Also happens a couple times in TOME, but this is justified since the setting is actually a video game. The trope applies because there are a couple rare scenes that are a sort of Out-of-Genre Experience for the type of game (the game is usually presented as an MMO, but a brief gag has the scene shift to a platformer, for instance).
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Digital Series: In "X Marks the Spot", during their search for the treasure chest, the girls are shown in a video game sequence similar to the mobile game Sunset was playing.
    • In Sephiroth vs. Vergil, this happens in the climax of the fight, when Sephiroth unveils Super Nova, it shows a Final Fantasy VII-esque status menu, showing Vergil's HP (9999) and Devil Trigger gauge (which is full).
    • '' In "Goro vs. Machamp", this happens twice. The first happens when Goro's fire breath burns Machamp, activating the Pokemon's Guts ability complete with a "ability activated" pop-up from the Generation VIII games. The second happens after Machamp's victory, where a "Machamp's hurt by its burn!" popup from the Gen I games appears, causing Machamp to faint.
    • Much like the earlier example, a Final Fantasy VII styled status menu shows up in Link vs. Cloud (2021), twice this time. The first time is at the start of the fight, showing Cloud's HP (9502) and MP (905), plus his Limit gauge being empty. [Which, by the way, are the default values of HP and MP that Cloud has at level 99 in Final Fantasy VII]. The second time is during the climax, where it shows up again (with Cloud at 302 HP and 54 MP, plus a full Limit Gauge), with the second one also showing a command menu where Cloud selects Omnislash Version 5.
  • In CyberConnect2's contribution to their "animation showdown" with Studio Khara, CC-Chu's fight with Kuroneko is presented in an almost identical manner to their Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm series, complete with a similar UI.

  • DM of the Rings has a couple of panels where Legolas sliding down the stairs in Helm's Deep in a shield is rendered like a Tony Hawk's Pro Skater game, Gimli fighting the uruk-hai invasion is rendered like he was playing Diablo, and Aragorn providing cover is rendered as a NetHack battle.
  • MegaTokyo has a panel showing the difference between Piro and Largo's worlds: whereas Piro's view is like a Dating Sim, Largo's view is a First-Person Shooter.
  • Sluggy Freelance: In a strip, Torg mentally pictures conversation options as though he were playing Dragon Age: Origins.
  • The fourth panel in this strip of Ctrl+Alt+Del.
  • MS Paint Adventures:
    • All the webcomics of the series are set up as reader-driven adventure games, but Homestuck takes it one step farther by actually including a couple Flash segments where you control one of the main characters directly in a short point-and-click game.
    • Also during the end of Act 4, where this trope is used alongside a Mood Whiplash Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, featuring a sailor being attacked by Squiddles, using pixelated graphics.
    • In Act 5 there have been flashes where you play a character RPG-overworld style.
  • In The Order of the Stick, one panel from strip #354 depicts Julia Greenhilt fighting off infernal bugs as a round of Centipede.
    Julia: Help, I'm out of quarters! I mean, spells!
  • In Our Little Adventure, Moratios' dungeon for beginners is in Super Mario style, complete with Goombas and Goomba Stomp.
  • Occasionally, Prequel will slip a flash at the end of a page. While the flashes are usually just movies, sometimes they end up being decent games. Examples include a 16-bit render of Kvatch Katia explores, the chase game against Stephane, the peg puzzle and the snowball game with Aggy.
    • Kvatch easily takes the cake, since it's fully explorable and you're only required to see about a third of it. The Elderscrolls IV Oblivion's lore is integrated into Kvatch with great detail and the Arena actually contains a Game Within a Game in the form of the dance minigame. Needless to say, Kazerad takes his games seriously.
  • Red Mage in 8-Bit Theater jumps from one role-playing system to another, but one time his wires get crossed and sees the world as Warcraft III.
  • Crystal Heroes has a scene that takes this trope to the extent of Medium Blending. When the party enters the library dungeon, the next scene is actually a short playable RPG, not just a scene that looks like one.
  • SWAP Ensemble: When Marianna Cors considers a decision that would push her out of her comfort zone but has obvious benefits, a Choices interface appears as a Take That! to premium choices. Those choices include going to the mid-season recital, getting Cyrissa's phone number, and not getting jumped on a date.

    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.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Strong Arms of the Ma", Homer attempts to put all the stuff bought at a garage sale into the car — Tetris-style!
    • In "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass", Homer gets angry at a Mario look-alike and starts acting like Donkey Kong, including chucking a trash can at him.
    • The 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:
    • "Red 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.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: When Buster and Plucky get stuck in "the hole" while in prison in "Gang Busters", 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 Piñata 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. There's a moment of Cutting Back to Reality where the background characters are unimpressed by the two barely actually doing anything—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).
  • The Gravity Falls episode "Fight Fighters" is a sendup of videogames, including one scene near the climax wherein Rumble Mac Skirmish is tear-assin' through town that directly parodies River City Ransom.
  • We Bare Bears: The short "Bear Stack" is a long string of these, as the bears rush to the game store to get the last copy of Super Cat Knight 4.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Perry's entrance to his lair is Different in Every Episode. In "Imperfect Storm", he jumps into an arcade game and temporarily becomes part of it. When he arrives in his "real-world" lair, the pixelated bananas tunnel down with him.
  • In Craig of the Creek, Season 2 "The Evolution of Craig", Craig rescues a tadpole and decides to raise it. Every time the tadpole evolves, a Pokémon-style graphic appears and announces its evolution level. Also, during Craig's Imagine Spot about turning into Bernard, the fight between him and Kelsey and JP is done as a first-generation Pokémon fight sequence.
  • Tear Along the Dotted Line is an adult animation series about Zero, a cartoonist, and the contrast between how he sees the world and how it actually is. One episode had a scene of Zero getting bored to tears by the ramblings of an old woman, then it cut to a 16-bit-esque fighting game based on Street Fighter II with Zero as not-Ryu getting pummelled by the woman as not-Dhalsim.


Video Example(s):



Jade attempts to use her talent to seduce a security guard in all the wrong ways.

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