Leeroy Jenkins Lives! The 6 Best Video Game References In 'Wreck-It Ralph'

Wreck It Ralph Game References

Wreck-It Ralph has broken the gaming movie curse. Its $49-million opening weekend marked the biggest debut for a Walt Disney Animation Studios picture, and as Movieline's Brian Brooks' reported, a $200-million gross is not out of the question. Not surprisingly, people are already asking director, Rich Moore, about a sequel; and to that, I can say, I'd buy a ticket to that. 

Wreck It Ralph Game References

As I predicted in September, most of the video-game references used in the movie were featured in the trailer. There are some really good ones that weren't, however, and the movie’s intro scene alone fast forwards through three decades of arcade gaming history. Here are the six best savvy references in the movie:

1. Graffiti Games

Graffiti is the perfect place for insider references, and Wreck-It Ralph had better graffiti than New York.

“Aerith Lives” alone is worth the price of admission. For those who don’t recognize the name,  Aerith, or Aeris as she was also known, was the last of the ancient race of Cetra.  She died at the hands of the villain Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII, and her dramatic end remains the most powerful gaming memory many players have ever felt. (Including those who received electric shocks wiring up their consoles.)

There’s also a scrawled "Jenkins" tag that refers to the viral (and sadly fake) World of Warcraft player Leeroy Jenkins who missed his guild's strategy huddle and charged blindly into battle, leading to the massacre of his entire team.

And “Sheng Long Was Here” is something very special for Street Fighter enthusiasts: a reference to a 1992 April Fool's joke perpetrated by the publication Electronic Gaming Monthly.  The joke proved so popular that Long was eventually included as a playable character in the Street Fighter: The Movie game

2. Kano's Heart Rip Fatality

Kano rips the heart from a fellow bad guy at the Bad Anon meeting, and it’s hilarious. I don't get to write that often. The Heart Rip is his special move from his native game, Mortal Kombat, and here it’s used to make a point about feeling good about yourself. The filmmakers smartly make Kano's victim a zombie, so the whole thing stays family friendly. It’s not like the undead guy needs it.

3. Imaginary Game Parallels

The authentic retro references were fun, but the movie's plot is also layered with knowing references to games. The Fix-It Felix, from which Ralph originates, is a perfect model of Donkey Kong. Hero’s Duty combines the ridiculous hyper-macho tone of Gears of Wars and other testosterone-fueled games. Sugar Rush was such a clone of Mario Kart it even had triple-red-homing-projectiles, and a guard-rail-free multicolored track which made all true gamers crying out, "RAINBOW ROAD!" (The most difficult and fun track in every version of Mario Kart. Some people say it’s not fun, but that's because they lose at it.)

Even the back story was based on real games. The villainous Turbo’s two-dimensional game represented Rally-X with a dash of Super Sprint, both seminal hits in arcade racing, while the new game which drove him to desperate measures was clearly inspired by Outrun, one of the most successful racing games of all time.

4. Konami Code

At one point, a character in Wreck-It Ralphgrabs a giant controller, hits UP, UP, and every gamer in the audience is already grinning. It’s the beginning of the most famous video game code of all time: UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A. This code became the most important set of button presses outside of a defibrillator control panel, and saved more virtual lives. It delivered all power-ups in the original Gradius, and 30 lives in the brutally hard Contra, and since then it’s been a joke and a reference in countless games and gaming media.

5. Metal Gear Solid Alert

A pure perfect musical sting. Searching through a the lost and found box at Tapper’s bar, Ralph throws out a giant red exclamation mark, triggering the iconic sound effect from Metal Gear Solid. Watch the audience when this happens: the real gamers will jump and swear.

6. Kill Screen

If there was ever a movie guaranteed to have an after-credits bonus, this was it. The credits alone are well worth extra sitting time: a tour through several famous video game worlds. The end is the best reference, with the credits crashing and glitching out with numbers and random sprites visible. This is the infamous “Kill Screen”.

In early games, it was possible to play through the game so far that the game couldn’t keep up. In those days every byte of memory mattered — a whole arcade cabinet had less RAM than some modern watches. In Pac-Man, for example, if you reached level 256, the level counter &mdash the little bit of memory that remembers what level you’re on — would suddenly take two bytes instead of one. But that second byte was bitten out of another part of the game’s memory, overwriting vital software and causing the whole machine to crash.

Did we miss your favorite reference? Something we didn’t spot? Let us know in the comments!

Luke McKinney loves the real world, but only because it has movies and video games in it. He responds to every tweet.

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  • None says:

    The game that Turbo hacks is not a homage to Outrun. It's the Atari game ROADBLASTERS

    • Excellent comment. Both 'Roadblasters' and 'Outrun' were big games, and either one could have served as inspiration. But because the car in question in 'Wreck-It Ralph' didn't fire any weapons and lost when hitting another car --Turbo's--instead of destroying it for points, Luke McKinney decided that the game better resembled 'Outrun.' (Though it is possible to die from ramming people in 'Roadblasters.')

  • beckerist says:

    Pedant: The Konami code is ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A (select/start) -- you forgot the extra Left Right.

    • lukemck says:

      Thanks, you saved me 27 lives! I'm so used to hitting it on the pad I guess I wasn't used to it on the full keyboard. But I left out SELECT on purpose - many uses of the code since the original leave it out. So many, in fact, that even this movie forgets the SELECT, despite using the original NES pad to enter the code!

  • Freddie says:

    The bottom right graffiti tag in your picture says
    "All your base are belong to us."


  • Josh Jones says:

    In game centrel station there is Game called "Fatal Assault" which one of the original names for Mortal Kombat

  • asdfsadf safsafsd says:

    Has gone "Turbo" may be attributed to has gone "Postal" ?

  • At the end when the little girl wins Sugar Rush, Vanellopy has a position wher her fist is out and the girl brofists her. (PewDiePie referance) It reminded me of how many people (including myself) brofist the screen at the end of a video.

    • Placenta says:

      yeah...me too....for the first time i saw it in theater, i was wondering "is that brofist?"....

    • ruben says:

      Uhm.. A brofist is a very common way of greeting, sharing a good experience, or general way of social interaction. It was around long before some random guy started doing it as well. God.. stupid people..

  • 247 says:

    Feel free to dispute these, but I saw a number of Mass Effect references:


    -Calhoun was Shepard
    -Calhoun's late fiance looked like Kaidan
    -The guy who talks about how Calhoun was programmed with the most tragic past ever (Homage to the Colonist/Sole Survivor background) was Vega. (Notice the bulk, face, and hair cut)
    -The guy who gives Ralph a medal could have been Anderson
    -The cy-bugs were reapers
    -The beacon could have been the catalyst
    -Calhoun and her fiance looked like they were shooting things in the Spectre playhouse during one of the 'You're one dynamite gal' scenes.
    -The gun Calhoun used looks a good deal like ME3's Revenant, or perhaps the Widowmaker

    And not related to Mass Effect, there was a scene in Sugar Rush where they were driving on the Rainbow Road.

  • messybin says:

    I'm pretty sure, I saw a luigi, from behind, during a bar scene.

  • Callum Young says:

    I saw another small MGS reference later on: when Ralph and Vanellope break into that factory where they build the racer, there's a guard at his post who's sleeping. While he's sleeping there are floating 'z's above his head - much like the ones that appear over a sleeping enemy's head in all of the MGSs.

  • Luke McComas says:

    I know its not a video game reference but I do believe skrillex makes a cameo at the 30th anniversary party. Cool post dude! I loved the kill screen and the konami code in it

  • Luke McComas says:

    Skrillex also helped with the music and composed a price for the movie so maybe that's why he cameos

  • beth says:

    "the real gamers will jump and swear." lol so if you haven't play MGS, you're not a REAL gamers. smh.

  • Huzefa says:

    When Ralph and Venelope are in the car builder, the car to the left of the one they chose is cybertronian Bumblebee! This movie makes me feel like a little kid. 🙂
    P.S - Does anybody know if the game based on this movie for DS, Wii or 3DS are any good?

  • Spencer says:

    "All your base are belong to us"!!! How can anyone miss that??? I haven't even seen the movie!!!

  • James says:

    Not the most subtle sighting ever but when Ralph goes through the Sugar Rush portal in the Escape Pod he knocks over Sonic the Hedgehog who drops a bunch of rings, I missed that the first time I watched it (watching with my 2 year old, took about 3 hours to get through the whole film!) so thought id mention it.

  • Gary says:

    The Hero's Duty guy running into the wall and continuing to run.
    The animation of the 8-bit characters in Fix it Felix.
    When Ralph knocks over the bushes and they respawn on the floor.
    There's a racing game in the arcade called "First Line" which is blatantly modeled on Daytona.
    The name "Calhoun" is a reference to Barney Calhoun from Half-Life.

  • weeeeee says:

    please tell me "brutally hard Contra" is a joke. i'm 27 now and can still beat that game in only a few blinks of an eye. i do love me some Contra, though.

  • Jeremy says:

    When Ralph is stopped and asked for his name by the surge protector, he gives his name as Lara Croft.

  • Close but no cigar. The The Fix-It Felix game must be based on Rampage not Donkey Kong.


    • not even, in rampage you go around destroying buildings, in wreck-it ralph you play as felix fix-it, not ralph, and the point of the game is to make it to the top of the level where the over-sized bad guy is, just like in donkey kong. you are a big dummy

    • Captain Magnus says:

      Yeah, It is obviously Donkey Kong. I'm not sure you know what Donkey Kong is. The good guy in Donkey Kong just happens to be Mario in his first "Gig", the "fix-it man" with a hammer.

  • Zach says:

    The Zombie is Cyril Zombie from the first house of the dead. Same shirt, same hair, two hatchets. That made me smile.

  • garble says:

    anyone watch the deleted sceans? allot of the stuff was loopy but some of it i feel could have been left in. the "top shelf" reference in the movie is actually from a deleted scean. i feel they may have been a little sad about having to delete the character from them.

  • spdygnlz says:

    I know that the whole Sugar Rush thing is very close to Mario Kart. Did anyone else catch the part where the race starts and one racer just spins her wheels in place? Isn't that what happens in Mario Kart when you hit the accelerate button too early?

  • thiefofketchup says:

    All your base are belong to us is the graffiti opposite Aerith lives in the station.

  • Seth says:

    I think where Ralph wins the medal from Heroes Duty, the guy giving the speech was from Metal Gear Solid 2, where the Marines are giving the speech. Listen closely...

  • bob Jones says:

    The part where the oreos chant may be a reference to the frayed ends of sanity by metallica, just listen and you'll see what i mean