(Last updated 4/20/2022 to add something new after a long, long hiatus, as well as adding in more principal info about each entry.)
Snoop Dogg. One of the most notable rappers of ’90s hip-hop. Lover of weed, gin and juice, and seems like a generally chill dude. Naturally like a lot of popular folks, he’s a gamer. Thus developers have gotten in touch with him to contribute to various video games. From performing songs, to outright appearing in the games themselves, he’s probably one of the most notable musicians to grace video games regularly.
This article came about because I found out recently that Snoop had a new game out. This got me thinking about previous games that Snoop has been in. While it’s not a metric ton of games, it is more than the game history of other rappers like Dr. Dre and 50 Cent. So let’s check out Snoop’s history in video games, because why the hell not?
Note this may not be a complete list. I likely have left out a game or three, so if I did, let me know through the usual channels. I also confess that I’m not an expert on hip-hop stuff, and haven’t played a fair share of these games, so this is me just chronicling everything. That being said, let’s get started.
Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (PS2 – 2001)
The third major entry for the “Realistic Driving Simulator” series got its PS2 debut not long after the console’s launch, and naturally the US release of the game had to forego most of the interesting music made for the game in lieu of licensed tracks. Snoop contributed a song to the game’s soundtrack, called “Dogg’s Turismo 3.” It’s… something alright.
By the time we got to the later installments, the licensed music was usually shoved away for the original soundtrack made by composers in-house at Polyphony Digital. A shame, be cause I would’ve loved a sequel to this.
Gran Turismo 3 was one of my first PS2 games I got, along with such wonderful games like NBA Hoopz and Contra: Legacy of War. And after playing a few hours of it, I dropped off it rather quickly. I never really enjoyed the Gran Turismo games, mostly because realistic sim driving games never were my thing. I don’t want to maintain my cars by changing the oil and tires, I just want to pick a car and drive on a track. It’s why I kinda enjoyed Forza Horizon more, they straddled the line from being a sim racing game and a fun racing game.
True Crime: Streets of LA (Xbox, GameCube, PS2, Windows – 2003)
Developed by Luxoflux and published by Activision, True Crime: Streets of LA was a decent free-roaming action game that mixed gun play, driving and fighting in a facsimile of Los Angeles, CA. Released during the boom of Grand Theft Auto clones, it boasted big stars like Russell Wong, Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman and James Hong. It got a sub-par sequel, True Crime: New York City, and a spiritual successor in Sleeping Dogs. (Highly recommend Sleeping Dogs by the way, it’s an awesome game.)
Snoop Dogg is a playable character in a bonus mode. To unlock it, one has to find 30 Dogg Bones scattered around the city. Once found, “Dogg Patrol” is unlocked which features Snoop stopping criminals around LA, much like Nick Kang does in the main game. You’re given an hour of real time to stop crimes until you die or time runs out, whichever comes first. It’s little more than a score attack, but the novelty of playing as Snoop is worth getting all of the Dogg Bones.
Some of his music is also in the game, along with a bevy of other west coast rap artists. The soundtrack itself got a CD release, with Snoop and several other hip-hop artists of the early 2000s. I bet it’s a good snapshot of 2000s-era hip-hop.
Need for Speed: Underground 2 (Xbox, GameCube, PS2, PC — 2004)
Snoop really likes making songs for video games, doesn’t he? He contributed another song to a driving game, this time a Need for Speed title. And this is probably the most bizarre thing I’ve heard.
It’s a mashup of The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm”, with Snoop contributing rap vocals throughout. This is the second time I’ve heard “Riders on the Storm” mixed with another song or artist, the first being Rapture Riders by Go Home Productions, which mashes up “Riders” with Blondie’s “Rapture.” It’s worth a listen.
I assume that the surviving members of the Doors gave the okay for this mashup, because it’s quite wild. Perhaps it fits within the street culture of Underground 2 and such, but this is just as bizarre as Dogg’s Turismo 3.
Come to think of it, I never played Need for Speed: Underground 2. I wonder if it’s any good.
(Thanks to andlabs and LanceBoyle for pointing this one out! I missed this in the original article’s publication.)
Def Jam: Fight for NY (Xbox, GameCube, PS2 – 2005)
I’ve heard good things about the Def Jam fighting games. I’m afraid I haven’t played them myself, but from what I read, Snoop plays
a prominent role as Crow, the leader of a rival gang who takes over the turf of D-Mob, one of the major characters in the previous game, Def Jam Vendetta. The story goes that your main character works with D-Mob to whittle down Crow’s gang of thugs – which includes such greats as Busta Rhymes, Sean Paul, Xzibit and Danny Trejo – until you take down Crow once and for all.
Update: A few people have pointed out to me that it’s not just a “prominent role,” he’s the main villain. Whoops! My bad on this one. I accept the shame I got for not knowing this. I should totally give these a try sometime.
This game sounds pretty action-packed and amazing. I need to pick it up sometime, along with the other Def Jam games. At least I can understand the demand for a new Def Jam fighting game, or even remastering this classic game, even though there would be immense licensing hurdles in doing the latter.
Rock Band downloadable content (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii – 2010)
Did you know you could buy some of Snoop Dogg’s songs to play in Rock Band? Yeah, this was one of those strange moments in Rock Band that was announced around 2008 or so, and went quietly unnoticed by everyone until Harmonix surprisingly mentioned it out of the blue in 2010.
The songs include “Beautiful,” “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” “Ridin’ in My Chevy,” “Sensual Seduction,” “Snoop’s Upside Ya Head,” “Tha Shiznit,” “That’s tha Homie,” and “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?”
Since a fair share of these songs are sample-heavy or don’t have the Rock Band staples of guitar, bass, and drums – this was released before Rock Band 3, so no keyboards – the songs have been modified slightly. “Drop It Like It’s Hot” adds guitar and bass to the existing track, while “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” is a straight re-record made specifically for the game. Since Rock Band is rated T for Teen, don’t expect to hear a lot of swearing, but the game won’t penalize you if you decide to rap “187 on a motherfucking cop” anyway.
This was originally released as a pack of songs, but due to a sample licensing issue, “Snoop’s Upside Ya Head” got pulled from the store shortly after its release, so now you can only buy the songs individually. That’s okay with me, because all I needed was “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and “Who Am I” anyway.
I can’t tell which is weirder, this stuff, or that one week Harmonix added Jimmy Buffett and Disturbed songs to the Rock Band catalog in the same week. If there’s anything I miss about Rock Band DLC is weird releases like this one. These days it’s just a bunch of indie bands I’ve never heard of with the occasional classic song.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 – 2012)
Apparently Snoop loves his Tekken, so there’s a stage dedicated to him that was available as a pre-order bonus, along with a new song for the combat arena called “Knocc ‘Em Down”. From the brief amount of knowledge I was able to salvage off the web, you can’t buy this as downloadable content, nor does it come with the Wii U version released at its launch late last year. Which really sucks, because I’d totally buy this, and I don’t even play fighting games.
The song also had a music video, and it’s quite… something:
Way of the Dogg (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Android, iOS – 2013)
Now we come to the most recent game (as of the posting of this original article. -ed) featuring Snoop. Complete with his recent Rastafarian look, it’s baffling why they still called it Way of the Dogg. I guess they were worried calling it “Way of the Lion” might attract the wrong crowd or something.
You would think by the screenshots that this would be a fighting game made to cash in on Snoop’s newfound roots. But it isn’t – it’s a rhythm action game. Press the 360 buttons in time with what’s on screen, with an occasional quick-time event to break up the action. Ouendan this isn’t. It’s really bare bones and seems to be nothing but timed button presses.
Outside of having Snoop do voice overs and contribute to the soundtrack, this just looks like a sub-par quick-time event game. I don’t quite understand this, why couldn’t they just make a straight fighting game? This makes me wanna play actual fighting games, or actually good rhythm games. And yet, I’m morbidly curious about this game. I wonder, if it’s any good.
Amusingly this is also available on mobile devices, though they likely no longer work because of newer iOS versions eventually making older apps obsolete. Our Digital Future, everyone.
Call of Duty: Ghosts (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Steam – 2014)
Never thought I’d be coming back to this one: Snoop has now contributed his dulcet tones to Call of Duty: Ghosts, as part of a multiplayer announcer pack. For the price of $3, you can have Snoop tell you that the bomb’s been planted, that you’ve gotten a Care Package, or that a helicopter is coming to rain shizzle down on your entire team.
Using celebrities as multiplayer announcers isn’t new, but this is the first game that used a celebrity that wasn’t also voicing a character in the main campaign. Previous COD games had celebrities in their games like Kiefer Sutherland, Gary Oldman, and Ice Cube, but as campaign characters in addition to being announcers in multiplayer.
I honestly wasn’t expecting this, but since Call of Duty: Ghosts has map packs where you could play as Halloween‘s Michael Myers and Predator, plus character skins of previous Call of Duty titles, I’m not surprised that they’re doing all these weird crossovers and special promotions. Maybe it’s to woo old COD veterans like me to buy Ghosts. Which probably isn’t a bad idea, but definitely one of the more forgettable Call of Duty titles.
They’d do this a few more times, even Ghosts as an Army Drill Sergeant pack voiced by famous military actor R. Lee Ermey. But Snoop fits better into COD.
Call of Duty: Vanguard / Call of Duty: Warzone (Xbox One, Xbox Series, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Battlenet – 2022) / Call of Duty: Mobile (iOS, Android – 2022)
Eight years after being an announcer in Ghosts, he decided to return to the Call of Duty train, and this time you can play as him. Called the “Snoop Dogg Operator Pack,” it gives a playable Snoop Dogg complete with the appropriate weapon skins, finishing moves, and MVP highlights. In Vanguard, he’s part of his own exclusive team, “Executioners.” It’s worth 2400 COD Points — roughly $20-25 USD — and may only be available for a limited time. If any other licensed cross-promotional skins in COD are any indication, anyway.
Vanguard, ostensibly is a COD game set in World War II. And yet, he looks so out of place here so much that it’s goddamn hilarious. To be fair, Vanguard really stretches the idea of World War II so much that it’s practically science fiction, more so than even Cold War last year. I love it, but not really enough to spend the $60 asking price on PC. Unlike the console releases, the PC version doesn’t really have used copies or key seller accounts where I can get it for cheaper.
Call of Duty is best when it tries to be stupid, throwing realism out the window. I’m glad that this skin exists, especially since Warzone has content from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Call of Duty: Vanguard. So you could technically run a Battle Royale Quads match featuring someone dressed as Jigsaw from Saw, John Rambo from Rambo, John McClane from Die Hard and Snoop Dogg. What a time to be alive.
Snoop also makes an appearance in the mobile installment as well, appropriately named Call of Duty: Mobile. Unlike the console big brothers, he’s part of a drop system that requires spending COD points on a random drop, where you can get Snoop, or a gun in the game that has microphones and boomboxes. Mobile is a nice hodgepodge of past COD games, but I can’t really get to grips with playing on a touchscreen. And the one time I tried using an Android emulator, I got temporarily banned for a day, so it might be a while before I give it a try, and by then Snoop likely will be gone from Mobile. Oh well.
Honestly, I love when famous stars branch into video games. They can become memorable actors with famous characters attached to them, or be something that we laugh at in retrospect, like having Kiefer Sutherland voice a soldier in Call of Duty: World at War. I praise Snoop’s historizzle into video games, and I hope he does more of it.