8 Classic Video Game Characters Who Showed Up In The Pixels Trailer

This week, Sony Pictures released a trailer for Pixels, an alien invasion flick in the same vein as Independence Day and War of the Worlds. However, unlike most extraterrestrial attacks, which are carried out by technologically advanced monsters or chrome-coated robots, Pixels' aliens are famous faces from our digital past.

Check it out:

The trailer is less than three-minutes long, but it's stocked to the rafters with classic video game characters, and we've scoured each frame to find every single retro gaming reference.

So, here are the eight classic video game characters who showed up in the Pixels trailer.



After the trailer delivers a bit of back story, the very first visual is Galaga's flagship, and a never-ending stream of enemies is pouring out of the vessel.

The flagship looks more ridged than the in-game version. In the video game, the galagas have flapping wings and can capture the player's ship using a tractor beam. But after destroying the offending flagship, the player's vessel is returned, which means that he has double the firepower.

It would be nice to see Pixels throw in a tractor beam sequence. Though, I suppose Adam Sandler would need to pilot a spaceship for that scene to work, and he doesn't strike me as a dude who has a lot of spaceflight experience.

Prove, me wrong, Sandler.



If you watched the trailer and didn't see Pac-Man, you may want to consult one of those eyeball experts that referees are frequently encouraged to visit. Pac-Man is the star of this particular trailer. We even get to watch him take a bite out of his real-life creator, T?ru Iwatani.

Mr. Iwatani worked on a number of video games during his 40 years at Namco, but Pac-Man will always be the franchise that he's famous for. He retired from development in 2007, after completing Pac-Man Championship Edition, so he obviously has plenty of time to guest star in Adam Sandler movies.


Pac-Man's Ghosts

If you were hoping to see Pac-Man's pixilated enemies, I have some bad news; they don't actually appear in the trailer, and they might not show up in the full-length movie. But Sandler's crew takes a page from the Italian Job's playbook and customizes four Mini Coopers for a showdown with Pac-Man.

These "ghosts" are equipped with some kind of top-mounted turret that looks similar to Google's street view camera. Though, I'm assuming they'll do more than take a series of panoramic pictures while Pac-Man swallows them.


Donkey Kong

If you were born after 1994, you're probably more familiar with Donkey Kong's friendlier persona. When Donkey Kong Country hit the market, Mario's oldest nemesis got a public relations makeover. But back in 1981, DK was a barrel-throwing bully.

Kong didn't have much to say during the Pixels trailer, but he did throw a barrel of explosives at Kevin James, which is something that a lot of us have fantasized about. And it's hard to tell how much trouble DK will cause for Sandler's crew, but it's probably safe to assume that he'll be one of the central villains.

He's far too iconic to be used impetuously and tossed aside.



The flying ostriches from Joust can be seen a few times during the trailer, but the best look happens during this Washington Monument clip. Apparently, the high-flying knights have a vendetta against pointy monuments, and they've enlisted a handful of other enemies to take it down.

I have no idea how Sandler will handle the jousters, but I desperately hope that he rides an actual ostrich at some point in the movie. And if that ostrich has been augmented with robot wings, I wouldn't complain.


Space Invaders

The space invaders are hard to spot on first viewing. Lucky for you, I've watched this trailer 50 times.

The invaders are visible in the background during the Washington Monument sequence. And, earlier in the trailer, I believe the blasts from their downward-facing canons can be seen destroying a city street.

If I were writing a film about a video-game-based alien invasion, including some kind of Space Invader sequence would be a no brainer. But I'm glad that the reference isn't being overplayed. There are plenty of other pre-1982 video games to draw from, so there's really no reason to clamor for an easy gag.



I really love Pixels' attention to detail during the Centipede sequence. In the game, when you destroy one of the centipede's segments, it's transformed into a mushroom. You can see this happening when Adam Sandler and Josh Gad are machine-gunning a rapidly descending centipede.

The filmmakers even swap the mushrooms' color palette at some point, which signifies a level change in the arcade game.

Fun fact: Centipede was one of the first video games to be developed by a female, an Atari programmer named Dona Bailey. She hoped the game's pastel color scheme would attract female gamers, and it worked.



A few people have tried to convince me that the Taj Mahal-hating paddles are from Pong, but those people aren't paying attention. We're obviously looking at the Vaus ships from Arkanoid.

In Patrick Jean's version of Pixels, the paddles are far less deadly, deleting a single brick with every strike (though, they still manage to take down a suspension bridge). However, in Sandler's film, the Arkanoid enemies easily destroy large chunks of the Taj Mahal. Within seconds of the first impact, the building is crumbling.