I don't think it's any secret that I'm a huge fan of Cartoon Network's The Amazing World of Gumball, and even then, that might be putting it mildly: not only do I still watch reruns almost everyday, but I've watched nearly every episode over several times now, I can recite the script of a lot of my favorite ones by heart, the fan art inspired me to pick up a pen to try drawing some of my own, and I even wrote a blog about my favorite porn to spawn from it! Don't even get me started with how much time I spend looking through the rule 34 as well! I could go on and on about how I pretend to be Gumball whenever I'm fantasize having sex with Nicole Watterson, but that's not what I'm here to talk about.
At least not today. At least, not right this moment.
No, I wanna talk about some of the videogame references The Amazing World of Gumball harbors in its content! Like other shows, pop culture is something that's pretty evident, and this series has paid tribute and homage to a lot of films, books, and other things, like The Lord of the Rings in the episode "The Helmet", or District 13 and The Usual Suspects in "The Remote" (disclaimer: I didn't watch any of those movies). However, being the gamer that we are, I wanna showcase some of the nods and inside-ish references to our culture!
Let's start with the episode with one of the most obvious tributes: you see, The Amazing World of Gumball has a unique and quite diverse cast of characters, ranging from a CGI robot to a talking balloon. The character ripe for videogame references, however, is the one named Ocho. As you can see from the image above, Ocho is a character with a retro game design, and it should be noted that "ocho" means "eight" in Spanish, which is presumably for the 8-bit graphics of back then. Not only is he pretty much a look-alike to one of the enemies of Space Invaders, but there was even a scene in the episode "The Phone" where he attacks Gumball and Darwin from above just like the aforementioned title!
In the episode, Gumball and Darwin gets a cell phone, which Darwin gets addicted texting on. After Gumball is fed up with Darwin's constant dependency, he snatched the phone to mock the person on the other line... which happens to be Ocho. Ocho is established as this pretty nice guy... but also one who is very easily angered. So, when Gumball mocks him and Ocho wants to pick a fight but Gumball won't leave his house, Ocho starts dropping bomb-like pixels at him! Eventually, Gumball and Darwin leave the safety of their house, but Darwin seemingly gets killed trying to reason with Ocho. However, he immediately reappears because he has two more lives left, another allusion to videogames!
Also, during the scene, there's a part where Gumball and Darwin says "Combo Breaker", possibly a reference to Killer Instinct!
Since I'm already talking about Ocho, let's do another reference: the episode "The Tape" is basically a bunch of short videos, simulating kind of like a home movie kids would make. During one segment, Gumball and Darwin decides to spy on Ocho because they want to see how he operates in the real world, and to their surprise, Ocho has this little dance he does to get what he wants. For example, when he's outside of a vending machine and wants something from it, Ocho performs his dance and summons none other than a Coin Block, which he promptly hits for some dollar bills! Funny enough, Gumball tries to hit his head on the block as well, but to no avail.
That isn't all though! While the next scenario isn't very videogame-related (Ocho uses his dance to cheat on his test), the next one is: during a race, Ocho performs the dance once again... and all of a sudden, he starts flashing rainbow colors, and is able to move faster than before. Not only that, but whenever he touches the other people in the race, he is able to knock them over with ease. Sounds familiar? Ocho is using the power of the Stars in Super Mario Brothers games!
Figuring out that Ocho is using cheat codes in real life, Gumball thinks he figured out how to perform the same thing himself. As he performs the dance, the steps he announces seem awfully familiar: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, (shouts) B, A... wait a second, that's the Konami Code! However, Gumball must've done something wrong, as the second he performs the cheat, he starts glitching out!
Apparently, from what I read on the Wiki, Gumball had the code right, but the position wrong. Whenever Ocho did the code, he did the "left, right, left, right" as according to the viewer's perspective (so your left is Ocho's right), whereas Gumball did it from his own perspective (his left instead of yours). I'm not sure if that's true or not, but it seems interesting! Either way, I remember when Grand Theft Auto III warns that using cheats and saving may corrupt the game.
The episode "The Sidekick", at its core, isn't really about videogames: Tobias is borrowing Gumball and Darwin's videogame, and has been making excuses to not return it, leading Gumball and Darwin to scheme for it back. So, it really just provides a context. However, the beginning is pretty cool because since they don't have their videogame, Gumball decides to use their imagination to simulate playing videogames by controlling Darwin with a controller! Do you recognize it?
Yep, that's the SNES controller! Colored differently though, not that grey and black model with purple buttons, but the button placement besides Start/ Select is still pretty true!
Not much to say here, other than when you look at the screen, you can see Darwin (who's off camera) playing game like Space Invader. If you're wondering why Gumball's about to pull the wire, the episode is about Gumball trying to convince his family to live like his friend Idaho and go completely bumpkins. They fail.
This is a pretty passing reference, but one that was pretty noticable to me anyway. Teri, the paper-like character shown here, is known throughout the series for being an "health" freak, so she obsesses over sanitation, germs, and all that stuff. She also likes to think there's something wrong with her all the time, so for this trip to the nurse's office, she's citing some curious symptoms: she tells the nurse that she has an unusual sensation in her stomach in addition to an abundance of drool in her mouth. She then proceeds to tell the nurse her own self-analysis, which she read off the internet: she believes she has the "G-Virus" (Resident Evil, I think), in which she will feast upon others for food, and can only be stopped with destroying the brain!
Turns out, she was just hungry.
Another passing reference: the episode starts out with a school audition for a play about the U.S. presidents, and Gumball decides to spice it up with some pop culture references! The first he makes is Robin Hood, in which he dresses in a green tunic and tells people that he wants to "steal from the rich and give to the poor". He then references Marvel's The Avengers by using Bruce Banner's explanation for why he's able to turn into the Hulk at will ("That's my secret: I'm always angry.").
There might be other ones, but the ones I wanted to point out is when he does a spinning uppercut while shouting "Shoryuken!" (an obvious nod to Streetfighter) before performing a bicycle kick followed by the words "Gumball wins... Fatality!" (definitely Mortal Kombat)
Sorry, the episode is rather recent, so there's not much images.
In the episode "The Flakers", Darwin and Anais, Gumball's sister, are playing a game that should sound very familiar: "The Tale of Zelmore", which is obviously supposed to be a reference of The Legend of Zelda! Driving the point home, the screenshot shows a character with a sword and a shield wearing a pointed cap and a tunic, with the "hearts" health bar system typically seen of the series.
Alright, here's a pretty interesting episode to me as a gamer: in "The Promise", after trying to share a seat on the bus with their friend Banana Joe, who is clearly upset with Gumball and Darwin for all the bad things they did to him, Darwin promises that he will try to earn his friendship back... only for Gumball to say that they weren't. Turns out, Gumball and Darwin are anxiously awaiting for the sequel of "The Tale of Zelmore" to drop! Because Gumball and Darwin promised to play the game together, Gumball wants to stick to the promise despite Darwin's guilty conscious tempting him to help his friend.
To me, this kind of takes me back: I remember being excited whenever they announced sequels to my favorite titles when I was younger and had little cares in the world, and how I wanted to rush home from school to play a newly released game. While I didn't act crazy like they did at the announcement, as they hit refresh every five seconds in hopes of getting new information, I will admit that sometimes, especially when I know ahead of time when a review is supposed to be posted, that I'd hit refresh over and over again because I'm too excited to sleep in wake of the release. In fact, I recently did it for the review of The Order 1886!
Anyway, one more videogame reference for this episode is another obvious one: when Gumball opens the case and takes out the disc, he raises it in the air in the same manner that Link (and crew, thanks to Hyrule Warriors!) would after opening a chest! Also, perhaps the limited edition, gold colored disc is a reference to the gold cartridges of the original NES version?
Since this is more of an audio reference, I can't really show you it, but what happens is this: in the episode "The Treasure", the character's mom lets slip that they used to have more expendable cash than they do now, and curious, they go digging around for information about what happened to it. While they're goofing around in the attic after seemingly stumbling into a dead end, the sunlight shines through the window, reflects off the mirror, and then shines a light at the next clue. As the clue is revealed to the group, a jingle similar to The Legend of Zelda whenever you discover a secret passageway or the next stage of the dungeon plays!
"The Gripes" isn't really one of my favorite episodes, mostly because it was pretty lacking in much of the humor and energy I love the series for, but there are a couple of nice jokes here and there. There's one videogame nod that I think many players have done before though, and might be the joke that would fly over most people's head. The episode is about Gumball "griping" about everything in his life, and complaining about everything, he decides to play a videogame... only to complain about that too. He says, as much as he loves the game, he doesn't have the patience to get into the story, and button-mashes the controller to hurry the dialogue sequence on.
However, like a lot of those games back then, at the end of the conversation, they typically ask you if you would like to hear it all again... and the default selection is typically set to "yes". Since Gumball presses the button one too many times, the whole conversation repeats itself, reminding many gamers of that frustration.
Speaking of "button-mashing", here's another videogame reference: in "The Name", the episode starts with Gumball playing an arcade game with Darwin watching him. Never making it this far into the game, Gumball freaks out about facing the final boss, but Darwin tells him that all he needs to do is to button mash, and he's right: Gumball obtains the high school, and notes aloud "what's the point of learning combos if all you need is button mashing"?
Now, all you fighting gamers out there are probably shaking your head collectively and either facepalming yourselves, or are trying to explain how a button masher would get destroyed. Well, I don't think Gumball was playing a fighting game. When you look at this screen, it looking like he was playing something along the lines of Double Dragon, so a side-scrolling beat-them-up. Now I'm going to have to hear about how button-mashing wouldn't get you through THAT game either.
Actually, Gumball does button mash his way to victory in a fighting game in this episode "The Secret". A little context for the episode first: Gumball and Darwin are locked in a school bathroom, so being the kids that they are, they overreact and act as though they are going to die. Gumball then tells Darwin one of his embarassing secrets, which prompts Darwin to share one of his own. However, before Darwin could divulge, Rocky, the school janitor and handyman, unlocks the door and allows them freedom, meaning Darwin wouldn't need to share that secret anymore.
So, after trying to get it out of him, Darwin just tells Gumball to forget about it over a videogame, but Gumball then button-mashes his frustrations and completely destroys Darwin. The game is a 2D fighter, and when Gumball depletes all of Darwin's character's health bar, the words "End it!" appears on screen. It's a parody or so to Mortal Kombat, and although the example earlier above actually says "Fatality!", that episode took place rather recently (last week) while this episode aired years ago as part of Season 1, Part 2.
"The Refund" is another episode that uses videogames as more of a context to the rest of the episode, though the episode is actually perfectly fine on its own. Anyway, after buying a brand new videogame, Gumball and Darwin are eagerly awaiting to play it... only to realize that it's incompatible with the console they own. I have no idea how they could've made that mistake, as the console they own is a console with a disc-tray and not a cartridge loader like the game they bought is, but it's whatever. Anyway, notice that the cartridge looks an awful lot like one for the SNES... I think. Truthfully, I didn't own a Sega Genesis, so I have no idea if they looked like this as well, but I'm sticking with SNES. Let me know if I'm wrong.
Anyway, does the logo look familiar to you as well? That's because it's similar to the one used for one of the most loved fighting games of all time Streetfighter II. And speaking of...
Saving the best videogame references for last, "The Words" has a segment that's truly for gamers! For context, the episode is about Darwin's inability to tell people how he feels, even though they have really annoying habits. However, after Gumball teaches Darwin how to say what's on his mind, Darwin starts getting a little snippy with others, even going as far as to sing a musical number dissing people! Darwin starts getting a bit too carried away with his free speech, so Gumball challenges him to a duel in order to get him to stop, and this is where the fun starts...
As you can see, the fight starts and is displayed in 16-bit (I think?) graphics, complete with all the fixing of a fighting game: there's a VS loading screen, win markers, a timer is set to unlimited, and even a Special meter displayed at the bottom! The "health" bar, however, is actually an "ego" meter, which, while quite possibly just a coincidence, is what Duke Nukem had in Duke Nuken Forever. Regardless, the way these two characters are going to hurt each other is with insults!
The fight starts with Darwin throwing fireballs at Gumball, calling him "big head" with each one. Gumball, unfortunately, says that Darwin is "cheating" for repeating the same move over and over again, but eventually his meter drops and he is "knocked out", just like when a character loses their health bar. I'm not sure who's victory pose Darwin is mimicking... but I know Mr. Hoffmann would! Anyway, this time around, Gumball decides to strike back with his own insults in the form of hadoukens!
Meanwhile, the characters in the back watching the battle (like the bystanders in every fighting game) who were previously cheering for a fight... realizes that the "blasts" are imaginary, and thus finds the fight extremely boring and decides to bail. As Gumball defeats Darwin this time, Gumball's victory pose is the same as Chun-Li: not only does he hop up and down with "v for victory" on both hands, but he even shouts "Yatta!"
During the start of the final round, Gumball "pauses" the game, thinking that perhaps they don't need to go this much farther. However, when he sees Darwin is still playing by the way he's still performing the actions, Gumball calls out "hey, you unpaused!" and then takes several insults. Furious, Gumball then decides to max out his Special meter and does the ultimate insult: for context, Darwin is Gumball's "adopted brother" after his goldfish one day evolved, so it stings real bad when he tells Darwin that he's "not his brother", that Darwin's "only a pet who grew legs!"
When Gumball wins the fight with an Ultimate Combo, he turns his back to the camera as his pose. I don't know if that's a videogame reference or not, but I want to say that it's Akuma's signature thing to do, as I get hit with that often in Marvel vs Capcom 3. But again, Mr. Hoffmann will correct me in the comments if I'm wrong.
As the final reference, the scene then shows the "Game Over" screen that you see in Streetfighter II, complete with one character usually saying something to the loser, and that countdown timer with 9 or 10 seconds to press start to continue. However, once Gumball sees that he hurt Darwin with that insult (he also blasted him through a wall, which is weird since the "fight" is imaginary, but whatever), he shifts back to the show to tearfully apologize to Darwin, telling him why words can hurt.
Whew, that was a lot of videogame references, huh? Well, since the show has been renewed for two more season, I believe, I think that they're be more videogame references to come! Anyway, if you are a fan of the show, and think I missed something, or spot something I didn't, then let me know down in the comments below!
If you're interested in hearing about my sexual fantasies about Nicole Watterson, ALSO LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS DOWN BELOW. :P