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Celebrity Deathmatch – PS2

Celebrity Deathmatch – PS2

The box art says it all.  Platform: PlayStation 2

Developer: Big Ape Productions                                                                                                 

Publisher: Gotham Games

Release Date (NA): October 14th 2003

Genre: Fighting

Nerd Rating: 2.5/10

In 1998, MTV debuted a cartoony, violent show known only as Celebrity Deathmatch. If you’re like most people, and can read into titles, you likely figured out that this was a show where celebrities fought to the death. And as ridiculous as that sounds, you’d be correct. The show was funny with some pretty unique elements to it and was overall a blast to watch. But one question lingering in my head is, “Why was there a video game made about it?”

It was a hot day, hotter than most. Some friends and I were driving around the city looking for something to do, and along came my favorite store in the distance. This store sells plenty of books, video games, and music; most of them older and unique! You’d be hard pressed not to find yourself interested in at least something they sell, and boy let me tell you, I WAS. With no effort, I found the game Celebrity Deathmatch for the PlayStation 2 resting on the shelf. “Celebrity Deathmatch?” I thought to myself in disbelief, “How could a game like this possibly even exist?” But exist, it certainly does, and when I brought it home, I just couldn’t wait to play it. I had to see what this game was, and I had to know if it was a hidden gem on the PlayStation 2 or simply just another laughably bad title. The result? The latter. But, lets just go over how this game was even brought to fruition in the first place, shall we? 

The first part of the game tells me a lot in all honesty. This was where I found out the game was developed by Big Ape Studios. I laughed a whole lot at the logo, and wondered who the hell they even were. Turns out, with a tiny amount of research, they were actually the developers of two of my most dreaded childhood games. The PlayStation titles Simpsons Wrestling and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. This was definitely not a good start, especially since I figured this game would share a lot of the same problems the Simpsons Wrestling title would. And it was published by Gotham Games. That gave me some reassurance, because once I looked it up, it turned out that Gotham was a subsidiary of Take Two Interactive famous for titles such as BioShock and Grand Theft Auto, to name a few. Maybe there would be some quality in this game after all, especially since Big Ape did at least have one good title under their belt in Herc’s Adventures. Maybe this game wouldn’t be so bad.

Look at all the cool celebrities you can be! Don't worry! They all play mostly the same!

Look at all the cool celebrities you can be! Don’t worry! They all play mostly the same!

The game loads, you hit that start button, and you’re ready to kill some celebrities! Immediately, I notice that the game only has a few options gameplay wise. You can choose either “Episodes” which I automatically knew was basically a story mode type thing, or “Deathmatch” which, of course, was just the free battle mode. The first thing you’re going to notice is just how many celebrities there are. At 27, the roster is decently sized, and it actually somewhat impressed me at first glance. However, one problem with this game is that they decided it would be funny to make many of them random monsters, such as the Wolfman, and Frankenstein’s Monster. Although this is interesting, I would think most people would be more attracted to the idea of just celebrities beating each other up rather than cheesy, filler, monster characters. And it is very disappointing considering all the celebrities that appeared on the actual show. The gameplay mainly consists of broken mechanics, cheap antics, and not a lot of variety. Each character only has a select few attacks they can realistically do, and after awhile, it all starts feeling the same, much to my disappointment.


The game is pretty easy, it doesn’t really take any skill, and you’ll be beyond bored in about half an hour. The initial shock value of the sheer oddness of what I was witnessing was enjoyable at first glance, but after playing a few matches, the charm and the effect eventually wears off. The game isn’t fun, it isn’t rewarding, and it’s impossible to really enjoy it from a multiplayer standpoint outside of a few matches. After the first few laughs wear off, you’re left with a repetitive game that not only looks ugly but doesn’t play very well either. The lack of a challenge is astonishing, and the fact that the game can be played flawlessly by button mashing just makes the experience unenjoyable and impossible to recommend.

The “episodes” format I mentioned is also entirely underwhelming. Basically it is just 18 matches you have to play out, and then you beat the game. That’s it. Seriously. There is no underlying story or even charming cutscenes. This is not only a direct insult to anyone who loved the show, but it’s also a stab in the wallets of anyone who actually made the poor decision of buying this game new. There was absolutely no effort put into designing a worthwhile fighting game, and that’s the biggest insult of all. It lacks the charm, the humor, and the underlying insanity of the show. While the wackiness of the game does have some charm, as I previously stated, that charm fades quickly and is replaced with repetitive, cheap, and broken mechanics that may inspire a few chuckles but is sad to see in a full fledged game.

Carrot Top is well known for his special diving move, the Carrot Drop.

Carrot Top is well known for his special diving move, the Carrot Drop. 

The unfun, repetitive nature of this game, lack of features, along with its broken, clichéd mechanics suggest that I give this game a Nerd Rating of a 2.5 out of 10. Celebrity Deathmatch nowadays would be an okay downloadable title since it isn’t a bad 30-60 minute time waster, but as a complete PlayStation 2 title, it fails on almost all cylinders. While some of the commentary is decently funny, it, like the rest of the game, is also repetitive, and in the end feels like you’ve wasted your time and money. Speaking of wasting time, the game also has a “create a character” mode where you basically just get to created presets. What a cruel joke.

Written by JMSutherland

J.M. is a traditionalistic writer with a love of video games and storytelling. Born and bred in the heart of Southern Arizona, J.M. grew up on stories around campfires and old cowboy tales. He was also brought up on PlayStation and Nintendo and has high regard for video games as not only gameplay driven experiences, but as the most effective storytelling medium to boot. A study in all things gaming, J.M. considers himself a “video game historian,” knowing everything there is to know about the industry and the history of said industry as well.

When he’s not writing reviews and gaming, J.M. enjoys comics, classic movies, pro wrestling, and generally being a cynical, critical mind. He is also a published poet and lover of fiction writing, so you may find him crafting novels, short stories, and poetry as well.

If any readers have any questions for J.M. please direct them at:


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