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Top 10 Performances Within a Game

A show within a show is a common phrase used to describe when a story takes place within a larger story, think of Last Action Hero for example. Sometimes the smaller story is a parallel to the larger one, and sometimes it’s just a simple distraction. This is a common literary tool, but it’s also used in other forms of entertainment.

Video games often also have shows within a show. This is in the form of a play, musical, opera, or whatever. Therefore to count them all down, I decided to call them performances within a game. (Also some spoilers, so umm… look out for those.)

Let’s see what the ten best are.


10.) Great Mighty Poo – Conker’s Bad Fur Day

I talked about this scene, boss battle, and game so many times I feel like I’m just repeating myself over and over again. Is this Groundhog’s Day?

Since I talk about this boss fight so often, I’m going to make this section brief. The Great Mighty Poo is one of the bosses from Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Just like his name suggests, he is literally a giant pile of shit, with sweet corn teeth.

During the fight, The Great Mighty Poo sings an operatic song. When he’s bellowing the big notes you throw toilet paper in his mouth to win. Also, check out this fantastic remix of his song or this remix.


9.) Gorgeous My Stage – Mystical Ninja: Starring Goemon

Now this is a game that I rarely get to mention in these lists, but it’s an often overlooked gem. Mystical Ninja: Starring Goemon is a Nintendo 64 action-platformer developed by Konami.

The entire game is about Goemon trying to prevent the Peach Mountain Shoguns from turning Japan into a Westernized theater, so there are a few musical numbers throughout the game, but my favorite is near the end.

At the end of the final area the main villains and their henchmen perform an elaborate musical number before hitting the self-destruct button and running away. It’s such a lovely and humorous moment, I couldn’t help myself but include it.

If you’re wondering… it barely beat I Am Impact!


8.) Klogg is Dead – Skullmonkeys

Skullmonkeys is another game I don’t often get to talk about. It’s a very tough platformer for the original Playstation, and also a sequel to The Neverhood.

A bad man fell from the sky. That man’s name was Klogg. He proclaimed himself king of the skullmonkeys and used them to try and build an evil machine, evil engine number nine, to destroy Klayman and the Neverhood. Then one day he was defeated, and the peasants rejoiced to the song above.

Also if you want another hilarious song from the game, check out the Bonus Room song.


7.) I Want To Be Your Canary – Final Fantasy IX

Not every entry on this list is a musical number, sometimes they’re plays. Just like I Want To Be Your Canary from Final Fantasy IX. In addition, not all entries are little diversions but instead essential to the plot. Thus is the case with this entry.

I Want To Be Your Canary is a fictional play similar to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or possibly King Lear. It’s about a peasant in love with a noble and their struggle to be in a relationship.

In the beginning of the game the play is to be performed by the Tantalus Theater Troupe for Queen Brahne and Princess Garnet. However, the play is just a ruse. The theater troupe is a gang of bandits who use the play as a distraction to kidnap Princess Garnet.


6.) Entire Game – Dynamite Headdy

Sometimes performances within a game can be the entire game itself. Such is the case as with Dynamite Headdy.

All of Dynamite Headdy is a performance within a game, because the entire cast are puppets and the entire game is in front and back of a stage.

Dynamite Headdy is essentially a puppet show. However, one day the evil puppet King Dark Demon decides to take over the puppet show and tell his own story where he is the victor. It’s up to Dynamite Headdy to restore the original show.


5.) Nikki’s Song – Chrono Cross

My second favorite RPG of all time has to be Chrono Cross. It’s such a great game with dozens of playable characters and a story that builds on Chrono Trigger while still being it’s own.

Late in the game you need to defeat six dragons. In order to face and defeat the black dragon you need to first save the island of Marbule. How do you save Marbule? Why with a concert of course!

It makes sense in the game… trust me.

What follows is an amazing rock ballad/opera with the entire world at stake, and a great moment in gaming.


4.) Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure

I just noticed that there are a lot of RPGs on this list. I guess they’re the most obsessed with shows within a show.

Rhapsody is a very easy RPG, and overloaded with cuteness. It’s a musical adventure in that many scenes and all the cutscenes in the game are acted out like they’re a musical. The characters sing and dance, and there are several choreographed numbers. It feels like you’re watching a musical. The song Someday is so cute and cheesy that no one can escape it.

However, my favorite song from the game is “Evil Queen”. This song is sung by the incompetent and vain antagonist of the game, Marjorly. Just like all the great villain songs, it’s about how badass the villain is. Meanwhile, the minions are just exasperated by how vain she is. Also, you will get distracted by the out of sync cat, and I apologize for that.


3.) Intro Opera – Parasite Eve

Now that is how you start a game!

Parasite Eve is a game I recently got into, but knew I’d have to include it on this list. It’s a hybrid game that’s basically a role-playing survival horror action game, and it’s as amazing as it sounds.

The intro opera introduces the player to the protagonist Aya, an NYPD rookie. It also introduces us to Eve, who I’m not going to ruin by describing.

It’s just a great scene because it starts off with a bang.


2.) Entire Game – Super Mario Bros. 3

One of the most popular video game conspiracy theories is that the entire Super Mario Bros 3 game is just one giant stage play. The theory started with this image and since then it has been spreading like wildfire.

I was a skeptic at first too, but the picture makes some really good points. Just for example, the curtain rises at the beginning of the game and falls during the end, the platforms are almost always suspended from the ceiling or bolted to the backdrop, and that strange black and white area at the end of each level was backstage.

It’s not a perfect theory, but it’s so mind blowing that I had to include it in the number two spot.


1.) The Opera of Maria and Draco – Final Fantasy VI

I’m sure you all saw this coming a mile away, I was hoping I’d throw you all off with the other Final Fantasy entry, but I’m sure I didn’t.

The Opera of Maria and Draco is a key plot moment on Final Fantasy VI. Celes has to impersonate and opera singer in order to get an airship from Setzer. During the opera, Locke has to come in and save her from Ultros.

It’s more than just a plot moment, because this opera is such an emotional moment. Whether it’s the scenery, the music, or the events of the opera itself, everyone remembers this scene fondly. It’s a fictional opera, in a video game that managed to move people. That deserves the number one spot.