© EA GAMES /THE ISLAND DEF JAM RECORDS 2003

Gamer’s Diary: That Time DMX was the Toughest Boss in a Fighting Game

X really did give it to me

“Y’all really think this cat can handle the Dog?!” — DMX

I will never forget the days DMX whooped my ass in a video game.

It was the Spring of 2003. My brother and I were finally on Spring Break. My best friend Pete came home from college to crash at our place during Spring Break. Perfect time for a bunch of dudes to chill, hang out, and play video games. When we went to GameStop to see if there was anything we could get our hands on for the PlayStation 2, we saw a quick glimpse of the trailer for EA Game’s Def Jam Vendetta, a wrestling/fighting game where you get to select a bunch of famous rappers at the time associated with the Def Jam Records brand and duke it out. My brother and I thought that was the coolest thing we’ve ever seen in our lives. Pete thought it was nonsensical. Rappers in a fighting game? By EA Games of all people? Please.

We practically begged Pete to buy the damn game! He was always looking for something new and weird to try out but EA — for what we have known for most of our lives — have not been the greatest in terms of producing quality games outside of the sports circle. We played the NBA Lives, the Madden NFLs, the FIFAs, the NBA Streets, and the NFL Streets but other than that we never believed EA to actually succeed in making fighting games.

Phew! We were wrong. Def Jam Vendetta was fire!

From stellar graphics to the booming soundtrack and especially the well-designed controls Def Jam Vendetta was arguably one of the best fighting games of the Sixth Generation Console of Games. You want a story?! You can select four characters (essentially four “jobs” like an RPG game): Briggs (a former soldier), Proof (an ex-racer), Tank (a Japanese fighter) and Spider (a New York City DJ). The stories are all the same: you are an ex-street fighter (heh) that left the street fighting world. You bounced after losing to D-Mob (played by Christopher Judge). He is the primary antagonist of the game and ruler of the underground street fighting circuit in New York City. He also stole your beloved girlfriend Angel (played by pop musician and actress Christina Milian). Anyways, your best friend Manny gets into trouble and asks for your help to get out of his jam. That would mean getting back into the street fighting circle called Def Jam Vendetta (no seriously). Once you proceed to help Manny out, you begin rebuilding your street cred to eventually take on the Big Bad himself.

© EA Games/The Island Def Jam 2003

Halfway of playing the story campaign, D-Mob was getting agitated at the progress my brother, Pete and I made after facing off his goons. No matter the fighter or rapper, none of them were a match for us. And why would they be a match for us? I mean Christina Milian is supposed to be the “Protagonist’s” ex-girlfriend and you best believe that we would fight every single opponent known to man to get her back and away from D-Mob’s clutches! We were confident that we could face any rapper and there wouldn’t be much of an issue.

And then we got to the Junkyard and faced off against one Dark Man X, better known to human society as the legendary DMX.

At this point of the story, I was controlling the Protagonist of the story. Pete and my brother were waiting for their turn. Angel gave me a brand new outfit for the upcoming fight and I impressed her with my fresh looks. D-Mob was SUPER PISSED and sent in the Ruff Ryder himself to break every bone in my body as he grabbed Milian away. I figured X would be tough but I was all the more ready for it.

Then I heard the DJ play the “Intro” track to DMX’s classic album It’s Dark and Hell is Hot.

That was when I knew that perhaps mistakes were made by being overconfident.

Anyways the fight started simple enough. I was tossing blows here and there. I made sure to block every time he threw punches and kicks. He continuously beat me into the ground with his moveset. When I tried to counter, he hit me with the “Junkyard Dog.” When I was going for the attack he would counter with his “Dog Bite!” It didn’t matter to me. No matter what I kept going and was confident I’d win the match easily.

But X just wouldn’t stay down. He kept getting back up…a LOT.

My brother even commented “damn, X got stamina.”

Even when I did my “Blazing Move” — a special technique that can give you an edge in a fight — X just wouldn’t stay down. I was like, “how is this motherf*** still standing?! Like, damn X! Stay down!” Then, before I knew it…the unimaginable happened. He hits me with his Blazing Move: the Ruff Ryders Anthem.

Dude grabs me, then kicks me, then he jumps on top of me, flips me over, and breaks my neck! Before I blinked it was over!

It was that way for literally thirty minutes. After my loss, it was Pete’s turn. He lost in an instant. Then it was my brother’s turn and he didn’t last five minutes. We just couldn’t fathom how to beat X. It was like he had our number for every turn.

“Stop acting like a bitch! Dog!” — DMX

After multiple tries, I finally was able to beat X. He was easily the hardest boss fight at that point aside from N.O.R.E. (one day, I will tell THAT ridiculous story). He was frustrating but X was a damn fun boss fight in a freaking fighting game. Stuff like that always made me how fun video games can be, especially when you allow actual people embrace the ridiculousness of it all. X wasn’t part of underground street fighting world. He was a legendary musician that had the world on the palm of his hands. The video game aspect allowed guys like X, Method Man and Redman, Scarface, and the rest to just have fun. That was the beauty of Def Jam Vendetta and its sequel Fight For NY. Ironically, when the series tried to approach the “reality aspect” of fighting in Def Jam Icon it ultimately killed the franchise and we haven’t seen a Def Jam fighting game since Icon.

X didn’t return for Fight For NY due to legal reasons (he claimed that the Def Jam record label weren’t paying him enough money for his appearance in Vendetta). It was a shame because many people loved his appearance in Vendetta. I always dreamed that if EA ever decided to bring back the franchise I would want to be one of the catalysts to bring back the franchise. Unfortunately, there is no word on a new sequel despite some teases here and there.

And of course, the legendary Dark Man X passed away on April 9, 2021.

If the series miraculously came back it wouldn’t feel the same without DMX. He is not only pivotal to Def Jam’s success but he was a larger than life figure that people loved and respected. When he passed, the whole world mourned for a man who showed us that it is okay to show off raw emotion not only in music but in life. He is now at rest and is no longer tormented by the demons he would rap about.

Even in the world of video games, DMX was just cool. Even now after his passing there are very few musicians that can match his magnetic personality. He was a true Ruff Ryder, a legend in every sense of the word.

Rest in Paradise to the Big Dawg and thanks for kicking my ass in a video game.

“Get at me dog! When you’re ready dog!” — DMX

SportsRaid, InDemand, Thrillist, VIBE, hibu, 1&1 Internet, and Amplify, Inc. Penn State Alumnus. Insufferable Blerd. kantinka2@gmail.com for business inquiries

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Kofi Amankwaa Jr.

Kofi Amankwaa Jr.

SportsRaid, InDemand, Thrillist, VIBE, hibu, 1&1 Internet, and Amplify, Inc. Penn State Alumnus. Insufferable Blerd. kantinka2@gmail.com for business inquiries

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