How 10 Classic Video Games Got Their Names

Legendary games like ‘The Legend of Zelda’ and ‘Final Fantasy’, turning into blockbuster video game series, don’t just come out of thin air. Inspiration is in those games at every step and turn, including the name, which usually has a story behind it.

Donkey Kong

Everyone is pretty sure that Kong, a Japanese nickname for ape, has a direct link to the 1933 classic movie King Kong. The first part of the equation? Only rumors and myths. One version says that someone suggested Monkey Kong, but a misunderstanding let to the name donkey. Others say Shigeru Miyamoto, the Nintendo god, was looking up for words in a dictionary, finding that donkey is synonymous for stupid and stubborn.


The inspiration to one of the greatest first person shooters ever was actually the movie The Color of Money starring Tom Cruise and Paul Newman. When someone in the pool hall walks up to Vincent, Cruise’s character, asking him ‘Whatcha got in there?’ pointing at Vincent’s case, he answers ‘Doom’, and goes on to wipe the floor with that guy, just like Id software believed they’ll do with the gaming market once it hits the stores.

Final Fantasy

The game’s designer, Hironobu Sakaguchi, left college in the middle of getting his degree to pursue his dream of becoming a video game developer. Things weren’t going great for a couple of years, and he decided that an ambitious attempt at making an RPG game will be his final attempt before heading back to school, unless it would strike gold, hence Final Fantasy.

Grand Theft Auto

The original name for the first game in the GTA series was Race ‘n’ Chase, with the game giving you an option to play as a cop who chases gangsters around. But then they decided to stay with criminals only, and so a serious blamed for the destruction of youth across the world was born.


Halo began as real-time strategy game based on the planet Solipsis, later turning into a first-person shooter, which went through many names – Star Maker, Star Shield and Hard Vacuum. Eventually, they went with the short and simple Halo, inspired by novelist Iain M. Banks and his Culture series, a man made ring.


A combination of two words – Metro, because the game takes place underground, and Android, which is what Samus Aran, the protagonist, seems to be.


The concept of a pizza missing a slice going in a maze and eating dots led to the original Pakkuman, inspired by the Japanese Paku-Paku, which is similar to chomp in English. The translation into English? Puck man, but video arcades were afraid of vandalizing the P into an F, so they settled for Pac-Man instead.


Alexey Pajitnov decided to combine two words into one with Tetris. Tennis, his favorite sport; and tetromino, which is a geometric shape comprising four squares.

Wolfenstein 3-D

The game that began the first person shooter trend was actually a rip off from an 80’s game for the Apple IIe which was called Wolfstone, also involving a person running around a Nazi castle, looking for secret plans to steal and get out of there alive, and was probably the first (or one of the first) stealth games ever made. Lucky Id software. The company who made Wolfstone went out of business in the late 80’s, so there was no one to stop them from using the name.

The Legend of Zelda

Pretty simple here. The princess who Link is trying to save was named after the wife of author Scott Fitzgerald, just because the creator of the game liked the sound of it. Link was supposed to be called Chris, but Shigeru Miyamoto decided that being the link between the player and the fantasy world, he needs to be appropriately named.