Body Harvest is a goldmine of pop culture and historical references

by Martin Watts, 19 December 2018

Adam Drake uses the sun shield - possibly a pop culture reference to the shield of Perseus in Body Harvest for N64?

Video games have a long history of including hidden messages, jokes and references.

When done well, they’re a nice little touch that can raise a smile and make the game you’re playing that extra bit special.

Adam Drake looks over his shoulder in Body Harvest's intro cinematic.

Plenty of N64 games feature hidden Easter eggs or subtle references. But few of them contain anywhere near the same amount you’ll find in DMA Design’s Body Harvest.

From start to finish, it’s absolutely packed with nods and references to historical events and pop culture. Some are well known. Others are incredibly obscure.

Using a tank against a shield generator in Body Harvest for N64.

We’ve compiled a list of all the references we could find in Body Harvest. While many of these are clearly intentional, others may just be us trying too hard to make a connection.

Spoiler warning: the following article goes into considerable detail about key moments and events from the game. Stop reading now if you would like to discover these pop culture and historical references for yourself.

Want to know whether Body Harvest is still fun to play today? Read our spoiler-free review.

Flying a helicopter in Body Harvest for N64.

Body Harvest pop culture and historical references

Trumpton

The very first pop culture reference in Body Harvest is actually pretty obscure outside the United Kingdom.

Trumptonas Town is one of the first settlements you come across in Greece 1916 – the first level of the game.

Trumptonas Town from Body Harvest for N64.

This name is a reference to Trumpton, a British stop-motion children’s television series from 1967.

The show follows the lives of various people who live in a fictional town of the same name.

The town’s fire brigade plays a key role in many of the episodes, and even has its own charming roll call.

Much like its source of inspiration, Trumptonas Town also has a fire station. At one point, you have to take a fire engine to put out a blaze in a neighbouring town.

Indiana Jones and the Masters of the Universe

Body Harvest features lots of caves, tunnels and even ancient temples for you to explore. These usually feature hidden secrets and supplies to help you in your adventure.

Many of them are also home to the skeletal remains of explorers who met an untimely end. They bear a striking resemblance to none other than Indiana Jones.

A skeleton that looks like Indiana Jones in Body Harvest for N64.

Interestingly, you can search their bones – although not a single one of them actually has any items to give.

Instead, all you get is an eerie, cackling laugh that sounds an awful lot like Skeletor – the arch-nemesis of He-Man.

Humphrey Bogart

During the third stage of Body Harvest’s Java 1941, you have to enlist the help of a man called Bogie. He gives you his boat in exchange for the sacred Rua-Rua idol from a nearby temple.

This character is clearly based on legendary film and stage actor Humphrey Bogart. His ship is called the Javanese Queen – a very blatant reference to the eponymous boat featured in the 1951 film The African Queen.

Adam Drake asks to use the Javanese Queen in Body Harvest's Java level.

Bogie resembles Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart’s character in the film), and even wears a very similar outfit.

Sadly, the Javanese Queen doesn’t look anything like the real African Queen.

Image credit: Elmschrat [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

Upon meeting Bogie, the first thing he says to you is actually a paraphrase of a line from the classic 1942 film Casablanca:

"Of all the boathouses in all the world, you had to walk into mine." - Casablanca film reference in Body Harvest for Nintendo 64

“Of all the boathouses in all the world, you had to walk into mine.”

Casablanca’s Rick Blaine (Bogart’s character) utters a similar line in one of the film’s most memorable scenes:

Casablanca is also set in 1941 – the same year as Body Harvest’s Java level.

Moon landing conspiracy

Did the Americans really go to the Moon? Maybe not, according to Body Harvest.

The third stage of the America 1966 level mainly takes place in a military base. Located, in a remote desert, this top-secret installation is Area 51 in all but name.

The film set for staging the Moon landing as seen in Body Harvest's America 1996 level.

It’s here that you stumble upon a film set featuring the Apollo Lunar Module against a starry backdrop.

Yep, the moon landing never happened.

If you dig around the same building, you’ll find further evidence to corroborate this. There’s a secret document detailing that everything is ready for the “staged event” to go ahead.

Given the moon landing didn’t occur until 1969, it would seem it took the President of the United States three years to approve the hoax.

That, or the US ended up finding a way to do it after all.

Trabant

Siberia 1991 is home to some pretty solid military equipment. It also has the Vladacar, a clapped-out automobile that struggles to travel across even the flattest terrain.

This shoddy vehicle sports a similar design to the Trabant – a car produced in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

Image credit: ignis [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5], from Wikimedia Commons

The Trabant was manufactured from 1957 to 1991. Incredibly, it underwent very few design changes during this time.

It helps to explain the Vladacar’s almost out-of-place appearance in Body Harvest’s version of 1991.

Driving the Vladacar in Body Harvest for N64.

For all its faults, the Vladacar can at least take a surprising amount of fire from enemy bugs.

Although it begs the question how the aliens almost wiped out Earth in the first place?

Colonel Murtz

Colonel Murtz is a name you hear a lot as you make your way across Java’s hazardous terrain.

According to reports, he’s gone rogue and adopted “unsound” methods due to catching swamp fever. He’s even stolen a torpedo boat to single-handedly take on the bugs.

If this military madman sounds familiar, that’s because Murtz is inspired by Apocalypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz (played by Marlon Brando).

By the time you find Murtz, he’s too ill to do anything other than sit by the fireplace. He tasks you with sourcing medicine from a nearby witch.

Colonel Murtz echoes Colonel Kurtz's line from Apocalypse Now in N64 game Body Harvest.

In exchange for the medicine, he gives you the torpedo boat.

But not before uttering Kurtz’s famous final words from the film.

Shep the Blue Peter dog

Body Harvest’s Siberia 1991 level contains an endearing reference that will resonate with British people who grew up in the 1970s.

A noticeboard inside a house contains a memorial to “Shep”. While not explicitly made clear, we’re pretty sure this refers to Shep the Blue Peter dog.

Blue Peter is long-running children’s television series in the United Kingdom that first aired in 1958. In fact, it’s still on TV today!

A hidden reference to Shep the Blue Peter dog in Body Harvest's Siberia stage.

The magazine-format show is renowned for having had many pets over the years.

Shep was a border collie that first appeared on the show in 1971, and was arguably the most famous of Blue Peter pets.

Border collie dog

Despite his fame, Shep’s reference in Body Harvest is slightly inaccurate – perhaps deliberately so.

Shep lived from 1971 to 1987, whereas the game gives his lifespan as 1972 to 1986.

Captain Ahab and the War of the Worlds

Things aren’t looking for good for the humans in the final stage of Java 1941.

The bugs have cut off access to Blackness Harbor with a giant wall. And there doesn’t seem to be a way through.

That’s until you discover a rusty old warship docked at a nearby port.

The Pequod in Body Harvest N64 - a pop culture reference to Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

Inside you meet Captain Ahab, a character who’s named after the main protagonist in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

He’s solely focused on taking out the alien barricade – much like how the Ahab was obsessed with hunting the famous white whale in the original novel.

Body Harvest’s Ahab asks you to help by fixing the ship’s fuel lines. By doing this, you learn the ship is called the Pequod. This is the name of Ahab’s vessel in Moby Dick.

Ahab then sails the ship full steam into the alien barrier. Thankfully, he lets you get off first.

Captain Ahab decides to ram the alien barrier with the Pequod in Body Harvest for N64.

This moment resembles the actions of the HMS Thunder Child in H. G. Wells’ novel, The War of the Worlds.

In Wells’ story, the Thunder Child is a ironclad torpedo ram. And it quite literally rams one of the invading martian tripod, cutting it down in the process.

Red weed

Areas of the map that are heavily infested with bugs often sport an unearthly look. This could be another nod to H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds.

In the novel, the Earth quickly becomes infested with the “red weed” not long after the martians invade.

Native to Mars, this extraterrestrial fauna rapidly grows near water – to the detriment of Earth’s plant life.

The transformed terrain near an alien processor in Body Harvest - possibly a pop culture reference to H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds

It doesn’t seem to have the same effect in Body Harvest. Although that’s probably because the game’s sparse environments don’t feature much in the way of detail.

Star Wars

Body Harvest’s sci-fi setting makes it an ideal candidate for Star Wars references. And there are certainly a few for you to find.

The first one pops up while exploring Java in 1941. The village where you find Colonel Murtz residing is known as Mosy Isle.

Mosy Isle village - a reference to Star Wars' Mos Eisley in Body Harvest for N64.

This is clearly a play on Mos Eisley, the dangerous Tatooine settlement from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.

Mosy Isle village is similarly described as a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

During Body Harvest’s final level set on an alien comet, your kidnapped sidekick Daisy messages you for help.

Daisy Hernandez messages Adam Drake, saying he is her only hope in Body Harvest's alien comet stage.

“Help me Adam! You’re my ONLY HOPE!”

This echoes Princess Leia’s words in her holographic message to Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Body Harvest’s final Star Wars reference also relates to the wisened Jedi master.

Upon defeating your rival Tomegatherion on the alien comet, he warns you that striking him down will only make him more powerful.

To be fair, he’s not wrong. He comes back as an enlarged, heavily mutated monster who’s far from easy to kill.

Tremors

The second stage of Body Harvest’s America 1966 level takes place in a secluded desert region.

At first glance, it seems like a welcome change from the chaotic city environment that comes before it.

That’s until you realise it’s swarming with giant underground worms.

These ghastly creatures behave and look like the Graboids from the Tremors film series.

Nobel Peace Prize

A journal you find in Siberia’s chemical factory makes reference to someone winning the Mabel Peace Prize. This sounds like a knock-off version of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Father Ted

Java 1941’s Craggy Island is where you meet the beleaguered military radio operator.

It’s also a reference to British sitcom Father Ted. The show is set on Craggy Island, a fictional island off the west coast of Ireland.

A Body Harvest pop culture reference to Father Ted

Men in Black

There’s a house not too far from the military base in Body Harvest’s America 1966 stage.

Inside you meet a hillbilly who tells you he’s witnessed all kinds of crazy things taking place at the base.

Hillbilly warns Body Harvest's Adam Drake about the military base in the America 1966 level.

If you then explore his basement and return upstairs, he’ll have disappeared and in his place is a man in black.

This agent warns you to stay away from the base, but doesn’t try to harm or otherwise stop you.

The film Men in Black, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, released a year before Body Harvest in 1997.

However, whether it inspired this pop culture reference is hard to say. That’s because the idea of there being actual men in black goes as far back as the late 1940s.

The man in black finally trusts Adam Drake in Body Harvest for Nintendo 64.

You meet the same man in black when you get inside the military base.

If you defeat the alien processor there, he’ll finally trust you and let you use a powerful alien spacecraft.

Grey aliens

Where’s there a UFO, there’s aliens. And the military base in Body Harvest’s America level has plenty of them.

These aliens crash-landed at the base, resulting in almost all of them dying. They sport the classic grey look used in many media to depict aliens.

Grey aliens in test tubes in Body Harvest's military base

As you explore the base, you discover their bodies in giant test tubes and on autopsy tables.

This parodies the Roswell UFO incident that took place in 1947.

This event involved a US Army Air Forces nuclear test surveillance balloon crashing on a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico.

Alien autopsy in Body Harvest for the N64.

Many people believed (and still believe) this was in fact an extraterrestrial spacecraft, which the US government subsequently covered up.

In Body Harvest, the military are keen to do the same. Although the fact they let you freely move through the base suggests they’re not trying very hard.

You eventually come across a surviving alien. After equipping a special translator, the being tells you that the bugs devouring Earth also harvested their world to extinction. Yikes!

A grey alien warns Adam Drake about the harvesting bugs in Body Harvest for Nintendo 64.

Zombies

Gaming has something of a love affair with zombies, and Body Harvest is no exception.

Upon arriving in Siberia 1991, you quickly discover things aren’t as they should be. A green fog coats the land – and it’s turning everyone into zombies.

Body Harvest's Daisy Hernandez comments that Siberia is crawling with zombies.

Despite being undead, you still can’t let the bugs harvest the zombies. At the same time, they’ll try to eat your brains if you let them get too close. And unlike zombies in other media, a bullet to the head doesn’t kill them.

So, what’s the solution? You’ve got to grind them up using a combine harvester of course!

This unorthodox moment is actually referenced in another game – none other than Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

In the mission “Body Harvest”, protagonist Carl Johnson must steal a combine harvester from a survivalist farm. Similarly, you can use the vehicle to grind up enemies. How delightful.

A zombie chases Adam Drake in Body Harvest for N64.

Why is Body Harvest referenced in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas?

Well, Rockstar North, the development studio behind GTA: San Andreas was originally known as DMA Design – the studio that made Body Harvest.

The box art for PS2 game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

DMA Design was renamed to Rockstar North after publisher Take-Two Interactive purchased the studio in 1999.

Body Harvest shares many gameplay similarities with Grand Theft Auto III and later games. As a result, it’s considered a spiritual predecessor to these wildly successful games.

The DMA Design logo, as seen in the developer splash screen for Body Harvest on N64.

Zhivago Bears

The town of Zhivago in Body Harvest’s version of Siberia is clearly proud of its local sports team. The Zhivago Bears have won the foosball World Series five years in a row.

They also happen to have a very similar name to the Chicago Bears, a US National Football League team.

Peter Griffin!?

This pop culture reference is coincidental rather than deliberate.

There’s a radio station just outside Zhivago with an operator who bears an uncanny resemblance to Family Guy’s Peter Griffin. He’s even wearing the same clothes!

Family Guy first aired in 1999, whereas Body Harvest released in 1998 after a delayed development. So it’s highly unlikely there’s an actual connection here.

Have we missed something?

Is there a pop culture or historical reference in Body Harvest that went completely over our heads? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.