The bartender game which appears, Tapper (1983), was controversial in real life. The game featured a bartender serving mugs of Budweiser beer. The game was intended for adults to play in real life bars, but eventually made its way into kid-friendly arcades where parents became upset at the content. Consequently, Bally Midway recreated a nearly identical version called Root Beer Tapper, with a soda jerk character instead of a bartender. The version in Wreck-It Ralph combines the bartender character of the original with the root beer of the later version.
This is the first Disney animated film to show real guns and gun violence since Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), albeit the guns are portrayed as video game weapons, and are never used on "real" people the way they where used in Atlantis.
Disney first began developing an animated film about the world of video game characters in the 1980s. At that time the project was called "High Score" and in the 1990s was titled "Joe Jump." In the 2000s, when the movie was finally pushed forward, the first two months of story development focused on Fix-It Felix Jr. as the main character.
Early in production it was considered to keep all characters in their native graphic quality, essentially making Ralph look 8-bit the entire time. This was deemed too difficult for making Ralph a sympathetic, lovable character.
In the scene of Fix-It Felix Jr's party, Ralph is enraged by Gene and smashes the cake. The cake splatter around the room and on Ralph resembles the shape of an alien in "Space Invaders", an iconic arcade game released in 1978.
The graffiti in Game Central Station contains many inside jokes and references to famous video games. One says "Aerith Lives," in reference to Final Fantasy VII (1997). Another says "All your base are belong to us," from the infamously poor English translation of the game Zero Wing (1989).
The character Ralph and his game "Fix-it Felix Jr." draw inspiration from Donkey Kong (1981). Both games are about a handy-man character climbing up and around a building structure toward the villain on top. (Mario was a carpenter in the DK games before changing to a plumber.) The villains Donkey Kong and Wreck-it Ralph are both large angry characters with wide hands that toss down objects at the hero. Additional inspiration comes from Rampage (1986), where players played as various monsters (including Werewolf Ralph) that smashed buildings with their hands and plucked characters from the building and threw them. The goal was to destroy as many buildings as possible without being killed.
Several popular video game characters make an appearances in this movie, including but not limited to: M. Bison, Zangief, Ken, Ryu, Chun Li and Cammy from the Street Fighter (1987) Series; Q*bert (1982) and his cast of enemies; Pac-Man (1982) and the orange ghost Clyde; Bowser from the Super Mario Bros. (1985) series; and Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) and Dr. Eggman.
In the beginning of the movie when Ralph first enters Felix's apartment there is a waterfall sculpture in the apartment on the left side of the screen. Classic gamers will recognize the speed, size, and pattern of the waterfall as being almost identical to the waterfall featured on the start screen of the classic NES game "The Legend of Zelda."
During the storyboard process Sugar Rush contained many more mini-games spread throughout the Kingdom that Ralph and Vanellope had to play to win parts for their car. This was all condensed into the bakeshop scene and many Sugar Rush characters were left unused.
There is a piece of graffiti on the right side of the tunnel which reads "Leerooooy", a nod to Leeroy Jenkins, a World of Warcraft (2004) player who obtained Internet fame from a video of him running head-long into battle while shouting his own name.
The Sugar Rush racer Minty Zaki is a tribute to Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, of whom John Lasseter (executive producer of the film) is a huge fan. Lasseter hosts introductions for the DVDs of Miyazaki films.
Wreck-It Ralph (2012) won five Annie Awards for Best Animated Feature, Director, Music, Voice Acting (Alan Tudyk as King Candy), and Writing in an Animated Feature Production. It is the first time an animated feature film made by Walt Disney Animation Studios has taken the top prize at these awards presented by the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, since Mulan (1998) prevailed in the 1998 awards ceremony.
The guns used by the soldiers in Hero's Duty make the same sound effects as the laser weapons seen in the opening scene of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Also when King Candy opens the secret vault that contains the game's code, the exact same sound effect of the Cyberdyne vault opening can be heard. Gary Rydstrom was the sound designer on both films.
The donut-shaped police who harass Ralph in the "Sugar Rush" game are named Wynnchel and Duncan, a sly reference to two U.S. donut chains: Winchell's Donut House and Dunkin' Donuts. Also, when Ralph meets King Candy, he asks, "Who are you? The guy that makes the donuts?" - a reference to a series of 1980's commercials that featured a harried Dunkin' Donuts baker going to work every morning, while grumbling, "It's time to make the donuts."
Sonic the Hedgehog appears in the movie when Ralph is first walking through in Game Central Station as an announcer on the screen monitors warning video game characters not to die outside their own game. Sonic is also at the party celebrating Fix-it Felix's 30th anniversary and is seen briefly getting hit by Ralph's escape pod as it barrels uncontrollably through Game Central Station, as well as a guest of the wedding at the end.
In early production, Dr. Wily, the villain of the Mega Man game series, was included in the storyboard process in the "villain support group" scene, but was ultimately written out due to pacing reasons.
When Ralph is looking in the lost and found for a medal, he pulls out an exclamation point and the sound from the video game Metal Gear Solid is heard. This is the same exclamation point and sound heard in the game when you are spotted by the enemy.
Wreck-It-Ralph's game drew inspiration from classic games Donkey Kong and Rampage. In Rampage, you can choose between three monsters as your character to reign destruction on buildings and cities. One of those characters is a giant werewolf named Ralph.
In the shot showing the characters in Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (1991) deciding to go to Tapper (1983) for some drinks, the cabinet next to the Street Fighter machine is a "Dragon's Lair" machine - a 1983 game that used a Laserdisc player to give high quality video. The animation in Dragon's Lair (1983) was provided by the group founded by Don Bluth, a former Disney animator.
Jerry Buckner & Gary Garcia, a songwriting duo, had a very popular novelty-rock hit called "Pac-Man (1982) Fever," in 1982. Though Garcia passed away in 2011, his partner Buckner wrote a new song for the Wreck-It Ralph soundtrack under the Buckner & Garcia name called "Wreck-It, Wreck-It Ralph."
Hidden Mickey: In an exterior shot of Litwak's Family Fun Center, a billboard is visible advertising for "Double U Dee's", with a dancing mouse mascot. "Double U Dee's", of course, is another way of saying "WD's", or "Walt Disney's".
Director Rich Moore was inspired to create the character of Vanellope after reading the memoir "The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee" by Sarah Silverman and eventually cast Silverman as the character.
The sheriffs release "devil dogs"; this is a cream-filled devil's food cake from Drake's brand snacks. It is also a long time nickname of U.S. Marines supposedly given to them during WWI by the German Army.
In the background while Felix and Calhoun are talking before entering Sugar Rush, there is graffiti on the wall behind him which says "Sheng Long Was Here" which is a reference to a hoax about Street Fighter character by that name.
King Candy's line to Ralph, "you wouldn't hit a guy with glasses, would you?" Is a common movie trope dating back at least to Groucho Marx or the Three Stooges. A more recent popular occurrence is in the original Batman movie with Jack Nicholson as the Joker.
Many people who saw the initial material for this film mistook it for a pixar film, and few people initially believed the in house Disney animation studio was the one's making it, and the pixar film released that year was mistaken for the in house Disney film.
There is an arcade cabinet called FATAL ASSAULT, a completely fabricated game that features cameos by Tiny The Dinosaur and Lefty The Octopus from Meet the Robinsons (2007). Tiny is also seen in the background of the Surge Protector station.
The film has cameo appearances from the video game Street Fighter (1987), a video game published by Capcom. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Capcom published video games of several Disney TV shows and movies such as DuckTales (1987) and Aladdin (1992).
Outside of King Candy's castle, Oreo soldiers are shown marching outside and chanting "Or-e-o, Or-eee-o!" This is a direct reference to a scene from "The Wizard of Oz," in which the wicked witch's soldiers are marching outside of her castle, chanting, "Oh-we-ho, yo-ho!" The chants in the two scenes end up sounding remarkably similar.
The game Fix-It-Felix Jr. is based on the arcade game Rampage (1986), where players played as various monsters that smashed buildings with their hands and plucked characters from the building and threw them. The goal was to destroy as many buildings as possible without being killed.
The name Fix-It comes from the 1990 LucastArts game Night Shift (1990), where the two playable characters are Fred & Fiona Fixit. The game itself was originally called Fixit but re branded with a new name at the suggestion of LucasArts.
The start of the mini-game where Ralph and Venelope build a car, resembles the 1983 ZX Spectrum game "Cookie", where the object of the game is to knock flying ingredients into a mixing bowl while knocking the flying trash into trash cans
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
King Candy's safe is secured with a Nintendo Entertainment System controller. The password he enters (UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, START) is a common cheat code used by game developer Konami in most of their titles, most famously in the game Contra. That's why this cheat code is widely known as "Konami Code". Some websites even adopted this code to hide Easter Eggs.
The "glitch" shown in the Walt Disney logo at the end is intended to look like the infamous "Pac-Man Bomb Screen", a bug that manifests itself when reaching the 256th level in the original Pac-Man (1982) arcade game.
The character Vanellope is depicted as a glitch in the game who is not supposed to play in the game. This is actually very common in video games. Developers will often create characters and other elements but decide not to include them in the end. It is actually more trouble to delete the code that contains the character because it may cause a chain reaction that glitches into other things, so the characters are simply "locked away" into the code.
During the time-lapse sequence near the start of the movie, the audience is shown the various different arcade machines being installed and moved around as the years pass. The Sugar Rush machine is installed to the right of screen, and Vanillope can be seen on the side of the cabinet, exposing King Candy's lies about her from the start of the movie.
Ralph describes Sugar Rush as a "candy-coated heart of darkness." Joseph Conrad's novel 'Heart of Darkness' described a trip into a foreign land, where a soldier had conquered and made his personal territory (like Turbo did with Sugar Rush). The same novel also served as the inspiration for the film Apocalypse Now.
Vanellope can also be seen on the front of the Sugar Rush Cabinet at 21 minutes into the movie, shortly after Ralph makes the young girl lose her game in Hero's Duty. She is the top left racer, just under the "S" in "Speedway."
Foreshadowing: Before Vanellope learns she's actually a princess, she asks Ralph if he's using "the royal 'we'" and later has him kneel before her to receive a homemade medal and says "Now rise, my royal chump!"
In the Pixar short film Toy Story Toons: Small Fry (2011), Buzz Lightyear's movement when he is in the toy gathering replicate those of Ralph's when he is in the Bad Guy gathering. Buzz finds himself in a circle with the head of the gathering just opposite of him, much like Ralph in a circle just opposite from Clyde, the orange ghost. There is a pledge for each meeting, in which Buzz does not say, and Ralph does not say either. During one of the gathering sequences, Buzz leans forward with his left foot forward and his left elbow resting on his leg with his arm at a right angle. Ralph also does that exact motion. Buzz passes off the first meeting and escapes, but comes back later to report good news. Ralph also does so, and comes back to report good news as well toward the end of the movie. Jane Lynch, who voices Calhoun in this movie, also did the voice of Queen Neptuna, the head of the gathering, in the short.
Big Gene's noted animosity toward Ralph can possibly be explained by the fact that Gene is the Nicelander who gets tossed out a high-rise window every time the Wreck-It Ralph game intro plays. It also may explain why Gene shoots Ralph's back such a nasty look at the party, after Ralph justifies his presence at the celebration by pointing out that Ralph is the game's bad guy, then asks, "Why are you here, Gene?" Whether the programmers always had Gene being tossed out the window, or it's become a self-perpetuating Hatfields and McCoys sore point between the two characters, seems to be uncertain, but it looks as if Gene is the only Nicelander who actually gets tossed out a window, which in some ways - as well as being "Big" Gene - makes him similar to Ralph, which may be another reason for his particular dislike of the ham-handed wrecking ball. He seems to have learned to enjoy his fate, though, by the end, as he is also the Nicelander who falls out a window in the game's "improved" bonus levels, thanks to a bomb set by the displaced "retro" game villains that have been adopted into Wreck-It Ralph. Quite possibly because choosing to take a sidewalk dive, to help others, beats being programmed to do it, hands (or heads) down. Might Big Gene even have been jealous of Ralph, for having such an obviously important role in the game...?