With the announcement that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would be joining Injustice 2, we’ve seen the latest example of just how much “guest” characters can boost fighting games. Not that we have anything against familiar combatants, but seeing a fresh face helps mix things up, especially when you put them into “dream” match-ups against familiar foes. For instance, it’s going to be insane seeing the Ninja Turtles mix things up with Hellboy.
So what other “guest” characters have made an impact in fighting games over the years? Quite a few, actually. Let’s look at some of our favorite appearances by surprise favorites that have drawn us to keep coming back for more.
The Soul Calibur games have always been about solid weapons-based fighting, but we couldn’t help but wonder – how would a lightsaber fare going up against axes and swords? Thankfully, we got to find out with part four of the series, where Yoda was added to the Xbox 360 version of the game, and Darth Vader made his debut in the PS3 version. Some people felt that the PS3 version had a greater advantage, but let’s not sell Yoda short – he could kick a whole lot of ass for a little dude his size. (And if you need further proof, go watch Revenge of the Sith.)
On top of that, we also got the Apprentice from the Force Unleashed games, making Soul Calibur IV an unlikely cross-over favorite for fighting fans and LucasArts lovers alike.
If we’re going to look at Soul Calibur’s first efforts with “guest” characters, however, we have to go all the way back to part two, where each of the versions of the game had someone special to offer, like Tekken’s Heihachi in the PlayStation 2 edition, and Todd McFarlane’s Spawn in the Xbox version.
However, Nintendo fans won out overall with Link from The Legend of Zelda, making his series debut in the GameCube version. He’s an excellent combatant, doing everything from sword strikes to bomb throws to keep his opponents on their toes. He even holds his own against tougher adversaries like Nightmare.
We’re due for a new version of Soul Calibur for Nintendo Switch any time now – and, for that matter, Link’s return.
A lot of great game characters have arrived in Super Smash Bros. over the years, from Sonic the Hedgehog to Mega Man. But there’s something about seeing Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid debut in the Smash universe, whether he’s sneaking around in his cardboard box, or letting loose with some devastating attacks that send his opponents flying across the screen. We haven’t seen him too much as of late, but we’ll always have Brawl, where he keeps his fighting form intact, even while he’s fending off spin attacks from Sonic the Hedgehog. Here’s hoping he returns in the new Switch iteration, whenever it’s announced.
With its, ahem, bouncy physics and lush outfits, Dead Or Alive 5 has been a huge draw to fans over the past few years – and it’s a pretty good fighting game as well. And it’s also been great to see it get guest characters, like Sarah Bryant from Virtua Fighter and Spartan Nicole from the Halo universe.
But, of course, fans were sent salivating the minute they heard that Mai Shiranui, the buxom beat-em-up goddess from SNK’s Fatal Fury and King of Fighters, was making her debut in the series, complete with her trademark red outfit and arsenal doing major damge to the opposition. She easily backed up her looks with plenty of killer moves, so fighting fans got the best of both worlds.
Tekken 7 is getting all sorts of fan service, including the debut of Geese Howard in just a few weeks – the first time we’ve seen the Fatal Fury character in several years. If we’re going to talk about a character that’s a true powerhouse, though, we have to bring up Akuma.
He’s easily one of the most devastating brawlers in Street Fighter’s world, so seeing him step toe-to-toe with Heihachi is the stuff of legend. And it has us thinking – could we see other Street Fighter alumni debut in the game in 2018? The door’s certainly open for the likes of Ryu and Chun-Li to prove themselves in a different franchise. And Cammy vs. Nina Williams does sound like a dream match-up.
Fun fact: Akuma is also a playable character in X-Men: Children of the Atom. And he rocks there, too.
While Street Fighter x Tekken didn’t catch on nearly as much as other crossover brawlers on the market, it still did decently enough to make Capcom a good amount of money. And it also provided a strong opportunity for some great characters to debut from other franchises. The “original cover art” Mega Man (a far cry from the 8-bit edition) was part of the roster, as well as Cole McGrath from the Infamous series in the PS3 version.
But, really, it’s all about Pac-Man, the classic dot-gobbler, who was more than ready to fight in a Mokujin-style get-up, delivering punches and kicks like a champ against much more powerful opponents. We were kind of hoping he’d get a souped-up attack where he’d swallow his enemy whole and then spit them back out, but he still holds up quite well in his current form.
NetherRealm was mastering the art of cross-over characters in fighting games well before Injustice 2. In Mortal Kombat XL, it had Leatherface, Alien, Predator and Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th as part of the cast. And then there’s Mortal Kombat’s 2011 iteration, where Freddy Krueger was carving folks up left and right with double razor hands.
However, just having Kratos from God of War in the game is remarkable. Not only are his god-like capabilities remarkable in fighting form, but he has a truly brutal set of moves that could crack someone’s skull with ease. Plus, his finishers are remarkable. You can play as him in both the PS3 and PS Vita versions of the game, so hunt ‘em down!
The Wii U/3DS versions of Super Smash Bros. are amongst the best you’ll find in the series. Not only can you take part in epic multiplayer fights, but you can do so with the most diverse roster out there, including favorites like Ryu from Street Fighter and Cloud from Final Fantasy VII.
That said, it’s the inclusion of Bayonetta that’s truly something. She’s already proven to be a suave, superb character in her solo player adventures (including the noteworthy Wii U sequel Bayonetta 2), and her antics are perfectly captured in Super Smash Bros., right down to her ridiculous gun boot attacks and sending opponents flying with the kiss of doom. More, please.
Killer Instinct has been providing a great mix of characters over the past few years, making it a worthwhile favorite to old-schoolers that remember the earlier games, as well as newcomers looking to get into its combo-riffic action.
But even we were thrown for a loop when the team at Iron Galaxy opted to bring a Battletoad into the mix. Following the release of Rare Replay for Xbox One – which includes two classic Battletoads games – Rash was introduced, bringing with him all the hard-hitting action we’ve come to expect. And he’s got the attitude to match, complete with a big grin and trademark shades, as well as a bad-ass bike he rides off with in victory.
So, when’s Conker making his debut?
When it came out for the Nintendo 64 a few years back, Clay Fighter 63 1/3 tried to capture the fun fighting antics of the previous games in the series. Alas, the team didn’t quite “get it” when it came to making a capable 3D brawler, but they did have exquisite taste in guest characters.
63 1/3 brought back a 16-bit favorite with Boogerman, a dude that doesn’t hold back when it comes to unleashing devastating farts and booger flicks on his foes. But that’s not all, as Earthworm Jim also joined the party, flinging his head around like a whip and proving to be a dangerous adversary.
The game may not be that great, but some classic gaming fans may want to check it out anyway. When will you see these two in a fighting game again?