Over the past weekend, there were two surprising announcements for fighting games Tekken 7 and Injustice 2. Noctis, the main character from Final Fantasy XV, will be appearing as Tekken DLC in Spring 2018. Beating him to the punch, however, is the arrival of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who will be appearing in Injustice 2 sometime over the next few months.

Both of these announcements have received some attention due to their surprising nature. But this isn’t totally unprecedented. The history of fighting games is a long one, with many characters unexpectedly making their way into the genre.

As such, here’s a list of some of the strangest crossover characters in fighting games:

Cloud Strife – Ehrgeiz

Ergheiz - Fighting game released for the PS1 in 1998.

Back in the late 90’s a small fighting game with an awful name released on the PS1. Ehrgeiz was particularly noticeable as it included playable Final Fantasy 7 characters such as Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth.

Despite only being a bonus character, Ehrgeiz actually featured Cloud on the cover of the game itself. Such a boon to the marketing of the game, many players bought it just because of the FFVII character’s inclusions. Sadly, those buyers were left with a mediocre fighting game that didn’t really have anything to do with Squaresoft’s seminal RPG.

NAMCO and Squaresoft collaborated to make Ehrgeiz, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a Tekken-meets-Dissidia hybrid. Regrettably, it’s nowhere near as fun as either of those games; Ehrgeiz is a clunky 3D fighter in the vein of the Tobal series which preceded it.

To top it off, Cloud was rubbish in game, having a very limited move-set compared to the game’s original characters. When his iconic Buster Sword was equipped, his mobility plummeted, and so you were best off fighting without it. This was a disappointing revelation for this particular player, as I just wanted to kick ass as one of my favourite PS1 characters.

(Sephiroth was good though, his Murasame sword gave him incredible reach that was distinctly OP.)

Solid Snake – Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Rumour has it that Hideo Kojima was (and is) good friends with the creator of Smash Bro’s creator Masahiro Sakurai. After the first N64 Smash Bros was a success, Kojima asked for Snake to be included in the Gamecube’s Smash Bros: Melee. Unfortunately, this didn’t pan out, but it did lead to Snake’s inclusion in the Wii’s Smash Bros. Brawl as arguably the first ‘guest’ character in the fighting game series.

In the game, Snake is a tricky fighter and was known as one of the best character picks. Designed as a stealthy character with the potential to deliver intense damage through explosive-type weapons, Snake offered a wildly different way of fighting in Smash. Not only that, but his only reliable counter was Pikachu, and as such he commonly found a lot of play in competitive Smash circles.

After Brawl, Smash Bro’s 4 would include a range of different guest characters, such as Cloud (again), Mega Man, Pac-Man and best of all, the Wii Fit Trainer. I like to think that it was the former Foxhound agent that paved the way for these.

Donkey Kong – Punch Out Wii

In it’s 1980’s prime the Punch-Out series was seen as the best representation of boxing available in video game form. But despite that, it never took itself too seriously, always including ridiculously cartoonish characters. Just as Mario appeared as a referee in those games, his old nemesis Donkey Kong would feature as a boss character in a later installment.

The long-awaited 2007 sequel Punch Out Wii was the first time the series included a non-human character in the ring. And what a devastating character he is, as DK is able to knock your character down with a single punch. His frighteningly powerful moveset meant that he was the pinnacle of the Punch-Out boss fights and the sternest challenge that the player character, Little Mac, will see in the game.

As a bonus, when the big gorilla finally knocks you out in game, he will fling you over his shoulder and carry you out of the ring; a nice throwback to the original 1981 classic. Happily, Little Mac would be able to settle his beef with DK in Smash Bros 4 released in 2014.

Yoda and Darth Vader – Soul Calibur IV

In an attempt to throw serious shade across the console generation war of 2008, Soul Calibur IV included separate bonus characters to the different console editions of the game. On one side, the angelic white Xbox 360 edition included Yoda, the Jedi Master and generally a good guy. On the other, the PS3 version was cast as the Dark Side, including Darth Vader instead. In the end, both characters would be downloadable on the other platform, but it was clear to see which console NAMCO preferred.

The problem with including these all-powerful characters in a game such as Soul Calibur however, was that they came across as a bit weak. Both had access to Lightsabers, but they were easily countered by other characters’ normal weapons, such as a wooden pole. That just doesn’t make any sense in this magical sword fighting game with weird sadomasochistic sex-zombies in it. To make matters worse, Yoda’s size and play-style were considered to be very cheap, and he was subsequently banned from many competitive tournaments.

Nice try though, Soul Calibur.

(Definitely not) Master Chief – Dead or Alive 4

This character is definitely not Halo‘s Master Chief. Nope, instead, this is a female character by the name of SPARTAN-458, or Nicole, for short. Nicole featured in Dead or Alive 4, back when the series was fighting games and not just overly-sexualized volleyball. The original plan was to have the OG Chief in game, however, Bungie refused because it wouldn’t be ‘storyline appropriate’. Instead, Team Ninja gave the Spartan a female voice and formed a crazy backstory to fit her into the DoA universe.

In game, she’s an impressive fighter, quick and powerful in her attacks. She doesn’t have many unique moves of her own, instead cherry-picking some of the best from the other DoA characters. Pleasantly, because of this, she can be quite versatile.

Unlike others on this list, Nicole doesn’t actually come across as a gimmick character. She offered both a distinct story and balanced gameplay, fitting in with the rest of the game nicely.

Rabbid Sam Fisher – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up

TMNT: Smash Up was a Smash Bros.-style fighting game set in the TMNT universe. The game wasn’t very good, selling poorly, and often described as a poor Smash Bros. clone.

Developers Game Arts were able to license some bonus characters to feature in game due to Ubisoft being their publisher. As such,  players had the opportunity to unlock Raving Rabbid characters, including one enticingly called ‘Splinter Rabbid’. Was ‘Splinter Rabbid’ a Rabbid version of the Turtles’ master Splinter? Nope.

Even better, he was a copy of another Ubisoft icon, Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell.

2 for the price of 1! Both a Splinter Cell reference and a Rabbids reference, in a fighting game that not many people played. Can’t get stranger than that.

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Conor Clarke
Writer, researcher and performer based in Leeds, UK. Enjoys videogames almost as much as he does Live Art. Overthinks.

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