By: Johnny Big Fudge Marcondes
Over the weekend we were hit with some massive reveals for two of the biggest fighting games currently out, that of course being Injustice 2 and Tekken 7. Injustice 2 has consistently been impressive with the reveals of their DLC characters bringing in both fan favorite characters and a few odd choices that at first leave you wanting more than shatter your expectations. NetherRealms the team behind Injustice has also thrown a few guest characters into the mix breaking the DC exclusivity to the roster, having Sub-Zero and Raiden from the Mortal Kombat series at first seemed a little odd but once incorporated into the game their play styles fit perfectly making their unique sense of moves and aesthetics feel natural.
In Injustice 2 we’ve seen NetherRealm do something they’ve previous done with their own series Mortal Kombat and that’s bring in characters that are fan favorites but somewhat hard to image in the same universe. Mortal Kombat had Leather Face for example, a horror character that in paper fits the Mortal Kombat mold perfectly but nevertheless a character than many wouldn’t expect to show up in the series. Fighting games have had a long history in bringing surprise/guest characters that fans would never expect into their universe and for the most part it’s something everyone looks forward too.
Guest characters may not make or break a game but they definitely add a level of excitement that you can’t help but smile at. While fans of fighting games have been spoiled throughout the years with cross over titles such as the Marvel Vs Capcom series, whenever a stand alone fighting game brings in a guest character or too it’s a little more exciting. In crossover titles we’re already aware of a shared universe where characters from various games/comics meet for the first time. However in a standalone title like say Tekken, having a character from another fighting game appear makes it a little more special because it breaks the norm and adds a familiar outside face to an already established world.
As a die hard fan of fighting games, I absolutely love when a random guest character from another big name series makes a cameo. Call me a sucker for cheap marketing tactics but I can’t help but shell out the money for DLC if a guest character is involved. It may be my weakness when it comes to fighting games but if the announcements of the TMNT and Noctis from Final Fantasy has taught me anything, it’s that good guest characters can completely revitalize a series. With that in mind, here is my personal top 10 list of the best guest characters in a fighting game.
10) Ryu and Akuma in Asura’s Wrath
Even though Asura’s Wrath wasn’t essentially a fighting game per say, but when the DLC featuring Ryu and Akuma came out the game utilized the same engine found in Street Fighter IV. Almost instantly the pairing seemed too perfect together as Asura came across as a natural in a fighting game. Capcom really came out of the left field with the over the top action packed game that was Asura’s Wrath, from earth shattering attacks to god killing punches everything about Asura’s Wrath was hammy in the best possible way. Throwing Ryu and Akuma in as DLC was something almost nobody expected. Having the classic Street Fighter IV layout to their fight and Asura having his own meter bar really gave the game this refreshing take and felt like utter fan service.
For a game featuring such an extreme character and some really over the top but gorgeous boss battles an encounter with Ryu and Akuma is something that became a pleasant surprise. In fact it was that DLC that left many fans wanting to see Asura return in a Capcom fighter like the MvC series. Although things haven’t quite worked out like fans have hoped the possibility of once again taking on the role Asura in a future fighter is still something many including myself look forward too.
9) Gears of War’s General Raam in Killer Instinct
Who doesn’t remember that iconic Gears of War scene where General Raam walks calming through a battle field and stabs squad leader Kim impaling him with his blade as he claims victory in that battle. It’s one of those moments in the Gears of War series that long after the original trilogy is over I can still remember vividly. General Raam was a huge monster of a man who was ruthless and truly savage. Once Killer Instinct launched on the X Box One we soon found that a good chunk of that roster was made from guest characters. Sure enough, General Raam graced us with his presence in Killer Instinct and honestly it kind of feels perfect.
Killer Instinct has always been a violent and pretty solid fighter. During the SNES era Killer Instinct was one of my personal favorite fighting games growing up and seeing the game evolve to what is today is exciting. Fast paced, combo heavy and bloody with a pretty unique look and controls. General Raam being among the guest character list of the game is pretty surprising. Unlike Asura, we haven’t really seen Raam fight anyone one on one with only his hands. Killer Instinct not only brings some of Raams more memorable attacks and moments (knife stab) to the game but also balance him out to make him a true fighter. At the end of the day having Raam be in a fighting game is something I never thought about but I’m happy they went with.
General Raam is the type of guest character that really makes a fighting game fun, he’s a random and odd choice but his unique play style makes him fun. Who would have thought a 3rd person shooter would come up with a villain that could hit “god like” combos in a fighting game. Now when people catch these beefed up locust hands one on one they’ll soon know not to mess with general.
8) Akuma in Tekken 7
Ok, personally I’m not a Tekken fan and I don’t exactly like or care for the series. This is kind of a well known and joked about fact among the writers here on Pixelated Rampage. I may be the “fighting game guy” of the team but there are games that even I just can’t get into. While I don’t really like Tekken (for reasons that I won’t get into here) I did pick up Tekken 7 to check out. I’m open minded like that, nevertheless one of the biggest selling points for me was the inclusion of Akuma. I’m a well known Street Fighter fanboy so having the ability to play as Akuma made my time spent with the game a little more bearable.
While I may not like the series I do respect the fact that Namco Bandai and Tekken have pumped an incredible amount of fan service into Tekken 7. From various outfits to unlockables and guest characters everything found in Tekken 7 is practically a love letter to it’s fans. We’ve seen Street Fighter and Tekken team up in the past with their own VS game but we’ve never seen one of their characters appear in a main series release of their own individual titles. Akuma in Tekken 7 is kind of a big deal, perhaps the most surprising feature involving Akuma in the game is his controls. Akuma plays like Akuma should which is no easy task given Tekkens 3D character movement.
7) BattleToads Rash in Killer Instinct
When it comes to guest characters Killer Instinct is one of those games that just keeps on giving. BattleToads is much more than just a popular meme of a game, it’s genuinely one of the more fun retro bet em ups of the NES. Having some insanely hard levels like the turbo tunnel, BattleToads was this pretty cool obscure title that was created mainly to hop on the success of the TMNT. The Battletoads each had their own special attacks and sense of humor in the game, Rash being the most memorable. Killer Instinct bringing in a character like Rash did come out of no where, especially given how Killer Instinct was establishing themselves with a more serious character roster.
Rash’s inclusion in the game may be random but he serves a purpose. While a lot of the characters in the game are pretty linear or a little too serious for their own good, Rash has the charisma and personality that helps freshen things up. From smart remarks to comical attacks Rash is one the best aspects of Killer Instinct. There’s just something fun about playing a character that never takes themselves seriously. Rash has a mixture of comedy based and straight forward hard hitting attacks that balance him out while giving him an unorthodox style that no other character has in the game. Seeing Rash fully rendered in Killer Instincts game has made me feel nostalgic and really wish for new Battletoads game, one day.
6) Lars Alexandersson in Naruto Shippuden Ninja Storm 2
The Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja series have been one of my guilty pleasures throughout the years, call me a sucker for anime based games but I just can’t help it. While Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 was seen as a step in the right direction for the series with the dev team taking a lot of fan criticism to help evolve series, the games biggest surprise came with it’s guest character. For the first time in the series, the Ultimate Ninja Storm games had a guest character from another fighting game with the inclusion of Tekken’s very own ninja Lars Alexandersson.
While I’m not a Tekken fan, seeing Lars in the Naruto universe felt incredibly natural. From his unique outfit to the way CyberConnect 2 perfectly utilizes cell shading in their games Lars felt as if he always belonged in the series. Lars perfectly transitions from his 3D realistic aesthetic to a 3D cellshaded anime engine, it worked so perfectly that while playing Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 I would forget from time to tome that he was indeed a Tekken character. It’s cameo appearances like this that really make a game fun, having a unique and cool looking character transition so well into that games universe makes everything run and look super smooth. Even though I don’t care for the series he came from Lars’ inclusion in Ninja Storm 2 did make me like the character more and his unique look really stood out and made him feel special among a diverse roster.
5) Freddy Krueger in Mortal Kombat
If this isn’t a match made in heaven or hell then I don’t know what is. A horror icon like Freddy Krueger in a Mortal Kombat game is almost too perfect, the two go perfectly hand in hand. While Mortal Kombat isn’t a stranger when it comes to inviting unique guest characters, Freddy takes the cake. Blood, gore and humor are right up Freddy’s alley which is why seeing him in a Mortal Kombat game works so perfectly. When NetherRealms launched Mortal Kombat(X/Reboot/2011) they added a lot of new features, mechanics and really put an emphasis on story.
Even while adapting to a new style the game never lost sight of what made it fun. Mortal has always been and will always be one of the most over the top fighting games in the genre. Bloody, funny, straight forward and visually impressive the Mortal Kombat reboot had everything going for it and then boom, Freddy Krueger makes his fighting game debut. Having his trademark look, humor and vicious style he instantly fit in with the rest of the roster. Freddy Krueger is a character that horror and MK fans have always wanted to see in a game and his inclusion was both surprising and extremely welcomed.
4) Jason Voorhees in Mortal Kombat X(XL)
Yet another iconic horror villain making an appearance in a Mortal Kombat game, Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13th series is by far the most intimidating guest character in the franchise. From his stature to his fatality everything Jason does in MK X feels eerily truthful to his character. Unlike Freddy Krueger, Jason doesn’t exactly have the personality and charisma to make himself a standout in such a diverse roster. However, Jason does have a menacing presence and some incredibly smooth combos that make him an ideal fighter in the deadly roster. The silent Jason definitely lends a lot of his film persona and characteristics to the game making everything he does feel authentic.
From his slow walk to his taunts and the way he easily brushes off pain Jason feels and looks exactly as he should. Horror movie icons and Mortal Kombat are the perfect pairing for each other and while Freddy helped open the door for these icons to appear in a mainstream fighting game Jason definitely honored it by coming across as an utter monster. There’s no need for Jason to crack jokes or even interact with the other fighters during the game’s banter exchange pre fight, his actions speak for themselves. Jason is a slasher film Icon and portraying him in game like was in the films made him even more enjoyable to play as. Especially given his fatality that felt like a scene ripped straight from the films.
3) Hellboy in Injustice 2
Hellboy in Injustice 2 came out of no where, fans of the game were all speculating who would be making an appearance in the next wave of character DLC. For the longest time the big rumor was that Spawn was coming to the DC fighter and man was everyone excited. Even though we haven’t gotten Spawn, we did get the surprise of another comic bad ass in the form of Hellboy. Injustice 2 has given a lot of to it’s fans being one of the most fan service heavy fighters currently out, bringing in characters from another company is something not many would have expected out of DC. While a pleasant surprise, the inclusion of Hellboy is something that kind of feels right about their character selection process.
While not a DC character, Hellboy is basically the perfect outside character that suites the DC brand. He’s dark, mysterious, strong enough to be a plausible threat to anyone on the games roster, brooding, has that troubled hero aspect where he struggles with his past that characters like Batman are built on making him feel like a natural. Hellboy is simply a great choice and while not one I would have imagined being an option, his inclusion in the game has helped rekindle my love of Injustice 2. Between Hellboy and the TMNT, NetherRealms and DC are their best to help Injustice 2 stay afloat in the sea of great fighters currently out and set to be released.
Plus, who doesn’t want to light up a cigar and bash someone like Superman over the head with the hand of doom?
2) Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud Strife in Super Smash Bros Wii U
He’s dressed up as a woman, done some pretty deep SQUATS for macho men at a gym and saved the world, Cloud has had his fair share of adventure and encounters with strong enemies but none like this. Nintendo definitely knows how to get it’s fans hype as hell and no other series does it quite like the Super Smash Bros series. Within each release there are always a handful of characters announced that completely get fans excited and the Super Smash Bros series is known for having some incredible guest characters. Before diving into this pick, let me just say that Final Fantasy VII is my favorite RPG game so with that in mind bear with as I begin to fanboy out a little. Cloud in a Super Smash Bros game is a pretty big deal.
Not only is this a big deal due to the fact that no one would have ever imagined a Final Fantasy character in a Nintendo fighting game, but because Cloud and that particular Final Fantasy title are so closely associated with Playstation. Nintendo has become more open minded with guest characters in their Super Smash Bros series within the last few entries. Having characters like Ryu, Bayonetta, Sonic and Mega Man join their roster have really given Nintendo and Smash Bros a more iconic feel. Cloud Strife in a Super Smash Bros game is a little mind blowing, wielding his buster sword and throwing slashes at Luigi seems like a gaming fever dream.
While absolutely absurd and frankly random, it’s extremely amazing at the same time. In a list geared at some of the best fighting game guest characters, Cloud in a Smash Bros series is easily one of the most memorable guest characters in quite some time.
1) Metal Gear Solid’s Solid Snake in Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Solid Snake in Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a thing of beauty. If you thought seeing Cloud fight Luigi felt like a fever dream wait until you play through the Brawl story mode and see Snake interact with Lucario and Diddy Kong. Solid Snake in Smash Bros is by far on of the best guest characters in a fighting game solely for the fact that it’s so incredibly weird and random that no one in a million years would have guessed it. How a character from an incredibly serious series that deals with survival, stealth and the horrors of war can be see ever fighting an adorable pink alien that consumes you and copies your mullet haircut is beyond me.
With that being said, Solid Snake is by far one of the best characters to ever appear in the Smash Bros series. While a completely out of the left field character choice Snake had a lot to offer like his unique weapons, strikes and smash attack that really made him one of the most fun characters to play as. Seeing Solid Snake a character who’s pretty realistic and serious used like a comical character is pretty heartwarming. Even if he’s choosing to hide under a box so Mario wont see him, as goofy as Solid Snake is in this game he still feels true to himself. Metal Gear Solid is a franchise I’d never expect to team up with Nintendo but now that they did I’m extremely happy. Solid Snakes inclusion in Smash Bros is everything you’d want from a great video game guest appearance.
Snake is portrayed in a way that’s both true to himself and lighthearted enough to make you smile. Nintendo did a great job bringing in such an established character and making him feel new all the while familiar enough to please old fans. Snake in Smash Bros is a surprise to many and really just an all around solid character in the game. He has a great set of moves that are both funny and smart making him an instant top tier character. Just look at him using his stealth: