Let's start with dark and gritty. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne (Nocturne for short) takes place in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo and you takes the role of a demi-fiend. Your goal in the game is to wander around town while discovering what happened and binding creatures to your will, which happen to be the same creatures seen in previous Shin Megami Tensei and Persona games.
In the North American version (Nocturne Maniax in Japan), players had a surprise: during the story, you encounter Dante, from Capcom's Devil May Cry. He's a demon hunter on a mission and unfortunately for you, you're one of his targets. However, after a few fights in a secret dungeon, he'll start to question his employer, who happens to be Lucifer, one of YOUR targets. Guess what happens next...? He offers you his help. So yeah, this boss becomes your [very powerful] ally. Awesome, huh?
The Naruto fighting games are over-the-top battles with your favorite characters from the anime series. It was published by Namco Bandai... who happens to own the Tekken series. They decided to add Lard Alexandersson into the roster. I can hear you now questioning that decision due to Lars's futuristic look, but they used something else: his alternate costume from Tekken 6 Bloodline Rebellion. He now looks like a ninja... but this costume was also designed by Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto, so... yeah, he probably asked for Lars to be in the game due to that. Not a bad addition though, as his attacks are quite flashy, even in Tekken.
Ok, how many of you have forgotten about Earthworm Jim ? He was quite the hero back in SNES/Genesis era with both games... and then he disappeared until revived for Earthworm Jim 3D, with mixed results. In the meantime though, Interplay was making a game called ClayFighter 63 1/3 for the Nintendo 64, which was a 3D sequel to ClayFighter 2 Judgement Day. For those who don't know, the ClayFighter series is a fighting game like Mortal Kombat, except that they use clay figures instead of human beings for characters.
Earthworm Jim was included as a regular character in ClayFighter 63 1/3, and then an unlockable character in ClayFighter Sculptor's Cut, which is considered the definite version. Everything you like about Jim is present in this game: his whip head, his ray gun, cows and even his voice from the cartoon series, done by Dan Castellaneta. Yes, THIS is the best thing that happened to Jim since the 2D era... followed by the HD remake of the first Earthworm Jim game.
I stated in the rules that the game must not be a crossover. This game is special though. See? It's the 3rd crossover between Koei-Tecmo's Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors. However, none expected to see not one, but five guests from other Koei-Tecmo games. The series creator at Koei always wanted to include Tecmo characters ever since the two companies merged. He got his wish fivefold. We have:
- Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden
- Joan of Arc from Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War
- Achilles from Warriors: Legends of Troy
- Ayane from Dead or Alive
- Nemea from Trinity: Souls of Zill Oíll
All of these can be recruited in order to repel Orochi's forces... and they all come with their own musical themes and stages. I swear, you pick Ryu once, you'll never let go of him ever.
The game already has a massive roster from the latest versions of both Dynasty Warriors 7 and Samurai Warriors 3, plus new original characters. These five characters truly deserve the title of "guest characters".
Little Mac and the Punch-Out!! got quite the upgrade in this Wii title. Mac gets to fight opponents from the NES games and a few from the SNES as well, but I'm pretty sure he didn't signed for a match against a tie-wearing gorilla. Yup, Donkey Kong is a secret opponent, but that is hard to meet though: you have to first unlock the Mac's Last Stand mode and then hope that you meet DK as your opponent. Fortunately, whether you win or lose, he'll be unlocked for Exhibition Mode, which is a good reward, considering what you have to go through.
Donkey Kong is a hard opponent to deal with, as he hits hard and he loves to counter your attacks. But when you beat him, you should proud of yourself, because he doesn't throw barrels, spin like a top or pound the ground. Since he's a secret character that is hard to see, he deserves this spot on my list.
On a sidenote, the developers wanted to add Princess Peach as a bonus opponent, but that idea got canned due to the female violence thingy.
Ah yes, the Mortal Kombat series, the fighting game that managed to create the ESRB system all by itself. In 2011, NetherRealm Studios released Mortal Kombat, which was a sequel/remake/reboot to Mortal Kombat Armageddon and the first 3 Mortal Kombat games (you'll understand when you'll play). The game delivered and exceeded all expectations, including this one: Ed Boon received a lot of demands to include Kratos from God of War as a playable character. At first, some were skeptical due to the fact that Kratos had already been in a crossover, Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny. However, Ed Boon accepted the demands and asked Sony for the rights to add Kratos in the PS3 version of Mortal Kombat.
Kratos, compared to Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny, is a natural fit to the game. He's violent, his moves are bloody and gory and his fatalities are just as graphic as the finishing moves in the God of War games. He has the bow, the shoes, the severed head, the gauntlets and of course, his swords, which replace his punches. In Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny, some of his attacks didn't fit well, like his lightning attacks and the wings. Plus, no over-the-top violence, which made him lose a lot of his charm. In Mortal Kombat, he's at home.
Yes, I could have included Freddy Krueger Nightmare on Elm Street films, but since he's a DLC character, people might not care that much about him. I chose Kratos over Freddy, but Freddy is definitely worth checking out... and now I got the chills... Hope I'll sleep well at night.
The Tales games are not unfamiliar with cameos, guest characters, cameo costumes, items and such. Here's a rundown of the cameo opponents you have in other Tales games:
Tales of Destiny Remake: Veigue Lungberg from Rebirth (it's more of a lookalike though)
Tales of Eternia: Cress Albane and Arche Klein from Phantasia
Tales of Destiny 2: Rutee Kartret, Philia Philis, Woodrow Kelvin, Leon Magnus, and Lilith Aileron from Destiny Remake
Tales of Symphonia: Woodrow Kelvin from Destiny and both Farah Oersted and Meredy from Eternia
Tales of the Abyss: Reid Hershel from Eternia, Nanaly Fletcher from Destiny 2, Philia Philis from Destiny and Mint Adenade from Phantasia
Tales of Innocence R: Amber Hearts and Jadeite Hearts from Hearts and Milla Maxwell from Xillia
Tales of Vesperia: Dhaos from Phantasia, Nereid from Eternia, Barbatos from Destiny 2 and Kratos Aurion from Symphonia
Tales of Hearts: Guy Cecil from Abyss
That's quite a few, but why Tales of Graces's one would be on this list above all others? Because they're not tacked on. Let me explain: the guest characters for Graces are Veigue Lungberg from Rebirth (the real deal this time), Reala from Destiny 2 and Amber Hearts from Hearts, and they each have a reason to be part of the storyline, even if it's just a bunch of sidequests. Veigue is the guardian of Warrior's Roost, an island with an elevating coliseum, who got transported from his world to this one and is looking for something, a sword; both Amber and Reala were "captured" to act as guardians by Solomus, a powerful opponent who's dwells in the Zhonecage, and that secret post-game dungeon picks guardians from various dimensions. Once you beat both, they tell one what they were looking for: Amber is looking for an anklet and Reala is looking for a hero... which happens to be a wand with Kyle's doll head on top.
Once you complete all three sidequests, return to the top of the Roost by beating the Master Class and you'll fight all three characters at once. This is another reason why it's one the list: it's a reasonable fight, a 4-vs-3 battle with a good challenge that is not downright hard. Case in point: the Abyss battle has Mint who can revive fallen opponents and itís a 4-vs-4 battle. You'll throw your controller, for sure.
Finally, the 3 guests have a real personality in Graces. They're not just secret opponents in the coliseum that the developers added for fan service. In Graces, they have dialogues with your party members, which the other cameos don't have much. They have a reason to fight you, aside from being in the Coliseum. You interact with them with the sidequests. All in all, they were integrated to a much higher degree than the other cameos. The only problems I have with these guys are as follow:
- When they are in Eleth Burst, they LOVE to chain their Mystic Artes one after the other: Veigue's Celsius Calibur, Amber's Starlight and Reala's Grand Cataclysm. If you don't have both Sophie and Cheria on your team to revive you, as well as food dishes to revive your characters in your Eleth Mixer, you're pretty much dead, because in this fight, you can't items, including life bottles.
- When you want to fight them again, by redoing the Master Class, the game trolls you by having you prepare your team of 4... only to let you bring your first party member in the fight, making it a 1-vs-3 battle. This is NOT a pleasant surprise. Some people can do it on the highest difficulty setting, but you have to be prepared.
On a sidenote, this guest appearance has bonus points for having a unique battle theme made of the battle themes from Rebirth, Destiny 2 and Hearts.
This is probably one of the most well-known guest characters in the fighting game community and for good reasons, because this is what started the crossovers with Marvel and Capcom. X-Men: Children of the Atom is a fighting game with X-Men characters. It's pretty straightforward idea, but Capcom added Akuma from Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo as a secret character, who was also a secret character in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, who then became a secret character in Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, Street Fighter 4 and in Marvel vs Capcom 3 (Ok... coincidence? I don't think so).
So yeah, Akuma was a secret character in an X-Men game, who would have thought? He's still as hard as he is in Turbo, so be prepare to rage a little. His fireballs are fast, his Raging Demon is devastating and if you add up the mechanics from the game, you've got quite the opponent. As a guest character which started a franchise on its own, Akuma deserves the spot.
While Akuma is known by the community, the next three were known by pretty much everybody. I can't remember how hyped Soul Calibur was when each version would contain a guest character: the Gamecube version would get Link from The Legend of Zelda, the Playstation 2 version would get Heihachi Mishima from Tekken and the XBOX version would get Spawn from the comic series by Tom McFarlane (it's worth noting that McFarlane designed a new character for the game Necrid as well). Talk about fan service across the board.
Possibly with no surprise, Link was the most favored. He had a LOT of stuff: the bow, the bombs, the downward stab, the sword and shield, the spin attack, the boomerang and even the Megaton Hammer and Great Fairy Net as alternate weapons (guess which one was the joke weapon). Heihachi had pretty much the same moves as his Tekken counterpart, while Spawn... had an axe... instead of his chains... and no cape... Really guys? Why that? All three played well though and none were shoed in or anything.
You might ask yourself why not Ezio Auditore from Assassin's Creed 2 in Soul Calibur 5, Yoda, Darth Vader and Starkiller from Star Wars in Soul Calibur 4 and KOS-MOS as a Create-a-soul character from Xenosaga in Soul Calibur 3 instead. Well, without Link, Spawn and Heihachi, we wouldn't have gotten these other characters in the Soul Calibur games. You should be thankful for that.
Ok, number one is for two guests that are well-known in the community, that everybody knows about, that not one saw coming and that is part of a 1st-party crossover. The Super Smash Bros games are known for being massive crossovers between multiple characters from multiple franchises beating each other up multiple times, but could anyone have predicted that we would get two 3rd-party characters in Brawl? Fun fact is that the first to be revealed has an interesting story:
The inclusion of Konami's Solid Snake from the Metal Gear Solid series was of course an idea by series creator Hideo Kojima. Here's where it becomes interesting: while his son was playing Super Smash Bros for the Nintendo 64, daddy came into the room watching him play. At one point, he tells the boy how he's glad that his child likes this game. While the little boy agrees however, he also says that it's a bit sad that there is no character that his daddy created in the game. That people is why Kojima asked Nintendo to put Solid Snake in the next Super Smash Bros game: he wanted to make a surprise for his son. The problem was that though is that Melee was too far in development and couldn't be added.
Guess what happened when Masahiro Sakurai started working on Brawl. That's right, he asked Kojima is he was still interested of having Solid Snake in the game and Kojima agreed. This is how we've gotten Solid Snake in Brawl.
Sonic the Hedgehog... has a less stellar story though. Sakurai was running polls and surveys across message boards on the Internet and the one character that everyone wanted the most above all other Nintendo characters was Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog. Why? I'm afraid that I don't know the answer, but I'm pretty sure that fans wanted to finally see Mario and Sonic in the same game, fighting each other to see who would win the Nintendo/Sega rivalry. So yeah, Sakurai listened to fans and asked Sega if they would love to add Sonic in the roster. As you can see, compared to Snake, Sonic had it easy.
The game had also a bunch of cameos from both series, like Shadow the Hedgehog as an assist trophy, but the one that everyone might remember is the secret codec conversation on the Shadow Moses Island stage. Simply press Down on the D-Pad with Snake on that stage and he'll call Colonel Campbell, Mei Ling and Otacon for some information on one of the characters he's fighting (no Naomi Hunter ?!? Oh come on now...). Pretty sweet surprise there, and raise your hand if you HAVEN'T tried them all. So, for being long-time requests from both producer and fans alike, Snake and Sonic take my number one spot on my list.
So there you have it, my list of best guest characters in video games. However, I can't leave it yet without mentioning honorable mentions:
Dead of Alive 4 - Nicole
Tecmo asked Microsoft to add a secret character based on the Halo series, as the game was also XBOX-exclusive. They gave them a Spartan soldier who people mistook for Master Chief at first, until they go deeper to realize that it was a woman. The reason why it missed the list was because of the ambiguity of the character and her weird story about her inclusion. It's a nice touch, but could have been better executed.
Street Fighter x Tekken - Mega Man, Pac-Man, Cole MacGrath, Toro and Kuro
Ok, I'm mentioning it to avoid flaming from many fan communities. In a fighting game where Street Fighter and Tekken collide, one wouldn't expect to see Capcom's Mega Man in his Bad Box Art look and Namco's Pac-Man in a Mokujin mecha. The idea looked good on paper, but it got mashed in the final product: both have very low HPs, LOWER than Akuma and while Pac-Man's attacks are somewhat creative, they botched Mega Man completely. He has the standard charge shot and dragon punch from Marvel vs Capcom, but he has a short range freezing shot and, get this, a lightning shot that can only be used while doing a neutral jump. You're joking, right ? And that's it... nothing else. You know, Bad Box Art Mega Man is a reference to Mega Man 1. Care to explain why he doesn't have the other 4 weapons from that game as well?!? So yeah, Mega Man got screwed... again...
The PS3 and Vita versions also got Cole MacGrath from inFamous and both Sony mascots Toro and Kuro. Toro is a clone of Ryu and Kuro is a clone of Kazuya, with flaws. Both have EXTREMELY low HP and each short reach, they're just not practical. Cole's a little better with moves taken from inFamous 2, but he has low HP as well, like the other 4 guests, doesn't build up meter as rapidly as the others and some signature attacks are missing, like a straight lightning bolt from his hands, similar to Thor's Mighty Spark from Marvel vs Capcom 3, or even fire- and ice-based attacks like in inFamous 2. What also doesn't help all 3 Sony exclusive guests is that they don't have an Arcade mode setting, which is just lazy from Capcom. All and all, because they are underpowered and underdevelopped, I didn't included the guests from Street Fighter x Tekken.
Persona 4 Arena - Mitsuru Kijiro, Akihiko Sanada, Aigis and Elisabeth, all from Persona 3
For a game called Persona 4 Arena, you might have not expected to see 4 characters from Persona 3. The reasons why I didn't include them are:
- They make a third of the roster.
- Persona 3 and 4 are actually connected.
- It's almost like rule #4, because if a sequel gets announced, we'll probably get the remaining Persona 3 characters in addition of having the whole roster return.
The only way I would have added this game would if the game was Called "Persona Arena" with characters from multiple Shin Megami Tensei: Persona game, not just 3 and 4 and then we get a guest from Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner series like Raidou Kuzunoha or from the original Shin Megami Tensei series, like the demi-fiend from Nocturne. See what I mean? If the game was focused on the entire Persona series, any character that is not from that specific series would have been considered a guest. Dude, if Raidou was a guest in Persona 4 Arena, he probably would have made in the list, that would have counted. All in all, because the Persona 3 characters are numerous and related in Persona 4 Arena, the game wasn't selected. However, check this game out, it's worth it. (It's out in Japan, so...)
Pokémon Black & White - Shigeki Morimoto
In these Pokémon games, you can face a trainer called GameFreak Morimoto. Believe it or not, he's based on Shigeki Morimoto, one of the directors who worked on the Pokémon series since the very beginning. That's a pretty cool cameo, but since he's quite the obscure character, not many people might know about him, even amongst Pokémon fans. That's why he didn't make in the list.
Any other game - Any other character
Ok, the list was huge to begin with and one can only know so much. There are characters that I've omitted because I didn't have the slightest clue on who they were or what was their role in the game they were featured in. I apologize in advance for that.
List by RollerBob (08/01/2012)
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