Guest characters in video games has been a thing for a long time and in some cases, the inclusion of characters from other franchises is such an important feature (read, marketing gimmick) that they can be prominently displayed in the box art and trailers. But while it’s easy to be cynical about it, in some cases, guest characters can add something to the game. So I decided to write a list with some of the best guest appearances in games. Since there are so many to consider, I probably missed more than a few, so if you want to share your favorite guest characters, feel free to mention them in the comments below.
10. Mitsuru Kirijo, Akihiko Sanada, Aigis and Elizabeth Persona 4: Arena
Although this unconventional fighting game features a handful of characters from the popular and well-received fourth entry in the niche RPG series, Arena also includes characters from Persona 3, another loved game in the Persona franchise. Seeing those memorable characters come back in the form of playable characters in this fighting game was a great idea and one that fans of the Persona series definitely appreciated.
9. Dante – Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
I’m pretty sure the inclusion of Dante in an obscure RPG made by Atlus was surprising, especially for American players. As the time of Nocturne’s release, Devil May Cry was extremely popular in this part of the game, so his inclusion made sense from a marketing perspective. Dante also appeared in Viewtiful Joe as a super-deformed guest character.
8. Clayfighter 63 1/3 – Earthworm Jim
Although not everyone remembers the Clayfighter series fondly, those who played Clayfighter 63 1/3 back in the day probably remember how they felt when they realized that Earthworm Jim and Boogerman were unlockable characters. After all, these characters really fit the game’s bizarre universe, so they were a nice addition to the weird roster of fighters.
7. Cloud & Sephiroth – Ehrgeiz
Instead of just Cloud and Sephiroth, I should have just said “the entire Final Fantasy VII cast,” but I guarantee you that anyone who played this obscure PlayStation fighter only selected those characters over and over. Of course, anyone who played Final Fantasy VII considered it a special RPG unlike any other, so being able to played as those memorable characters in a fighting game was a nice addition. Besides, there’s nothing like beating up Sephiroth after what he did in Final Fantasy VII.
6. Freddy & Kratos – Mortal Kombat 9
This is a both natural and fitting selection of characters for a bloody fighting game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Most of Freddy’s fatalities are an homage to the Nightmare on Elm Street horror films. Kratos, on the other hand, is an angry spartan who wants to kill everything in sight, so this is also a characters that fits in the roster. Take into account that Mortal Kombat X has some terrific guest characters as well.
5. Akuma – X-Men: Children of the Atom
Although the home version of this fighting game didn’t take off as a lot of people were originally anticipating (the game had some technical problems,) it delivered when it came to including as many recognizable characters from the Street Fighter and X-Men series. Of course, this idea really came to fruition with the release of Marvel vs Capcom, a formula that Capcom has been perfecting with each new entry in the series. Fighting game fans know that Akuma has always been a secret character in Street Fighter game, so his inclusion in Children of the Atom maybe doesn’t sound that special, but when you take into account that at the time of the release of this game, the internet wasn’t as ubiquitous as it’s today, playing the game and unlocking such as hallmark character was amazing.
4. Link & Samus – Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Two of the most recognizable characters from Nintendo made an appearance in Square’s critically acclaimed role-playing game for the SNES. Although these characters appear briefly and you can’t play them in any way, it was more than heartwarming to see them sleeping in the Mushroom Kingdom’s castle.
3. Akira Yuki, Sarah Bryant – Dead or Alive 5
Dead or Alive 5 added characters from Virtua Fighter, one of the best fighting game series and the precursor to the 3D genre. If you were dreaming about match-ups between characters from both of these series, there’s now a legal way to settle that difference (take that MUGEN!) Dead or Alive 4 featured spartan Nicole-458 from the Halo universe. What’s the protagonist of a first-person shooter game in a fighting game, you might ask. I guess she was helping sell copies of Dead or Alive 4. This was a smart idea, especially from a marketing perspective, but the character didn’t really fit the universe.
2. Solid Snake, Mega Man, Pac-Man, Ryu & Sonic the Hedgehog – Super Smash Bros. Wii
Every single time Nintendo released a short trailer announcing that a new character was coming to their unique fighting game it became a sort of event where I felt bad for not having a Wii U. Not every single third-party guest character was an immediate winner, but it was nice to be able to play most of them. Besides, this expanded the original idea of “who would win in a fight between…” from just Nintendo characters to some of the most recognizable characters in the medium.
1. Darth Vader & Yoda – Soulcalibur IV
For those of you who haven’t had a chance to play any of these fighting games, Soulcalibur and cameos have always gone hand in hand. Each entry in the series has had a guest characters. Soulcalibur featured Yoshimitsu from Tekken; Soulcalibur 2 had Link on the GameCube, Spawn on the Xbox and Heihachi on the PS2; Soulcalibur 3 had KOS-MOS from Xenosaga; Soulcalibur IV had Darth Vader, Yoda and the Apprentice from Star Wars and Soulcalibur V had Ezio Auditoire from Assassin’s Creed II and Devil Jin from Tekken. Even the spin-offs received guest characters (Legends got Lloyd Irving from Tales of Symphonia and Broken Destiny received Kratos from God of War.) The version that had the most impact was Soulcalibur IV and this was more than effective, since it definitely helped boost sales of the game. It’s worth pointing out that the character you got depended on your version (Xbox 360 owners received Yoda and PS3 owners got Darth Vader,) but you could purchase the missing character as DLC.
Other games that came up while I was writing this list include Hot Shots Golf series, Little Big Planet, Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament 2, Space Channel 5, Mortal Kombat