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Fighting Game Crossovers That Actually Worked

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Some fighting came crossovers are kinda nonsense, like seeing H. R. Giger's Xenomorph have a punch-up against Mortal Kombat's Kano just doesn't work. There are some really cool ones however, so here are our picks for the best crossovers in fighting games.

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Fighting Game Crossovers That Actually Worked

It’s almost a tradition now that every fighting game series now needs to have a crossover of some kind. (Is there some sort of contractual obligation we don’t know about?) Some don’t work, like pitting the upstanding DC superheroes against the hyper violent "Mortal Kombat" warriors. Some leave us scratching our heads, like adding "Street Fighter" characters to a "Power Rangers" mobile fighting game … yes that really happened. But then comes around the ones that actually fit well, like really well. And so throughout this video, we’ll be analyzing what are generally considered to be the greatest crossover fighting games of all time and trying to determine what made them so popular. Welcome to MojoPlays, and today we’re looking at the fighting game crossovers that actually worked.

“Soulcalibur” series (1995-)

The “Soulcalibur” series isn’t exactly a crossover game in the traditional sense, but it is notable for setting the trend of popular guest fighters that continuously appear throughout the series. This tradition began with “Soulcalibur II” with home console exclusive characters: Heihachi Mishima on the PS2, Spawn on the Xbox, and Link on the Gamecube. The tradition has continued ever since, and guest characters have ranged from Darth Vader and Yoda, to Ezio Auditore. The recent entry, “Soulcalibur VI,” even features Geralt on the cover alongside series veteran Heishiro Mitsurugi. Such is the extent to which the guest fighters have become an important aspect to the series. It’s great fun to play as classic video game characters, and it helps keep the series fresh and interesting. “Soulcalibur VI” also served as a reboot of the franchise, so even those who may feel threatened by the size and scope of the series can jump in and have some fun without feeling overburdened or out of touch. The series has evolved while still retaining its classic elements, and it’s still a ton of fun to play over two decades later.

“Marvel vs. Capcom” series (1996-)

“Marvel vs. Capcom” has always been one of the biggest crossover titles, and for good reason. We mean, it’s Marvel and Capcom. You can’t get much more mainstream than that. (xref) The series began back in 1996 with “X-Men vs. Street Fighter,” which was highly praised for the series’ now-signature tag team system and single round games, which helped distinguish it from the fighting games that flooded arcades at the time. More characters and gameplay features like character assist and three-on-three battles were added throughout the years. The latest installment, “Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite,” helped keep things fresh by incorporating Infinity Stones into the gameplay and adding characters like Black Panther, Gamora, and Monster Hunter. That said, it was criticized for its horrendous visual design and lame roster. Regardless, the series has persisted throughout the years due to its incredible roster of characters, frantic gameplay, and (usually) impressive visual flair. These are games with an unmistakable budget, and they’re unlike any other fighting crossovers on the market.

“The King of Fighters” series (1994-)

“The King of Fighters” series began with “The King of Fighters ‘94” back in, well, 1994. It served as a crossover of previous SNK titles “Fatal Fury” and “The Art of Fighting,” but it also contained original fighters and revised characters from “Ikari Warriors” and “Psycho Soldier.” The game was well received for its massive lineup and three-fighter teams, which was quite the novelty at the time. The series then became an annual release and introduced new characters, gameplay additions like Strikers, and engaging storylines. However, the journey hasn’t always been smooth sailing. The Striker implementation in “The King of Fighters ‘99” received its fair share of criticisms, as has the series’ difficulty, with many bosses (primarily Rugal Bernstein) having been regarded as unfair and notoriously challenging for casual fighting game players. It may not be as well-known as some of the other crossover games, but “The King of Fighters” is one of the best fighters on the market due to its incredible cast, interesting stories, and complex fighting mechanics.

“Capcom vs. SNK” series (1999-2006)

Hey since both Capcom and SNK both had successful crossovers, it only made sense that they would inevitably cross over with each other. Unlike most fighting game crossovers, both SNK and Capcom share the development duties of this series. The first significant release was SNK’s “SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium,” which was released for the Neo-Geo Pocket Color to overwhelming critical praise. However, the series really hit its stride when Capcom took the helm and released “Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000” (or just “Capcom vs. SNK”) and “Capcom vs. SNK 2” (or “Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001”). We know it’s confusing, but just go with it. “Millennium Fight 2000” was notable for featuring two distinct fighting styles and the ratio system. The ratio system ranked characters from 1 to 4 based on their strength, and no four-character team could combine for a ratio greater than 4. It helped keep things balanced and discouraged players from simply loading up their team with the best fighters and going ham on their opponent. SNK’s major contribution to the series was 2003’s “SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos,” although this received mixed reviews and kind of deflated the momentum of the series. Oh well. It was a good one while it lasted.

“Super Smash Bros.” series (1999-)

And of course, we can’t leave off the crossover game to end all crossover games. The series began with “Super Smash Bros.” back on the N64, which was quickly lauded as one of the greatest games for the console. It was praised for its stellar lineup of characters, its unique stages, and for the implementation of a damage meter rather than featuring a typical health bar. The series continued with “Melee” on the Gamecube, which is still played in competitive gaming circles and tournaments, which testifies to its complex gameplay mechanics and longevity. The latest entry, “Ultimate,” has a roster of Nintendo biggest names and guest characters so big, that even a Piranha Plant made the cut as a fighter. That really speaks for itself doesn’t it? The series is just as fresh and relevant today as it was twenty years ago, that when it comes to crossover fighting games, nothing can dethrone “Super Smash Bros.”

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