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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Obscusion B-List: Video Game Crossovers with Completely Unexpected Rosters

The idea of a crossover product between multiple companies has been around for literally decades, and, more often than not, works well for both the fans that experience it & for the companies involved. On a good day, it could result in a franchise being given new life & products, like how Strider Hiryu's appearance in the original Marvel vs. Capcom lead to the development of the excellent Strider 2. On a bad day, it could result in absolute destruction, like how 1993-1994 comic crossover Deathmate essentially killed Valiant Comics to the point where it had to be bought by Acclaim. Crossovers can be very unpredictable & result in completely unexpected results, but at the same time part of the appeal of a crossover is seeing more than just the expected regulars & big names... Sometimes it's best to go to the deep part of the well & dig up some forgotten graves.

Oh, if only this was real & not just a really cool fanmade video...

Video game crossovers are probably the trickiest of all to execute in terms of compiling a roster across multiple companies. Most people will naturally expect to see the icons of each companies as well as their own personal favorites. For example, Capcom will always bring in the likes of Ryu, Chun-Li, Morrigan, and maybe even a form of Mega Man (if they feel like it), Bandai Namco has characters from Tekken & the Tales Series, SNK has its King of Fighters characters, and so on. Then you have series with fervent fanbases, like Dead Rising, Devil May Cry, Virtua Fighter, etc., which may not be at the top of gamers lists at large but are still notable & important enough to be considered obvious choices for inclusion in one way or another. What comes after that, though? Well, then you start getting into the more wild & unpredictable selections, and sometimes video game crossovers are notable precisely because they are just so inexplicably filled with completely unexpected lineups. Therefore, let's take a look as (not really) six video game crossovers that had rosters so unpredictable that you truly had to play them to believe them. In particular, I've gathered three fighting games & (not quite) three RPGs, simply because they are the most notable ways to handle video game crossovers.

Please note, though, that these are far from the only crossovers to have outrageous rosters. If you have any in mind that I missed, then by all means bring them up in the comments section at the end.

An altered select screen to show everyone's portrait.

During the 90s, Capcom was the king of 2D fighting games, with the only real rival (in Japan, at least) being SNK. Eventually the two companies made an agreement to produce some crossover games, with SNK hitting first with 1999's SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millenium for the Neo Geo Pocket Color, which is still considered one of the greatest fighting games to be found on a handheld. Capcom would produce two games of its own, the Capcom vs. SNK series for the NAOMI arcade hardware, in 2000 & 2001, and while those two games would be giant hits, they would do nothing to save SNK from going into bankruptcy & being bought out by Aruze in 2000, as the deal stated that only the developing company would receive profits from each respective game. SNK would be rescued by Playmore, eventually becoming SNK Playmore, and in 2003 the company would make its second crossover fighting game, SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos for the Neo Geo. SNK also produced two SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters games on the Neo Geo Pocket Color in 1999 & 2001 (the first came in SNK & Capcom flavors, while the Japan-only sequel was standalone) & a third game for the DS in 2006, but I'm focusing on the fighting games here.

It's been suggested by many fans that the Capcom/SNK partnership demanded that each company make two fighting games, & that SVC Chaos was only produced because SNK (Playmore) was contractually obligated to do so. To be honest, it does have that feel, because it's obviously not a completely finished game. While it is perfectly playable on a technical level, it's far from balanced & just has a very rough feel to it. Fans have even deduced that some of the Capcom character sprites were simply redrawn SNK sprites (Balrog, for example, is based on KOF's Heavy D!). Still, what makes SVC Chaos worth playing is the fact that, out of the four fighting games in this crossover series, this is the game with the most unique & wild roster. Capcom's first game, minus the hidden inclusion of Morrigan & Nakoruru, was, quite simply, "Street Fighter vs. King of Fighters", though the second game did see some shocking inclusions, like Eagle from Street Fighter 1, Maki from Final Fight 2, Hibiki from The Last Blade 2, & Ryuhaku Todoh from Art of Fighting 1. SNK's handheld game only had a handful of surprise picks, like Akari Ichijou from The Last Blade & B.B. Hood from Vampire Savior, but it's the second game that still surprises people to this day.

Sure, a bunch of the usual standards are there (Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Kyo Kusanagi, Iori Yagami, Terry Bogard... Dan Hibiki, etc.), but then you get the crazy choices. Samurai Shodown's Genjuro Kibagami & Shiki in place of Haohmaru & Nakoruru? Street Fighter III's Hugo instead of Zangief? Kasumi Todoh, Mr. Karate, & freaking Earthquake for SNK?! Tessa/Tabasa from Red Earth/Warzard for Capcom?!?! The secret characters are even more insane, featuring the likes of Goenitz from KOF '96, Mars People from Metal Slug 2, Demitri Maximoff from Darkstalkers (the first & only time a character from this series would be given a brand new sprite for a console fighting game), & even Zero from Mega Man Zero! The final bosses? Red Arremer/Firebrand from Ghosts 'n Goblins spin-off Demon's Crest, & Athena from her own game (i.e. not pop idol Athena Asamiya, but the actual goddess herself). The most interesting of all, though, was a variant of Ken called "Violent Ken", which was based on what happened to the character at the climax of the Street Fighter II Movie when he gets brainwashed by M. Bison into a killing machine & fights Ryu. While SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos is far from being one of the best fighting games out there, even within its own series, it's still worth checking out solely for the fact that SNK created a truly one-of-a-kind roster; seeing Capcom characters done in SNK's Neo Geo style is cool, too.

For the past 25 years, Bandai Namco & Banpresto's Super Robot Wars series has been the place where old & forgotten mech anime go to receive a new lease on life. Getting included in the roster of an SRW game is not just a badge of honor, but can also result in some cool things, like promoting a new home video release or even receiving new entries on rare occasion. While it's been generally standard to see stuff like a Gundam, Mazinger Z, or Getter Robo be in every single entry, though there are some games that defy that to varying extents, the biggest appeal in every new SRW that gets announced is seeing what mech anime are making their very first appearances. Maybe it's a recent series that has a fanbase, or maybe it's an older series that scratches that itch of curiosity. Since the debut of the first game on the Game Boy in 1991, we've seen all sorts of unexpected series inclusions in the franchise. Stuff like Gundam Sentinel (SRW 4), Brain Powered (Alpha 2 & J), Megazone 23 (D), Daiohja (GC/XO), Virtual-On (Alpha 3 & K), GoLion (W), & even Tekkaman Blade (J & W) & Detonator Orgun (W). Probably the game that has the most sheer concentrated amount of unexpected, though, is 2003's Super Robot Wars Compact 3 for the WonderSwan Color/SwanCrystal.

Being the final entry in the franchise for Bandai's short-lived handheld, released so late that the second GBA entry (SRW D) was only two months away, Compact 3 seemed like it was a game that was only made for the system it was on because of contractual obligations. Seeing as Banpresto had been partially owned by Bandai since 1989, it's likely that the developer had to make games for the WonderSwan series of handhelds as long as it was being supported. Come 2003, though, it was obvious that the system was dead, but Banpresto still had to make one more SRW title. Therefore, knowing that it wasn't going to be any sort of notable seller in the first place, the development team likely decided to purposefully include mech anime so unlikely to be used in the franchise that the TV advertising could be, literally, "Is this seriously the line-up? Yes, yes it is."

Sure, there were the obvious choices, like Z Gundam, Gundam ZZ, Gundam Wing Endless Waltz, Gundam Char's Counterattack, Maziner ZGreat Mazinger, Getter Robo G & Shin Getter Robo (unit only for the latter), & even Com-Battler V, but it was the rest that was truly once-in-a-lifetime. Aura Battle Dunbine made its last appearance before a decade-long gap (when it was included in 2013's UX for the 3DS), but alongside it came the OVA far-sequel New Story of Aura Battle Dunbine, which was notable because this was the first (&, so far, only) time the characters & story of the OVA series were ever used in SRW; previously, only the mechs were used as extra units. After those, though, came the four first-time appearances in the franchise, which were so unexpected that they have yet to be used again. While Vision of Escaflowne is a beloved classic in North America, it was a less-than-popular anime in Japan, not to mention being the only time a (technically) shojo anime has ever been used in SRW. While GaoGaiGar has made a few appearances, Compact 3 marks the only time spin-off series Betterman has ever been used, which is interesting because an SRW that included both would be neat to see one day. Finally, 70s series Gasshin Sentai Mechander Robo & 80s adventure series Makyou Densetsu Acrobunch also made their only appearances, which is no surprise seeing that the former was screwed over in its original airing due to its toy manufacturer going out of business, which gave the show next to no budget, & the latter was influenced by movies like Indiana Jones & operated pretty differently from most mech anime (making it tricky to really implement). Still, the line-up is easily a major reason to play it, with the fact that its original story involves the Fist of the North Star-influenced Shura Clan being the other big reason. It's not exactly one of the all-time best entries in the giant franchise, though it is still very good, but it's easily one of the most unique.

If Capcom was the king of 2D fighters during the 90s, then Sega may have been the king of 3D fighters, at least in terms of quantity. During the 90s, Sega's various AM divisions produced a fair number of 3D fighters that were all really fun to play. Sega AM2 lead the way with the Virtua Fighter series, which was & still is an iconic series that strives for accuracy. The unique Fighting Vipers duology utilized an interesting armor-breaking system & faster-pased gameplay. Hell, even Sonic the Fighters was a simple but entertaining variant to the previously mentioned game. Sega AM3 had some interesting products, as well, whether it was weapon-based fighter Last Bronx, which became a surprisingly notable success in Japan, or the wild Virtual-On, which is still one of the coolest mech fighters out there. In 1997, Sega decided to pit the first two games, VF2 & FV1 in particular, against each other. The end result was a game that felt like the developers just wanted to have fun with what they were creating, resulting in 1997's Fighters Megamix.

Conceptually, Fighters Megamix was, quite literally, "Virtua Fighter 2 vs. Fighting Vipers". It featured the complete rosters of both games, including bosses, all of their respective stages (FV stages were caged, while VF2 stages were actually endless instead of ringed), & even the option to play the game like it was VF2, which was slower & more methodical, or FV, which was faster & allowed for juggling. Just going off of that, the game would be enjoyable, but it was all of the extra content that made it truly great. First, all of the VF2 characters had some of their new moves from VF3, which was in arcades at the time, which helped make them play somewhat differently from the game they were originally taken from. Second, FM also utilized a dodge maneuver, which helped add an element of "true 3D" to the genre; Sega even called FM the first "real 3D" fighter on the market. What truly makes Fighters Megamix one of the all-time best Saturn fighters, however, is the list of unlockable characters.

One of the neater hidden characters was Siba, a sword-wielding Arabian who was actually planned to be in the original Virtua Fighter but removed after an early prototype of the game; this remains his sole official apperance. An interesting secret was Janet, the female police officer from Virtua Cop 2, who utilized the moveset of VF3's Aoi Umenokoji, essentially adding that character to the roster in spirit. There was also URA Bahn, an improved version of FV's Bahn, but after that comes the rest of the secret fighters, which is where the game goes insane. You can unlock the Virtua Fighters Kids versions of Akira & Sarah, Rent-A-Hero (from the Mega Drive RPG of the same name), Deku (an original character for the game that's a giant Mexican green bean that hides a bird [or Saturn logo] under its hat), Bean the Dynamite & Bark the Polar Bear from Sonic the Fighters (likely because they were AM2-created original characters), &, most importantly, Hornet, the car from Daytona USA... Yes, you could beat people up as a car that stands on its rear wheels & punches with its front wheels. There were also two alternate versions of FV's Kumachan to unlock, Mr. Meat (a giant piece of cartoonish meat with a bone through it) & the AM2 Palm Tree (which is the studio's emblem). Yes, you could pit a race car against a palm tree. There were also rumors of Pepsiman being unlockable in the Japanese version, like he was in FV for the Saturn, but they weren't true; he would have fit in perfectly, however. Needless to say, Fighters Megamix is still considered one of the best Saturn games (& maybe even 3D fighters) of all time, & in Japan alone sold over 500,000 units. Why Sega AM2 never made a sequel, or at least gave it a port of any kind (which would likely be insanely hard, since the Saturn is notoriously hard to port from), still astounds many...

While crossovers between video game companies used to be seemingly restricted to the fighter genre, another genre started becoming more widely used as well: RPGs. Whether it was the strategy-based variant or a more traditional take, the RPG genre allowed for the use of much more variety in which characters could be brought in for the crossover, especially if they weren't exactly fight-capable. Japanese game developer Idea Factory decided to try its hand at crossing over with other companies in the mid-00s, resulting in two RPGs, 2006's Chaos Wars on the PS2 & 2008's Cross Edge (X Edge in Japan) for the PS3. There was also 2009's Trinity Universe on the PS3, but that used guest characters more than being an outright crossover. Since Idea Factory was a more niche developer, though, the companies it would cross over with would be similarly niche, for the most part, resulting in both games having pretty quirky rosters.

Chaos Wars was a strategy RPG not too dissimilar from the Super Robot Wars series in execution, i.e. original characters & story interspersed alongside characters & bits of story from the licensed series utilized. The companies involved here were Idea Factory, Aruze, Atlus, & Red Entertainment, with a guest appearance by Politan, the mascot of MediaWorks' Dengeki Playstation magazine. These companies collaborating resulted in characters from Gungrave O.D., Growlanser I-V, Shadow Hearts II, Shinsengumi Gunrou-den (Code of the Samurai in Europe), various Neverland games (Spectral Tower, Force, Souls, & Generation of Chaos), Steady X StudyRebirth Moon (which the crossover based its general gameplay off of), & Mars of Destruction all mixing together & interacting alongside the original characters. Yep, you could have Beyond the Grave on the same map as Yuri Hyuga, Carmaine Fallsmyer, Hijikata Toshizo, & Hiro, among others... The coolness factor of which depends on how many of these lesser-known games you are familiar with. In true Idea Factory fashion, the game was filled with many, many gameplay systems, some of which replicated the systems of the games being used (like Shadow Hearts' Judgement Ring), making it a game that was going to be either loved or hated. Astonishingly enough, Chaos Wars did receive an English release in North America in 2008 by O~3 Entertainment as a GameStop-exclusive; it was the last game O~3 ever released. While the general translation was fine, though, there were some odd inconsistencies, like maintaining original names instead of using any alterations that American fans were used to (Uru instead of Yuri, Nichol instead of Nicolai, Zeonsilt instead of Haschen, etc.) or simply bizarre katakana-English choices (Bless instead of Breath for some attack names, "Nicole" in place of "Nichol", or the infamous mistyping of Rebirth Moon as "Reverse Moon", even though the English title is in the logo on the same exact screen). It was also infamous for receiving a truly horrid English dub that relied on O~3 staff & family members, making it very likely that SCEA demanded that the game be released with a dub, else it would never be approved be release; luckily, the Japanese audio is available, as well.

Cross Edge was a traditional RPG (i.e. an overworld to explore, turn-based random encounters, etc.) that was similar to Chaos Wars from a conceptual perspective, but the collaborating companies was very different. Here we had Idea Factory, Capcom, Nippon Ichi Software, Namco Bandai, & Gust Corporation coming together, resulting in characters from Atelier Marie, Mana Khemia 2, Darkstalkers, Disgaea, Ar Tornelico, Spectral Souls, & Blazing Souls mixing it up, plus Mokujin from Tekken as a training dummy. This resulted in there being only two returning characters from Chaos Wars (Mue & Zelos from the Neverland Series), and overall Cross Edge had nothing to do with its spiritual predecessor. While the style of of RPG was very different, though, this second IF-developed crossover game was still similar to the first by utilizing various gameplay systems, this time all original to this game, & reaching the "True End" was an effort so precise & painstaking that almost no one tries to do so without consulting a FAQ. This is something that Idea Factory seems to love doing as time has gone on, as Chaos Wars only had some obscure & tricky optional character unlocks to its credit. In the end, Cross Edge was, once again, a game that was generally ravaged by most critics, though it still seemed to earn itself a cult following; its battle system would also later be re-purposed for Record of Agarest War 2. Oddly enough, though, when NIS America brought it over to North America, the company decided to alter the names of some of the original characters, resulting in lead Yuto Kannagi becoming York Neely (yes, seriously), his friend Toya Ijuin into Troy (because he was voiced by Troy Baker?), & the world caretaker triplets of Vivi, Iruma &, Eruma into Vivi, Cece, & Mimi (because rhyming?). Alone this would be more or less innocuous due to the English dub, though a bit odd considering the age it was done in, but NIS America also included the original Japanese audio, making it slightly awkward to play with the original audio, as you'd continually hear one name but read another. Regardless, while Idea Factory is a much more notable & successful company now compared to the mid-00s, even operating a North American branch, it's much more niche status back then allowed for some truly unthought of crossover concepts.

I couldn't find a perfect, four-player select screen shot, sadly.

Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. is both a great party/fighting game series as well as a cool crossover for the company itself, so it's only obvious that other companies would try their hands at doing something similar. One of the earlier attempts to do just that is not just one of the better ones out there, but also features one of the most absurd rosters in fighting game history. A crossover between Konami, Hudson, & Takara, & developed by Bitstep, 2003's DreamMix TV World Fighters for the PS2 & GameCube felt like Smash Bros. but still managed to operate on its own formula. In terms of gameplay, it was a fighting game that allowed for four-player battle royals, like Nintendo's game, but instead of trying to knock your opponents off-screen, you instead try to knock enough heart icons from an opponent so that that character's icon lowers to the left end of a shared health meter. Once that happens, the character becomes small & releases a giant heart, which anyone else can grab to properly take out the character. The small character can recover the heart to get back into the game, however, & can always interfere after defeat. It helped make DreamMix a game that was conceptually similar to Smash, but played different enough to not be an exact clone. Still, the interesting gameplay would only do so much if the crossover lineup wasn't similarly interesting... And it is here that DreamMix TV World Fighters became almost legendary in terms of of completely unpredictable rosters.

Upon playing the game for the first time, you start off with 11 characters, and right away you get some crazy choices, but first let's start with the more reasonable picks. From Konami you start off with Castlevania's Simon Belmont, TwinBee, & the Power Pro mascot Power Pro-kun. Nothing too out of the ordinary there, though the latter two are more iconic in Japan than internationally (which makes sense, as this was Japan-exclusive). Hudson's starting lineup was more obvious, featuring Bomberman, Adventure Island's Takahashi Meijin/Master Higgins, Bloody Roar's Yugo Ogami, & Momotaro from Momotaro Densetsu. Really, the weird factor comes into play for this game mostly because of the involvement of toy company Takara (now Takara Tomy), because that's company's starting lineup made people say "WHAT?!" immediately. Let's see, we have Convoy from Transformers, Takao Kinomiya from Beyblade, Microman, & Licca Kayama (a.k.a. Licca-chan, which is Japan's equivalent to Barbie). Yes, from first boot you could have Simon Belmont, Bomberman, Tyson Granger, & freaking Optimus Prime beat the crap out of each other! It's easy to see why this game never came out anywhere else, because the Takara stuff alone would be impossible to get the licenses to, especially for Transformers & Beyblade. Still, this is only the starting roster... We still have six hidden characters to bring up.

2008's Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii was partially notable for bringing in third-party characters in the form of Sonic the Hedgehog & Metal Gear's Solid Snake, but some gamers in the know were quick to point out that Snake had already been a similar game five years prior. That's because Solid Snake is the first unlockable character for Konami in DreamMix TV World Fighters, but even good ol' Snake kind of pales in comparison to the other Konami unlockable... A giant Moai statue from Gradius; that is both really ridiculous yet also absolutely amazing. Hudson's secret duo of Sengoku Manjimaru from Far East of Eden II & Binbogami/Poverty God from Momotaro Densetsu are almost generic compared to that, but are still cool nonetheless. Finally, Takara hides away Aska from the Cool Girls toy line ("best known" internationally for the Cy Girls PS2 video game) & Megatron from Transformers; yeah, after seeing Optimus from the start, seeing Megatron just makes sense. Nonplayable characters also include Bomberman villain Mujoe, who acts as the final boss of arcade mode, & Devastator from Transformers, who is literally a stage. While Super Smash Bros. for Wii U & 3DS have introduced some truly unexpected characters to that series, like Pac-Man, Bayonetta, Street Fighter's Ryu, & Final Fantasy VII's Cloud Strife, I still don't think it, or any future "Smash Bros. clone", will ever reach the sheer amount of "What the hell am I seeing?!" that DreamMix TV World Fighters managed to achieve. The fact that the Konami/Hudson/Takara collaboration is a really fun game in its own right is even more astonishing.

Ending this B-List is the crossover series that inspired me to create this post, and it's still, in my opinion, the perfect example of what a video game crossover should be like when it comes to establishing a roster. Monolith Soft had already established itself as a force to look out for when it came to RPGs via Xenosaga & Baten Kaitos by the time it developed 2005's Namco × Capcom, a strategy RPG crossover between the two labeled companies. Said game would end up becoming the first in a series of crossovers, which now go by the name of either the X/Cross Series (not to be confused with the company's Xeno Series), or the Project X Series. Before we get into these games specifically, though, let's first bring up the game that acted kind of like a spiritual predecessor, one that was developed by Namco itself & is more or less forgotten now because it was only released in Japan, only for Bandai's little handheld that could, & had an uber-retro series roster.

Late 2002's Namco Super Wars for the WonderSwam Color/SwanCrystal was a tactical RPG that brought together a few Namco franchises, all of which were from the 80s. Specifically, the game featured characters from the Valkyrie Series, Dragon Buster/Valor, Dragon Spirit, The Tower of Druaga, Genpei Touma Den/The Genji and the Heike Clans, Mappy, Dig Dug, Phelios, Wonder Momo, Bravoman, & Family Stadium, giving an obvious focus on the fantastical & mystical. Seeing as it came so late in the handheld's life, it's been more or less forgotten (it doesn't even have a Japanese Wikipedia page), but there's a fair chance that Namco Super Wars may have been a bit of an influence when Monolith Soft started making crossover games.

When Namco × Capcom first came out in 2005, I don't believe a lot of non-Japanese gamers really knew what to make of it. While there was the obvious series representation, like Tekken, Street Fighter, Soul Calibur, & Darkstalkers, the majority of the licensed cast came from much more obscure & retro game series. Namco's reps actually featured a lot of overlap with Namco Super Wars, while also adding in Klonoa, Burning Force, Tales of Destiny (1 & 2 [not to be confused with ToDII/Eternia]), Xenosaga (because it's a Monlith Soft game), Shadow Land, & Baraduke, many of which make their first & only series appearances in this game. Similarly, Capcom was represented by the Ghosts 'n Goblins Series, Captain Commando, Strider, Rival Schools, Final Fight, Dino Crisis, & even Forgotten Worlds! Hell, two of Capcom's most iconic franchises, Mega Man & Resident Evil, were represented in NxC by the more obscure Mega Man Legends & Resident Evil: Dead Aim! In fact, many people think that this game never saw an international release simply because Namco & Capcom felt that no one outside of Japan would even know who most of the cast even was. To be honest, however, while NxC showcases perfectly how much love Monolith Soft has for every single series that is used, the gameplay is a bit of a slog. While playing offense can be very fun due to the juggle-focused active combat system, playing defense can be downright painful mentally, as you have to actively defend against every...single...enemy attack, and the maps can be downright packed full of enemies the further into the story you go. Still, Monolith Soft showcased a true love for making crossover games, and when the staff got a second chance they improved heavily on this initial formula.

It would take a good few years, but Monolith Soft was allowed to give a crossover another try in 2012 with Project X Zone for the 3DS, which not only reunited Namco & Capcom but also brought Sega into the mix along with Bandai (which had since merged with Namco). Interestingly enough, while most crossover games by the same company tend to be treated individually (SRW only keeps continuity across specific series of games), Monolith Soft decided to make PXZ an actual sequel to NxC, allowing the staff to bring back the original characters from that game and letting returning licensed characters maintain a sense of camaraderie & continuity with others. Just like their last game, though, Monolith Soft still maintained a dedication to mixing the iconic with the obscure, this time bringing Devil May Cry, CyberbotsDead Rising, Resident Evil: Revelations, Mega Man X, Tales of Vesperia, .hack, God EaterSuper Robot Taisen OG (both the main series & the spin-off Endless Frontier [which improved NxC's battle system & was revamped for PXZ]), & even Yumeria (which is more known for its anime than the original game). Representing Sega, however, were Valkyria Chronicles, Sakura Wars, Virtua Fighter, Resonance of Fate, Space Channel 5, Dynamite Cop, House of the Dead spin-off Zombie Revenge, Fighting Vipers, & even Shining Force EXA! There were even cameos from Fantasy Zone, Space Harrier, Alien Storm, Side Arms Hyper Dyne, & Tech Romancer. Once again, all involved companies were initially hesitant to release PXZ internationally, but decided to give it a try. Luckily, the game was a surprise hit, showing that gamers were more than willing to learn about games & characters they never knew about before while loving the reps that they are familiar with. This allowed Monolith Soft to make a third game in what became a full-on crossover franchise, one which just came out a month ago internationally.

2015s Project X Zone 2 on 3DS is more or less a lot of the same as its prequel, especially in how its more enjoyable for its sheer dedication to maintaining accuracy, respect, & fanservice to its utilized series than for having truly deep gameplay, but that isn't a bad thing by any means; it does refine even more a lot of the gameplay elements, though. Putting the original story focus back on NxC's leads Reiji Arisu & Xiaomu, two agents of the mysterious organization Shinra, PXZ2 acts more like a direct sequel to that game than anything, even bringing back some series that were in NxC but excised from PXZ1, like Strider, Forgotten Worlds, Shadow Land, & Captain Commando. This time around, Monolith Soft dug even deeper into the catalogs of Bandai Namco, Capcom, & Sega, bringing in Shinobi (the PS2 game) & Nightshade, God Eater 2, Yazkua: Dead Souls, Resident Evil 6, Ace Attorney, Soul Calibur V, Summon Night 3, Shenmue, Streets of Rage, & Star Gladiator. The studio even managed to include Segata Sanshiro, Sega's mascot for the Saturn in Japan. Cameo appearances were made by Alex Kidd, Altered Beast, Legendary Wings, Ordyne, Battle Circuit, Xevious, Wagan Land, Toy Pop, & even Nintendo got into some of the action by allowing the use of characters from Fire Emblem Awakening & Xenoblade Chronicles. Not only that, but Monolith Soft even went as far as implementing elements of non-game content, like having the previously mentioned Street Fighter II Movie brainwashing scene (even including the movie's iconic insert song) or having a Virtua Fighter theme literally be the TV anime's second OP.

Without a doubt, Monolith Soft has created some of the all-time greatest video game crossovers. The staff there have a true love & appreciation for everything that the involved companies have ever created, truly know their lore & in-jokes (or at least really do their research), & understand that celebrating the forgotten & obscure is just as important as relying on the iconic & cult classics. Monolith Soft has indicated that it would love to continue making crossover games as long as they sell, and I hope that the studio gets the opportunity to do just that. After all, you can't simply use Black Hayato from Star Gladiator 2 in PXZ2 without hoping to make a PXZ3 that features a redeemed Hayato Kanzaki.
Crossovers are (almost) always a fun way to not only introduce some synergy between traditionally opposing companies, but also let fans see some of their favorite characters interact with others that would traditionally never happen. To take from Monolith Soft's work on that front, it's cool to know that Ryu & Ken have heard of Akira Yuki, & all three know of Jin Kazama, or to see Chun-Li be familiar with Axel Stone's reputation, or establish that Strider, Captain Commando, & Star Gladiator all take place in around the same type of Capcom future world. At the same time, crossovers are an excellent way (or excuse) to bring back some forgotten characters & series, letting the few who are familiar with them to be happy that said franchises haven't been totally ignored while giving most who are new to these things an introduction & maybe even revive some interest in them.

When most people consider the potentials for a crossover, they tend to link together similar characters that are generally well known (or, at least, known to the individual fans), but what I look forward to is seeing just how much the people making the crossover dig into the giant toy chest, looking for dusty & long-unused figures to clean off & bring back into the spotlight. That's when I feel a crossover works best, quite honestly.

If you feel differently, though, then by all means tell me off below.


  1. This was a great read. I'd personally like a Irem + Taito + Jaleco crossover one day.

    A man can dream....

    1. Hmmm, I can see Irem & Taito work well together. Jaleco, though, just doesn't have a catalog that has enough "iconic" works to feel anything more than a curiosity. Still, it would be an interesting mix.

    2. Maybe just Irem X Taito would work. I would pay good money to see Bub & Bob fight the Dobkeratops from R-Type.