Post Reply Octo's rambling disorganized guide to doing crossovers in fighting games right and wrong
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Posted 10/7/17 , edited 10/8/17
So this upcoming week for me is reading week and I got assigned to pen a close reading on The Yellow Wallpaper, so of course I went and got a bunch of new games, specifically Dead or Alive 5, since it's free to play. I haven't purchased any dlc yet, but I did notice that one of the downloadable characters is Mai Shiranui of Fatal Fury and king of Fighters fame.



It's a brilliant crossover, really. Dead or Alive has always been focused on having hot women in revealing or fetishistic clothes and what woman in fighting games fits that mold better than Mai? This was such a good inclusion that I felt a renewed interest in fighting game crossovers, so it was only natural that my mind should go to the most recently released major fighting game: Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite. The whole appeal of it is the crossover, after all. But like many people, I had problems with the roster, it's not as expansive or as fun as the earlier entries in the series. In most cases I can understand why this happened; Disney wanted to promote their films and avoid having to pay Fox royalties for X-Men characters and so the Marvel roster pulls exclusively from the successful, but very limiting Marvel cinematic universe. As for Capcom, they likely had to shrink their side of the roster down because Disney probably didn't want to be underrepresented so with all that in mind I fully understand why the decisions on the roster were made. Well, all except for the inclusion of one character: Nathan Spencer.



Don't recognize this guy? Well don't feel bad, his only fondly remembered game was 1988's Bionic Commando on the NES, now isn't that exactly the character you would want to keep when shrinking your roster down? To be fair, Bionic Commando was a very good and impressively innovative game for it's time and some of you may consider it unfair to expect Capcom to include things based on popularity instead of their own tastes and vision. The problem with that is that Spencer's design in MVC:I is not at all based on the NES classic, but on his appearance in the 2009 reboot of the same name. This remake seemed to stray as far as possible from the original game and only shipped a miserable 27 000 units in its entire first month according to Kotaku. So not only did Capcom remove characters that were actually cool and popular like Amaterasu, Hsien-Ko or Trish, but they leave in a lame protagonist from a game nobody bought. I know he was in MVC3, but that was when his game was still on store shelves, so it made sense from a promotional stand point, but in 2017 that angle is completely lost. Who wants to play as Nathan Spencer? Not me, I'd like to play as an endearing or cool character. I'm not saying that Capcom needs to only put characters from their current games in MVC, but I'd rather play as Laura or one of those weird superpowered hillbillies from Resident Evil 7 over this boring military dude any day of the week. At least Spencer is only one character, so even though he's the worst aspect of the crossover in this crossover game, he doesn't bring the overall package down too much. But I soon realised that was not the case for every crossover fighting game.



Considering what forum this is, I doubt BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle needs much of an introduction beyond just saying it's a crossover fighting game between a bunch of series from Arc System Works, the biggest name in the "anime fighting game" sub-genre. It sounds like a great idea, right? Blazblue is a hugely successful fighting franchise and Persona 4 Arena not only has a thriving competitive playerbase but an association with the incredibly successful Persona 4 RPG and Under Night In Birth has... wait, what the fuck is Under Night in Birth? Yeah, some of the more recent fans ASW fans, like me, might be confused as to who the blonde guy with the crimson sword is, and as it turns out he's Hyde, the hero of the previously named game on PS3 and PS4. Now the game was pretty well received, but the fact that it was released half a decade ago and has not received so much as a spinoff since. That does not earn it something even resembling the stature of Blazblue or Persona 4 arena, but what makes it even worse is that you may have noticed there's an ASW franchise that's missing from this ASW crossover.



Oh yeah, Guilty Gear, you know, one of the biggest 2d fighting game series since it's debut 20 years ago and EVO mainstay. You know, all things Under Night in Birth can't hold a candle to. Putting a much less hyped franchise into a crossover with titans like Blazblue or Persona 4 Arena already takes the wind out of the sails and diminishes the attractiveness of the product as a whole, but when it does so at the expense of a much more up to par series just feels like a major loss for the end user. But hey, if you ignore the almost criminal absence of Guilty Gear, Under Night In Birth still makes sense to have in Tag Battle. I mean even if it doesn't have the same rep as GG, it's still a fighting game and a fighting game from one of the best fighting game companies to boot. All things I cannot say for...



...RWBY. Just... why? It isn't even a game, it's a web cartoon with amateur voice actors that had its 15 minutes of fame 3 years ago when making online films look semi-professional was rare at best. Why does this franchise deserve to bump elbows with Blazblue and Persona? Why does it even merit being put in a fighting game crossover? Because it has fighting in its story? Arc System Works has the license to develop Dragonball games and are doing so with a game that has been having the most successful public beta period since Overwatch and instead of that they put in RWBY? Well it is only the most successful battle manga and anime franchise of all time having achieved an almost global level of popularity, it only makes sense for them to use the recent web cartoon that leaves the noises of its VAs adjusting their mics in it instead. Even if I completely ignore the other possibilities for this crossover, there's still such a confusing incongruity between the represented franchises and it pulls down the appeal of the product as a whole. I mean you could be justified in saying I'm nitpicking with the Nathan Spencer thing, but that was just one character, I don't think I'm being unreasonable when the issue is with half of the crossover.



Did you know that they make fight sticks for the Switch? It came as quite a shock to me, since as far as I know the only fighting games on that system are Pokken Tournament and Ultra Street Fighter II. It's not like the Switch has compatibility with generic usb sticks either, they literally make fightsticks specifically for the system. This piqued my curiosity so I decided to look for other fighting games for the Switch that I hadn't heard of and surprise surprise, I came across another crossover fighter. Pictured above is Blade Strangers, an upcoming fighting game crossover between Nicalis and Studio Saizensen to be released on Switch, PS4 and (depending on who you ask) PC in 2018. A fighting game featuring a roster of small or indie game heroes is pretty appealing to me and if you agree then the odds are you already noticed Cave Story's Curly Brace in the screenshot above rendered in a surprisingly hot de-chibied form. In fact, I'm left almost salivating at what Nicalis could bring to a fighting game with their hands on Pixel Amaya's brilliant baby. Most people probably won't recognize the other girl though and that's sort of where my issue comes up.

I mentioned earlier that studio Saizensen is the other half of this crossover, but who even are they? Well their biggest claim to fame is that they made the Umihara Kawase series, a collection of platform games where the titular heroine is whisked away to a cutesy fantasy world that mirrors our own in a surrealist way and must overcome platforming challenges by using her fishing pole à la Bionic Commando (wow, we've come full circle). The thing is that Cave Story despite not really having more than one entry is still an incredible success for indie standards. The one game has been wonderfully received and has been released on 6 different systems across 3 generations of gaming since it was first released. The Umihara Kawase games sold okay, got an average reception and some sequels, but ever since its release on the SNES it's only appeared on 7 different systems which is more than Cave Story but its less impressive when you consider its been around twice as long and has fauled repeatedly to build much of a name for itself. In fact, I bet most of you reading this didn't even know these games got released over here, well a few of them did anyway. I dont disrespect Umihara Kawase as a series, but I don't give a fraction of a fuck about it in context to a fighting game crossover with the much more hype Cave Story.

But Kawase is an all time classic compared to Saizensen's other contribution to this crossover: Code of Princess. I'm not even going to bother with a picture because with how forgettable the game is it wouldnt matter. This one game, which again was released half a decade ago with no attention since, was given a reception of 6/10s all across the board. It's a mediocre beat em up that's more interested in aping Guardian Heroes than adding any sort of depth or polish. This addition grinds the appeal of the crossover aspect to a halt and that's before you get into the fact that 3 of the confirmed 5 characters in this game are from it.

Yup, not only does this crossover game throw in a hype as hell great game and throw it in the same pot as a boring one that nobody remembers, but it gives the latter what currently seems like a near monopoly in representation. Looking at Saizensen's track record, it's not hard to see why they wouldn't oick one of their other IPs either. All of their most successful games have been entries in other people's franchises, most notably Sega's "Shining" series. Their only other original title seems to be an obscure rpg from 1998 called Doki Doki Poyatchio that, of course, never got a sequel. Contrast this with the titles under Nicalis' belt: VVVVV, Ittle Dew and the Binding of fucking Isaac among many others. Not necessarily the most mainstream sucesses but all huge accomplishments in the independent market. And of course the only Nicalis IP shown so far in this crossover with Nicalis is Cave Story. Talk about a huge underuse of potential. How cool would it be to fight as the guy from 1001 spikes or one of those cute little mascots from Creepy Castle? But no, instead we get an overrepresentation of games nobody cares about ruining what could have been a great idea had they used the better franchises. It just goes to show what Saizensen is to this project: dead weight. They can't provide any franchises that would make anybsort of draw to a crossover fighting game and their inclusions of franchises that can't weigh down and worsen the appeal of what could have been a great idea.

So in case you rightfully didn't want to read through that fucking novella, I'm saying that these crossover fighting games need to be more selective with their crossovers. It seems there are so many missteps being taken and so many unfavourable guests in crossover fighters these days. A good franchise crossing over with a not as good franchise does not just make a game thats as good as the good franchise's standards, it just takes the structure of the good franchise and worsens it by taking away its space and replacing it with something lame. Amd that does not make a good crossover.

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Posted 10/8/17
Not enough pictures of Mai ass, but yeah. Do not do crossovers just to crossover. We do not need another Yoda or Vader in Soul Edge.
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Posted 10/8/17
Disney/Marvel wouldn't have to pay royalties to Fox for including the X-men in MvCI. Fox only owns the movie rights to the X-men. They have absolutely no involvement in Disney/Marvel including the X-men in any other form of media, including video games. The decision was probably influenced by Disney/Marvel wanting to push the MCU characters.
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Posted 10/8/17

Barbobot wrote:

Disney/Marvel wouldn't have to pay royalties to Fox for including the X-men in MvCI. Fox only owns the movie rights to the X-men. They have absolutely no involvement in Disney/Marvel including the X-men in any other form of media, including video games. The decision was probably influenced by Disney/Marvel wanting to push the MCU characters.


Well shit, that just makes it worse. I mean it's not like they could have had both X-Men and MCU characters. I don't even like the X-Men that much, but to see characters that are so adored by the fanbase be removed with little in the way of suitable replacements just seems so mean.
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Posted 10/8/17
The rights for the Marvel characters in the MvC games were already in a tough spot with MvC3, hence why it took so long for there to even be an MvC3 and why MvC2 and the base version of MvC3 are no longer available for purchase. I'm not really surprised that Marvel/Disney was basically able to completely call the shots on their side of the roster in MvCI. Not saying I'm not disappointed but it really was likely a case of either they had that much control or MvCI just wouldn't/couldn't exist. I do personally wish they would have at least included DareDevil though and he seemed a possibility given the recent Netflix stuff.

As for the Capcom side, it's a mixed bag. A ton of people wanted more MegaMan representation and they got that with X and Sigma being in the game. Many people did like Bionic Commando from MvC3 though the continued choice to go with his reboot look instead of his original look seems poor as that was something people have been complaining about since MvC3 (and they even had his OG costume as DLC so it's not like they totally "forgot" about it). It would have been nice to see more of the old cast return but I would imagine they'll be coming as DLC anyway given how heavily the returning characters do borrow from their previous incarnations. It's easy money for Capcom to trot out an old favourite even with minimal new kit and then sell it separately.

When it comes to crossovers overall, it's a tough one. I like the concept but it's always a balancing act. Personally I don't care so much about the exact characters as much as I care about how it fits together. Soul Calibur is probably both the best and worst for this. Guest characters like Link and Ezio really worked well as they fit in both gameplay and appearance wise. Guest characters like the Star Wars cast were just stupid on every level (except for making money I suppose). If you're going to do a full crossover either do what you can to make it make sense or, if you're not, just go as stupid and crazy as possible like they did in MvC2. It's really when something falls into that weird middle space between the two that there's problems.
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25 / M / Texas
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Posted 10/8/17
Nobody cares about the characters used in crossover games. All that matters is the functions they perform, right? That's why instead of playing Wolverine, I can just spend the low, low price of $7.99 for Black Panther, who fulfills the same function as Wolverine.
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