Here's my artwork submission for the Crossover art community blog thing. It's the dream match up of the hyper dimension fighting millennium of dreams EX APLHA PLUS!! Yeah I know it's not funny or whatever but I don't care, I'm not sorry!
You can see my artwork all over the place. On my site http://olyjns.tumblr.com/
I've been fixated with crossovers ever since I started playing games at a young age so i'm glad I have a chance to talk at length about it. Anyway I hope you like my art and don't take my blabbering on too seriously.
Crossovers: Marrying Franchises.
Since SNK decided to condense all their fighting properties into a single crossover game (The King of Fighters
), crossovers have been a big part of the games industry, most notably in any form of ‘fighting’ or ‘battle’ genre. The amount of Crossovers springing up is increasing and it’s not surprising. With audiences already established, they are an easy sell and big money. Unfortunately this resurgence does little to counter the opinions of those citing the games industry is running out of ideas.
When talking about crossovers it’s only worth focusing on what makes a crossover a success. Foremost, I personally believe the definitive elements of what made the involved franchises good, needs to be there in the crossover. A simple idea that is often negated along the way.
I’ve decided to focus on this staple of gaming in time with the October 11 release in Japan of Project X Zone
. The game features over 200 characters from franchises held by Capcom, Sega and Namco Bandai. It is arguably the largest congregation of licences of it‘s kind. The ’project’ comes after a long stint of difficulties for all 3 companies. Former grandeur has given way to a fare share of struggles creating and establishing new Ips as well as clinging on to diminishing presence. This has been particularly felt by Sega and Capcom who don’t have Namco’s advantage of a partnership within a multi media licensing powerhouse like Bandai.
Interestingly, the game play style itself is based loosely in the same vein as another established crossover series; Super Robot Wars
. This series comprises of a large cast from many different giant robot anime. And so even a crossover can create a crossover.
The opening video to PXZ is especially nice.
Partial Crossovers: Guest Characters
Another way of crossing over franchises is when a series includes ‘guest characters’ from another series.
When Dead or Alive 5
came out at the tail end of September, it incorporated for the first time in it’s history characters from another heavy weight fighting series; Virtua Fighter. Virtua Fighter
was attested to being the inspiration for Dead or Alive by DOA’s producer Yousuke Hayashi who asked the permission from SEGA to use the characters himself.
Now the series has gone full circle to the point of enveloping it’s muse by way of guest characters. A mutual opportunity to expand audiences for both series‘ and publishers. DOA5 would also act as an advert to attract a new audience to Virtua Fighter 5:Final Showdown
, recently released on Xbox360 and Playstation 3 in June.
series is probably the most famed guest character fighting game property. Every game in the series since Soul Caliber II
has had a guest star. The series has been inventive in how it has implemented these familiar faces. Characters such as Heihachi, Spawn and Link were platform exclusives on the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube respectively as were Darth Vader and Yoda (on PS3 and 360 before being made available as DLC) in Soul Caliber IV
The series has even gone so far as to implement hidden characters by way of moves and outfits such as KOS MOS in Soul Caliber III and Tekken’s Devil Jin, King and others in Soul Caliber V
The knock on effect is that many big name games series presently adopt an advanced version of this process by assigning completely different pre-orders bonus material (like characters weapons etc) depending on which outlet you purchase your game from, as well as which DLC may be accessible. This is now a common occurrence.
With these are the 2 main types of crossovers in mind, it’s worth highlighting some notable crossovers in the fighting genre and how they stack up.
Significant Crossover Battle Games.
Namco X Capcom
Just as Project X Zone was developed by Monolith as was Namco X Capcom which serves as a prequel in it’s execution. The game is at it’s core a tactical-RPG with battle elements again pertaining to the Super Robot Wars (/Taisen)
mould also developed by Namco although that time by Banpresto and Winkysoft.
Using the Fire Emblem
come Final Fantasy: Tactics
framework allows all the various properties involved to conform to a neutral game style not too commonly seen. It does however invite a lot of bloated exposition and it’s no wonder that the countless translation as well as international licensing conflicts doomed this game to never see release outside of Japan. This unfortunately may be the plight of Project X Zone
also despite huge interest and even Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada fighting the case for overseas localisation on his twitter.
Again, the opening video also has that same slick Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann/Dead Leaves) style animation which is cool.
Super Smash Bros Series
Probably the most popular and ambitious fighting game crossover series; SSB features characters from all Nintendo’s flagship series in a side on fighter. The big stages and interactive items are reminiscent of games like Power Stone. The original game broke new ground, spawning many pretenders to it’s style.
Sequels; Melee and Brawl were key sales incentives to the respective Gamecube and Wii consoles, Brawl even features characters from outside Nintendo such as Solid Snake from Konami’s Metal Gear Series and Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog. News is that the Wii U installment will see Hal. Labs team up with Namco to develop it.
Smash Bros’ legacy also leads into the Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games mini game crossover series. A partnership believed unfeasible a decade previous, signalling the end of the Sega/Nintendo ‘Cold War‘.
All Stars Battle Royale
Seen by many from the start as Sony’s answer to a Smash Bros clone , All Stars Battle Royale
unites an eclectic mix of Sony properties in a super fight where they can smash each other around in a big brawl. The choice to include characters from 18+ rated games alongside characters from games made for young children seems questionable and confused to me, despite the target market being any age ( like Smash Bros). This may be due to Sony not having as many original Ips to pull from. Gameplay is hard to call at this stage as it hasn’t been released yet. Could go either way.
Battle Stadium D.O.N
If All Stars Battle Royale
is a shameless Smash Bros rip-off then Battle Stadium D.O.N takes the piss. The game combines popular Shonen Jump properties; Dragonball, Naruto and One Piece. It’s as simple as that. It did however use the ‘full screen extra powered move’ before Brawl did, but only after about a billion Street Fighter games already had.
Outside of the Disney/Square-Enix Kingdom Hearts
crossover series, Square-Enix tried their own take on the Smash Bros concept; Dissidia
. All the main protagonists and antagonists from the Final Fantasy series match up in airborne battles inspired by the fight scenes from the Final Fantasy VII:Advent Children
spin-off film. Had a sequel with the confusingly titled Dissidia 012 (Dissidia Duodecim).
This was Square-Enix’s (then squaresoft) first attempt at a crossover battle game. The fighter incorporated 6 guest characters from the recently released Final Fantasy VII
and intended to cash in on the game‘s huge success. Even the development was a crossover as the arcade version was developed by Namco.
Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe
A far softer version of the brutal brawler to accommodate DC (and Warner Bros) aesthetic. A response to Marvel Vs Capcom
no one asked for.
Most of the games I play are actually Crossovers. Here’s some reviews of a few that I’ve played far too much.
Marvel Vs Capcom 2
Following on from X-Men Vs Street Fighter and Marvel Vs Capcom comes Marvel Vs Capcom 2!
I love this game. It is everything good about a crossover and mad as balls. All the Capcom characters get super screen destroying versions of their regular moves rather than the Marvel Super Heroes being watered down, that is how it should be done. Not the other way around which is usually the case.
The best thing about this is that Capcom threw as many characters as they possibly could at this game and it rocks. This game is a huge celebration of both companies’ legacies. There are no glaring omissions, just as everyone wanted (yes Thanos would have been nice). That’s right, Capcom were in the habit of giving people what they actually wanted back then. Seems strange now, doesn’t it? (rhetorical question, yes it does)
If this game came out today under a tragically different Capcom it would be a mess of DLC, releases and omissions. And I just realize Iv’e described Marvel Vs Capcom 3, a game that can’t stand up to its technically inferior and far older predecessor on any front.
The gameplay of which would have a lot to owe to this next game….
Tatsunoko Vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (Wii)
The ONLY reason to buy an arcade stick for the Wii (if you don’t count the virtual console). On a system with considerably less fighters than the competition TvC need to be as good as it is.
The game play style relies on a few simple commands and is far less complex than most fighters. Air cancels and full screen super moves filling the whole screen. This leads into the play style of Marvel vs Capcom 3 well which is not surprising given they were both produced by Ryota Niitsuma.
Despite Tatsunoko being a more obscure match up choice outside of Japan, the roster and varying fighting styles feel like a good fit overall. It’s fun and pretty cheap now.
Capcom Vs SNK 2 EO [Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001] (Gamecube Ver.)
The game is rewarding and it is fun. That’s all you really need. All the characters play how you expect them to in their respective franchises and there don’t seem to be many drastic compromises to shoehorn everything in.
EO stands for easy operation and button commands are simplified. Easy Operation in theory maybe but not in execution.I have this on Gamecube, The Gamecube controller wasn’t too suited to the quick reflexes needed for fighting games. Buttons are so big and awkward you may as well be playing with a Fisher Price phone. The AC and GC modes are a no brainier, go AC every time.
GC stands for Giant Cock which is what you’ll be for choosing this mode. Also the ‘Grooves’ play styles range from well suited to redundant, these are modes that improve or impede aspects like jumps and blocks etc. Some are worthless just so they can have different Letter modes spell out C,A,P,S,N,K but it’s nice to have options.
At times this crossover makes me cross …and keel over. Half the characters sprites are rehashed from older games. Anime look Morrigan, and alpha style Blanka and Sagat really stick in my mind like a nail. Not only is the art way too alien to the smooth SNK style render to the rest of the game but the proportions are all wrong. It’s like they couldn’t be bothered to get this right. I still have nightmares about it.
(other crossover games in the series include: Capcom vs. SNK, Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000/Pro, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash, SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos, Carry On SNK vs. Capcom, SNK Kids vs. Capcom Elderly people: Card Collecting Apocalypse, SNK vs. Capcom Save Christmas, Nintendogs
Jump Ultimate Stars
The Jump series is arguably a progenitor of the crossover game concept. Comprised of billions of characters from Shueisha’s Shonen Jump, Famicom Jump: Hero Retsuden
appeared on the Famicom in 1988 kicking things off and spawning Famicom Jump II: Saikyo no Shichinin
Yeah the advert looks cool...
...but you’re actually playing this.
Fast forward 2005 and Jump Super Stars hits Nintendo DS leading us to Jump Ultimate Stars a year later.
Intelligence. Strength. Smile. Jump. These aren’t just the names of my children (never proved), these are also words that fly around in the opening video to Jump Ultimate Stars!
Smash Bros style brawler that’s a simple play, easy to get into, pulling off moves is very repetitive. All the characters from different manga worlds have been uniformed with minor imbalances for rarer chacters as the roster is huge. Each have about three main level power moves which can link into combos. However powerful or silly or smart of whatever theses characters are supposed to be in their respective universes in irrelevant.
The story mode is extremely monotonous -and ends in a quiz. A QUIZ!! What game ends with a quiz?! What could be a more thrilling and momentous climax to your incredible adventure of wonder than an exam! Even if you do understand all the Japanese magic moonspeak that is still not a fun idea.
If you’re well versed with the subversive versus universe of Shonen Jump, you’ll probably enjoy Jump Ultimate stars on Nintendo DS.
Street Fighter X Tekken (Playstation 3 Ver.)
SFXTKN is a tough one for me to talk about partly because it’s fairly new and partly because I love both franchises but mostly because I hate it.
This was supposed to be the dream match up between everyone’s favourite and second favourite fighting franchise that isn’t Virtua Fighter, Dead or Alive or King of Fighters. Nothing too drastically amiss with the fighting itself in my eyes, the player can expect to adapt to the gameplay the more they play. If I’m honest I do feel the fighting is lacking; the crossover tags and launches are slow and are more of a handicap even when executed well at times.
Also most of the gameplay feels on the heavy side possibly to accommodate for half a roster without projectiles, we all know compromises were likely needed to pull off two distinct gameplay styles, but overall I find it far less responsive and ultimately less fun than SSIV,TekkenTAG2,KOFXIII, DOA5 and actually wouldn’t pick it out off the shelf over pretty much any of the fighters I own unless I just wanted to see the novelty of Heihachi fight Akuma on the same screen.
I could instead boot up a Frankenstein’s monster hacked to fuck Mugen emu if I really wanted to do that and it would probably be more fun… plus I could chuck in Ronald McDonald, Tom Hanks, level 35 Super Sayiin Mecha Gokux (Gokus other other son I just now made up) and a couple of sonic style fan characters (called things like Xtremxz or Jaxzez) that someone on deviant art that likes ‘animal-people’ porn made.
Because that’s just as ridiculous and slightly less insulting than ‘Fat old box art cosplay Megaman’ to me.
There are a few other aspects I could mention although that would veer this too far down into the abyss). Rather, I’m more let down by the sheer amount of crap that’s been seemingly added without much thought with the expectation that this would enhance the experience.
The worst being the ‘Gem system’- a way for people who paid for a power up to cheat their way to victory. You can argue this adds a Mario Kart level of random sabotage to proceedings, It doesn’t. The skill element is removed. This encourages more frustrated players to pay more money to capcom to play power up top trumps. Did you buy the right gems? Well done you already won. If you have two players with similarly powerful gems you effectively have two people playing rock, paper, scissors. I turn it off.
Scramble mode hasn’t evolved from the 2 on 1 feature way back in Alpha 3. Nothing has progressed in over a decade. It’s a load of shit happening all at once on the screen but not in a fun or very responsive way like say Smash bros. Control is given up. Just keep mashing.
But that’s just my stupid opinions, you may love all those things and that’s fine. However, mocking frozen portraits of unattained premium priced characters glaring back from the select screen is a crude move. £15.99 for 12 on disc characters. Not surprising how widely popular that move wasn’t. You can buy Guilty Gear, Street Fighter HD remix, Final Fight, TEKKEN 1,2
and most of the King of Fighters
games on your PSN instead or buy any of the other better recent fighters out there in a sale or pre-owned so I’d do that instead. I know people love it and whatever but I can only view it as garish mess and not nearly as fun as it thinks it is. Fat Mega Man.
The Fight For The Future.
The future is Crossovers. Like it or not. With so many winging their way to our consoles, the precarious selling point of the genre ( and yes, by now we can call it a genre) could easily diminish - it is a novelty. As soon as a gimmick becomes old and the spectacle lost then what you have left is an ordinary game just like any other and more importantly for publishers one without an added sales incentive.
That’s why crossovers must be rare to truly work. With more and more new IP’s falling flat and the post recession economy forcing developers to take less risks, Crossovers may fast become more of a given and less of a gift.