Much like any other form of media, Video games have characters. Times have changed since the days of piloting a nameless spaceship or race car at the local quarter bar when you should be in school. With every technological advance that the new game consoles bring to the table, video game avatars are becoming deeper characters and more believable people as a whole. Considering the complexity of more modern games, you begin to spend more time than just a couple of lives with these digital avatars, and just like a movie or television show, you become emotionally invested in these guys. If you’re one of those “video games are art” people, this is a good thing.
Over the years, a rise in the popularity of video games as a legitimate form of media has done two things. It has allowed these simple characters to mature into beloved icons, and it has proven that there is money to be made in the video game industry.
When one has an entire library of characters to choose from, it becomes fun to imagine what it would be like if these fictional people somehow found a way to meet. Would their personalities get along? Who would win in the confrontation? Would they set aside their differences to work together somehow for the greater good? Comic books have been doing it for years. Usually it’s a good thing.
Though judging by the very first paragraph, you know this is an article about video games, and people involved in video games just can’t be happy with a good thing. Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 comes out ten years ago and is pretty much a M.U.G.E.N. compilation gone horribly awry, and people complain that only a handful of the fighters are worth playing out of the fifty-six. Capcom goes back to the drawing board for the long anticipated Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and gives us a beautiful game full of new characters who are all useful and interesting, and people complain that there aren’t enough characters and that their favorites were excluded.
Personally, I’m just as pleased as punch with the game that I got, but nobody else seems to be. Could it be that we’ve all become jaded as gamers, and expect “more” and “better”, no matter what product we’ve been given? A quick discussion with my brother gave me an idea about this. A terrible, horrible idea. An idea that other people have also had, apparently…
Norman Boudreau: Ya know who would make a good character in Marvel Vs. Capcom?
Norman Boudreau: Charlie Sheen.
Norman Boudreau: Cause he’s winning.
Norman Boudreau: For a special move he would turn into a fucking jet.
Why the hell not, right? It’s not like this is taboo in the industry anymore, and I’m not just talking things like Megaman or Dante sneaking their way into other Capcom games, either. The entire idea of the Capcom Vs. series celebrates the idea of Ryu from Street Fighter breaking down barriers to beat up superheroes and anime legends, as well as rivals from SNK and Namco. Street Fighter x Tekken hammers this idea home further… before completely destroying it. Street Fighter X Tekken is the most heartbreaking, disappointing game that I have ever payed sixty dollars for.
This isn’t just a Capcom thing, either. Solid Snake has battled Transformers, Vampire hunters, and Nintendo characters in the past. Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario regularly enjoy taking over The Olympics together, and g uys like Spawn, Kratos, and even Darth Vader himself feel right at home in medieval Europe and Asia… Completely breaking Soul Calibur. One might ask himself how far the crossover craze will stretch if left unchecked.
Dead Or Alive 5 features characters from Virtua Fighter, a similar game from a different company. Much like kids on a schoolbus, the internet began throwing around wild accusations and half stringed theories. Things like “VF stepping up to show the imitator how it’s done.” and “virtual fighter is mad wack yo go back to playin skullgirls fanboy ur prolly jus mad cuz u cant bait a dp cry moar”. People forget, however, that DOA is the same series that featured a female version of master Chief, with their own backstory that fits into both DOA and Halo canon in some sort of strange fashion, and complete with their own theme song and stage.
Genre holds no boundaries over crossovers anymore. No longer is the crossover a matter of one fighting game having “friendly competition” with another in an attempt to make money off of “kids on the schoolbus”. What’s stopping Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago from finding their way over to E.D.N. III and shooting them some space bugs? How about paying extra money to finally see how that Ryu Vs. Goku fight would really end?
What happens when this “Yolo” attitude swings it’s way back over to fighting games? Why even have different games with unique gameplay and presentation? Why not have tons of unique gameplay and presentation, all crammed into a single package of conflicting design philosophies? What’s to stop an Eastern styled Role Playing game, famous for it’s deep relationship and demon fusing systems from deciding to try it’s hand at being a Guilty Gear styled fighting game that borrows an idea from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure?
What do we do when an idea as exciting as the crossover becomes so commonplace that the idea loses it’s luster and becomes a fast cash grab? Kind of like Marvel Comics putting Wolverine on at least a dozen different teams, giving him his own book, and having him in the X-Men full time, while still having him show up in any book under the imprint that needs a boost in sales? How does Logan ever find some “me” time?
Well hey, if videogame characters can have such a cult following behind them that putting them in another game can boost that game’s sales? What’s stopping us from using videogame characters to boost the sales of other things? When do videogame characters become household names like Tony the Tiger and the Geico Gekko? As dope as it sounds, do we really need Hatsune Miku plastered all over a race car? What happens when Google gets involved?
Suddenly pandemonium breaks loose. People are confused. They don’t know what’s real and what’s fake anymore. Citizens are rioting in the streets. Families go into hiding, forced to live like rats while their homes are destroyed, nothing more than collateral damage. Maybe it’s time to dial things back a bit and just be happy with leaving characters where they belong.