We’re on the cusp of Avengers: Endgame, a movie notable in part for being one of the biggest crossovers in entertainment history. Although it’s good, gaming has also been home to a smorgasbord of phenomenal crossovers over the years, and today I’ll be looking at some of my favourites.
Of course, no gaming crossover discussion would be complete without noting Nintendo’s contributions. Super Smash Bros. is the most obvious example and for good reason. Smash Bros., especially Ultimate, features numerous first, second and third party IPs coming together to throw one another off of the nearest cliff on sight – the perfect message to send to its young demographic. Outside of this mad suspect subtext though is a rich fighting experience that somehow manages to appeal to casual audiences while also maintaining a ton of depth that rewards hardcore players. All of this combined with its great level design, Mii integration, Stage Builder, plethora of modes to play through and catchy soundtrack makes for a showcase on how to do both crossovers and gaming in general well. Solo or co-op, Smash Bros. Ultimate is as good as everyone says it is. Mario Kart 8 provides a similar experience albeit in racing form, with characters and stages from and inspired by The Legend of Zelda, Splatoon and more providing a stacked roster spanning numerous IPs.
Nintendo isn’t the only big gaming studio to do huge crossovers however, as long time rival PlayStation is also home to a plethora of notable crossovers. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, a criminally overhated fighting game that is overshadowed by the aforementioned Nintendo fighting franchise, is a fun take on the mascot fighter genre that features amusing cutscenes between different IPs, as well as a dynamic world idea that sees, for example, a God of War level suddenly be overtaken by characters from Patapon (an idea Smash Bros. would actually go on to use, minus the angry bald dad and chanting PSP dudes). It also involved gaining wins via finishing moves rather than depleting health, a novel and creative spin on the formula that made it stand out from its peers. It’s a game that never lived up to its potential due to releasing at a poor time, which is a shame as the ideas they had could have led to something special.
One of my absolute favourite crossovers that doesn’t get enough attention, and hear me out here, is the crossover between Metal Gear Solid 3… and Ape Escape 3. On paper that seems like a baffling combination that would only lead to a tonally conflicted trainwreck, but in reality it led to one of the best game-within-a-game’s of all time. Upon completion of Ape Escape 3, you’re rewarded with a game called Mesal Gear Solid, which is a complete, one hour plus Ape Escape take on the Metal Gear Solid formula that features multiple levels, fun stealth, numerous weapons, a plethora of secrets and unlockables and even numerous Metal Gear Solid characters (including Snake himself, who you actually have to rescue) – it even includes the real Metal Gear Solid theme. It’s an incredible crossover that deserves way more attention than it got, which is perhaps fitting given it’s a “minigame” that feels like it got way more attention from the developers than it had any right to.
So, these are a few of many great crossovers that have been witnessed in gaming. I know I’m missing many other notable ones like the numerous hidden characters throughout the Tony Hawk series, Mario & Sonic’s Olympic escapades, Kingdom Hearts, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom and more, but I decided to go with more unorthodox picks for the sake of variety (excluding the predictable Nintendo inclusions, which I feel had to be included to avoid crucifixion). In short, there’s been a lot of fantastic crossovers over the years and, with the rampant success of many of the ones I’ve covered in this article, there’s no signs of the crossovers slowing down any time soon.
What are your favourite video game crossovers? Are you livid I didn’t discuss the Sims/Katy Perry crossover, the greatest DLC known to mankind? Are you an uncultured swine that hasn’t played the Ape Escape 3/Metal Gear Solid crossover? Let me know in the comments or via my Twitter profile @JoshsJots.