First Gears of War's Marcus and Dom showed up alongside Resident Evil's Albert Wesker in a trailer for Lost Planet 2. Then came the revelation that we'd see Monster Hunter creatures in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Videogames are an incestuous industry and all, but it seems like we're seeing more crossovers and familiar cameos than ever these days. It's not like any of us should be surprised by this stuff, though; after all, seeing characters pop up in series where they don't really belong has been a favorite pastime of gamers for decades now.
To celebrate the industry's rekindled love of crossovers and inter-company bromance, we've put together a list of some of the greatest instances of characters from one game showing up in another game. It's by no means complete, and we've purposely left out nearly all of the deliberate crossover-themed games, like the Capcom Vs. series; it'd take us ages to identify them all individually. Instead, let's start with an Easter egg that caught our attention just last week:
1. Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing
Lost Planet 2 and Peace Walker aren’t the only games to make a recent splash with surprise cameos; even the Left 4 Dead 2 DLC expansion The Passing got in on the act, with a quick “appearance” by Frank West of Dead Rising fame.
He’s covered wars, you know.
2. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
In 2003, Devil May Cry’s Dante was the PS2 generation’s hottest property, so it’s no surprise that publishers other than Capcom would want to get their hands on him. What’s surprising is that one did. Apparently, one of the Japanese Atlus staffers was a huge fan of the red-coated devil hunter, and correctly guessed that including him would be a huge draw (especially for American fans).
As the story goes, Capcom allowed Dante to show up on one condition: that Shin Megami Tensei artist Kazuma Kaneko would design Dante and Vergil’s Devil Trigger forms in Devil May Cry 3.
3. Viewtiful Joe
Capcom apparently liked Dante’s guest appearance so much, they decided to try it themselves. So when the former GameCube exclusive Viewtiful Joe hit the PS2 in 2004, Joe had a new friend to play with – and players had a new character to play as.
4. Under the Skin
Dante was probably the most successful Capcom character to be whored out to other franchises, but he was by no means the only one (and we’re not counting the Capcom Vs. series in that equation). Resident Evil’s Raccoon City appeared as a level in the oddball alien body-snatcher sim Under The Skin, bringing with it superdeformed, cel-shaded versions of Jill Valentine and the Nemesis.
Above: Also, bad karaoke was an actual attack move
5. Trick ‘N’ Snowboard
Less impressively, 1999’s Trick’N Snowboarder also featured a few appearances from Resident Evil characters, including grainy-looking versions of Claire and Leon (as well as a zombie cop we couldn’t find images of in time).
6. Breath of Fire
Meanwhile, not even Capcom’s RPGs were safe from less-than-serious cameos. At one point in the first Breath of Fire on SNES, a magician in the town of Bleak will give you an opportunity to catch a glimpse of Chun-Li executing a wind kick.
Sadly, she can’t be recruited, but it’s cool to see her just the same.
7. X-Men: Children of the Atom
Finally, we have this little harbinger of the whole Capcom Vs. phenomenon. In 1994, two years before X-Men vs Street Fighter, it was possible to unlock Street Fighter’s iconic Akuma to tangle with the likes of Cyclops, Wolverine and even a (decidedly undersized) Sentinel.
8. Duke Nukem 3D
This next cameo isne’t the most cheery, nor is it in any way “official.” It’s not new, either. It is, however, one of the all-time best.
There’s paying your respects to those who came before you, and then there’s “paying your respects” by depicting them as dead and making a bad pun about their fate. Both are classy, but in distinctly different ways.
9. Shadow Warrior
Man, those 3D Realms guys sure did love coming up with nasty fates for their contemporaries. Here, the walking racist pun Lo Wang comes upon a helpless, struggling Lara Croft, and jokes that she’s raided her last tomb.
As a special bonus, the game also had four dead Ninja Turtles lying around for you to discover.
Above: Despite how this looks, he was like that when we found him
Duke Nukem finally found himself on the receiving end of a cruel cameo joke when he turned up as a dangling, mutilated corpse in the 1997 shooter Blood.
In case there’s any doubt to his identity, a quick jab will send him swaying, accompanied by his favorite catchphrase: “Shake it, baby!”
In 1999, Square and Namco’s bizarre (some would argue awful) fighter Ehrgeiz might have passed quietly into obscurity, except for two things: it wasn’t quite like any other fighting game out at the time, and it featured Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud Strife as an unlockable character. His inclusion proved so popular, that for the PSOne release Square widened the roster to include not only Cloud, but also Sephiroth.
Above: Probably the only two characters you played, if you played this at all
Not content to stop there, though, they also threw in Tifa…
… the hyper-annoying Yuffie Kisaragi…
… and, what the hell, Zack.
12. Final Fantasy Tactics
Ehrgeiz wouldn’t be the last time Final Fantasy VII's characters stepped beyond the confines of their original game, and it wasn’t the first, either. A year before Ehrgeiz, Final Fantasy Tactics featured a guest appearance by the amnesiac swordsman, along with his would-be girlfriend, Aerith.
Not to be left out, Cloud and Aerith’s friend Tifa also made her own crossover appearance in 1998. It wasn’t quite as cool, but it still qualifies as a cameo.
Above: Can you find the Tifa in this image?
14. Mario Hoops 3 on 3
Of course, Final Fantasy cameos aren’t just an oddity left over from the ‘90s; as recently as 2006, Mario-sports fans could challenge Nintendo’s characters to a game of hoops as three characters from the original Final Fantasy, as well as a Cactuar and a Moogle.
15. Chocobo Racing
All right, I know I said no crossover-centric games, but 1999’s Chocobo Racing – which is mainly a “crossover” of Final Fantasy creatures, with only a handful of actual franchise characters appearing – goes above and beyond the norm where cameos are concerned. Not only does it feature semi-hidden appearances by Squall and Cloud…
… but you can pilot a 16-bit airship sprite around the track….
… as well as a perfectly flat, 8-bit chocobo.
Characters from other Square franchises showed up as well, including that little guy from Square’s seldom-remembered 1987 NES classic, 3-D WorldRunner...
... and even Parasite Eve’s Aya Brea!
Above: She was hidden inside her police cruiser the whole time, but still