25 clever character cameos you may have missed

Hey, hold on, isn't that...

Decades before Stan Lee perfected the art of the cameo, video games were giving winks and nods to their contemporaries throughout the multiverse. Some were subtle, such as beleaguered photojournalist Frank West leaving behind a few words in Left 4 Dead 2. Others were a bit more... aggressive, such as Duke Nukem's cameo in Blood (which we'll cover in a sec).

Today, cameos are big business. Entire gaming franchises are built upon crossovers (Marvel vs. Capcom), mashups (Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed), or whatever the hell Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem has become. To celebrate the industry's eternal love of cross-company crossovers, we've put together a list of some of the greatest examples of characters from one game appearing - for better or worse - in another.

Cloud image via Miel the Ninja.

Under the Skin

Dante was probably the most successful Capcom character at appearing in other franchises, but he was by no means the only one (and were not counting the Capcom's Vs. series in that equation). Resident Evils 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 Nemesis.

Trick'N Snowboarder

Less impressively, 1999s 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 that we couldnt find images of in time).

Breath of Fire

Meanwhile, not even Capcoms 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 spy Chun-Li executing a wind kick. Sadly, she cant be recruited, but its cool to just see her the same.

Duke Nukem 3D

This next cameo isnt the most cheery, nor is it in any way "official." Its not new, either. It is, however, one of the all-time best. Theres paying your respects to those who came before you, and then theres "paying your respects" by depicting them as mangled corpse and making a bad pun about their fate. Both are classy, in their own way.

Shadow Warrior

Man, those 3D Realms guys sure did love coming up with nasty fates for their contemporaries. Here, the walking racist pun machine Lo Wang comes upon a helpless, struggling Lara Croft, and jokes that shes raided her last tomb. Elsewhere, there are four dead Ninja Turtles laying around for you to discover.

Blood

Duke Nukem finally found himself on the receiving end of a cruel cameo when he turned up as a dangling, mutilated corpse in the 1997 shooter Blood. In case theres any doubt to his identity, a quick jab will send him swaying, accompanied by his favorite catchphrase: "Shake it, baby!"

Final Fantasy Tactics

Ehrgeiz wasn't the only time Final Fantasy VII's characters stepped beyond the confines of their original game; nor was it the first, either. A year before Ehrgeiz, Final Fantasy Tactics featured a guest appearance by the iconic, amnesiac swordsman Cloud, along with potential girlfriend, Aerith.

Xenogears

Not to be outdone, Cloud and Aeriths friend Tifa also made her own crossover appearance in 1998. It wasnt quite as cool, but it still qualifies as a cameo.

Mario Hoops 3-on-3

Of course, Final Fantasy cameos arent just an oddity left over from the '90s. In 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.