2. Timmy Vermicelli
Driv3r | 2004 | PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PC
Like most game-industry controversies, the great Driver-GTA feud was started by Grand Theft Auto. For whatever reason, the cheeky bastards at Rockstar saw fit to take a swipe at the once-great series, making its undercover-cop protagonist Tanner the target of an assassination mission in GTA III. Not content to stop there, the developers added insult to injury by having their characters refer to Tanner as "strangely animated" and "useless outside of his car." Ooh, diss!
Driver developer Reflections might have tried to stay above the fray at first, but then Rockstar took another dig by tasking players with killing Tanner again in GTA: Vice City, and it was on. When it came time to release Driv3r in 2004, Reflections lashed out by not only making a GTA character a target in its game, but by encouraging players to kill him no fewer than 30 times. Timmy Vermicelli - a sad, water wing-wearing parody of Vice City's Tommy Vercetti, with giant flipper hands - was scattered throughout the game as a hidden Easter egg, just begging to be shot to pieces by an anger-crazed Tanner in an endless series of vicious, possibly imaginary revenge killings.
Sadly for Reflections, this clever comeback had about the same effect as a scrawny kindergartner throwing a tantrum on a schoolbus. Rockstar had the last laugh when Driv3r turned out to be a steaming lump of shit, and the feud ended with a whisper when Rockstar dryly poked fun at that fact during a brief, overheard aside in GTA: San Andreas. But at least we'll always have this:
1. Dan Hibiki
Street Fighter Alpha | 1995 | Arcade, PSone, Saturn, PC
They may be all buddy-buddy now, but legendary 2D-fighting-game makers Capcom and SNK shared a long and turbulent history before they started working together on fanservice games. Shortly after the release of Street Fighter II in 1991, the rumors went, SNK hired away some of Capcom's best programmers to work on its own fighting games. The result of this supposed corporate sabotage was that, while Capcom struggled to keep SFII relevant with minor updates, SNK ripped up arcades with kickass knockoffs like Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown and The King of Fighters.
Whether the rumors are true or not, the two companies had a strong rivalry going throughout the 2D era, but refrained from taking any public digs at each other. That is until 1995, when Capcom slipped a secret character named Dan Hibiki into Street Fighter Alpha. Stuck in as a hidden joke, Dan was a pink-suited weirdo, and his ripped sleeves, long ponytail and one-handed fireball tosses were all thinly veiled references to the main characters of SNK's Art of Fighting. But it was his backstory that really drove the point home - Dan pretended to be all tough, but at heart he was really just an ineffectual weakling who tossed tiny fireballs and wanted desperately to be like Street Fighter heroes Ryu and Ken.
Like the games he was meant to parody, however, Dan quickly gained a following among hardcore fighting fans, becoming the character of choice for overconfident players who wanted to show off their skills by winning with a weakling. It wasn't just the fans who embraced him, either; eventually, even SNK played along, turning Dan into a comical partner for one of the characters he was created to mock in the landmark SNK vs. Capcom: Match of the Millennium. Having stayed relevant longer than any of the other jokes on this list (to Street Fighter fans, at least), Dan's the obvious choice to top it.