An unexpected gift
Every now and then, we enjoy a good crossover that pairs up two unconnected properties into a single masterpiece. An X-Wing Transformer? Awesome. Optimus Prime teaming up with G.I. Joe to obliterate evil? Yeah, I can get behind that. An Angry Birds meets Transformers mashup? Wait, what? That's... odd. And yet that's just the type of multimedia corporate synergy that they're getting as the mobile game phenomenon rolls out with the Autobots to join a long list of gaming crossovers that nobody wanted.
Beyond the great mashups like Marvel vs. Capcom, the impressive cameos in Soulcalibur, and the awesomely weird like Hyrule Warriors, there are some crossover that seemingly no one wanted. These digital meetings likely took a lot of planning and negotiation, but without much understanding of what fans of any of the franchises really hoped to see. These are the least asked for crossovers in gaming history, starting with
7. Cross Edge
The last original Darkstalkers game came out in 1997, so fans of the horrifying fighter will usually take what they can get when series mascot Morrigan appears in titles like Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. But even they have a limit, and for many that line is a crossover that brought together niche JRPG series like Disgaea, Ar Tonelico, and Mana Khemia. All those franchises united for Cross Edge, and for some reason five characters from Darkstalkers came along for the ride.
Games like Disgaea and Ar Tonelico are enjoyed by hardest of hardcore strategy and RPG players, so it makes sense that their similar audiences would unite for a turn-based adventure. But Darkstalkers fans don't normally wait to take turns in the 2D fighting games, so the inclusion of series stars Morrigan, Felicia, and more seem to be aimed at the wrong audience. Maybe developer Idea Factory figured the Darkstalkers audience would be so desperate they'd take whatever they could get. Based on the low sales in both the US and Japan, I'd say they overestimated that desperation.
6. Mario Hoops 3-on-3
Despite his thick waistline, Mario can dominate in any sport he chooses, be it tennis, golf, or basically any Olympic event. His fans are used to him succeeding in every athletic pursuit, so it isn't a stretch for the Mushroom Kingdom to take to the basketball court. However, I'm pretty sure most Final Fantasy players didn't expect their favorite monsters to also join in for a b-ball crossover.
Final Fantasy alums like Moogles, Black Mages, and Cactuars are all playable in Mario Hoops 3-on-3, despite the fact that they all come from a world where basketball doesn't exist. But this incongruous pairing is what happens when Square Enix develops a Mario sports title, despite Square being low on anyone's list of potential sports game devs. The DS release went on to sell 1.5 million copies, which is a little on the low end for Mario spin-offs, no doubt because Final Fantasy diehards weren't as interested in passing the rock as Nintendo had hoped.
5. PlayStation Move Heroes
Sony has a weirdly diverse collection of first-party stars that runs the gamut from attitudinal furball Crash Bandicoot to the blood-soaked rage of Kratos. Out of that odd collection, three series actually feel like they could actually coexist: Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter, and Sly Cooper. Fans of those PS2 era stars had wanted to see them together for some time. But as the saying goes: be careful what you wish for, because you just might get a mashup of your three favorite franchises in the form of an awful collection of motion-controlled minigames.
Originally given the slightly more clever title of Heroes on the Move, the game brings together the three franchises in an attempt to sell gamers on the PlayStation Move, Sony's answer to the Nintendo Wii. That piece of tech didn't inspire a lot of excitement, partially because its games are gimmicky. Unfortunately, PlayStation Move Heroes did little to defy those expectations. It didn't sell fans of Ratchet, Jak, or Sly on the Move's potential, instead working as a turn-off to franchise diehards with shoehorned motion controls instead of meeting up in a normal platformer.
4. Nicktoons MLB
If I may whine like an old man for a second: kids don't know how good they've got it these day. When I was a lad, you were lucky to get three Nicktoons every Saturday, and now they've got more animated characters than they know what to do with. Originators like Ren & Stimpy were followed by SpongeBob Squarepants and Avatar, all of which surprisingly share a love of Major League Baseball. Yes, even Invader Zim loves to play a few innings with MLB stars.
Nicktoons MLB is a fine idea, but do the kids of 2011 even know who Ren and Stimpy are? Plus, characters like Invader Zim and Ang from Avatar look so odd when placed next to each other, and they get even more incongruous when holding a bat next to real life Atlanta Braves players. The game casts a wide net of potential fanbases, but probably only caught adults that wish their fantasy baseball team included Powdered Toast Man.
3. Pokemon Conquest
Pokemon is a worldwide phenomenon that has earned billions of dollars since the mid-'90s creation of its impossibly cute characters. Nobunaga's Ambition is a strategy series that's relatively popular in Japan, relatively unknown in the west, and involves the retelling of 400-year-old Japanese history. Somehow these two came together for a crossover that even had longtime Nintendo fans saying, "Huh?"
It's not that it isn't cute to see Pikachu hanging out with samurais, but the Pokemon series has always been so universal that it's confusing to see the monsters in such a specific time and place. It's even more confusing that Pokemon would team up with Koei's aging strategy series and not the more popular Dynasty Warriors. Ultimately it made for an entertaining tactical take on both series, but I have to think Pokemon's 10 and under fanbase probably just skipped the bits about Nobunaga and went straight to evolving their Evee.
2. All Star Fighters
In an age when video games get increasingly expensive, it's refreshing to see a collection of games like the Simple series be open about how cheap they are. Usually priced at the equivalent of $20, these were meant to supply cheap thrills, and even launched oddball franchises like Earth Defense Force and OneChanbara, series that've seen success in the west. But when the majority of the games are designed to be forgettable trifles, it's weird to see them all come together in a crossover fighting game.
Like Capcom's popular Vs. series, All Star Fighters brings together the publisher's many stars into one fighter, which leads to many unasked for match ups. A soldier from EDF is shooting at the pumpkin-headed lad from Splatter Master, while zombie-killing samurai Aya is slashing at Riho, the Simple mascot who normally prefers mahjongg to martial arts. All of them unite in the name of an affordable, offbrand alternative to other crossover fighting games, but those normally focus on fan service for a devoted audience. What happens when those fans care more about the price tag on the game than the characters that star in them? You end up with a mascot fighter that didn't even get an official release in the US.
1. Aquapazza: Aquaplus Dream Match
Series like To Heart and Comic Party are so well known I don't even have to explain these dating sims to you. The same goes for super famous tactics game Tears to Tiara or adult visual novel Utawarerumono. They're all so popular that a fighter like Aquapazza makes all the sense in the world. What's that? You've never heard of these? Oh, that's right, because most of them have never even been released in the west. Yet, in spite of the fact that these unknown characters are mainly known for lots and lots of talking, they somehow appeared together in a fighting game. Even stranger is the fact that it actually got released in the US.
I don't mean to take anything away from Aquapazza's quality as a game, because there'd be little other reason to localize this title if the combat wasn't any good. Seriously, I doubt Aquaplus Dream Match got localized because of high demand from all the western Kizuato fans. Then again, maybe the plan all along was to use Aquapazza to stealthily market M-rated visual novels to Americans, and Utawarerumono sales saw a huge spike post-release. Pretty sneaky, Atlus USA.
Did you get what you wanted?
So those are the weirdest instances of unasked for crossovers, but if you can think of any more you never wanted, let us know in the comments. I'm sure I'll care more about your opinions than the people who make your favorite games.