Contra: Hard Corps
In another inexplicable case of a hero turning into a weirdo villain, 1994's Genesis Contra game featured nothing less than a huge-headed, cyberpunk version of Simon Belmont, complete with a chain whip and a fetish for roast chicken. In case there was any doubt as to his identity, publisher Konami threw in a remixed version of the Castlevania theme called Simon 1994RD.
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
While we wouldnt ordinarily count a character from an earlier game showing up in a sequel as a "cameo," this ones too weird to pass up. Throughout the 16-bit reboot of the classic Pitfall, youre a young adventurer fighting to save his father, the original Pitfall Harry. The original original Pitfall Harry. The one from the Atari 2600. The fact that he hadnt aged a day for his 16-bit debut - and was chained to a giant Atari logo, no less - pushed this over from simple "callback to the prequel" and into full-on bizarre-cameo territory.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
In a slightly more conventional move, we have The 1996 Super Mario RPG, which featured two very familiar heroes catching 40 winks. The first is Link, who dozes at the Rosa Inn and who plays a snippet of Zelda music if you try to talk to him. The second is Samus, who sleeps in the Mushroom Kingdom castles guest room, and is apparently resting up for Mother Brain.
NBA Street V3
As ubiquitous as he is in Nintendo games, Mario almost never ventures into titles by third parties. In 2005, however, Nintendo teamed up with EA to create exclusive content (read: playable Nintendo characters) for the GameCube versions of certain EA Sports titles. The first was NBA Street V3, which featured bizarre, not-quite-right versions of Mario, Peach, Luigi, and Yoshi tearing it up on the court.
Star Fox fans have long speculated about the ultimate fate of Fox's father, James McCloud. But as it turns out, Nintendo already provided us with an answer in F-Zero GX. I guess after helping his son escape Venom, James took a wrong turn at a warp zone and ended up on the race track.
We could fill an entire article with just Snakes appearances in other games - oh wait, we did - but its still worth rehashing his bizarre turn in this 2002 skater sim, which later went on to become its own strange mode in the remastered Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance.
Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament 2
Like Sony, Namco loves to sneak its characters into its sports games, and the Smash Court series has played host to guest appearances from Tekken characters since the PlayStation days. SCTPT2 was a relatively crowded example, pitting its more realistic tennis pros against the likes of Heihachi Mishima, Cassandra Alexandra, and more.
Grand Theft Auto III
While most of the cameos on this list are of the officially sanctioned variety, the shout-out in GTA III harkened back to the jabs 3D Realms took at Doom and Tomb Raider. In two missions, players have to hunt down a strangely animated undercover cop named Tanner, who runs like a goof and drives a '70s muscle car. He is, of course, a reference to Drivers protagonist (also named Tanner), and is specifically a reference to the way he runs in that game.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The hack-and-slash tie-in to that unfortunate Wolverine movie wasnt just the most gruesome game ever to star the character - it was also filled with Easter eggs, including the hatch from Lost. More interestingly (to World of Warcraft gamers, anyway), it also included the Lich Kings sword, Frostmourne, as a hidden extra.
There was a lot to like about Segas alternate-history World War II strategy-RPG - particularly if you were a fan of the Dreamcast/GameCube RPG Skies of Arcadia. Its three main characters - Vyse, Aika, and Fina - were among the characters it was possible to recruit as you made your way through the game.