Siliconera Speaks Up: Crossovers

By Louise Yang . August 16, 2009 . 7:00am

kingdom_hearts_2_wallpaper

Should more companies do video game mash-ups/crossovers, like Nintendo’s Smash Bros or Square-Enix-Eidos’ Kingdom Hearts?

 

Louise: No! I know they’re just games and all, but mash-ups and crossovers just confuse my brain. I know there’s no logic to why one character is in the same world as another, but I can’t stop my mind from trying to figure it out. Even an explanation like the one provided in Super Smash Bros doesn’t satisfy me.

 

Related to that is the issue of timelines. It’s just too hard to keep a coherent timeline for a game that has consistent characters that carry on game after game. Add a crossover game into that mix and the timeline is completed messed up.

 

It just seems like paying too much attention to fan-service when companies do crossovers. I’d rather have my game characters stay where they are.

 

Jenni: I don’t mind video game mash-ups/crossovers, as long as they’re done well. I loved Smash Bros. Brawl, Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology, Tales of the World: Narikiri Dungeon 3, and the entire Kingdom Hearts series. I also wish that I could play Captain Rainbow, and am looking forward to Dissidia. I don’t need any kind of epic explanation for why all of my favorite characters are in the same place. As long as the core game is worthwhile and interesting, I’d definitely play it.

 

Not that there should be video game crossovers all the time. One every five or ten years works, and only for major companies with access to enough characters to fill out the roster.

 

Laura: Hmm, I’ll have to say that my general rule applies here. If it has a good plot, that’s good. Considering that characters are already accounted for, the key to a crossover would be how the characters are all meshed together. Tales of Vs. did a sort of alternate universe deal (AU, in fanfic-speak) that worked. Kingdom Hearts took a different approach with “universe”-hopping capabilities, where the different worlds are going on with their original stories. Those are usually the two ways crossovers are carried out. On another note, there are also inter-company crossovers, like many fighting games out there.

 

It’s almost impossible to have too many crossovers, mostly because in order to actually HAVE a crossover, you need a large base of characters to choose from, and that base takes a while to build up. It’s almost impossible for many companies to do them. Bottom line? I don’t mind it personally, but I really don’t think it’s feasible for too many companies to do them. It’s fun once in a while, in a sort of “official fanfiction” -sort of way.

 

Spencer: Crossovers are popular because they’re easy cash-ins. If Tatsunoko vs. Capcom or Marvel vs. Capcom 2 used original characters with the same moves as Spider-Man, Ryu, Mega Man (etc.) I don’t think people would be as excited about either game. Fans want familiar characters. And since it’s relatively riskier to launch new intellectual property and crossovers spark immediate interest we’re bound to see more mash-ups, whether we like them or not.

 

I’m OK with crossovers, but in contrast with what Laura said maybe it’s best not to make the plot a key focus. Capcom can’t offer an explanation why Strider is fighting Blackheart, so why bother? Midway ran into problems when they attempted to explain how Sub Zero could beat Superman. It’s times like this when producers should say, “a wizard did it.” Even Dissidia, which is based on the story heavy Final Fantasy games, only has a barebones story compared to the usual Square Enix epics. Final Fantasy fans will enjoy all of the references, but I think Dissdia: Final Fantasy would have been fine if Square Enix dropped script and focused strictly on fighting.

 

The only kind of crossovers that naturally fit occur in the same universe. Since all of the Disgaea games take place in the Netherworld it’s not surprising to see Laharl, Etna, and Mao appear in another Disgaea game. Actually, every time Nippon Ichi announces a Disgaea game, scratch that, any game I expect to see half a dozen cameo characters.


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  • taiko1983

    Crossovers are good if they are implemented well. One of a good example for a crossover game series is The Super robot taisen series . It is a crossover turn based strategy game which allows the use of different robots from different eras to save the world. In addition, crossover games create an opportunity for the companies to remarket their Intellectual Properties (I.Ps) to a new group of consumers.

  • Jirin

    No. Less crossovers, more original ideas. Crossovers, to me, are on the same level as fanfic. They’re boring and lazy. Developers know that if they do something new, it actually has to be good, so they have to put hard work into building a new world. But if they just throw in a bunch of faces people already know, they can write horribly and the hardcore fans will be so happy to see the familiar faces that they won’t notice.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      I’d accuse Smash Bros. of this but probably not Kingdom Hearts. Yea, the story was confusing as hell and you didn’t really understand any of it until halfway through the second game, but I like that they at least made an effort to tie all the Disney worlds in appropriately.

      I’m going to take a different approach from both Spencer and Laura and say that maybe someone should try doing a good story-based crossover that revolves around franchises which would complement each other. For example; Parasite Eve and Resident Evil share similar themes, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch of the imagination to see Aya team up with one of the RE characters.

  • maxchain

    Crossovers are fantastic! I’d just like to see some more creative uses than These Guys Fight Those Guys. Give me something meaty with a context, like Super Robot Taisen Very Long Name on DS! Half the fun’s watching the fish-out-of-water interact with people and things outside their home turf. Naturally, this leaves the game itself to make up the other half of said fun. Heck, they could send Megaman.EXE to fight off the Sigma Virus by hand and it could rock, with the proper execution.

  • Hello Hello

    Crossovers are lots of funny in party games like Mario Party or Super Smash Bros. I’m significantly less enthusiastic when it comes to crossover RPGs like Cross Edge.

    I think the main draw in crossovers is obviously seeing a bunch of characters you recognize being able to interact in some way with each other. It’s important for crossover games to feature mostly characters that are known to the average casual gamer. The problem with crossover RPGs is that they usually have half a cast of characters that come from games that were never released in North America. It’s different with Nintendo’s crossover games where characters like Donkey Kong, Link, Bowser, etc, are all well known characters that almost any gamer can enjoy.

  • Aoshi00

    Granted they are some ones like Jump Superstar, but I generally dislike and don’t care about them, in both games or anime.

    Mortal Combat vs. DC just don’t seem to share the same world. Can’t stand the Dragonball/One Piece mesh up w/ Goku and Luffy. I like all the FFs separately, but the character fan service does nothing for me, I thought the Dissidia demo was kind of boring..

    In terms of anime/manga, used to be a big fan of Clamp back when they did RG Veda and Tokyo Babylon, or the early X. Then everything went down hill w/ their idiotic crossover (eg. Tsubasa Chronicles), it’s like they can’t write a good story anymore w/o combining the characters from 10 different universes, totally lame.

    It’s funny Kingdom Heart seems like a household name now w/ its Utada Hikaru theme, I remember the mere suggestion of Disney + Nomura was absurd, and it is kind of like a bait and switch. I played the first game only, and the subsequent Organization XIII just confuses the heck out of me.

  • http://www.nisamerica.com NickyD

    Who doesn’t have a “dream team” in the back of their minds? That’s all crossovers really are. Giving you a bunch of characters you may like and letting you slap them together to give you the biggest game-gasm possible. Stories are trash in these games; it’s not why crossovers exist.

    That said, crossovers should never seem lazy. They need to push some envelope, whether it’s a crazy complex battle system that becomes easier as time goes on, or a unique graphical styling to give a certain artist/whatever a chance at giving familiar faces a slightly new look. Just plugging famous RPG characters into a Dragon Quest style battle system would be… insultingly cheap.

    Or putting all our fighting game characters together inside what amounts to little more than button mashing (no unique attacks/animations, etc).

    So, if a crossover is at least taken seriously aside from the obvious fanservice, there’s at least opportunity for some new ideas to get presented with familiar characters instead of risking a whole new IP on unproven mechanics. I hope that made sense.

  • QBasic

    I think it’s all good if they stick to a one time effort. The Smash Bros. series started going downhill little by little with every iteration. Sure the gameplay improved, but the flow staggered.

    Same with the Kingdom Hearts series. Problem with stuff like that is, you send an example of a perfect and unlikely crossover. Then what? You gotta trump it; which is practically impossible to pull off.

    • Ereek

      I agree. There really shouldn’t be a “crossover series.” One can be fine, but when more are made based off of the success of the first, things start going downhill. I loved Kingdom Hearts, yet I found KH2 took all of the things that were fun for me in the first place – exploring the worlds, replaced with stricter linearity, and the platform elements – and removed them.

      I also enjoy Cross Edge and Dissidia. However, for Dissidia, I’d rather them not try and trump what is already a fine game unless they actually plan on expanding the main series connections. That is, expand some of the “hints” that the games are connected, what happened, and why. Ex: FFVII and X-2.

      • QBasic

        Oh no…not that “FFX and FFVII take place in the same world” rumor again… =_=

        • Ereek

          Except, it was actually confirmed by Nomura in an interview. However, Nomura seems to forget everything that was originally FFVII canon, so it’s hard to say if it’s more “that’s canon” or “I’d like for that to be canon.”

          However, that is the only way I would accept another Final Fantasy Crossover. There is simply no need for pointless “all characters get sucked into the same world with their rivals!” again.

        • http://several-hours-into-the-game.blogspot.com/ Nika

          Eh, what?
          First time I hear that one. Can you give some more details?

          • doubleO7

            From the Wikipedia page:

            “The game’s popularity and open-ended nature also led director Kitase and scenario writer Nojima to establish a plot-related connection between Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X-2. The character Shinra from Final Fantasy X-2 proposes the concept of extracting the life energy from within the planet Spira. Nojima has stated that Shinra and his proposal are a deliberate nod to the Shinra Company, and that he envisioned the events of Final Fantasy X-2 as a prequel to those in Final Fantasy VII.”

            So, going by that, X-2 probably takes place afew hundred years before VII, and the Shinra in VII is probably a descendent of the Shinra in X-2.

          • QBasic

            Awww, bullshit!

            See, THIS is the kind of crossover horseshit the Q does NOT approve of!

  • malek86

    I don’t particularly care about crossovers. If a game is good, I’ll get it even if it doesn’t have any character I know. On the other hand, if a game sucks, I’m not going to play it anyway, so they can add all the characters they want and I still won’t buy it.

    Well, i guess i wouldn’t mind a good crossover game… but for some reason, they are less likely to happen than a good original game. Also, a good original game would probably be better. You get new characters, new locations, new situations, etc… why not expand your horizons?

  • Advent_Andaryu

    Some of the best games ever made are Crossovers, it’s like anything can happen. The game isn’t restricted to rules of the universe… And with Dissidia, they took that idea and perfected it. When comparing Dissidia to something like… Smash brothers, this doesn’t apply.

    I love both series, but Smash is like a fantasy dream tournament. But for like, Kingdom Hearts, the series goes in depth and delivers story on so many levels. Smash’s story is just Nintendo mascots interacting with each other.

    I think Crossovers are the best thing that ever happened to the industry. They sparked my interest back in a series that was lost long ago…

    • http://several-hours-into-the-game.blogspot.com/ Nika

      Fantasy Dream tounament is what the game aimed for isn’t it? I never got the idea it shoukd be taken to serious. Not plotwise and not as a fighter. While I’m probably going to get killed now because it certainly is a decent fighter too, its far more aimed at simply having fun.

      Saying that crossovers are the best thin ever is going a bit far, but I think that when they are done well they are very interesting and fun.

  • http://otoboku.se manga

    So far I haven´t played a Crossover RPG that has been totally bad. English voices in Chaos Wars was awefull, but the game was pretty nice.

    Cross Edge is fun so far, haven´t gotten so far in it though.

    Looking forwarad to getting Trinity Universe when I know more about it.

    Cloud Appearing in FFT on the PS wasn´t bad. Laharl and the others appearing in Disgaea 2 and 3 isn´t bad either.

    So yeah, I don´t have anything against crossovers. Kingdom Hearts was a pretty good game.

    With crossovers I don´t try to fit every single game into a single time line. It wouldn´t make much good for me to think that aha, this is where s/he was at that point. I just want the game to be good and that is what is important to me.

  • http://several-hours-into-the-game.blogspot.com/ Nika

    Kingdom Hearts I liked a lot, the story was/is as confusing as can be but it was a goof game. I have mixed feelings about the second one, on the one hand it took up darker themes, which is something I like, on the other hand that doesn’t mix too well with disney.

    Tales of the World and Tales of VS managed it quite well too, somehow the characters are easy too mix and the alternate universe seems perfectly natural.

    I still have mixed feelings about crossovers. If it seems natural (like Disgaea) then I’m fine with it. I like seeing the characters I love again. But sometimes the things are just taken over the top. Its hard to find a good balance I guess.

  • http://www.gamingfringe.com Jiggy

    When it comes to crossovers, I’m mostly concerned about the gameplay aspect. For example, when I first saw screenshots and read descriptions of the original Super Smash Bros., I didn’t think I needed to have it because of its characters; to be honest, I didn’t particularly like its default (non-unlockable) cast of eight aside from Kirby. However, when I saw it I was reminded of Kirby Super Star with the core idea of one button plus one cardinal direction generating different attacks–and that sold me. (Didn’t work out nearly the same in reality, but the idea was there.)

    Same with Tales of the World and Tales of VS: the character mixes are a bonus, but even if they were all original casts I’d still care because the core gameplay looked like what I enjoyed and wanted.

    One great side of crossovers, though: Occasionally they can be useful to get me out of a rut, like what Advent_Andaryu suggested. I haven’t played a Capcom fighting game in probably fifteen years even though I have fond memories of Super Street Fighter II, and I’ve always had in the back of my mind that maybe I should try at least one more time with some game or other. Any number of games might have brought me back into the fold because it’s not like I see Capcom games and think I wouldn’t enjoy their gameplay. However, with genres that have passed me by for so long, I need an extra push to come back: an identifiable game element that I know I’ll appreciate, like characters, in case everything else doesn’t pan out. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom may finally be that game, and it’s all because of its specific mix of characters.

  • BraveWind

    Spencer got a point on the “Original Chars, Same Moves”
    I think so too

  • Cloud_ST

    Crossovers are an excelent way to give more story to the characters of an already finished story,giving their fans a little more for sticking with the company.

    Most crossovers right now are brawlers which is fine since everyone wants to know if “X character can beat X” on a game,I just hope gameplay for this games remains strong,one very good example of how a good idea for a crossover can go wrong in practice is….ehm……D.O.N,for me at least.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/xxHiryuuxx Hiryuu

    I think it’s always doable with humor in mind. That’s the selling point…and therefore localizing something must be done with characters that have prior knowledge in mind. You get something like Cross Edge or Chaos Wars over and, half the time, no one knows who the characters are anyways.

    But that’s not to say that one of these days I see a fighter that does the unthinkable: Captain Gordon….GOORRDDOONNN CHANCE!~~!~~! against Ryu and to the moon with him.

    Like I said, humor in mind.

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