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