The 1v1 fighting game is a slightly stricken one in today’s gaming industry. I remind you again that virtually every fighting game that has come out for some years now has been either a sequel (Street Fighter 4, Tekken 5) or featured a roster of pre-existing characters from one franchise or another (Playstation All-Stars, Injustice). There have been no fighting games with all-new characters (in triple-A releases, at least) for quite some time, which may indicate severe stagnation in the genre as it circles a holding pattern, relying exclusively on things the user base are already comfortable with. Which I think is a shame, because fighting games are kind of an essential part of the console local multiplayer experience, and lord knows triple-A can’t afford to lose any more genres to the big sweating grey lump of “action adventure” that is near enough its entire output.
While I personally am not particularly lubed up by the gameplay of 1v1 fighters, one thing I do appreciate about them is that they are essentially a celebration of characters. Disregarding the token story mode all we usually have to go on is the way the characters look, how they animate, and the little things they say mid-fight, and this is usually done by making all the characters fairly distinct and exaggerated in those three aspects. It’s very raw characterization. It can make a new character engaging and interesting, and it can provide a new way to appreciate a character you already know and like as they are distilled into their simplest form.
But the inevitable result of doing this with DC universe characters is Joker and Harley Quinn being the most interesting and everyone else, personality-wise, being Blando Bland-rissian: either unthinking righteousness or sneering villainy. Injustice was, I suppose, a fairly logical development; there was Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, then there was a Mortal Kombat, and now there’s a DC Universe fighter, but that about wraps it up for the potential and now Netherrealm are going to have to find something else to cross over with. Mortal Kombat vs. Kratos and Freddy Kreuger was a non-starter it seems, but there’s got to be something that can be the Marvel to their Capcom.
What you basically need is a well-known property that’s got lots of distinct and interesting characters in it. Mortal Kombat vs. Mr. Men might actually do pretty well. Mr. Tickle could have similar moves to Dhalsim from Street Fighter, for example. It’s no stupider than Nathan Drake throwing down with Fat Princess, anyway. But let’s briefly take this seriously and think of some new possible beaus for Mortal Kombat from which new fighting franchises can be launched.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Vertigo
What I would call a logical progression now that the DC Universe has already gotten a foothold, I propose moving on from all the boring assholes in capes and instead embracing the alternative DC comics imprint intended for mature readers. Perhaps a much more natural fit since Mortal Kombat considers itself a mature game, although I always wonder how it does so with a straight face. So there’d be characters like Swamp Thing with an array of vegetation-based projectiles, and Jesse Custer from Preacher, whose entire moveset consists of lighting cigarettes and telling his opponent to punch themselves in the face. Personally I’d like to play as John Constantine, whose fatality would presumably just entail making friends with his opponent. Maybe the final boss could be Death from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, although the fight may be a bit of a foregone conclusion.
Mortal Kombat vs. Game of Thrones
You’ve got your large number of characters, check. You’ve got most of them being fairly tasty in a fight, check. You’ve got a leaning towards extreme violence, check. And of course firm justifications for no one having the sense to be backed up by a few friends or perhaps a big gun. There’s even nice potential for a clash of ideology as the magic-infused Eastern fighting stylings of Mortal Kombat comes up against magic-infused Western medieval swordfights. Well, in all honesty, I’m mainly just rationalizing the desire to watch Joffrey getting completely fucking twatted. In fact, sod most of this idea; just make Joffrey a DLC character whose every attack is an impotent whine.
Mortal Kombat vs. David Bowie
Okay, bear with me on this one. The standard sort of alternate universe tossery happens and the Mortal Kombat crew invade the real world, but when Shang Tsung attempts to pilfer the soul of David Bowie, it fractures into every identity the popular singer has ever had. And so the roster is filled by such characters as the Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane, Ziggy Stardust and Major Tom. The final battle would of course be against Jareth the Goblin King, whose alarmingly prominent crotch bulge is simultaneously his weak spot and his special attack.
Mortal Kombat vs. Les Miserables
What better crossover material than the only musical that it’s OK for men to like? And on the masculinity scale that’s like Scotsmen wearing kilts, so masculine it doesn’t even have to pretend. Again, lots of characters who are no strangers to a punch-up, but I hear you cynics coming at me at this point. “Yahtzee, you said you’d stop being facetious about this, obviously Les Miserables can’t be made into a fighting game.” Except here’s the kicker, O cynic: it already has been. An amateur, freely downloadable one, but nevertheless. And before you ask, yes, it’s Japanese. They’re quite big on Les Mis over there. Actually, here’s an interesting trivia titbit: the actor considered to be the definitive Japanese Valjean, portraying him numerous times in stage productions, is Takashi Kaga, better known to the West as Chairman Kaga from Iron Chef. Actually, that reminds me…
Mortal Kombat vs. Iron Chef
Yeah, you laugh now, but I saw the episode where they were cooking with live crabs and let me tell you, those guys have the cold, dead souls of poorly dressed killers.
Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn’t talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.