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Are Guest Characters Ruining Fighting Games?

This past weekend was certainly a very exciting one for fighting games. Both the Injustice 2 Grand Finals at ELEAGUE as well as the Tekken World Tour finals were taking place. These events were certainly full of hype with such high level gameplay, but what certainly added to it were the character reveals in regards to added DLC for these titles.

On Friday night, many fans finally had their questions asked in regards to who would be premiering in Fighter Pack 3. Since the release of the game, there has been many theories as to who would be joining the fray. Possibilities ranged from Spawn, Buffy, Rorshach, Constantine, Neo from The Matrix, the list goes on and on. What NetherRealm Studios revealed was a straight up sucker-punch with the reveal of the final character being the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not just one of the turtles, but all four!

Later during the weekend, Bandai Namco gave the audience of the Tekken World Tour finals a trailer showcasing their next DLC character to follow Geese Howard coming in December for Tekken 7. The audience gazed witness as Final Fantasy XV’s protagonist, Noctis Lucis Caelum, started squaring up against the Tekken cast leading up to a battle with Kuma, followed by fishing alongside Lars. This was certainly a curious choice considering that Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is schedule for release in January of 2018, in which Noctis will also be featured as a playable character.

There has definitely been plenty of mixed reactions with the announcements of these characters. If you can, I do highly suggest looking up Aris and Markman’s live reaction during the Tekken World Tour. While many are certainly excited for this whether it be due to nostalgia, fandom, or the curiosity of the style of play from these characters, some feel as though these characters just do not fit within the realm of these franchises.

NetherRealm Studios is certainly not new to the concept of bringing along guest characters in their roster. Mortal Kombat 9 featured Freddy Kruegar. Injustice: Gods Among Us had Scorprion and Mortal Kombat X had many prolific horror icons in their roster such as Alien, Jason Voorhees, Predator, and Leatherface. Ed Boon even announced at the beginning that Injustice 2 would continue the tradition of featuring guest characters and even featured a poll as well. Perhaps the lighthearted tone of the Ninja Turtles just doesn’t fit into the dark and gritty world that the heroes of Injustice reside in? Do remember though, that the original comics for the Ninja Turtles were very dark and violent, which was the usual back in the 80s.

Turning our attention to Tekken‘s choice of featuring Noctis, one common complaint that I have seen is that he is seen using his various assortment of weapons during his fights and that he would be more suited for Soul Calibur. For many years, a staple character in Tekken‘s roster has always used a weapon: Yoshimitsu. Well, there goes that argument. Others have stated that he simply doesn’t fit in the Tekken universe. Let’s not forget that this is a franchise where there are dinosaurs with boxing gloves, along with kangaroos, and two bears.

There is one argument that I do find has some validity in it: legacy characters. Many die-hard fans of each franchise would love to see some of their old favorites return. As a lover of gaming, I completely understand. Having loved playing Juri in Street Fighter IV, there was very little reason for me to want to pick up Street Fighter V since she was not in the initial roster. When you spend your time with a character, you grow such an attachment that makes it difficult to play the next installment without that character in the line-up. There are many fans who have made it clear that they would love to see characters either from previous Tekken games or from the DC Universe rather than just guest characters.

Despite this, it does remain a fact that guest characters bring in a lot of attention which will then lead to new consumers. Already, I have seen people pick up copies of Injustice 2 solely for being able to play as the Ninja Turtles later on. Even in the past, one of the most successful installments in the Soul Calibur franchise features console exclusive characters and people loved it. While I was personally never able to get my hands on a copy of Soul Calibur II for the GameCube, there are many players out there with fond memories of being able to dominate against their friends. Because, let’s face it, Link was a bit over-powered in that game.

Of course, what will matter in the end to these companies is going to be the sales figures. I’m positive that these characters will certainly sell well and hopefully bring new players into the fold. The next few months will certainly be exciting for fighting games, especially with titles such as Dragon Ball FighterZ on the horizon!

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