The Characters

Beginning in the late 1990s, it became fashionable for Japanese game companies to churn out titles whose dominant theme was simply self-aggrandizing nostalgia. They’d gather up a bunch of their most beloved characters from their reasonably popular past hits, stick them together in a single tile, and hope customers would be too giddy to notice the resulting game — usually a tournament fighter or kart racer of some sort — had little else to offer.

Of Japan’s “big six” video game firms — Nintendo, Sony, Capcom, Konami, Sega, Namco, and Square —every single one has released at least one medley character mash-up game to date.

Atari — Atari Karts (1995)

Atari Karts (1995), a highly forgettable (and now highly obscure) racing game for Atari’s short-lived Jaguar system is usually recognized as the first video game to boast an assembled cast of assorted franchise characters from a single corporation.

Key word: boast.

To this day, no one is really sure if the various characters of Atari Karts actually come from the over 100 games Atari published prior to 1995, or whether they were just made up. So far, only Bentley Bear has been positively identified.

CharacterFranchise1st appearance
Bentley BearNoneCrystal Castles (1983)
Fire Bug??
Miracle Man??
Miz Tress??
Pum King??

Capcom — the “Versus” series (1998- )

The pioneer. Starting in 1998, the Capcom corporation produced a series of fighting games in which heroes from their various video game franchises went to war with characters from various other entertainment franchises, both American and Japanese.

The first offering was Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes (1998), followed by two Marvel-themed sequels, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2: Age of New Heroes (2000) and Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (2011). The year 2000 saw the release of Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight followed by its 2001 sequel Capcom vs. SNK2: Mark of the Millennium, and then finally Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes (2008). There is also the novel Namco X Capcom (2005), which is basically a tactical role-playing game with some fighting game elements.

The seven games feature over 90 Capcom characters from over a dozen franchises, making Capcom perhaps the most self-indulgent participant in what is already one of gaming’s most self-indulgent fads.

Here’s everyone who’s appeared so far:

CharacterFranchise1st appearance
AkumaStreet FighterSuper Street Fighter II Turbo (1994)
Albert WeskerResident EvilResident Evil (1996)
AmaterasuNoneOkami (2006)
AlexStreet FighterStreet Fighter III: New Generation (1997)
AllosaurusDino CrisisDino Crisis 2 (2002)
AnakarisDarkStalkersDarkStalkers (1994)
ArthurGhosts 'n GoblinsGhosts 'n Goblins (1985)
AstarothGhosts 'n GoblinsGhosts 'n Goblins (1985)
BalrogStreet FighterStreet Fighter II (1992)
Baby HeadNoneCaptain Commando (1991)
B.B. HoodDarkStalkersVampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire (1997)
Batsu IchimonjiRival SchoolsRival Schools: United By Fate
BlankaStreet FighterSuper Street Fighter II Turbo (1994)
Bruce McGivernResident EvilResident Evil Dead Aim (2003)
C. ViperStreet FighterStreet Fighter IV (2008)
CammyStreet FighterSuper Street Fighter II Turbo (1994)
Captain CommandoNoneCaptain Commando (1991)
CharlieStreet FighterStreet Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams (1995)
Chris RedfieldResident EvilResident Evil (1996)
Chun-LiStreet FighterStreet Fighter II (1992)
DanStreet FighterStreet Fighter Alpha (1995)
DanteDevil May CryDevil May Cry (2001)
DemitriDarkStalkersDarkStalkers (1994)
DhalsimStreet FighterStreet Fighter II (1992)
DrukNoneCaptain Commando (1991)
E. HondaStreet FighterStreet Fighter II (1992)
Evil RyuStreet FighterStreet Fighter Alpha 2 (1996)
EagleStreet FighterStreet Fighter (1987)
FeliciaDarkStalkersDarkStalkers (1994)
FirebrandGhosts 'n GoblinsGhosts 'n Goblins (1985)
Fong LingResident EvilResident Evil Dead Aim (2003)
Frank WestNoneDead Rising (2006)
GinzuNoneCaptain Commando (1991)
GuileStreet FighterStreet Fighter II (1992)
GuyFinal FightFinal Fight (1989)
HayatoStar GladiatorStar Gladiator - Episode 1: Final Crusade (1996)
Hideo ShimazuRival SchoolsRival Schools: United By Fate (1998)
Hsien-KoNoneNight Warriors (1995)
HuitzilDarkStalkersDarkStalkers (1994)
Jill ValentineResident EvilResident Evil (1996)
Jin SaotomeNoneCyberbots: Fullmetal Madness (1997)
Juli and JuniStreet FighterStreet Fighter Alpha 3 (1998)
Karin KanzukiStreet FighterStreet Fighter Alpha 3 (1998)
KenStreet FigtherStreet Fighter (1987)
Kyosuke KagamiRival SchoolsRival Schools: United By Fate (1998)
Kyoko MinazukiRival SchoolsRival Schools: United By Fate (1998)
LilithDarkStalkersDarkStalkers 3
Mack the KnifeNoneCaptain Commando (1991)
M. BisonStreet FighterStreet Fighter II (1992)
Mega ManMega ManMega Man (1987)
Mega Man JunoMega ManMega Man Legends (1998)
Mega Man VolnuttMega ManMega Man Legends (1998)
Grandmaster MeioStriderStrider (1989)
MakiFinal FightFinal Fight 2 (1993)
Mike HaggarFinal FightFinal Fight (1989)
MorriganDarkStalkersDarkStalkers (1994)
Nathan SpencerNoneBionic Commando (1987)
NebirosGhosts 'n GoblinsGhosts 'n Goblins (1985)
Nemesis T-TypeResident EvilResident Evil 3: Nemesis (1999)
Phoenix WrightPhoenix WrightPhoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2001)
PTX-40ALost PlanetLost Planet: Extreme Condition (2007)
Lord RaptorDarkStalkersDarkStalkers (1994)
Q-BeeDarkStalkersDarkStalkers 3 (1997)
Red Arremer JokerGhosts 'n GoblinsSuper Ghouls 'n Ghosts (GBA version, 2002)
ReginaDino CrisisDino Crisis (1999)
RollMega ManMega Man (1987)
RoseStreet FighterStreet Fighter Alpha: Warriors' Dreams (1995)
RolentoFinal FightFinal Fight (1989)
RyuStreet FighterStreet Fighter (1987)
SagatStreet FighterStreet Fighter (1987)
Saki KanebouNoneQuiz Nanairo Dreams (1996)
SakuraStreet FighterStreet Fighter Alpha 2 (1996)
ServebotMega ManMega Man Legends (1998)
Shin AkumaStreet FighterSuper Street Fighter II Turbo (1994)
Shturm Jr.NoneCaptain Commando (1991)
SoloStriderStrider (1989)
SokiOnimushaOnimusha: Dawn of Dreams (2006)
Strider HienStriderStrider 2 (1999)
Strider HiryuStriderStrider (1989)
Ton PoohStriderStrider (1989)
TrishDevil May CryDevil May Cry (2001)
Tron BonneMega ManMega Man Legends (1998)
Unknown Soldier (Blue)NoneForgotten Worlds (1988)
Unknown Soldier (Red)NoneForgotten Worlds (1988)
VegaStreet FighterStreet Fighter II (1992)
VergilDevil May CryDevil May Cry 3 (2005)
Viewtiful JoeViewtiful JoeViewtiful Joe (2003)
YumStreet FighterStreet Fighter III: New Generation (1997)
ZangiefStreet FighterStreet Fighter II (1992)
ZeroMega ManMega Man X (1994)

Nintendo — Super Smash Bros. (1999- )

Smash Brothers is a multi-player fighting game series featuring characters from the various franchises of Nintendo, the iconic company that has produced some of the world’s most beloved video games of all time.

The original Super Smash Bros. debuted on the Nintendo 64 in 1999 and was followed by three sequels, Super Smash Bros. Melee (Gamecube, 2001),  Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii, 2008), and the rather bluntly titled Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (2014). A 3DS version of the Wii U game entitled Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS was released in 2014 as well.

Though Nintendo’s most famous characters appear in all four titles, each subsequent Smash Bros. features a larger cast than the one that came before it.

CharacterFranchise1st appearance
BowserMarioSuper Mario Bros. (1985)
Captain FalconF-ZeroF-Zero (1991)
CharizardPokemonPokemon Red and Blue (1998)
Diddy KongDonkey KongDonkey Kong Country (1994)
Donkey KongDonkey KongDonkey Kong (1981)
Dr. MarioMarioDr. Mario (1990)
Duck HuntNoneDuck Hunt (1984)
Falco LombardiStar FoxStar Fox (1993)
Fox McCloudStar FoxStar Fox (1993)
GanondorfZeldaThe Legend of Zelda (1987)
Ice Climbers
(Popo and Nana)
NoneIce Climber (1988)
IkeFire Emblem Fire Emblem: Dark Dragon & Sword of Light (1990)
JigglypuffPokemonPokemon Red and Blue (1998)
King DededeKirbyKirby's Dream Land (1992)
KirbyKirbyKirby's Dream Land (1992)
LinkZeldaThe Legend of Zelda (1987)
LucarioPokemonPokemon Diamond and Pearl (2007)
LucasMotherMother 3 (2006)
LucinaFire EmblemFire Emblem: Awakening (2012)
LuigiMarioMario Bros. (1983)
Little MacPunch-Out!!Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (1987)
MarioMarioMario Bros. (1983)
MarthFire Emblem Fire Emblem: Dark Dragon & Sword of Light (1990)
Meta KnightKirbyKirby's Adventure (1993)
MewtwoPokemonPokemon Red and Blue (1998)
Mii FightersNoneNone, characters are based on the design of "Miis," customizable player avatars used on various Nintendo systems beginning with the Wii in 2006.
Mr. Game & WatchNoneNone, character is composite based on various characters who appeared on Nintendo's Game & Watch handheld systems (circa 1980-1991).
NessMotherEarthBound (1995)
Captain OlimarPikminPikmin (2001)
Lady PalutenaKid IcarusKid Icarus (1987)
PichuPokemonPokemon Gold and Silver (2000)
PikachuPokemonPokemon Red and Blue (1998)
PitKid IcarusKid Icarus (1987)
Dark PitKid IcarusKid Icarus: Uprising (2012)
Princess PeachMarioSuper Mario Bros. (1985)
Pokemon TrainerPokemonPokemon Red and Blue (1998)
R.O.B.NoneNone, character is based on the 1985 "Robotic Operating Buddy" accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
RobinFire EmblemFire Emblem: Awakening (2012)
Princess Rosalina and LumaMarioSuper Mario Galaxy (2007)
RoyFire EmblemFire Emblem: Dark Dragon & Sword of Light (1990)
Samus AranMetroidMetroid (1986)
Toon LinkZeldaThe Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003)
VillagerAnimal CrossingAnimal Forest (2001)
WarioMarioSuper Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins (1992)
Wii Fit TrainerNoneWii Fit (2008)
Wolf O'DonnellStar FoxStar Fox 64 (1997)
YoshiMarioSuper Mario World (1991)
Princess ZeldaZeldaThe Legend of Zelda (1987)

Super Smash Bros. Brawl featured Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog as playable characters despite the fact that they are creations of the Sega and Konami corporations, respectively. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/DS added several other interlopers: Cloud (Square), Mega Man (Capcom), Pac-Man (Namco), and Shulk (Square).

Konami — Konami Krazy Racers (2001)

In 2001, Konami produced a rather perfunctory kart racing game for the Game Boy Advance, titled simply Konami Krazy Racers. Though it featured a decent cast showcasing their diversity of franchises, it remains the company’s sole multiple-character offering.

CharacterFranchise1st appearance
DraculaCastlevaniaCastlevania (1987)
GoemonGoemon/Mystical NinjaGanbare Goemon! Karakuri Douchuu (1986)
Pawapuro-kunJikkyuu Powerful Pro Baseball Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyuu 2000 (2000)
MoaiGradiusGradius (1985)
NinjaMetal GearMetal Gear (1988)
NyamiPop'n MusicPop'n Music (1999)
PastelTwinBeeTwinBee (1985)
TakosukeParodiusParodius (1988)

Sega — the “All-Stars” series (2004- )

Since 2004, the Sega corporation has released a series of titles featuring an assembled “All-Star” cast of their various game franchises in a variety of different settings.

Sega Superstars (2004) was the initial offering, and featured a number of franchise-themed mini-games based around the PlayStation 2’s EyeToy accessory. It was followed by the multiplatform Sega Superstars Tennis (2008), and then the more ambitious Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (2010), a racing game which was followed by a 2012 sequel Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.

CharacterFranchise1st appearance
AGESNoneNone, character is based on the VMU accessory for the Dreamcast system (1999).
AiaiMonkey BallMonkey Balll (2000)
Akira YukiVirtua FighterVirtua Fighter (1993)
Alex KiddAlex KiddAlex Kidd: The Lost Stars (1986)
AmigoSamba de AmigoSamba de Amigo (2000)
Amy RoseSonicSonic CD (1993)
BabyMonkey BallMonkey Balll (2000)
B.D. JoeCrazy TaxiCrazy Taxi 1999
BeatJet Set RadioJet Grind Radio (2000)
Big the CatSonicSonic Adventure (1999)
Billy HatcherNoneBilly Hatcher and the Giant Egg (2003)
Bonanza Bros.NoneBonanza Bros. (1984)
ChaoSonicSonic Adventure (1999)
ChuChusNoneChuChu Rocket! (2000)
Dr. EggmanSonicSonic the Hedgehog (1991)
Gillus ThunderheadGolden AxeGolden Axe (1989)
GongonMonkey BallMonkey Balll (2000)
GumJet Set RadioJSRF: Jet Set Radio Future (2002)
Jacky BryantVirtua FighterVirtua Fighter (1993)
Joe MusashiShinobiShinobi (1987)
KnucklesSonicSonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994)
Mee MeeMonkey BallMonkey Balll (2000)
Metal SonicSonicSonic the Hedgehog (1991)
NiGHTSNiGHTSNiGHTS Into Dreams... (1996)
Opa-OpaFantasy ZoneFantasy Zone (1986)
PuddingSpace Channel 5Space Channel 5 (2000)
RealaNiGHTSNiGHTS Into Dreams... (1996)
Ryo HazukiShenmueShenmue (2000)
Sarah BryantVirtua FighterVirtua Fighter (1993)
ShadowSonicShadow the Hedgehog (2005)
SonicSonicSonic the Hedgehog (1991)
TailsSonicSonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)
UlalaSpace Channel 5Space Channel 5 (2000)
VyseSkies of ArcadiaSkies of Arcadia (2000)
Zobio And ZobikoHouse of the DeadThe House of the Dead EX (2008)

Namco — Namco X Capcom (2005)

The participation of the Namco corporation (know officially known by its post-merger name, Namco-Bandai) in the franchise character melee genre is limited to a single title, the aforementioned Namco X Capcom (2005), an action-packed tactical role-playing game that saw a surprisingly large roster of Namco characters team up with an equally enormous parade of Capcom heroes. As the game was never released in America and has a rather complex, text-heavy interface, it remains somewhat mysterious in the west.

CharacterFranchise1st appearance
AmazonaNoneWonder Momo (1987)
AndabaNoneGenpei Toma Den (1986)
Armor KingTekkenTekken (1994)
Black BravoNoneBravoman (1988)
Black ValkyrieNoneThe Legend of Valkyrie (1989)
BravomanNoneBravoman (1988)
CharadeSoul CaliburSoul Calibur II (2002)
Devil KazuyaTekkenTekken (1994)
Devil JinTekkenTekken 3 (1996)
Dig DugDig DugDig Dug (1982)
DruagaDruggaThe Tower of Druaga (1984)
King EnmaShadow Land (1987)
GilgameshThe Tower of Druaga (1984)
GuntzKlonoaKlonoa 2: Dream Champ Tournament (2002)
Heihachi MishimaTekkenTekken (1994)
Hiromi TengenjiBurning Force (1989)
IshtarThe Tower of Druaga (1984)
JangaKlonoaKlonoa Heroes: Densetsu no Star Medal (2002)
Jin KazamaTekkenTekken 3 (1996)
JokerKlonoaKlonoa: Door to Phantomile (1997)
Judas (Leon Magnus)Tales of Destiny 2 (2002)
KamuzValkyrieThe Legend of Valkyrie (1989)
KiThe Tower of Druaga (1984)
KingTekkenTekken 3 (1996)
Kiso YoshinakaGenpei Toma Den (1986)
KlonoaKlonoaKlonoa: Door to Phantomile (1997)
KOS-MOSXenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht (2002)
Krino Sandra (Whirlo)ValkyrieThe Adventure of Valkyrie: Legend of the Time Key (1986)
LoloKlonoaKlonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil (2002)
Minamoto no YoritomoGenpei Toma Den (1986)
Mitsurugi HeishiroSoul Edge (1995)
MokujinTekkenTekken 3 (1996)
MOMOXenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht (2002)
OgreTekkenTekken 3 (1996)
Rutee KatreaTales of Destiny (1997)
SabineValkyrieThe Legend of Valkyrie (1989)
Saito Musashibo BenkeiGenpei Toma Den (1986)
Shion UzukiXenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht (2002)
Stahn AileronTales of Destiny (1997)
Taira no KagekiyoGenpei Toma Den (1986)
TakiSoul Edge (1995)
TarosukeShadow Land (1987)
Toby MasuyoBaraduke (1985)
ValkyrieValkyrieThe Adventure of Valkyrie: Legend of the Time Key (1986)
Waya-HimeBravoman (1988)
Wonder MomoWonder Momo (1987)
ZounaValkyrieThe Adventure of Valkyrie: Legend of the Time Key (1986)
ZuleValkyrieThe Adventure of Valkyrie: Legend of the Time Key (1986)

Sony — PlayStation All-Stars (2012)

Sony’s entry into the character mash-up genre came quite late, with their first title PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale not released until late 2012. Reflecting the fact that Sony proper has not produced a great many video games in its own right (merely systems on which to play them) PlayStation All-Stars actually features a lot of non-Sony characters including — uniquely for a game of this type — several characters from American companies and franchises.

CharacterFranchise1st appearance
Big DaddyBioShockBioShock (2007)
Cole MacGrathinFamousinFamous (2009)
Evil Cole MacGrathinFamousinFamous (2009)
Mael RadecKillzoneKillzone 2 (2009)
DanteDevil May CryDevil May Cry (2001)
Emmett GravesNoneStarhawk (2012)
Fat PrincessFat PrincessFat Princess (2009)
Heihachi MishimaTekkenTekken (1994)
Jak and DexterJak and DexterJak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (2001)
KatNoneGravity Rush (2012)
KratosGod of WarGod of War (2005)
NarikoNoneHeavenly Sword (2007)
Nathan DrakeUnchartedUncharted: Drake's Fortune (2007)
PaRappaPaRappaPaRappa the Rapper (1997)
RaidenMetal GearMetal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001)
Ratchet and ClankRatchet and ClankRatchet and Clank (2002)
SackboyLittleBigPlanetLittleBigPlanet (2008)
Sir Daniel FortesqueMediEvilMediEvil (1998)
Sly CooperSly CooperSly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus (2002)
SpikeNoneApe Escape (1999)
Sweet ToothTwisted MetalTwisted Metal (1995)
Toro InoueNone per se, though as the mascot of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) he has made cameos in a number of titles.Doko Demo Issho (1999)