Guest characters make a neat addition to any game, usually injecting a touch of novelty-value and tongue-in-cheek humour.
For example, who wouldn’t welcome the chance to play as a horor-movie monster in Mortal Kombat rather than goody two-shoes Liu Kang once in a while? Who hasn’t grown tired of just skating around as a regular Joe in a Tony Hawk’s game and fantasised about stepping into the shiny boots of a rock legend instead?
Well, if either of these apply to you (and why wouldn’t they?), you’ve had some good luck over the years. Plenty of developers have slotted real and fictional icons into their games, even when it makes no logical sense on any level whatsoever.
Still, you don’t hear us complaining!
Let’s check out 10 strange but awesome guest characters in video games, starting with a certain Dark Lord you may have heard of …
Darth Vader in Soul Calibur IV
This is one of the strangest guest characters, by far. In Soul Calibur IV, Darth Vader, Yoda, and The Apprentice (from The Force Unleashed, and nothing to do with a TV show) all featured as extras.
While playing as Vader is a blast, it all feels a little too bizarre, and the lightsabers run into the same problem they have in many games: they’re more like baseball bats than laser-swords capable of slicing opponents into steaming piles of flesh.
Still, it’s a real novelty to have Darth Vader at your beck and call within such a sleek, well-made fighting game. It just doesn’t feel as natural a fit as some other cameos.
Michael Jackson in Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
No, really. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you.
Michael Jackson did indeed cameo as a playable fighter in Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2.
This has to be one of the strangest uses of a guest character ever, right? Darth Vader in Soul Calibur is a bit weird, but this is downright trippy.
While Shaquille O’Neal was also available as a fighter, this makes more sense than the late King of Pop. After all, Shaq was a sportsman and had appeared in his own fighting game, Shaq Fu, years earlier.
Still, for all its weirdness, Michael Jackson is actually a solid addition, with some smooth boxing skills and a neat little victory dance. It’s a shame he didn’t appear in more fighting games, especially Mortal Kombat: decapitating enemies with platinum records would have been great!
Spider-Man in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Remember that scene in The Amazing Spider-Man, in which Peter Parker experiments with his new powers with a little help from his skateboard? Well, Neversoft got there first, way back in 2000.
The reason? Neversoft also developed a fantastic Spider-Man game on the PS1 in 2000, and must have felt he was a natural fit for the fun-loving skating franchise.
He’s a great addition, too, using his web-slinging skills to keep track of his board during certain moves. He’s not easy to get without a cheat, though: you have to earn that tough 100 percent completion with a custom skater in Career Mode.
Gene Simmons in Tony Hawk’s Underground
Gene Simmons from Kiss may be a tongue-waggling beast of a legend, but his appearance in Tony’s Hawk’s Underground (AKA T.H.U.G) is a head-scratcher.
It’s still undeniably awesome, though.
First of all, getting to play as the man himself dressed in full Kiss regalia is a joy. Second of all, the amount of effort the developers put into his personality is another win. Just check out his ‘lick it up’ move, in which he grabs onto his airborne board with that impressive tongue of his.
Jason Vorhees in Mortal Kombat X
Ah, Jason. One of the horror genre’s most iconic ‘monsters’. Even if you don’t like the Friday the 13th films, there’s no denying the awesomeness of his design or the creepiness of his mute presence.
Over the decades, Jason’s shown himself to be a particularly brutal figure, with a handy knack for surviving all kinds of attacks. Both traits make him an ideal fit for the Mortal Kombat franchise, and NetherRealm Studios did a great job of integrating him into their gore-soaked world.
Kudos to NetherRealm Studios for adding Jason’s pal from the horror-canon, Leatherface, to the mix too.
Freddy Krueger in Mortal Kombat (2011)
Few things are scarier than the idea of being murdered in your sleep by an undead child-killer wearing an old-timey hat, a sweater that probably needs a good wash, and a razor-sharp set of claws.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise Freddy Krueger remains such a famous figure in the world of horror and like Jason, he’s a great fit for the Mortal Kombat franchise. That doesn’t mean it’s not pretty weird to actually see him on-screen with the likes of Sonya Blade et al.
Fred’s got a nice line in fatalities, as you’d expect, and even his ‘Baballity’ finisher is somewhat disturbing.
Darth Maul in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
What’s stranger than putting Darth Vader into a Soul Calibur game?
Throwing his Sith predecessor, Darth Maul, into a skateboarding game.
Still, he looks fantastic out there on his board, even though having his lightsaber drawn must surely be a safety risk (especially with those dual blades). He handles as nicely as the other skaters, and is a great reward for gaining every gold medal and completing all goals in Career mode.
His Force Grab move is also in-keeping with the character. Too bad he didn’t show this off in The Phantom Menace, eh?
Scorpion in Injustice: Gods Among Us
NetherRealm Studios scored a hit with their take on the DC universe, and it made sense for them to integrate their Mortal Kombat franchise into it. Especially seeing as the two properties had already met in Mortal Kombat VS. DC Universe.
Scorpion was the only MK fighter available as DLC, but he was a weirdly appropriate fit. While you might think he’d feel out of place, his look, moves, and bad attitude all worked well alongside the assorted heroes and villains.
Predator in Mortal Kombat X
Alongside Leatherface and Jason Vorhees, Mortal Kombat X also allows players to kick Outworld butt as the Predator.
One of cinema’s greatest aliens, the Predator is armed with a shoulder-cannon, a set of claws, and a great flair for messy fatalities. Check out his self-destruct move, which kills both him and his opponent in a blaze of glory.
With Predator available, a rival Xenomorph (from the Alien franchise) was inevitable. This makes Mortal Kombat X something of a must for fans of both film series, and pitting either of these against Jason or Leatherface is enough to cause meltdowns in the most hardcore of horror-lovers.
The Clintons in Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2
Yup, another one!
Well, two actually, but they have to count as one for obvious reasons.
You see, not content with giving us Shaq and Michael Jackson, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 also delivered the one-two punch of Bill and Hilary Clinton.
Though they’re not actually referenced by name, it’s undoubtedly them. Playing one against the other is a bizarre situation you probably never expected to be involved with, and it only gets weirder the more time goes on.
What are your favourite strange but awesome guest-character appearances in video games? Let us know!