Having guests over can be fun sometimes, but when space is limited and you invite too many over the space you’re in gets cramped and it feels like there’s not enough room to move around in. I say this not to air out my social anxieties but to make a point about a trend I’m noticing lately in fighting games. It feels like too much emphasis is being placed on guest characters.
Now, this isn’t a new concept. Fighters appearing in games from other franchises have been around for a long time and a lot of the time this is pretty cool too, so I don’t mean to disparage the concept entirely. Ezio being in Soul Calibur was fun and Sonic showing up in Super Smash Bros. Brawl made the Internet explode with excitement for a good reason. Used sparingly, these third party fighters can build hype and make a game more fun for everyone.
Used carelessly, however, things go no different than any other concept past the point of reason- that is to say, poorly. Guest characters are like spices; just enough can add flavor, but too many threaten to drown out the actual taste of a food. Likewise, an overabundance of guests in a fighting game can hurt the game’s identity.
Take Injustice 2, for instance. It’s a DC comics fighting game, yet out of nine DLC characters, four of them weren’t DC characters at all, and this was on top of Raiden from Mortal Kombat already being playable. That’s five more thematically fitting characters that could’ve been in but weren’t in favor of what basically amounted to advertising. A ton of potential newcomers could’ve been added or and some returning veterans could’ve appeared, but instead apparently a second ad for Mortal Kombat was prioritized. That’s silly.
Believe me, I still want guest fighters. I can't stress that enough. Freddy Krueger was awesome in Mortal Kombat 9. Just... use some restraint, developers. That's all I ask for.