gaming

The 40 Best Fighting Game Guest Characters

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Loveleen Kaur / ONE37pm

Fighting games have proven to be the ultimate "crossover dream turned into a reality" scenario since 1993. And since then, the best fighting game guest characters have become a hot topic amongst the FGC.

Fatal Fury Special kickstarted the ongoing trend of fighting game guest characters with the surprise appearance of Art of Fighting's Ryo Sakazaki as a special boss challenge/playable character. And in the years since, some of the most popular and obscure fighters have spread out their roster by adding in outside participants. What makes that aspect of fighters so interesting is the fact that guest characters have not only been lifted from other fighting games - they've also been taken from non-fighting games, TV shows, and movies. The best fighting game guest characters tend to add that extra bit of pizzaz to any fighter they're added to.

For this list, we're going to acknowledge 40 of the greatest fighting game guest characters of all time. And for some of these picks, we just had to show love to the entire guest ensemble that made their presence felt in certain fighters (we're looking at you, Mortal Kombat!).

Best Fighting Game Guest Characters

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Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

1. Akuma ('X-Men: Children of the Atom')

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the image of Akuma pulling off "Touch of Death" combos on X-Men characters is a throwback April Fool's Joke. Akuma's sprite model got lifted straight from Street Fighter II for this guest appearance, which is why he looks out of place compared to the rest of X-Men: Children of the Atom's roster. But this one is totally legit, folks! The badass master of the Ansatsuken fighting style still looks cool here as he clashes with Wolverine, Cyclops, Psylocke, etc. A quick note here - you're going to be seeing a lot more of Akuma on this list as he's recognized as one of the sole best fighting game guest characters in the genre.

2. Zero Akuma ('Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness')

Akuma didn't just pop up to beat up some mutants in one of Capcom's non-Street Fighter titles - he also got turned into a giant mech for his special appearance in Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness. And thankfully, this robotic rendition of the overpowered fighter looks and plays great. Getting to throw out Gohadokens and pull off a Tatsumaki Zankukyaku with a mega-sized Akuma bot still blows our minds.

3. Sakura ('Rival Schools: United By Fate')

This guess character inclusion within Rival Schools: United By Fate was an easy one to make a reality for Capcom. Sakura's already known for being an avid follower of Ryu that also happens to be a spunky schoolgirl. So it made all the sense in the world for her to take part in all the high school wars that take place within this awesome 3D fighter. We hope to see Sakura and Hinata team up once again someday...

4. The 'Final Fantasy VII' Characters ('Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring')

This forgotten gem came from Squaresoft during the height of its JRPG dominance. Seeing as how Final Fantasy VII emerged as the Japanese publisher/developer's groundbreaking RPG back then, it came as no surprise that Squaresoft chose to feature the game's standout castmates in Ehrgeiz: God Bless The Ring. Six characters were put in place here - Cloud Strife, Sephiroth, Zack Fair, Tifa Lockhart, Vincent Valentine, and Yuffie Kisaragi adapted quite well to the open-arena clashes this slept-on fighter focused on.

5. Link ('Soulcalibur II')

The biggest winner out of the Soulcalibur II console-based guest character selection was definitely all the owners of the Nintendo GameCube. And that's because they were treated to a battle-hardened, Master Sword swinging Link that chose to go toe to toe with the likes of Mitsurugi, Ivy, and more. Link plays like a dream here and all of his offense flows so smoothly within the confines of this all-time Soulcalibur series entry. Also being able to use his bow & arrow, boomerang, and a bevy of bombs makes Link one of the most versatile and arguably best fighting game guest characters we've ever played with.

6. Sonic the Hedgehog ('Super Smash Bros. Brawl')

Electronic Gaming Monthly pulled quite the April Fool's prank when it told everyone that Sega's hyperfast mascot was unlockable in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Thankfully, Sonic the Hedgehog's inclusion in Nintendo's crossover platform fighter actually became a thing once he debuted in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. For years, gamers debated over who would win in a fight between Mario and Sonic. Thanks to Brawl's inclusion of the beloved "Blue Blur," that question finally got answered.

7. Solid Snake ('Super Smash Bros. Brawl')

Brawl didn't just stop with a guest roster appearance from Sonic - it also went above and beyond to blow everyone's minds by placing the master espionage agent from Metal Gear Solid into the mix. Solid Snake and all of his firearms, bombs, and boxes came got to mix it up with the rest of Nintendo's icons, which is something we never could have imagined taking place. Being able to engage in some CQC (Close Quarters Combat) with happy, go-lucky characters such as Yoshi still trips us out.

8. The 'Star Wars' Characters ('Soulcalibur IV')

Now when you bring common sense into the picture, lightsaber wielders should have no issue cutting through everyone's metal arsenal in Soulcalibur IV. But when you suspend your disbelief for a moment, the act of swinging those whooshing laser swords as Darth Vader, Yoshi, and The Apprentice aka "Starkiller" is so dope. A special shout-out goes to that aforementioned third character - his extra mobile movements and flashy lightsaber swings stood out the most in comparison to his fellow Star Wars compatriots. Force choking with Vader and flipping around as Yoda were equally cool, though.

9. Kratos ('Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny')

God of War's bloodthirsty God-killer fit Soulcalibur like a glove once he popped up in the franchise's PlayStation Portable offering. Kratos certainly held his own as he hacked and slashed at his foes with his signature Blades of Chaos and the Blade of Olympus. He also pulled off some slick combos with his magic-based Poseidon's Rage attack and could also take flight at a moment's notice thanks to his trusty Icarus Wings. Kratos is a force to be reckoned with here, that's for sure.

10. The 'Virtua Fighter' Characters ('Dead or Alive 5')

Dead or Alive 5 became the de facto way to play a brand new Virtua Fighter since it did what Sega wouldn't do back in 2021 - make a brand new entry in the beloved 3D fighting game series. Tecmo Koei and Team Ninja did an incredible job of placing Akira Yuki, Sarah Bryant, Jacky Bryant, and Pai Chan into their very own 3D brawler and having them look as fluid as their Virtua Fighter selves. It still feels so good to pull off some slick tag team grabs with the sibling duo of Jacky and Sarah in tow.

11. Mai Shiranui ('Dead or Alive 5')

Let's confront the elephant in the room right now - Fatal Fury's Mai Shiranui has some pretty wild...well, "dimensions." She's mostly known for flinging her folding fans and flaming up the battlefield in 2D games. So it was quite the shock to see Mai transition over into a 3D fighter and still keep her signature specials intact. Picking Mai and going blow for blow with Dead or Alive's Kasumi in a battle of iconic kunoichi warriors makes all the sense in the world.

12. Akira Yuki ('Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax')

Akira didn't just pop up Dead or Alive to beat the breaks off of everyone in 3D arenas. He also got a 2D makeover to do major damage on a bunch of visual novel mascots in Sega, French Bread, and Ecole Software slept-on crossover fighter. Launching opponents into the air and keeping them up there with Akira's "Renkantai" kicks is an amazing sensation for those who've become so used to his Virtua Fighter rendition.

13. Mega Man ('Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U')

Once Super Smash Bros. made its way over to the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, its roster got even more mind-blowing as it added in a wealth of third-party characters. Capcom's "Blue Bomber" is known for being an NES console stable, so it made all the sense in the world for him to enter the battlefield to clash with the likes of Mario, Sonic, and Samus Aran. Mega Man's inclusion in Smash Bros. worked like a charm - he got tons of Easter Egg-worthy alternate costumes, a familiar stage, and a moveset composed of his most recognizable moves.

14. Pac-Man ('Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U')

Mario represents red. And Sonic is all that blue. And when we're talking about a gaming icon repping the color yellow, there's only one hero we can speak about - Pac-Man! The pellet, ghost-eating hero that stands tall as Bandai Namco's mascot hopped into Smash Bros. and fit right in alongside the rest of the game's roster members. Who knew the portly little guy was such a martial arts master?

15. Ryu ('Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U')

Street Fighter's legendary traveling warrior is known for being one of the most formidable fighting game characters the genre has ever seen. When he finally got that Smash invite envelope, he showed up and did big damage to Nintendo's best alongside his third-party icon representatives. It's still mind-blowing to see Ryu dish out Hadoukens and land Shoryuken's on the likes of Fox McCloud and the rest of Smash's anthropomorphic critters.

16. Cloud Strife ('Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U')

Fun fact - Cloud Strife was originally set to be the PS2 exclusive character for Soulcalibur II. While it sucks that that lofty plan fell through, shout out to Masahiro Sakurai for pulling enough strings to get him into Smash. Cloud and his ginormous Buster Sword hit like a truck in Nintendo's premier platform fighter. Everything from his Limit Break specials right on down to his assorted multi-slash sword combos was taken from Final Fantasy VII and replicated to perfection here.

17. Bayonetta ('Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U')

She may have pissed off the Smash Ultimate community at first due to her overpowered nature, but you couldn't be too mad at her inclusion in the end. The world's most beloved witch in gaming brought all her melee weapons, demonic pets, and hand/foot pistols with her to terrorize some of your favorite gaming mascots. And she looks so damn good doing it with all those slow-motion camera tricks accentuating her flashiest attacks.

18. Iori Yagami ('Million Arthur: Arcana Blood')

You may not have heard of Million Arthur: Arcana Blood, which is understandable. But go on ahead and give it a try when you get a chance - it's a solid anime fighter that utilizes partner assists to pull off some sick combos. Scattered among the game's usage of characters from the Million Arthur MMORPG/anime series is an Orochi blood-cursed brawler hailing from The King of Fighters. The person we're alluding to here is none other than Iori Yagami, who looks extra crisp with the game's visual palette splashed over him and his purple flame-tinged maneuvers.

19. Rash ('Killer Instinct' - 2013)

The 2013 Killer Instinct reboot grew into an amazing fighter over time that brought in guest characters from Halo and Gears of War. The best guest series entrant of them all though is one of Rare's anthropomorphic badasses, Rash. The Battletoads representative has it all - the ability to transform into random objects, enlarged limbs that extend his combos, and his trusty speeder bike. If Killer Instinct ever gets a new entry, then Zitz and Pimple should also come along for the ride.

20. Akuma ('Tekken 7')

We might not ever get to see a finished version of Tekken x Street Fighter (damn you, Harada!). But the shocking inclusion of Akuma in Tekken 7 as a playable character is the closest we'll ever get to that far-flung dream. This Street Fighter rep feels just like his 2D self and can even tear up everyone's life meters with OP EX moves. Getting the W with a "Raging Demon" in a Tekken game is totally possible because of this guy. Side note - our minds are still blown over the fact that Akuma is integral to the plot of Tekken 7's plot!

21. Geese Howard ('Tekken 7')

We still get goosebumps watching this dude's reveal trailer from EVO 2017! The ultimate final boss known for his tyrannical AI from Fatal Fury came over to the 3D open arenas of Tekken to face off with that game's evil representatives. Just like Akuma, Geese Howard kept his 2D specials and combo strings intact (most folks aren't big fans of that since he's considered pretty OP). Pulling off that sick counter body slam of his never gets old in this game. Alongside Akuma, Geese deserves praise as one of the best fighting game guest characters to make his way over from 2D to 3D.

22. Geralt of Rivia ('Soulcalibur VI')

Bandai Namco's Soulcalibur franchise has a really strong record when it comes to featuring guest characters. By the time its sixth main entry arrived, an action RPG great finally got the opportunity to bring his blades and spells with him to the popular weapons-clasher. The Witcher's "White Wolf" looks quite graceful in motion, but his slashes and magic-based attacks are super impactful. Geralt of Rivia fits Soulcalibur like a glove - we feel all warm and fuzzy inside every time he squares off with Raphael.

23. 2B ('Soulcalibur VI')

NieR:Automata's battle-hardened android is backed up by a huge fan following - just Google her name and images of dope cosplay, custom art, and combo vids for the game's main protagonist will flood your page. 2B and her helper bot showed in Soulcalibur VI and her inclusion stands out for all the right reasons. Her multitude of blades, ease of use, and powerful ranged attacks present her in a familiar way while simultaneously matching her up with Soulcalibur's gameplay & graphics in a commendable manner.

24. Haohmaru ('Soulcalibur VI')

Mitsurugi has always been seen as the most impregnable samurai of Soulcalibur. But he finally got some worthy competition once Samurai Shodown's lethal katana wielder came through to show him who's boss. Haohmaru plays so much better here than he does in Samurai Shodown Sen thanks to the fluidity Soulcalibur afforded him on a 3D plane. It feels so good to be able to pull off his special moves with traditional 2D fighting game controls and land his most climactic finishers on an unsuspecting opponent.

25. Kratos ('Mortal Kombat' - 2011)

Kratos looks like he's having the time of his life in the blood and guts-filled NetherRealm contained within the 2011 series reboot of Mortal Kombat. PS3 and PS Vita's owners got it so good since they could get as gory as they wanted to with Kratos' signature arsenal of blades and the power of the gods backing him up. The coolest part about Kratos' guest spot in this game is his incorporation of quick-time event button presses that are lifted straight from the God of War games.

26. Freddy Krueger ('Mortal Kombat' - 2011)

The trend of welcoming horror movie symbols into Mortal Kombat games began here. A Nightmare on Elm Street's nightmare-powered monster got pitted against the likes of Scorpion and Lui Kang as he stepped foot into this amazing Mortal Kombat reboot. Besides his affinity for claw slashes, Freddy Krueger got down and dirty during battle by sending his victims into a fiery furnace and bringing them down to Hell before completely dismembering them. Freddy's definitely one of the best fighting game guest characters to make the trip from the big screen to the small screen.

27. Scorpion ('Injustice: Gods Among Us')

Once Ed Boon and the fighting game pros at NetherRealm Studios aligned themselves with DC Comics, their partnership resulted in one of the most exciting superheroes vs. supervillains fighting games the genre has ever seen. Mortal Kombat's hellish ninja tried his hand at taking on Superman, Batman, and more when he popped up in Injustice: Gods Among Us with some sweet new duds. Scorpion is simply a menace in this game - everyone who played this game professionally knows just how much of a problem he is in the right hands. Scorpion also happens to have one of the best super moves in the game via "Welcome To The Netherrealm."

28. The Movie Characters ('Mortal Kombat X')

Mortal Kombat X's darker color palette paved the way for equally foreboding characters that didn't look out of place whatsoever once they debuted. Freddy may have been left behind here, but his replacements made everyone get over his absence. Killers from the big screen got to rip out some spines and deplete every one of their blood. And those infamous killers include Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th), Predator, Leatherface, and Alien. Jason's machete is OD, Predator's tools allowed for some slick air combos, Leatherface's chainsaw did some nasty work, and Alien's tail whips are a force to be reckoned with.

29. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ('Injustice 2')

Injustice 2 went bigger and bolder with its non-DC Comics roster. Sub-Zero and Raiden pay a visit from Mortal Kombat, plus Hellboy got him a piece of the action with his massive fist and "Good Samaritan" revolver. The mind-blowing reveal and inclusion of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the one that got everyone talking, though. Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and Raphael all came through to use their respective weapons and "Turtle Power" to put the smackdown on their superpowered opposition. The alternate costume system allowed for a cool implementation of each Turtle that's all contained and selectable within one character slot.

30. Akira Kazama ('Street Fighter V')

Sakura must have put in a good word for this Rival Schools fan fave since Street Fighter V laid out the red carpet for her guest spot. The biker helmet warrior known as Akira Kazama took a detour from her high school grudge matches and sped right into fresh encounters with the Street Fighter's best. It's incredible to see Akira be able to pull off those sky-high air combos and also employ special moves that call upon the brute strength of her brother Daigo. Akira definitely earns the honor of being the best member of the SFV's Season 5 DLC roster.

31. Spawn ('Mortal Kombat 11')

Rumors were running rampant about Todd McFarlane's hellish guardian getting added to Mortal Kombat X, but those plans seemingly fell through. Luckily, Spawn got to deal out his brand of justice in Mortal Kombat 11 and look his very best. The man is a master of guns, blasts out Necroplasm energy, uses his cape as a weapon, and is pretty adept at bashing people's skulls in with a club. Extra kudos go out to this video game version of Spawn getting voiced by Keith David, who reprises his role from the HBO animated series.

32. Terry Bogard ('Fighting EX Layer')

What started out as an April Fool's Day joke back in 2017 eventually evolved into a full game that fans of the Street Fighter EX series rejoiced over. Fighting EX Layer upped the ante post-launch by bringing over a familiar face that deals in Buster Wolves and Rising Tackles. And to everyone's surprise, he fits in much better than expected. Terry Bogard looks and plays so well within the 2D battlefield/3D visual design that powers this cool Arika-developed fighter.

33. Baiken ('Samurai Shodown' - 2019)

Guilty Gear's one-armed samurai makes too much sense as a guest character for a fighter focused on landing killing blows with bladed weapons. When she got announced for 2019's Samurai Shodown, it felt like she'd been hanging out in the series' world in the background all along since she didn't look out of place upon her reveal. Baiken certainly looks just as formidable in battle as Sam Sho's other katana wielders and she makes sure to look just as awesome as them when it's time to pull off a Super Special Move.

34. Ryu ('Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid')

Hands down, the greatest Power Rangers game of all time is the 3v3 fighter known as Battle for the Grid. And just like its mobile cousin Legacy Wars, this console brawler gave Street Fighter's front-facing warrior a chance to mix it up with Rangers and the baddies that always give them problems. Ryu hits like a truck here and plays just like Marvel vs. Capcom rendition. The "Crimson Hawk Ranger" and his Shinku Hadoken just can't be contained!

35. Chun-Li ('Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid')

Chun-Li clearly wasn't going to let Ryu have all the fun! She also got some "Mighty Morphin'" powers of her own when she got to throw hands (and feet) in Battle for the Grid. Street Fighter's female mascot also feels just as combo crazy as her Marvel vs. Capcom self, which thankfully means she has the ability to go toe to toe with Battle for the Grid's powerful roster. Her "Blue Phoenix Ranger" getup looks so damn amazing!

36. Ken ('Super Smash Bros. Ultimate')

Ryu has his fans, no doubt. But it always seems like a lot more fighting game fans actually prefer his flame-fueled rival/best friend instead. At the launch of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Ken became available and gave his massive fanbase a reason to take a stab at Nintendo's crossover platform brawler. His "Final Smash" ("Shippu Jinraikyaku" and "Shinryuken") moves make us feel like kings every time we successfully KO our foes with them.

37. Terry Bogard ('Super Smash Bros. Ultimate')

Terry sure has a great record when it comes to guest character appearances. We already mentioned his inclusion in Fighting EX Layer, plus he's done well against Capcom's icons in Capcom vs. SNK. In Smash Ultimate, he shows up in another dream crossover to give us the unofficial third fantasy Capcom vs. SNK battle. Terry has all of his signature offense in tow, plus he even incorporates his traditional input methods for his specials and super moves. Smash Ultimate really lets fighting game fans battle it out with Terry (Fatal Fury), Ryu & Ken (Street Fighter), and Kazuya (Tekken). These are wild times we live in...

38. Sephiroth ('Super Smash Bros. Ultimate')

Cloud just can't catch a break, it seems. The man thought he could just enjoy himself in Smash without any familiar threats gunning for his neck. That clearly wasn't the case since Final Fantasy VII's "One-Winged Angel" followed Cloud and chose to not only torment him but the rest of gaming's biggest characters. Sephiroth and his insanely long "Masamune" blade happen to be one of our favorite methods towards getting our friends salty whenever Smash Ultimate parties go down.

39. Kazuya Mishima ('Super Smash Bros. Ultimate')

Kazuya Mishima must have run out of people to throw over the side of a cliff cause he showed up to do the Smash Ultimate roster extra dirty once he arrived. Tekken's coolest villain didn't show up to make friends in this game - he only popped up to bring the pain. The fact that you can pull off a 10-hit Tekken combo string and transform into Kazuya's Devil Mode makes this guess character admittance one of the very best in Smash Ultimate.

40. Sora ('Super Smash Bros. Ultimate')

Sora's guest character inclusion in Smash Ultimate will always be recognized as a bittersweet occasion. Everyone lost their minds at the unexpected arrival of Kingdom Hearts' most lovable Keyblade user, but they also cried tears of joy since he's the final DLC character for Smash Ultimate. Thank the gaming gods for this one, though! Sakurai really went out with a bang and made sure Sora got properly adapted. Swinging a Keyblade around as Sora in Smash Ultimate is a dream come true. You can't help but recognize him as not only one of the best fighting game guest characters but also one of the best additions to the massive Smash roster.

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