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The Wildest Guest Characters In Gaming

Video games, much like film or any other entertainment medium, are full of memorable characters. Whether you're talking about megalomaniacal super-villains or altruistic heroes with a heart of gold, gaming has allowed players to engage with all manner of personalities and archetypes. Sometimes, however, game developers or publishers aren't content to simply dream up their own characters. Many games have taken the route of incorporating guest characters from outside their home franchise.

This phenomenon is perhaps most common in the fighting genre, with "Super Smash Bros." and "Mortal Kombat" making a great deal of extra money by selling guest characters as DLC. It makes total sense to add some of these characters, like King K. Roole in "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" or Hellboy in "Injustice 2." Other times, these bonus characters come fully out of left field. Here are some of the strangest, most awkward, and most brain-melting guests to ever pop up in video games.

Tony Hawk games had everyone from Spider-Man to Shrek

"You know who's probably an excellent skater?" somebody asked during development on the second "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater" game. "That Spider-Man guy. I bet he shreds." At least, that's what we'd like to believe might be the thought process behind some of the guest characters in the virtual skateboarding series. With the addition of Marvel Comics' lovable webhead, the "Tony Hawk" video game franchise set a precedent for including some truly off-the-wall guest characters. 

"Pro Skater 3" would go on to include Darth Maul from "Star Wars" and Wolverine of the X-Men, while "Tony Hawk's Underground" would toss Iron Man into the mix. Other characters who have popped up over the course of the franchise include Doom Guy, Jango Fett, and even Shrek — none of which are characters you'd typically associate with skateboarding. And yet, each one of these guest appearances perfectly capture a specific moment in time, whether it's the heyday of the "Star Wars" prequels or the pre-MCU era of big budget Marvel movies catching on with audiences. 

In many ways, these bizarre guest stars are almost as much of a part of the series' identity as any of its other recognizable elements. Showing a millennial a screenshot of Spider-Man pulling off an Ollie will give them the exact same warm and fuzzy "Pro Skater" memories as cranking up Primus' "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver."

Shin Megami Tensei 3, featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry series

Though the series was already hugely popular in Japan by 2004, "Shin Megami Tensei 3" was notably the first of the series to make its way to North America. The game was also notable for the developer's decision to include a crossover with the "Devil May Cry" series as part of an expanded director's cut of the game. Here, Dante is hired by the main villain to kill the protagonist, but he can be convinced to join the player's party by the end of the quest line.

"The dev team initially thought it was a crazy idea to pursue a crossover across two different publishers," director Kazuyuki Yamai told PlayStation.Blog. "However, they were also captivated by the idea of the two characters' encountering one another and their ensuing battle. So they brought the proposal to Capcom, and the rest is history!" In other words, it was one of those ideas that felt so bonkers that it just might work.

"Shin Megami Tensei 3" has gone on to have an unexpected legacy, thanks to its brooding guest character. The sticker on the front of the European release of the game, which proudly proclaimed "Featuring Dante from the 'Devil May Cry' series," has become a meme in its own right. Fans began slapping the sticker onto various cover art, making the joke that every game should have a bit of Dante thrown in for good measure. Sony apparently caught wind of the meme and posted an HD version of the sticker on its blog to celebrate the HD remaster of "SMT 3" in 2021.

Raiden lights up Unreal Championship 2

"Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict" sought to one-up every aspect of the preceding game, bringing tons of new mechanics and modes to the table. In addition to a full story campaign, "Unreal Championship 2" also added melee weapons to the mix, allowing players to switch to a third-person perspective when using a sword, staff, or other non-firearm weaponry. As if that weren't enough, the game also introduced a godly unlockable character in the form of Raiden from "Mortal Kombat."

This was a fun idea in theory. After all, Raiden's one of the fiercest fighters in his own franchise, so it should be no sweat to transfer that level of skill and ferocity to a different kind of tournament, right? "Unreal Championship" even sweetened the deal by adding "Mortal Kombat"-esque finishing moves to the game, as well as an option to swap in the voice of the "MK" announcer for matches. However, it's basically impossible to get past how ludicrous it looks to see this literal god toting a machine gun. Just zap 'em, Raiden!

John Rambo wages war in Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate

In the original "First Blood" novel and film adaptation, John Rambo is portrayed as a man without a country. Broke and drifting across the lonely back roads of America, he's accosted by small town police and attempts to stay alive, all while suffering from PTSD brought on by his experiences in the Vietnam War. 

Although much more of a drama, that first film led to a series of increasingly absurd action flicks that transformed Sylvester Stallone's Rambo from a haunted veteran into Batman with a bandana. It's probably no surprise that these movies were adapted as video games, but there's just something so inherently bizarre about seeing Rambo in the "Mortal Kombat" universe.

Despite his tendency to rip throats out with his bare hands, John Rambo is just a regular human guy. Pitting him against element-bending ninjas and actual gods feels about as far as you can from author David Morrell's original intent. The character's appearance in "Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate" has been well-received by fans, particularly due to the fact that Stallone reprised his role. Still, there's gotta be a moment for longtime "First Blood" fans playing the game — possibly when you're electrocuting RoboCop or shooting an arrow through Baraka's eye — where one just has to ask, "How the heck did we get here?"

Killing celebs in Call of Duty

"Call of Duty" has seen some pretty over the top guest characters over the years, with the likes of Michael Myers, the Predator, and Homelander from "The Boys" popping in for limited time events and DLC packs. These have been received with various levels of excitement or criticism, as some fans think adding these disparate elements to "COD" can break the reality of the game world. But as weird as it can be to add characters from comic books and film, it's even weirder when the guest characters are actual real-life celebrities. While real-life stars and gamers like Snoop Dogg and Kevin Durant have been added to "Call of Duty," they don't even take the cake as the series' strangest guest stars.

In "Infinite Warfare," players had to contend with heightened versions of celebrities like Kevin Smith, Pam Grier, and David Hasselhoff. Smith, for example, is transformed into a slasher villain before murdering his dear friend and frequent co-star, Jason Mewes. Grier, on the other hand, is introduced as a master of martial arts who helps the player unlock their true potential.

Or how about in "Call of Duty: Black Ops – Call of the Dead," which charged players with surviving the wrath of zombified director George Romero? Playable guest characters here included genre stars Robert Englund, Danny Trejo, and Sarah Michelle Gellar, among others. It's already weird to play as a real person in "Call of Duty," but it's even weirder to control them as they try to kill another real person.

Nic Cage goes wild in Dead by Daylight

Nic Cage has played himself on the big screen before, and he's also starred in a handful of horror roles, but he's never done both in this way. Similarly, his debut as a playable character in "Dead by Daylight" makes him an all-new type of DLC character for the long-running survival game. Though iconic characters like serial killer Freddy Krueger and final girl Laurie Strode are playable in the game, it's not like there's an option to play as real-world actors Robert Englund or Jamie Lee Curtis.

Much like in the movies, the devs over at Behaviour Interactive have seemingly learned that the best thing to do with Nic Cage is to get out of his way and let him play. His voice lines are truly bonkers, ranging from hilarious in-jokes about his other roles to near-incoherent screaming. He even has special dialogue when encountering the killer Sadako, apparently due to the fact that Cage is a "Ringu" fan in real life. 

It's all a lot of fun, especially because the game never lets you forget that this isn't a character played by Nic Cage; you're playing as Nicolas Cage. It makes you almost wish new dialogue had been recorded for the other survivors, if only to hear one of them say, "Hey, isn't that the guy from 'Face/Off?'"