In last week’s installment of RipTen Dojo I talked about why a lot of crossover games imagined by fans are generally better off left in the realm of dreams. While a few readers voiced how they thought I was dumb and wrong (I make no claim to disprove either), I wanted to point out that there are crossover fighting games that do justice to the concept, but they do require an exceptional amount of thought and planning. In this weekend’s RipTen Dojo, I want to talk about what makes a great crossover fighting game, and how some games implement great ideas that ensure that everyone’s going to enjoy it.

One of the biggest topics that I addressed in my last article was that fighting games offer incredibly different systems, and that trying to force a fighting game system to change what makes it unique can end up with undesirable results. While one could be to adapted to another, both could attempt to change or each could keep their own style, I found that one game addresses this problem perfectly: Capcom vs SNK 2.

What CvS2 does that separates it from other crossover fighting games is give you almost complete customization over your team and the way that they play. For starters, you can have a team of up to three separate characters, but you can also choose to have only one or two characters on your team instead. While this might seem like a very bad choice, there is an advantage to using fewer than three characters, as CvS2 implements what it calls the “ratio system”. When choosing a team, you can assign up to four points to a character, with a minimum of one point each. The more points per character, the stronger they’ll be and the more health they have. To break it down by numbers, the damage dealt per ratio level is 82%, 100%, 117%, and 130% while the amount of health is 80%, 100%, 117%, and 140% respectively. This already partly allows you to play the game the way you want to. For instance, instead of having a full team of characters, you might be incredibly proficient with only one or two. The ratio system takes care of this problem.

Each of the systems in CvS2 are called "Grooves", and they are a beautiful thing.

Capcom implemented another system into Capcom vs SNK 2’s team system that deserves mention. One of the biggest problems in fighting games is the idea of getting “counter-picked”, where your opponent will choose their character (or character order) almost solely based upon your character selection to force you into a bad matchup. Capcom implements a blind pick system, where you’re brought to a screen after both players choose their characters, allowing them to pick which starts first without revealing it to the opponent. It allows for a player to pick the order of their team without having to worry about being counter-picked, and brings an entire meta game to character selection.

What makes me the most impressed, though, is the way in which CvS2 takes care of the dreaded system problem that I mentioned earlier. The title offers complete freedom over systems. You see, Capcom vs SNK 2 allows you to choose from six different systems for your team to play by: three systems based on Capcom fighting games, and three systems based on SNK fighting games. What makes this great is that you can choose to have Capcom characters play in SNK fighting systems and vice versa, which can lead to some incredibly interesting takes on classic characters.

I love the ratio system, and I love the way that CvS2 handles the matter of combining systems in a crossover game. It does so much well in order to avoid some of the pitfalls that can make an otherwise great idea or concept for a game come across horribly in its execution. However, I can’t continue to simply gush over CvS2, as there are other games and other problems to discuss: namely one of the most popular crossover fighting games to ever exist: Marvel vs Capcom 2.

Oh come on, this is just silly.

One of the major problems that I addressed in my previous article was about character balance. I feel that one of the biggest problems regarding character balance in crossovers, particularly in Marvel vs Capcom 2, was the fact that there were an overwhelming amount of fighters in the game. The larger the roster, the more time needs to be spent fine tuning each entry and working out how to make sure they are all at least somewhat balanced. In the case of MvC2, though, there were a grand total of 56 characters in the game. It is worthwhile to note that while there are so many characters in the game, only a small handful are commonly seen in what is considered high level competitive play. While it can’t be directly proven that a larger roster results in a higher chance of an unbalanced game, it definitely amounts to additional time needed to put towards balancing the game properly. It should be noted that Capcom’s recent Street Fighter x Tekken will have a total of 55 playable characters on the PlayStation 3 version (which has exclusive characters) after the character DLC is released.

The answer, I feel, is to have a modest and realistic character roster. I can understand wanting to appeal to fans and make them happy by having a massive amount of characters. However, including every minor character that’s ever been mentioned in a back or side story is not going to make the game any better. Sure, you can bring excitement to a game by having a larger roster, but is it worth it? A game is not measured by pre-lanch hype, but by the quality of the finished product.

Before I go, I’d like to show you something from the fine folks over at Fighterpedia, who made a video a few months ago in regards to a Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat crossover game. They talk about how the game could be made, why it would and wouldn’t work, and some steps in the right direction. Check it out below this post, but be aware that they use language that’s considered NSFW, so make sure to watch with discretion.

There are tons of pitfalls when considering crossover fighting games, but there are absolutely ways to avoid those problems.