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The most bizarre fighting game characters ever

Fighting games tend to be pretty weird by design. Many use paper-thin plots as an excuse to assemble a group of characters for one climactic tournament or another. What makes most of these titles work is that they tend to take place in their own confined universes with specific rule sets.

That's not always the case, though. Plenty of fighting games have featured crossovers or guest characters from other franchises, which don't always make for a smooth transition. Other series have simply created some truly bonkers original characters that defy explanation. However they came to be, there are plenty of characters in fighting games that are downright strange. 

With that in mind, it's time to venture back through fighting game history and take a look at those combatants who made players pause and scratch their heads. From sentient vehicles to murderous children's TV icons, these are the most bizarre fighting game characters ever.

Mokap - Mortal Kombat

This character's name basically says it all. Mokap is a guy in a motion capture suit, complete with a helmet and goofy little tennis ball-like protrusions all over his body. He first appeared as a secret character in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, and has a weird hodgepodge of powers, including the ability to shoot fireballs and a backflip kick that he clearly stole from fellow Kombatant Scorpion.

It seems like Mokap is meant to be a joke, but there's just something so lovable about him. He looks entirely out of place among the other larger than life characters of the series. He's reduced to even more of a gag in Mortal Kombat: Deception. In that game, he appears in a cameo role where he seems completely confused as to why he's even there. In other words, he acts like an unwitting actor who accidentally got drafted into an inter-dimensional fighting tournament. 

Mokap is so silly that he comes back around to being kind of brilliant.

Hornet - Fighters Megamix

Fighters Megamix is a 1996 fighting game that brought together multiple Sega-owned properties into one big brawl. In addition to the casts of Fighting Vipers and Virtua Fighter 2, there were plenty of wild card characters. This included characters from Sonic the Fighters and Janet from Virtua Cop 2. However, the weirdest combatant in the bunch was Hornet, an actual car from Daytona USA. 

That's right: Sega decided to include a car from a racing game as a playable character. It's certainly a sight to behold. Hornet's tires float out in front of it as it makes awkward jabs at the enemy. When hit with an uppercut by an opponent, Hornet will go flying into the air before crumpling to the ground unnaturally. 

Actually, "unnatural" is the best way to describe everything about Hornet. Have you ever seen a car try to crouch, only to kind of tuck its hood slightly underneath itself? Everything about Hornet is hilariously wrong.

Shaquille O'Neal - Shaq Fu

As infamous as Shaq Fu has become among aficionados of bad video games, it cannot be overstated just how truly bizarre this title was. Clunky mechanics aside, the fact that Shaquille O'Neal is the main character continues to baffle players to this day.

Shaq Fu's thin storyline barely does any work to justify featuring Shaq as the lead warrior in an inter-dimensional fighting game. It might have made sense for the game to star a character based on Shaq's likeness. However, that is not what they did. 

No, this game follows the one and only Shaquille O'Neal as he journeys to a realm called the Second World and does battle with an evil sorcerer mummy. The best part about all of this might be that Shaq accidentally gets caught up in this fight while on his way to a charity basketball game. In other words, even Shaq doesn't seem to want to be in Shaq Fu.

Fred Durst - Fight Club

Yes, there was a Fight Club video game, and yes, it was quite terrible. The majority of the Fight Club roster is nothing special to begin with. Besides the main characters of Tyler and the Narrator, you're stuck with plenty of lesser personas who barely figured into the plot of the film and movie, like Detective Stern. 

However, the most baffling addition to the cast is Fred Durst, the vocalist for the band Limp Bizkit. This was done presumably because Durst was a professed fan of the source material, but it's still a strange choice. It would be like including Kevin Smith as a playable character in Star Wars: Battlefront, just because he likes Star Wars. (To be fair, though, that sounds completely awesome.)

It was already an odd move to completely go against the original novel's anti-capitalist message by milking it for a half-baked video game. Bringing in the dude who sang "Nookie" to throw down in the name of Project Mayhem is just the weird icing on the absurd cake.

Barney - Xenophage: Alien Bloodsport

Back in the '90s, it appeared as though video game developers scoffed at concepts like "intellectual property." This is presumably how an unabashed Mortal Kombat rip-off game like Xenophage: Alien Bloodsport could get away with basically featuring Barney the Dinosaur as a playable character. The lovable purple dino attacked his enemies with exploding, bloody hearts, which was just about the only way to land a hit in this game. Xenophage's blocky character models featured a very limited range of movement. 

It's clear that Barney was included as a joke character. Still, it's hard not to feel sorry for the beloved children's show mainstay as he attempts to hop his way through ugly battles against monstrous attackers. Even worse is the fact that players could apparently take Barney down with a single hit. In other words, Barney was included in Xenophage as a character that was meant to meet a swift and violent end every time you faced him.

Pac-Man - Street Fighter X Tekken

Pac-Man took a break from gobbling ghosts to appear as a guest character in Street Fighter X Tekken. However, the developers must have realized that Pac-Man didn't pose much of a physical threat to the other fighters in the game. Their solution (obviously) was to have Pac-Man build himself a giant mech suit made of lumber that he rode into battle like an old-timey Iron Man. The suit has giant glowing red eyes and deadly wrecking balls for hands. There's something incredibly intimidating about it, even though the pilot is good ol' Pac-Man.

Unlike some ill-advised guest characters in other games, Pac-Man is actually a rather fun character to play as. Still, it is really hard to get over his entire presentation in this game. The image of him smiling atop his oaken Gundam is just so distracting. Oh, and it seems like Pac-Man wants everyone to know that he remembers his roots, because he apparently programmed his suit to display a classic Pac-Man arcade cabinet on its back.

Meat - Mortal Kombat

Meat made his debut in 1997's Mortal Kombat 4 as a glitchy hidden character. He started as a character model used when a Kombatant had their skin destroyed during a particularly gruesome finishing move. It was later decided that this character would be included as a hidden fighter in the game. A glitch in Mortal Kombat 4 and Mortal Kombat Gold would cause Meat to briefly transform into other characters when he was damaged. This is because Meat's first appearances had him taking the place of another character and mimicking their moves. In later games, Meat developed his own gory style of fighting.

For a long time, fans debated whether or not Meat could even be counted as a legitimate character in his own right, since he was clearly included as a bit of a joke. However, Meat's further appearances in strategy guides and games convinced fans to accept the character as official canon. Still, it wasn't until 2006's Mortal Kombat: Armageddon that Meat even received an official backstory.

Starkiller - Soulcalibur 4

The Soulcalibur series has a habit of bringing in guest characters that are seemingly out of left field. Previous installments have included the dark comic book hero Spawn and Ezio from the Assassin's Creed series. Soulcalibur 4 focused on bringing in characters specifically from the Star Wars universe. Darth Vader and Yoda both showed up from a galaxy far, far away, but they weren't alone. Also included in Soulcalibur 4 was Galen "Starkiller" Marek, the protagonist of the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed franchise.

While Starkiller was an impressive character in his own right, he was a particularly odd choice at this time. For one thing, he's referred to as "the Apprentice" throughout, rather than his own name. This is because his backstory wasn't revealed until The Force Unleashed was released a few months after Soulcalibur 4. That's right; Soulcalibur 4 included a character who hadn't even been properly introduced yet. This made Starkiller's first appearance feel more like an odd bit of marketing, rather than the arrival of an anticipated guest character.

Norimaro - Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter

Norimaro is an obscure character from the Japanese version of Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter. The character was created as comic relief and modeled after Japanese comedian Noritake Kinashi. Unlike many other joke characters, Norimaro was an effective fighter. Despite the fact that his moves included slipping on banana peels and tossing school supplies and dolls at his opponent, he was seen as one of the more powerful attackers in the game. Who would have thought that this goofy guy could go toe-to-toe with a powerhouse like Captain America and live to tell the tale?

It's also worth noting that Norimaro may be the only character on this list that was specifically removed from a game for feeling too out of left field. The developers apparently felt that the humor of Norimaro's character would be lost on audiences outside of Japan. Therefore, Norimaro was removed from all overseas versions of Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter. Norimaro has yet to pop up in any of the franchise's sequels. Also, due to rights issues between the various companies who created him, it's unlikely that you'll ever see Norimaro make another appearance.

Phoenix Wright - Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Look, no one is going to argue with the fact that Phoenix Wright is awesome. In the world of fictional lawyers, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone better at their job than him. However, if there's one thing that the Ace Attorney series hasn't shown Phoenix doing a lot of, it's fighting against people with actual superpowers. 

Notably, Wright's appearance in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 stays true to the fact that he's not a fighter. As special combat advisor Seth Killian told Engadget, "He's about ridiculousness, and he's about being faithful to the Phoenix Wright games."

While other characters are spinning webs and firing pistols, Phoenix Wright deals damage through the court system. He chucks evidence at his enemies and can even summon a judge to pound on them with a gavel. Much like in a court battle, the more evidence Wright collects during a match, the more powerful his hyper combos become. It's such a bizarre and brilliant concept that makes Wright a character worth practicing.

Bad Box Art Mega Man - Street Fighter X Tekken

When you first hear that Mega Man is a playable guest character in Street Fighter X Tekken, you would be forgiven for getting excited. The idea of the Blue Bomber facing off against the likes of Akuma and Heihachi sounds awesome, right? Well, the version of Mega Man used here probably isn't the one that immediately comes to mind.

As his name would imply, Bad Box Art Mega Man's design comes straight from the misguided box art of the original North American NES release of Mega Man, which depicted the character as an older dude wearing bizarre golden armor and carrying a handgun. Street Fighter X Tekken took this a step further and made Bad Box Art Mega Man into a shorter, more rotund character in a ratty-looking costume. He looks utterly ridiculous and out of place when squaring off against the game's other fighters.

The producer has hinted that he specifically asked Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune for his blessing in using this version of the character. In other words, Bad Box Art Mega Man falls squarely between the realms of paying loving tribute and simply trolling fans.