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Fighting Game Guest Characters That Were Left On The Cutting Room Floor

Anyone who's ever played a fighting game knows that they're only as good as the characters doing the actual fighting. Sure, immersive backgrounds and a bangin' soundtrack are contributing factors, but the core of the game comes down to who the player is controlling and how that character handles. The size of the character pool players get to choose from varies from game to game. Sometimes really bizarre characters somehow make it in, but you can be sure that every game has plenty of characters that were considered, but didn't quite make the cut.

Most of the ones who don't make it to the final stage are original characters that were designed specifically to be fighters in that game's world (like how "Soul Calibur" fans almost got to play as a headless undead version of Sigfriend's dad,) but there's been a growing trend of characters from other franchises making guest appearances in prominent fighting games. Numerous factors go into deciding who will and won't be exchanging blows with the various canon characters from that universe. Can the publisher get the license? Does the guest fit the aesthetic of the fighting game? What kind of fighter would they be, and how will they function with the current roster? Still, that doesn't mean that discarded characters aren't still interesting to learn about.

Here are a few guest characters that were considered, but were ultimately left on the cutting room floor.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was almost in Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat started introducing guest characters a few years back, and players have been waiting on pins and needles to see who they would get in each new installment ever since. So far, the series has leaned toward characters from action and horror, which makes sense given the series' brutal aesthetic. So far, players have seen guest appearances from Rambo, Spawn, Leatherface, Jason, the Terminator, Robocop, Predator, Alien, and more, but they never knew how close they were to getting to play as a certain iconic vampire slayer.

Series creator Ed Boon recently sent out a tweet in response to a fan stating that Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "name has come up many times (over the years) in our conversations about possible guests in 'Mortal Kombat.'" The idea excited many fans who were quick to point out that none of the guests up until now have been female. Sarah Michelle Gellar's slayer seems like a natural choice for the series as well, especially since vampires were already canonically established in the series when Nitara was introduced in "Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance." Buffy's quips would certainly give Johnny Cage a run for his money.

Needles Kane was almost in Mortal Kombat

Buffy isn't the only almost-a-"Mortal Kombat"-character who Boon spilled the beans on. He also casually tweeted that a certain ice cream truck driving clown just barely missed the cut. That's right, Needles Kane, the driver of Sweet Tooth in the vehicle-based battle royale "Twisted Metal" was almost a competitor in the Mortal Kombat tournament.

The thread began with Boon stating that he and "Twisted Metal" creator David Scott Jaffee once met to "discuss the possibility of a Twisted Metal Arcade game for Midway Games." He then responded to his own tweet stating, "Sweet Tooth has also (more than once) been DAMN close to being a guest fighter in MK games." The serial-killing clown is a natural fit for "Mortal Kombat" in a lot of ways since the world of "Twisted Metal" has a pretty respectable body count in its own right. There is some precedent of collaboration between the two creators as well. Kratos from "God of War," (another of Jaffee's games,) has already made a guest appearance in the PS3 and PS Vita versions of "Mortal Kombat" (2011). The only questions are what kind of move set would Needles have, and would he be allowed to drive Sweet Tooth?

John Constantine was almost in Injustice 2

NetherRealm Studios has more than one fighting game series that's always looking for guests to bring in. "Injustice: Gods Among Us" has also considered a few notable characters that didn't end up in the final product. One of the more unique pulls under consideration was a certain demon-hunting detective who was notably played by Keanu Reeves in a live action film adaptation.

John Constantine isn't a name most people think of when picturing characters in the DC universe. His signature trench coat and occult-based powers tend to group him in with outsider heroes rather than the more iconic, spandex-wearing beacons of justice like Superman or Batman (and NetherRealm already had Hellboy to fill that particular niche.) That might be why the developer ultimately decided to pass on Constantine, but there was a time when he was under consideration.

Justin Murray, who did character design work for both of the "Injustice" games, posted several pieces of concept art on his ArtStation account. One of them was a detailed illustration of the Hellblazer himself. The image shows Constantine standing on a pentagram as demons are blown apart by magical energy. Maybe the idea would have gone farther if Reeves hadn't been busy making "Cyberpunk 2077" and was free to voice the part.

Cloud Strife was almost in Soulcalibur 2

Bandai Namco wasn't the first developer to put guest fighters in its games, but the fan reaction to Heihachi Mishima, Link, and Spawn as guest characters for the three respective console versions of "Soulcalibur 2" is arguably what started the modern craze. Those three might have been the ones who made it in the game, but apparently Mishima wasn't Namco's first choice. Cloud Strife, ex-SOLDIER turned mercenary and hero of "Final Fantasy 7" came close to being the Playstation 2 exclusive character.

Nao Higo, the executive producer at Ubisoft San Francisco and former localization producer for Namco, spoke on the 8-4 Play podcast back on October 6, 2017 about his time working with the "Soulcalibur 2" team. In the interview, he claimed that Heihachi Mishima wasn't originally supposed to be the PlayStation 2 exclusive guest character. "That's because a deal fell through on that one," he stated. "Originally, they were working out a deal with Cloud. It would have been incredible, right? [But] at the last minute it got canned." 

Keep in mind that this would have been six years after the release of "Final Fantasy 7," but the game was still fresh in many players' minds. It's too bad it didn't work out, but at least players can make their own Cloud in "Soulcalibur 6" now!

James Bond was almost in Super Smash Bros. Melee

You can't talk about guest characters without talking about "Super Smash Bros." The entire franchise is built off the premise of characters from different gaming universes coming together to kick each other off a ledge. Nintendo tries to keep most of the characters close to the game's cartoony aesthetic, but sometimes characters from more realistic games, like Snake from "Metal Gear," manage to sneak their way in. It appears that at one point, James Bond was considered as a potential character for "Super Smash Bros. Melee." A novel and film character who's been around since the 1950s might seem like an odd choice to some, but it's important to remember that "GoldenEye 007" was one of the most popular titles on the N64.

Game director and designer Masahiro Sakurai commented on Nintendo Japan's official "Smash Bros." website, Smash Dojo (via SourceGaming) as to the reasons why the MI6 agent never made it past the drawing board. "Showing realistic guns = no good! Character uses an actor's likeness = no good! Since the original game is based on a movie, getting those rights = no good! He's Rare's property = no good! Blocked on all fronts," he stated. "Both Banjo and Kazooie and James Bond have similar reasons for dismissal: legal issues. While they may have been considered, legal complications make it likely that they were considered and quickly dismissed." Of course, Banjo and Kazooie have made it into the series now. Perhaps it's time to reconsider a certain international man of mystery?