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Bizarre Video Game Crossovers That Totally Failed

The gaming world is no stranger to seemingly inexplicable crossovers, but for every Super Smash Bros., Marvel vs. Capcom, and Kingdom Hearts, there are dozens of video game mashups that simply don't work. After all, it's hard enough to manage one franchise. Try to tackle two or more at the same time, and you're likely to end up with an unmitigated disaster.

Namco High

If you've ever dreamed of getting it on with a spaceship, then Namco High is for you. Released in December 2013 and closed the following June, Namco High was a free-to-play dating simulator playable via the web. Taking place in a nondescript high school, it asked players to spend their time getting to know their fellow classmates. Play your cards right, and love blossomed—at the very least, the game's official description promised that "before the school year is over you'll break rules, bare your soul, and touch each other in ways you never dreamed."

That's pretty run-of-the-mill as far as dating simulators go—until you actually met your classmates, each of whom were lifted from a classic Namco game. As the cousin of Katamari Damacy's Prince of the Cosmos, the player's character isn't exactly normal, but their potential suitors range from surprising to downright bizarre. Burning Force star Hiromi is a typically sexy anime girl. Klonoa's Lolo has a tale and big monkey ears, but otherwise seems pretty normal. But there's also the squat little hero from Mr. Driller, Genpei Tomaden's undead warrior Taira, Mappy's Meowkie (who is, quite literally, a cat), and sentient taiko drum named Donko. If you're really kinky, you could even date Galaga—yes, the actual starfighter—in all of its chunky pixelated glory.

Oh, and by the way: if you wanted to date some of Namco High's more exotic characters, you had to pay. In Namco High, you could interact with six students for free—chatting with any others required players to fork over some real-life cash. Thankfully, despite the game's quick demise, a fan-made recreation is currently available online, and offers all of Namco High's premium content for absolutely free.

NBA Street V3

NBA Street isn't your average basketball simulator. Forget about building your team from a deep and detailed roster, executing complex strategic plays, or using stats to determine your team's strengths and weaknesses. NBA Street is all about dominating and embarrassing your opponent as quickly as possible. Using three-man teams made up of then-current NBA superstars like LeBron James and Tim Duncan, basketball legends like Bill Walton and Wilt Chamberlain, and custom-made characters, players race to accumulate as many points as possible by performing tricks, dunks, and other athletic feats. It's a fun and energetic series that celebrates street basketball culture with realistic environments and a soundtrack filled with classic hip-hop beats.

And then Mario shows up. Unlike NBA Street V3's other guest stars—the Beastie Boys, who also contribute music to NBA Street V3's soundtrack—Nintendo's characters are wildly out of place in NBA Street's gritty urban setting, and it shows immediately. While the rest of NBA Street V3's bench contains regularly-proportioned humans and relatively realistic animations, Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach look and move like, well, Mario characters. That's just fine when the action takes place in the Mushroom Kingdom—as in, say, Mario Hoops 3 on 3—but doesn't translate very well to the blacktop courts in downtown Brooklyn or inner-city Chicago.

Team Mario's presence (which is, naturally, exclusive to the Nintendo GameCube version of the game) doesn't tank NBA Street V3 (despite the ill-advised guest stars, the game is still fun) and at first, watching Luigi dunk a basketball while De La Soul blares in the background is surreal and hilarious. The novelty wears off quickly. Mario has starred in many fun and well-made sports games, and NBA Street V3 is no exception—but this time, it'd be even better if he and his friends stayed on the bench.

Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure

At first glance, Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure sounds like a film geek's dream come true. After all, E.T., Jaws, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, and Backdraft are all good movies on their own (and Waterworld has its own special charms), and in real life, Universal Studios is a great place to spend a day or two. Mashing them all up should make for a surefire hit.

It doesn't work. At all. Playing as a visitor to the esteemed amusement park, players must earn admission into each ride by performing chores. That basically amounts to wandering around Universal Studios and picking up pieces of trash, which is probably the least interesting way to imaginable to capitalize on a $105 theme park ticket, or correctly answering obscure show business-related trivia questions (given that Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure is aimed at children, it seems unlikely that its target audience will know who starred in Columbo, for example).

It's not worth the effort, either. Most of the "rides" are short mini-games that either don't work—the guns you fire at Jurassic Park's dinosaurs rely on luck more than precision—or have nothing to do with the movie in question (remember that part in Jaws when Richard Dreyfuss saved an Orca by throwing barrels at a shark? Yeah, us neither). Waterworld isn't even a game, it's just a pre-rendered cutscene in which the most interactive element is choosing which seat you want to sit in before watching the "action."

Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure's developers didn't even bother to find a consistent tone in order to unite the game's disparate franchises—rescuing civilians from one of Backdraft's burning buildings is an awfully grim activity for a title that's hosted by Woody Woodpecker—and with so many series in play, the game never establishes a coherent identity. A multi-series crossover title is doable (Lego Dimensions features many of the same franchises as Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure, and it's fantastic), but you won't find it here. Skip the lines and stay at home.

PlayStation Move Heroes

Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, and Sly Cooper have a lot in common. They all debuted on the PlayStation 2, and their first games all came out within a year of one another (Jak and Daxter launched in December, 2001, while the other two saw releases in fall 2002). All three series are action platformers, each of which puts a new spin on the genre. Jak and Daxter focuses on exploration and melee attacks, Ratchet & Clank focuses on weapons and gadgets, while Sly Cooper infuses its 3D platforming with Splinter Cell-like stealth challenges.

In short, that's an excellent setup for a big crossover—so naturally, Sony screwed it all up. PlayStation Move Heroes is less of a celebration of Sony's biggest platforming franchises and more of a quick cash-in that uses big names to sell the PlayStation Move, Sony's ill-fated answer to the Nintendo Wii's motion controls. As you'd expect, each of Sony's iconic characters has his own strengths and weaknesses, but instead of using those different playstyles to shed new light on each level like you'd expect, PlayStation Move Heroes expresses its cast's unique skills in a series of motion-controlled mini-games. Or, to put it more succinctly, this is a game starring platforming characters who can't jump. That pretty much says it all.

Unfortunately, those mini-games aren't very good, either. The surprisingly detailed bowling mode and the frisbee-golf-like disc throwing game are passable, but the more combat-heavy sections in which players must use the Move controller to shoot guns, execute melee attacks, or whip enemy robots into submission fall flat. Unlike most of the other entries on this list, the premise of PlayStation Move Heroes' crossover makes a lot of sense; in this case, it's the execution that's completely baffling.

Anna Kournikova's Smash Court Tennis

For the most part, only the very top players in their chosen sports—the Ken Griffey Juniors, the Tiger Woods, and the Tony Hawks of the world—get their own video games. While tennis star Anna Kournikova is a gifted athlete who was quite successful as a doubles competitor, as a solo act, she was more famous for her good looks than her on-court ability (at the peak of her singles career, Kournikova was ranked at number eight worldwide, but she never won a major singles title). 

That makes her a rather unlikely video game star, but Anna Kournikova's Smash Court Tennis' curious headliner is only the beginning. In short, this game is nuts. On the surface, it's a simple PlayStation tennis game. Delve a little deeper, however, and you'll discover that some of the matches take place in the middle of a Japanese city, on a scenic mountaintop, or on top of a swimming pool. In addition to standard singles and doubles modes, you can also play "Smash Tennis," in which you'll lob exploding tennis balls at opponents.

And that's before you see the guest stars. You can play as Kournikova herself, of course, but most of the other characters are generic, computer-generated athletes. In fact, the only other celebrities on the roster come from other Namco games, meaning you can pit Kournikova against Time Crisis' Richard Miller, two of Tekken's fighters, Ridge Racer star Reiko Nagase, or the big yellow blob himself, Pac-Man.

But why? It's not clear. In Japan, Anna Kournikova's Smash Court Tennis was called Smash Court 2, and the presence of Namco characters was probably intended to inject some personality into the game (Kournikova's endorsement was a Europe-only deal—the game didn't come out at all in the United States). That's just conjecture, however. Nothing about Anna Kournikova's Smash Court Tennis makes sense, and given that the game is pretty obscure, it doesn't seem like we'll be getting answers any time soon.

Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal

Iron Man and X-O Manowar don't have much in common. Both were B-list superheroes in the '90s, before Marvel Studios made Tony Stark into a global superstar. Both get their powers from high-tech suits of armor. Both were dead in the comics in 1997, with Iron Man shuffled off into the experimental Heroes Reborn universe and X-O Manowar out of commission entirely thanks to the cancellation of his ongoing series in 1996.

But that was enough, apparently, for publisher Acclaim to throw together a cheap action game starring both characters in 1997. Like many of Acclaim's licensed titles from that time period, Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal is an uninspired 2D side-scroller that's more notable for its unwieldy title than anything about the game itself. While players can choose to play as either Iron Man or X-O, both characters have the same abilities and control exactly the same, and while the story features characters from both comic book series, the plot is so paper-thin that it barely even registers.

Honestly, the whole thing feels more like a quick cash-grab than anything else—Acclaim bought X-O Manowar publisher Valiant Comics in 1994 and already owned the rights to the character, while an ongoing relationship with Marvel (Acclaim published Captain America and The Avengers in 1991, Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade's Revenge in 1992, and a handful of other Marvel games throughout the '90s) probably made a character like Iron Man an easy get. If you're hankering for some mid-'90s superhero action, you'd be better served flipping through your local comic shop's longboxes than giving Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal a second thought. Valiant's early comics are ambitious and fun. Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal is just a mess.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 is one of the finest skateboarding games ever made, but there's one area in which it falls painfully short of its predecessors: the guest stars. There's absolutely no good reason why Marvel superheroes and Star Wars villains would ditch their day-to-day responsibilities in order to show off their mad boarding skills (although, given his athleticism and high-flying abilities, Spider-Man's cameo in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 makes a certain kind of sense), but at least characters like Wolverine and Darth Maul, who appeared in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, are cool on their own.

Maybe the bar was simply set too high by previous entries, but it's hard not to view Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4's crossover roster as anything other than a disappointment. Did anyone walk out of the Star Wars prequels eager to play as doomed clone-daddy Jango Fett, especially in a game that has nothing to do with a galaxy far, far way?

At least Jango has some personality. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4's other fictional guest is Iron Maiden's "mascot" Eddie the Head, who isn't so much a character as he is a walking album cover. Still, it could've been worse. Tony Hawk's Underground 2 features appearances by Jesse James, the television personality best known for cheating on Sandra Bullock, Jackass has-been Steve-O, Bam Margera's father Phil, and Shrek. Yes, that Shrek.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up

As a Super Smash Bros. clone, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up is both blatant in its intent ("smash" is right there in the the title), and reasonably well-executed. Over the years, the Ninja Turtle franchise has built up a large and compelling cast, and Smash Bros.' deep but accessible style of combat seems like a nice fit for the action-heavy, kid-friendly Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle license.

But oddly, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up only references the 2003 animated series and the 2007 CGI film, meaning that fan favorite characters like Bebop, Rocksteady, and Leatherhead didn't make the roster. You know who did? Three different versions of Ubisoft's Rabbids. There's the normal, or Raving Rabbid, of course, but players can also choose to play as the Ninja Rabbid, who's dressed like one of the Turtles, and Splinter Rabbid, who wears a costume that resembles the Turtles' furry sensei.

That's right. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up's development team didn't bother with franchise stalwarts like Baxter Stockman, the Rat King, or Krang, but devoted time and resources to an intra-company crossover that doesn't even make sense. While one would hope that the Rabbids would learn from their surroundings and adopt the silent ways of the ninja, in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up they're just as loud and obnoxious as ever. If the Turtles' brush with the Rabbids is any indication, Mario and his pals are in for a quite an adventure. Consider yourself warned.