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Dueling Player Characters

Most single-player video games have a single Player Character whom the player steers throughout the adventure. Some feature more of them, with the player controlling each one of them in turns. And then there are some that pit one player character against another, controlled by the player and the AI, respectively.

If the battle is fought to the death, it can become a powerful Player Punch, especially if preceded by a Sadistic Choice wherein the player must decide which character lives and who dies.

May overlap with Previous Player-Character Cameo if it takes place in a sequel. May or may not be a Duel Boss encounter.

Not to be confused with Player Versus Player, which is specific to multiplayer games. See also Fighting Your Friend.


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    Action Adventure 
  • In Legacy of Kain: Defiance, one of the boss fights is a duel between the two protagonists, Kain and Raziel. For the first half of the fight, you control Kain trying to beat Raziel into submission, before control switches to Raziel half way through.
  • In LEGO Star Wars, you play through most of the last level of Episode III as either Obi-Wan or Anakin. Come the last stage, the character not being used becomes the boss. There's only one way it'll turn out despite who wins. Oddly, this does actually give an easy victory, activate the second player and simply kill them without them defending.
  • Deadly Creatures has a few portions where the tarantula and scorpion cross paths and you have to beat one with the other.

    Adventure Game 
  • In addition to the whole "one character leaves clues, the two others find them" mechanic in Fahrenheit, there is an episode where Carla and Tyler spar at the police gym. Notably, not only can you decide whom to control during the sparring, but you can also lose (even on purpose), which is helpful because the winner gets a boost to their Sanity Meter (which Carla usually needs more than Tyler).
  • Likewise, in Heavy Rain, Ethan, Madison, or Norman (whoever is alive at that point) must fight Scott a.k.a. the Origami Killer in the endgame. You control the former but you can still lose and have your current character killed.
  • Not a physical conflict but in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, when April and Kian meet for the first time, they engage in a heated argument over the Azadi politics in the Northlands. Notably, you can select both characters' responses, so it is possible to either convince April to reconsider her views on Azadi, or force Kian to take a good look at his superiors. Too bad it doesn't really lead to any Story Branching.

    Fighting Game 
  • In the single-player story mode of X-Men vs. Street Fighter, after defeating Apocalypse, the player takes control of whichever character landed the final blow and must then fight his tag partner in a one-on-one match. This turn of events goes unexplained.
  • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, the single-player campaign has you swapping characters at the end of most chapters, and every so often you'll end up in a fight with a character you controlled in a previous chapter.
  • In the Subspace Emissary of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario and Pit face off against Link and Yoshi, after one the teams mistakes the other for having just killed one of the pricesses. Which one is in control of the player depends on which princess was saved earlier.
    • Later in the game, Lucario and Meta Knight fight, which is between this and Defeat Means Playable (since it's Lucario's first appearance in the story).

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Happens often in Tribes: Vengeance. First is when Victoria fights and kills her lover Daniel after he is tricked into killing her father. Then subverted when Julia chases after Jericho, only to be one-upped by Mercury (who is also a player character) but played straight when she fights and kills Mercury himself.
  • There is a brief level in the original Call of Juarez where Ray finally catches up with Billy and guns him down (though Billy survives).

    Platform Game 
  • In Mega Man X 5, if you can save Zero from going Maverick then X and Zero get into an argument that escalates into a fight (with you playing whomever you took in to the level). If Zero goes Maverick then you have no choice and X has to destroy Zero.
  • The second ending for each character in Muramasa The Demon Blade features the other as the final boss.
  • Used more often than you'd think in the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
    • During the Hidden Palace Zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic finally gets to fight Knuckles, who had been hindering at every available opportunity after being told by series Big Bad Dr Robotnik that Sonic was in fact the villain of the two. The inverse doesn't happen, as Knuckles' story takes place after Sonic's & he needs to lose the fight to iniate his Heel-Face Turn.
    • Sonic Adventure has Sonic & Knuckles fight again, as well as E-102 Gamma. However, playing through as Knuckles & Gamma allows the player to fight Sonic, and playing as Tails puts him in the fights instead of Sonic.
    • Sonic Adventure 2 has the story split into two sides the 'Hero' side with Sonic, Tails & Knuckles, and the 'Dark' side with Shadow, Eggman & Rouge. Each character is matched to another, and fights their counterpart several times through the course of the game. Again, the fights are played from both perspectives.
    • Sonic Heroes has the characters split into 4 teams of 3, with two of the other teams serving as Boss Battles during the game - Team Sonic & Team Chaotix fight Team Rose & Team Dark, whilst Team Dark & Team Rose fight Team Sonic & Team Chaotix.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) has Sonic & Shadow fight Silver at least once. Again, you can play either side of the same fight, according to which character's story mode you're playing.
  • In Crash Bash, if playing a two player game with one good and one evil character, the two players must duel each other to decide whether good or evil triumphs.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • In Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, you spend the game alternating between controlling two parties; a party of human characters led by Kharg, and a party of deimos led by Darc. In the final chapter of the game, both parties meet each other and you have to choose one party that you control in order to defeat the other (shortly before the Big Bad appears and forces them into an Enemy Mine situation).
  • Happens repeatedly during Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Add to it when you fight an alternate team, they keep the levels and items from when you were last controlling them. If you manage to keep both teams around the same power, it's an even match-up, but if they're not balanced you'll spend half the levels plowing through 'yourself' and the other half running away from 'yourself'.
  • In Fortune Summoners, there's a brief section where you play as Stella in a flashback explaining how she got to the section of dungeon you just reached. When you reach the present she challenges Arche to a dual, serving as a Boss Fight (something of a Curbstomp Battle, since she's a Squishy Wizard and the battle takes place in a small arena), before joining the Player Party.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, an Imperial Flashpoint sees you hunt down and eliminate the protagonist of the original Knights of the Old Republic. Needless to say, Darth Revan puts up a hell of a fight.
  • Midway through Mario & Luigi: Bowsers Inside Story, the Mario Bros. fight Bowser after finally getting out from his insides. Bowser has the attacks he learned while in the player command.
  • Also in Super Paper Mario, after the group has been split Mario manages to find Bowser. They have a fight due to some misunderstandings, and he comes to his senses afterwards and rejoins, of course.
  • In Legend of Mana, Escad and Daena come to blows over disagreeing about what to do with Irwin. You're forced to take a side (refusing to take a side will have them choose for you), and the battle is to the death. No matter what, one party member isn't coming out of that fight alive. And then it's all made moot when Daena's third option is outright rejected by Matilda and you're driven to kill Irwin anyway.
  • Pokémon Gold and Silver and the remakes have the post Elite Four battle with Red, the Player Character you controlled if you played Pokémon Red and Blue before that.
  • Digital Devil Saga has a rivalry between Serph and Heat come to a head when Mick tempts Heat with Sera, leading to a fight between the two. You can decide whether you fight back seriously or not. Heat is just faking it as a distraction, and tells Serph to play along - he's still loyal, though if you fail to trust Heat and do fight back seriously then it can come back to bite you in the sequel.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, you spend the first five hours of the game playing as Roxas, before the player character switches to Sora. Near the end of the game, Sora fights Roxas, who's revealed to be his Nobody, in a cutscene battle, which is made an actual battle in the Final Mix version.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, you play as three characters: Terra, Ventus and Aqua. The former two, both possessed, are eventually fought by the latter.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] features Sora and Riku as playable characters. At the end of the game, a possessed Sora serves as the final boss.
  • In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, after defeating the Big Bad, Emil ends up in a life-or-death battle against Marta and Lloyd. The reason isn't quite as clear-cut as most examples, and winning gets you the Bad Ending.

    Simulation Game 

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • The finale of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron involves the player selecting to control either Optimus Prime or Megatron as they have their final battle before landing on Earth.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • In the final story mission of Grand Theft Auto V, Franklin is forced to kill either Michael or Trevor. However, it's also possible to Take a Third Option where the characters team up to take care of loose ends.

Duel BossBoss BattleEarly Bird Boss
Double KnockoutFight SceneDynamic Entry
Dialog During GameplayVideo Game TropesEmpty Room Psych

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