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Dream Match Game

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Jinpachi Mishima: By the way, old friend, didn't you die after beating Azazel last time?
Wang Jinrei: That's right. I did die. My awesome existence allowed me to cheat death and stand before you now.
Jinpachi: They were this close to killing off a no-name character like you. The only reason you're still here is because those wussy game developers didn't have the heart to go through with it. You'll never figure anything out until you start facing reality.
Wang: Hmph! That's a lot to say coming from a guy who turned into sand in my very hands that one time.

In a Fighting Game, it is rare to see two competitors go head-to-head without the use of superhuman skill. These fighters also have the miraculous ability to seemingly recover from even the most fatal of wounds. As such, Plotline Death tends to be rare in fighting games.

Sometimes, however, not even being Made of Iron can save characters from kicking the bucket for good, be it in the name of drama or just to ensure that the Big Bad can no longer carry out their evil plans.

This can be problematic, especially in long-running franchises, for fans. In fighting games, a good deal of a series' identity comes from the cast, as well as their fighting styles. Maybe there is a Final Boss who is so undeniably cool that they gained an extremely loyal fanbase and merit a playable spot on the roster. Maybe there is a really badass side character who has become an overnight hit with the fandom. Or maybe there is just a particular character that fans find really attractive. Either way, their exclusion may prove to be an unwise decision.

To remedy this, many series decide to write the ultimate love letter to their fans by bringing back the entire cast for one grand battle royale.

Usually, a Dream Match Game has no bearing on the main plotline of its series, as the next proper installment will disregard this one to pick up from where the preceding iteration left off. Despite this, it will still contain many nods to the series' mythos. Nostalgia Levels tend to pop up quite frequently in games like these, albeit sometimes in a new form. A Dream Match Game itself may have an Excuse Plot, sometimes, but not too often, turning out to be a byproduct of one of the characters' dreams or imagination. It may also be used as an opportunity for various "What If?" plots and to explore different paths the main story could have taken if characters had made different decisions.

The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny games are like this too, only instead of bringing back everyone in the series they bring characters from many series together.

Sub-Trope of Megamix Game, and tends to overlap with Intra-Franchise Crossover in more extensive and far-reaching cases. See also Fake Crossover (a crossover that has no bearing on either series' plot).

Not at all related to Match Game, which is a Game Show.


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    Fighting Games 
  • Fatal Fury Special and the later entries of the Real Bout subseries (Special and 2; the first Real Bout was actually canon, culminating with the death of Geese Howard) brought back the majority of the series' cast. Special also included Ryo Sakazaki as an Optional Boss, which jumpstarted the idea for the Massive Multiplayer Crossover that was the aforementioned KOF. Real Bout Special, in particular, was infamous for introducing gamers to Nightmare Geese, a nightmare of both the literal and figurative variety. The next (and currently final) title (Wild Ambition notwithstanding), Garou: Mark of the Wolves, picks up 10 years after RBFF.
  • Samurai Shodown V Special, taking a few cues from the above Fatal Fury games, offers little in the way of a storyline, instead focusing on gameplay. The 28-man roster was heavily composed of series regulars (namely, it removes the two unplayable bosses Sankuro and Yumeji as well as Secret Character Poppy and replaces them with previous boss characters Amakusa, Zankuro and Mizuki as well as promoting the final boss Gaoh to playable).
  • Samurai Shodown VI took it even further. All of the cast of V Special returned, with the addition of seven characters from the first two games that didn't reappear in later incarnations of the series (Gen-an Shiranui, Cham Cham, Earthquake, Nicotine Caffeine, Neinhalt Sieger, Wan-Fu and Kuroko), the two removed sub-bosses from V, and four new fighters (most notably the Ninja Maid Iroha, who became very popular despite only being a One-Shot Character). There were also several other Joke Characters in the same vein as Poppy, and a number of alternate character versions (notably Kim Ung Che). The game is set in an unknown year in a parallel timeline based upon the previous entries, and the game's producer even called it a "festival game." The title also introduced a gameplay mechanic called the "spirit select" system, which allowed players to choose between six different fighting styles based on all previous installments similar to the Grooves from Capcom vs. SNK 2.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate brings back every playable character from past installments in the Super Smash Bros. franchise, alongside a number of new characters (both as part of the base roster and as DLC) for a total of 89 characters. It also boasts the most number of third-party companies loaning out Guest Fighters, with Konami, Sega, Capcom, Bandai Namco, Square Enix, Atlus, Microsoft and SNK all having a character or two present in the roster. It is perhaps because of these outside combatants, one of which required some good long talks with Disney, that director Masahiro Sakurai has stated that Ultimate will probably be the only entry in the series that does this.
  • Tekken:
    • Tekken Tag Tournament, a game made during the transition from Tekken 3 to Tekken 4, boasted 39 characters (the highest in the series before the release of Tekken 6), many of whom were missing from the third game. Kazuya Mishima, the most heavily promoted character of the game, was highly popular with the fans despite his absence after 2; this status allowed the story to work around his presumed death and have Kaz make a triumphant return in Tekken 4. As more of a compilation of the last three games, TTT was non-canon (although there is the case of Unknown, thought to be a demon-possessed Jun Kazama note ) and noted for its fun factor: new moves were added to every character, you could mix and match several of your faves, and Tekken Bowl Mode was a blast. In a case of What Could Have Been, TTT was originally supposed to be a true sequel to Tekken 3, before being changed in development.
    • Following the release of Tekken 6, next came Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Remember a certain someone named Jun Kazama? Yeah, she's back. (Again.) Also coming back was True Ogre and Jinpachi Mishima, the final bosses of the third and fifth games, respectively, while Julia Chang took on the alternate persona of Jaycee. The console version brought back even more characters in the form of DLC, among them Kunimitsu, Michelle Chang, Angel, and Ancient Ogre (Ogre's base form from T3). Alex (Roger's palette swap in 2 and TTT), Prototype Jack, Tiger Jackson (Eddy's original palette swap), and Forest Law (who substituted for Marshall in the third game) were also brought back, while Combot, Lee's fighting robot from 4, became a customizable character. A later update added Sebastian (Lili's butler who employs a variant of Lili's moveset), Miharu (Xiaoyu's gal pal, playable only once before as a Palette Swap of Xiaoyu in 4), Violet (Lee's Charlie Brown from Outta Town stint in 4), Dr. Bosconovich (returning as a playable fighter from the console version of 3 with a revamped moveset), Slim Bob (from his ending in 6, representing how Bob looked before he gained weight), and Unknown (who was previously a mimic fighter in TTT and an unplayable boss in TTT2).
    • TTT2 presents a rare case of a non-canonical game that could possibly influence future main entries in the series, with several Sequel Hooks running rampant, ranging from Heihachi's regenerative serum to Jun and Unknown being one in the same to Leo's mother Emma being Steve's caretaker/maternal figure, as well as a supervisor for the Mishima Zaibatsu's Devil Gene program. So far, that last one has been revisited in Steve's Tekken 7 Character Episode.

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