Fighting game characters breaking out into their own solo games is not a new concept. Mortal Kombat has done this several times (namely MK Mythologies: Sub Zero, Special Forces, and Shaolin Monks), the Ninja Gaiden games could technically be considered Dead or Alive solos, and even Tekken’s Nina Williams had the game Death by Degrees, which overcame the incredible obstacle of nobody giving a shit about Tekken.
The common thread between all of these games is that they weren’t very good (bunny Fatalities from Shaolin Monks aside). That’s a real shame, because the tendency for longevity in fighting game franchises means that some of the most interesting characters in video games come from franchises who have the storytelling structure of the WWE.
Before we begin, let’s address the fire-breathing demon ninja elephant in the room: yes, Scorpion needs a solo game. Yes, it would be awesome no matter what genre you made it. But if you want to play a game about a supernaturally-powered elite warrior on a quest of vengeance fighting primarily with fire and blades with chains on them, go replay God of War. We’re just going to disqualify him based on being the obvious choice.
So, in no particular order…
Kenshi Takahashi– Mortal Kombat
Kenshi is the only good thing to come out of Mortal Kombats 5-8. He is a blind samurai warrior wielding an ancient sword inhabited by the spirit of his ancestors, harnessing his telekinetic abilities and Kung Fu prowess to seek vengeance against the sorcerer who claimed his eyesight. His sword, Sento, gives him a supernatural blindsight and can also reflect fireballs and shit. Can we also mention that he bros out with Scorpion on the regular, enough so that he made the guy his son’s godfather?
When he isn’t using his Psychic Kung Fu to punch Goro in the dick from 30 meters, Kenshi works for the Outer World Investigation Agency (or he’s just a consultant, depending on which timeline you want to go with) helping Sonya and Jax bring in interdimensional gunrunners and other such scum of the multiverse.
Kenshi Takahashi is everything the 80s wanted to be and more.
The Game- Mark of the Ninja meets Arkham Asylum but also super violent
Kenshi’s skillset would obviously lend itself to a stealth game, based around striking swiftly like the wind, and leaving a horrifying trail of viscera, also like the wind. The game would start with Kenshi as a brash ronin, and feature him being blinded early on. Then the player would sneak around and subdue Black/Red Dragon, Netherrealm, and Outworld opponents in order to track down Shang Tsung.
As Kenshi grows in experience, he can learn new infiltration techniques and increase his psychic abilities. Silently approaching an enemy before slitting their throat would eventually evolve into making their head explode with your brain. And of course, sometimes stealth would have to be abandoned and you would need to engage in the time-honored tradition of mercilessly slaughtering countless goons.
Imagine the Arkham games’ combat system combined with MK’s hyper-violence. It would be like the end of Kill Bill Volume 1 on steroids. The game ends with Shang Tsung defeated, but then Kenshi learns he has a son. Boom. Sequel where you can co-op with Takeda. Call me, Ed Boon.
Chun-Li – Street Fighter
If you’ve ever mained a female character in a fighting game, you owe Chun-Li a debt of gratitude. As the First Lady of the fighting genre, her influence on arcades since her introduction in Street Fighter II has been universal and widespread. One could argue she is even more iconic to the franchise than Ryu or Ken. She is an Interpol agent mixed martial arts master who takes shit from nobody and can bend steel beams with her thighs. I like to imagine that on weekends she goes out for drinks with Wonder Woman and they talk about how awesome it is to obviously be more badass than 90% of their male cohorts.
Beyond Chun-Li’s particular badassery, Street Fighter is in need of a solo game, and her goal of finding and exacting vengeance against her father’s killer makes for a straight-forward motive. Her position as a legal officer in a world where punching someone in the chest and ripping out their still-beating heart actually has consequences would make the straight-forward revenge story a more interesting one, as she actually has to gather evidence to apprehend and arrest M. Bison instead of going full Kratos.
The Game: Telltale Presents – Chun-Li
It should be accepted as fact that Chun-Li can beat anyone. If we reduce her struggle to kicking fast enough to get through all the goons, it would become another generic action game. Instead, I would be interested to see an Interpol police story spanning the globe, hunting down leads to crack the case.
It doesn’t even have to be directly tied into her father’s murder, but simply seeing Chun-Li do some detective work would be a welcome change of pace and show off her other assets as a character. Of course, there can be chases, bar brawls, and ambushes that can allow her to show off her lightning legs, but for one of the world’s greatest martial artists taking down criminal goons should be no harder than a simple Quick Time Event.
Treating the game as an international police story first and a Street Fighter game second could provide for some interesting narrative challenges while still giving players the opportunity to pin a guy to the wall with a giant, muscle-y thigh while screaming “Tell me where I can find your boss!”
Ivy Valentine – Soul Calibur
Ivy is arguably the face of the Soul Calibur series, for better or worse. She has a memorable look to her, a tragic backstory, and a cool weapon. There is also the fact of her blatant sex appeal, often wearing outfits that threaten to send her gravity-defying breasts flying every which way.
Beyond the teenage-boy-bait, however, is a character who has actual motives and emotions, even if they’re cliche. The evil blade known as the Soul Edge drove her adoptive father to madness, and her own attempts to find a way to destroy the sword led to her blood being tainted by its evil. She is now on a crusade to eliminate all traces of the sword, even if it means murdering the innocent. Her ultimate goal is to make sure she is the last remnant of Soul Edge’s existence, at which point she would end her own life.
The Game – Devil May Cry, basically
Ivy has a sword that can also turn into a whip at will. She is also on a mission that involves a lot of fighting and killing, chasing down fragments of a sword that everybody wants their hands on for one reason or another, whether it be aging samurai, fencing vampires, or whatever the fuck Voldo is. Her biological father is also a crazy pirate dude who happens to be after the same sword for much more nefarious purposes. With variable fighting styles and several different boss fights built in, a stylish action game where you play as Ivy Valentine seems like a no-brainer.
Parasoul Renoir– Skullgirls
Most fighting game series’ have built their convoluted backdrops over the course of many games, but Skullgirls decided to just come out the gate with a fully realized world that barely makes it into the actual game.
Besides being the game you feel most uncomfortable playing when your mother is in the room, Skullgirls has the notable distinction of taking place in a 1920’s-inspired, art deco world that seems to be ripe for the picking. Parasoul in particular is the princess of a nation whose Queen was recently killed after being chosen by the Skull Heart to become the next Skullgirl (which basically turns you into a walking natural disaster).
On top of being a princess and rocking a sweater dress, Parasoul wields an umbrella that shoots napalm and commands an elite military force known as the Black Egrets. Also, going by her arcade ending in the game, she sacrificed herself to become the Skullgirl in exchange for sparing her younger sister the same fate, and is now preparing for the eventuality that her sister will have to kill her. Seeing this in detail could make for a gripping narrative.
The Game – Fire Emblem or X-COM starring Parasoul and the Black Egrets
Parasoul’s position as the commander of an elite military force is just begging to be transformed into a turn-based strategy game. Although they are not heavily featured in the game, the artists of Skullgirls have shown off concepts for different members of the Black Egrets who could appear in the future, and one of them is a two-story tall behemoth with a tank strapped to his fist. It is criminal that his name is not Panzerfist. Parasoul, NotPanzerfist, and the mysterious sniper Number 13 could just be the starting point for a party of elite soldiers that players could tactically assemble to take down enemy threats.
The fact that the Skullgirls universe features symbiotic warriors, undead, genetic experimentation, and magical powers means a great variety of units would be easy to generate. Combined with the art deco Hollywood aesthetic of the universe, I would love to sink dozens of hours into creating the most powerful Black Egret fighting force in the world.
Green Lantern – Okay I’m cheating a little bit but he was in Injustice: Gods Among Us so fuck you
I don’t even care which Green Lantern. Probably either Hal or John. Hell, tell an interweaving narrative with all four (five? Six? Comic books!) of them. We just need a Green Lantern game. He’s a Space Cop with a magic ring that can create hard light constructs of anything the ringbearer imagines. They are powered by the sheer force of willpower and grant you membership into the super exclusive club that lets you hang out with Kilowog. Also it shoots laser beams, which is always a plus.
The Game – A Metroidvania game, obviously. What are you, stupid?
The 2D exploration (or “Metroidvania”) genre of action/adventure games hinges on a large open world that becomes more and more accessible as the player finds new abilities. Finding a story-contrived reason for the Green Lantern in question to have to slowly unlock new abilities is the perfect way to facilitate this. The DC Universe is teeming with villains and monsters to fight, and the GL Corps in and of itself is full of fun allies to meet and interact with.
Then the game can end with Superman showing up at the last minute, only to discover that Green Lantern already took care of everything himself without the boy scout’s help. The credits roll against a backdrop of Superman slowly floating back to Earth looking dejected.
Honorable Mention: Literally Anybody from Blazblue
The Game – A poorly-localized, by-the-numbers, slow-paced JRPG completely lacking in any innovation
The story mode already plays this way, so it would be a pretty easy transition.
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bagogames/14346794265
(Except the frowny face and the tear which were expertly added in Microsoft Paint by Paige)