Video games have grown immensely over the past few decades. Franchises of games are commonly reaching double digits (Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty), maps are growing to be the size of entire states (Grand Theft Auto V, Fallout 4), and Easter eggs are becoming much more commonplace.
In this age of video games, it’s not hard to imagine some games could actually co-exist with one another similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But sometimes, due to character cameos and substantial references, these connected worlds can be very… interesting.
Let’s get some ground rules started before we begin the list. Firstly, this article is about game franchises, so we’ll be sticking only to games with two sequels or more.
Secondly, the connections must be substantial. If a surname is mentioned offhandedly as a reference, or anything equally insignificant, it will be discarded.
Thirdly, multi-franchise crossover games are excluded from this list. Meaning that Super Smash Bros, PlayStation All-Stars, and Marvel vs Capcom games don’t make the cut. The focus is on unexpected games, not connected games in general.
With these three rules in place, let’s dive into what’s sure to be a strange, strange world.
12. Assassin’s Creed
When talking about modern gaming franchises, it’s pretty commonplace to hear the name Assassin’s Creed. The series has stretched into numerous titles across countless time periods, so it’s not that hard to imagine that they sneak in a few references to other games every once in awhile.
Surprisingly, rather than Assassin’s Creed giving connections to Metal Gear Solid, it’s actually the other way around. In Metal Gear Solid 4, there’s a chance to unlock Altair’s costume whilst in the Middle East. In addition to this, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker features a more substantial reference; Snake can perform a leap of faith into a straw box, whereupon Kazuhira Miller says “Back in the time of the Crusades, members of the order of Assassins used what is called the Assassin’s Straw Box to hide and get close to their enemies.” A clear reference to the hit franchise from Ubisoft.
11. Silent Hill
Back when Konami was still a company that made good games and not a quintessential example of George Orwell’s 1984, they had a game franchise called Silent Hill. It premiered in January 1999 and screeched to a halt with the beloved PT published in August of 2014 before collapsing under the weight of their own egotism. The Silent Hill games always focused on horror no matter where the story lead, but always found spots to sneak in black humor and the occasional UFO.
This is the perfect detour on your way to Shadow Moses.
10. Metal Gear Solid
Still sticking to Konami, Metal Gear Solid is a well loved franchise with over ten titles, all packed full of drama, suspense, rations, and exclamation points. Made by Hideo Kojima, this series has packed countless references to other games.
For example, back in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater at the Graniny Gorki, there’s a number of paintings that are the exact duplicates of ones found in Silent Hill 3’s church.
In addition, Phantom Pain, the latest entry in the Metal Gear series, featured a neat reference to PT, which is technically a part of the Silent Hill mythology. In an African CFA tent, there’s a radio that can be found playing the exact same radio broadcast from the Playable Teaser, detailing the gruesome murder from the terrifying teaser.
9. Far Cry
Far Cry’s connection is by far the most solid on this list that doesn’t rely on characters crossing over from other franchises.
The series, like Assassin’s Creed, was created by Ubisoft, so there’s plenty of references between the two games. The most significant being the Abstergo logo making an appearance on a document in the third game, which read “I question using these so-called scientists. They speak of Pieces of Eden and Edison’s electrical experiments into genetic memory.”
In addition to this, there’s theories dictating a connection between Takkar, the protagonist of Far Cry: Primal, and the ability of Eagle Vision seen throughout the Assassin’s Creed series.
8. Soul Calibur
For readers not in the know, Soul Calibur is a fighting game created by Namco Bandai, the same company that also created the Tekken series.
The series has grown in popularity over the years, partly due to the guest fighters featured in each installment of the franchise. This latest entry featured the Italian assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze from Assassin’s Creed, making this an open and shut case as to why it connects into the other games.
Also a side note, Assassin’s Creed 2 takes place in 1476, meaning Soul Calibur 4 happens in 1459. Darth Vader appears in that title, meaning “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” wasn’t incredibly long ago.
7. The Legend of Zelda
Just take a moment to let it sink in that The Legend of Zelda, an adventure game franchise aimed at younger audiences, is loosely connected to Silent Hill, a world stuffed full of horrifying creatures and underlying occult concepts. Plus a fanbase obsessed with the darkest elements of the series… Okay, maybe they aren’t that different.
The Legend of Zelda is connected through a very simple “Link.” The hero of Hyrule has found himself at odds with Ivy Valentine and Nightmare in Soul Calibur 2, easily his name to the list of connections.
6. Super Mario Bros.
Back in the beginning of this article, we stated a few rules. One of which was the exclusion of multi-franchise games like Super Smash Bros. Thankfully we’re not cutting corners here since Link from Legend of Zelda fame still makes a cameo in 1996’s Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
Link can be found resting inside the Rose Town Inn, sleeping so heavily that the player has no way of waking him up. This was apparently meant to avoid Link speaking in any way since the character traditionally doesn’t speak.
5. God of War
Jumping from one end of the age rating to another is God of War, a brutal game starring the violent megalomaniac Kratos. He’s dragged into this list the same way a few previous entries have been: by Soul Calibur.
Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny was published in 2009 for the Playstation Portable, and like many of the game’s entries it included a guest fighter in the form of the Ghost of Sparta himself.
It’s strange to think that somewhere out there, Mario is jumping on Goombas while Kratos is digging his thumbs into Poseidon’s eye sockets.
4. Mortal Kombat
Let’s try and move past the fact that Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda are lurking around on this list and move onto some more mature prospects.
Mortal Kombat, the series that underwent a reboot under the license of Warner Bros, decided that their first title in line of the renewed franchise would feature two guest fighters in the form of Freddy Krueger and Kratos. Meaning, of course, that A Nightmare on Elm Street and God of War are connected to the world of fatalities and four-armed beasts.
Joining this strange universe of multi-franchise games is Tekken, the other fighting game by Namco Bandai.
This series gets to be included thanks to Yoshimitsu and Heihachi Mishima, who have appeared in both Soul Calibur and Tekken games. This is no surprise considering that they’re both fighting games made by the same company, but it’s a connection nonetheless.
2. Street Fighter
It seems like fighting games just have a habit of popping up on this list.
Street Fighter, the famous series started way back in 1987, has grown and just released it’s fifth title this past month. The franchise is known for strange and interesting characters with all kinds of different fighting styles… and booty, it’s also known for that.
Street Fighter finds it’s way onto this list by way of the crossover title Street Fighter X Tekken from 2012.
And finally, wrapping up our list is the PlayStation exclusive series inFAMOUS. The first two games revolve around Cole McGrath, a regular guy who gets gifted electrical superpowers in a massive city falling to pieces after a bomb lights up most of the city.
InFAMOUS gets to slip in at this final spot because of the previously mentioned Street Fighter X Tekken, which had a surprise cameo from the electric hero alongside Pac-Man and Mega-Man oddly enough.
So that’s it, this wraps up 12 game franchises you didn’t know were connected. Want to add more games to the list? Go ahead and share it with us!