In the latest installment of Polygon’s ongoing deep dive series on the making of classic fighting games, veteran developer Toyohisa Tanabe revealed that his team at SNK was experimenting with crossovers as far back as King of Fighters 98.
“The team ended up making a build of King of Fighters 98 with Ryu and Ken [from Street Fighter] in it,” Tanabe said. “This isn’t something that a lot of people know. [B]ut yeah, just for fun, before Capcom vs. SNK was a thing, I was playing as Ryu and Ken in King of Fighters 98.
“We did this on the development hardware, so of course it was never on a physical cartridge. Also, I’m just remembering this now, but it wasn’t only Ryu and Ken that we ended up playing around with. We put in Dragon Ball characters, like Son Goku, as well.”
Fighting game crossovers may be a little old hat now, but in the years before Capcom vs. SNK brought its two massive studios together, these kinds of matches were the thing of imagination. I sure hope that, like Samurai Shodown V Perfect, an internal build of King of Fighters 98 with Ryu, Ken, and Goku can still be found gathering dust somewhere in some SNK dev’s storage unit.