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Discussion Outside References to non-Crossover Series that are Integral to them?

Video game references are a dime a dozen. It's not impossible that any game can have them, whether it's major games like Assassin's Creed referencing Mario's iconic catchphrase "It's-a me Mario" or minor ones like Jill of the Jungle referencing Mario retiring (ironically, it's Mario that's still going strong). But there might be references that go one step further: it makes the reference an integral part of the series instead of just being a small, fun thing.

What do I mean by this? Take Kirby, for example: In that series starting from Super Star, Kirby wears a green pointed cap when he wields the Sword ability. It's very clearly a nod to The Legend of Zelda due to the reference to Link's signature cap (before Breath of the Wild upended the status quo). I feel that the association between green cap and swordsmanship is too intrinsically linked to be an original reference. To this day, Kirby still wears this cap when he wields the Sword ability, even if the cap has some embellishments like giving it a wool ball at its tip.

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Speaking of Legend of Zelda, we have Talon and Ingo (leftmost and rightmost characters, respectively), who are the splitting image of Mario and Luigi. While they don't turn up in many games, their roles are not merely insignificant entities, for they have some importance tied to at least one of them, mainly to Link's signature horse Epona in Ocarina of Time's case.

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In my opinion, references that stuck as part of the game's identity is more fascinating than minor stuff, so here's a chance to name some other references that become integral to a game series. What are some other examples?

Thank you for reading.
 
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PixelKnight

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I think what sells it on a Link reference to me is also that the sword crosspiece/hilt/pommel is a sky blue with a gold gemstone, which is how the Master Sword is represented in several of the games.
 
A few things come to mind. The biggest one is that Meryl in Metal Gear Solid is a reference to the character by the same name in Kojima’s previous game Policenauts.

I think the Final Fantasy characters in Kingdom Hearts could debatably count as this. On one hand, it seems to me that when the series debuted it was almost always viewed as being a crossover between Disney and Final Fantasy. But Nomura evidently always saw the FF characters as a minor thing that weren’t a defining part of the series, and they gradually decreased in prominence until they were totally absent from Kingdom Hearts 3 (although I believe they showed up in the DLC).

Also in Kirby, not quite as prominent as the Sword ability, but the ESP ability in Planet Robobot is represented by a sideways baseball cap, an overt reference to the Mother series.
 

V_ac

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Dan from Street Fighter is a giant parody of Ryo and Robert from Art of Fighting (mostly Ryo IIRC.)

Similar to the Meryl/Policenauts example above another game of Kojima's, Snatcher, has the Metal Gear MK2 as a partner for the game's main character Gillian.

Kojima later flipped the reference around by including the MK2 in MGS4, with the only difference being Otacon talks through it rather then the MK2 being its own character like in Snatcher.
 
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Kirby has to help characters from multiple Nintendo series in Dream Land 3, including Shin Oni Ga Shima, R.O.B. and, most noticeably, Metroid.

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Arewo Shitain-hakase has a major role both in Kaeru no Tane and Wario Land 4. Wario Land 4's Japanese website also claims he's the enemy doctor in Wario Land 3 (and therefore Dr. Mario 64), but I don't buy it.

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Kirby's enemy Gordo appeared in multiple GB games.

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They also appear in Mario Land 2 and/or Wario Land!

Eggplant Man from Wrecking Crew makes a cameo appearance in Chibi-Robo

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PixelKnight

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Kirby has to help characters from multiple Nintendo series in Dream Land 3, including Shin Oni Ga Shima, R.O.B. and, most noticeably, Metroid.

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Arewo Shitain-hakase has a major role both in Kaeru no Tane and Wario Land 4. Wario Land 4's Japanese website also claims he's the enemy doctor in Wario Land 3 (and therefore Dr. Mario 64), but I don't buy it.

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Kirby's enemy Gordo appeared in multiple GB games.

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They also appear in Mario Land 2 and/or Wario Land!

Eggplant Man from Wrecking Crew makes a cameo appearance in Chibi-Robo

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Wow, I had both Kirby’s Dreamland and Link’s Awakening on GB and never made that connection as a kid
 
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Krvavi Abadas

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notably, Star Fox Command takes this reference full-circle by having one of the endings feature it's own racing league inspired by F-Zero.
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Falco had a brainstorm: retire as pilots and engineer their Arwings into racing machines. They would enter the high-speed world of G-Zero Grand Prix racing! When Falco saw excitement return to his friend's face, relief coursed through him.
Fox and Falco turned out to be a great G-Zero team. Winning race after race, they become household names across a countless number of planetary systems. Their days as part of Star Fox faded to a distant memory...
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CyberWolfJV

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I like this random Warp Pipe in the Papu's Pyramid track in CTR Nitro-Fueled (wasn't there in the original version on PS1)
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almost gave me hope for something brewing around that time.. :,<
 

Mekanos

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Always felt this was a key example of Cranky's fourth wall humor in the Rare era that hasn't really come back since.
 

chocolate_supra

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cannot imagine playing and understanding the Persona games without at the very least a passing knowledge about the work of Carl Jung
I played Xenogears without a passing knowledge about the work of Carl Jung.

Granted I had to look a lot of stuff up but yeah
 

7threst

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cannot imagine playing and understanding the Persona games without at the very least a passing knowledge about the work of Carl Jung
Well, at least Persona 4 kinda schools you on that in the extra content. But yeah, knowing Jungian theory really helps elevate those games I feel.
 


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