Def Jam: Fight for NY is one of the most iconic fighting games of the early 2000s. It is often celebrated for everything from its fierce and exciting game play to its impressive cast of over 60 characters. It was a really solid fighting game for its time, but what really set this game apart was an incredible crossover in gaming that’s never been matched to this day.
At the time crossovers were nothing new to the world of fighting games, but Def Jam: Fight for NY took things to a whole new level. Each system had its own unique guest character. Playstation 2 had Heihachi, Xbox had Spawn, and of course the Gamecube version featured Link from the Legend of Zelda series. As an additional bonus, every console featured a mysterious unique guest character named Necrid who was the only fighter to use moves from all 5 fighting styles.
Even though Def Jam: Fight for NY was clearly a solid game in its own right, many people bought the game purely for Link. Aside from his sheer popularity and status, he also fit into the world of Def Jam seamlessly, especially compared to the other guests. While Heihachi and Spawn were also impressive fighters, Link was the only musician among them. He was the only guest character who could hold his own both on the mic and in the ring.
While other fighters in the cast fought with broken beer bottles, lead pipes, and pool cues, Link wielded his signature array of arrows, bombs, boomerangs, and of course the Master Sword. As you progressed in the game, you could unlock additional weapons like the Razor Sword, the Cane of Byrna, and even the Mirror Shield.
Despite the fact that none of the guest fighters belonged to either D-Mob’s crew or Crow’s Crew, they were still given a canon rival in the main story. An especially memorable fight in the game is Link’s fated battle against Flavor Flav to determine who the true hero of time is.
Aside from the story tie-in, a lot of the fun came from the enjoyment of simply just playing the game. I’m sure we all remember picking Link just to use his grab to throw people out of a fifth story window on Crow’s Office. Or maybe you would use his classic finishing move to pick up Fat Joe and smash his head into a jukebox. Regardless of how you liked to play, having Link in Def Jam undeniably made the overall experience that much richer.
Many fondly reflect on this incredible fighting game and it’s not hard to see why. The inclusion of Link is a perfect crossover that not only got people into Def Jam, but into fighting games in general. While the Def Jam franchise has sadly become dormant, we can only hope that if we ever see a new entry in the series, it’ll once again feature the Hylian Hero.