Anime-based video games have been and remain popular, with highly anticipated upcoming titles such as Dragon Ball: The Breakers and One Piece Odyssey coming this year. Since so many games are released every year, and licensed video games often get a bad rap, most anime-based video games are either forgotten or simply unknown. Additionally, some of these titles have never been released outside of Japan.
Despite their obscurity or poor reviews, many of these anime-based games have some interesting gameplay ideas and elements. Without even being an anime fan, games like MS Saga: A New Dawn worth the detour.
Vampire Hunter D (1999)
Released in 1999 for the PlayStation, Vampire hunter D is a survival horror game that is loosely based on the animated film Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlustwhich is in turn based on the third light novel of the Vampire hunter D titled franchise Demonic Death Hunt. When a young woman named Charlotte Elbourne is apparently abducted from her home by the noble vampire Meier Link, Charlotte’s father, John, hires the titular dhampir, D, to rescue her.
With the help of a sentient symbiote simply named “Left Hand”, D explores Chaythe Castle, battles enemies, and slowly learns the truth of what is going on. Although the game received poor reviews for extremely pixelated graphics and uncomfortable controls, the gothic art style, extensive voice acting, hack and slash elements, and the existence of three different endings make it an interesting experience for fans.
Serial Experiments Lain (1998)
Developed alongside the influential anime of the same name, Serial Experiments Lain is a 1998 multimedia experience that was released for the PlayStation. Despite sharing similar themes, the game is set in an alternate continuity with a different plot and cast of characters. To progress through the story, players select nodes in a bizarre multi-level virtual space, and each of these nodes reveals videos, audio logs, journal entries, and notes.
The game primarily follows the titular Lain and her therapist, Touko Yonera, as they both struggle with mental health and their existence within society. Although only released in Japan, a fan-translated English script was completed in 2014, and a web browser port was released in 2021.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji Ikari’s Breeding Project (2004)
Created as a sequel to the 2001 game Neon Genesis Evangelion: Ayanami Breeding Project, Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji Ikari Breeding Project is a 2004 life simulation game where the player, as Misato Katsuragi, must “elevate” the protagonist, Shinji Ikari, by assigning him certain tasks. Since Gainax created both the Neon Genesis Evangelion the anime and the princess maker otome game series, it’s no surprise that the gameplay of the Breeding project the series looks like Princess maker.
Depending on the tasks and dialogue options chosen, Shinji will have different stats, which will lead him to several possible routes, endings, and love interests. Like other officials Neon Genesis Evangelion games, this title has an LGBTQ+ option. Shinji can have a romantic relationship with the male character Kaworu Nagisa as well as the other female characters. Although it was never released outside of Japan, there is a fan-translated English patch.
The Prince of Tennis: More Prince of the School Festival -More Sweet Edition- (2010)
Despite The Prince of Tennis being a shōnen series, meaning it was created for a young male demographic, the series has had several official dating sims released over the years where a female protagonist can date any of the male characters. One such game that also received a fan-translated English patch is the 2010 DS game The Prince of Tennis: No More School Festival Prince – Sweeter Edition.
Developed as an extended version of the PlayStation 2 game The Prince of Tennis: Prince of the School Festival, the player is a tennis manager who must help set up the upcoming multi-school festival while romance one of the guys. Including a secret character, there are 38 different characters the player can date.
Detective Conan & Kindaichi Case Files: Chance Meeting of Two Great Detectives (2009)
Before merging with Chunsoft and becoming Spike Chunsoft, Spike was already a game developer whose staff consisted of former members of Human Entertainment, who were best known for creating the Clock tower series. One of the games created by Spike was the 2009 DS game Detective Conan & Kindaichi Case Files: Chance meeting of two great detectives, which is a cross between Detective Conan and The Kindaichi Case Files animated franchises.
The game features characters from both franchises as they attempt to uncover the mysteries behind Twilight Island, which has a local legend where people are sometimes said to be whisked away to an alternate reality. With two Game Boy Color games, this is one of the only Detective Conan games with a fan-translation in English.
MS Saga: A New Dawn (2005)
Created for fans and newcomers, MS Saga: A New Dawn is a 2005 PlayStation 2 JRPG set after the classic Universal Century era of the Gundam franchise. After a mysterious organization known as the Dark Alliance uses Mobile Suits to destroy their orphanage, main character Tristan and his friend Fritz decide to get their own Mobile Suits and seek revenge.
As they gain allies, they slowly uncover a darker conspiracy. Although the plot is generic, the game is worth playing as players can customize their own combinations to use in turn-based battles.
The Blood Will Tell Us: Dororo by Tezuka Osamu (2004)
Developed by Sega and released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2, Blood Will Tell: Dororo by Tezuka Osamu is a third-person hack-and-slash with some minor RPG elements. The game is based on the anime series Dororo, which was created by Osamu Tezuka who is often referred to as “the father of manga” and is best known for creating the iconic Astro Boy series.
To get rid of his curse and regain his lost body parts, the ronin Hyakkimaru is on a journey to defeat 48 monsters known as demons with the help of a young thief named Dororo. Although the game changed some elements of the source material to make it lighter, it’s still a fun and engaging adaptation of this historic series.
Magic Knight Rayearth (1995)
Released in 1995 for the Sega Saturn, Magic Knight Rayearth is an action JRPG based on the CLAMP magical girl series of the same name. Although it was one of the first games released for Saturn, English localization issues made the game the last Saturn title released in North America.
After the series’ first arc, the game centers on three eighth-grade girls named Hikaru Shidou, Umi Ryuuzaki, and Fuu Hououji who are transported to another world called Cephiro on their excursion to Tokyo Tower. To return home, the three girls must become the Magic Knights and rescue Princess Emerald. Although the game mainly follows the plot of the series, there are new locations, characters and scenes, which makes the experience interesting for fans and newcomers alike.
Blood + One Night Kiss (2006)
After creating the cult classic killer7, famous video game designer Goichi Suda, better known as Suda51, created the Japan-only PlayStation 2 action adventure game in 2006 Blood + kiss of a night, who shares the same cel-shaded art style. Based on the anime series Blood+, which is an alternate universe of the original Blood: The Last Vampire, the game takes place after Episode 7 on a day not counted in the show’s canon.
Set in the fictional town of Shikishi, players control both the series’ protagonist, high school student Saya Otonashi, and an original character named Kou Aoyama, who is a detective, as they battle against creatures resembling monsters. blood-sucking bats called Chiroptera. Even if the player hasn’t seen the original series, this game is worth playing on its own for Suda51’s unique concepts and themes.
Jumping the Ultimate Stars (2006)
After the release of the hilarious and terrible game of 2019 jump strength, fans of the Weekly Shōnen Jump franchises may find themselves wishing for a really well-made crossover fighter. Luckily, there was a great 2006 Japan-only crossover game on the DS called Skip the ultimate stars.
Created following the 2005 Japan-only edition Jump Super Stars, the game features 305 characters from 41 different shōnen manga franchises. By combining different manga panels on the bottom screen, players can customize their fighters. As players battle through the story mode, they can unlock new panels or upgrade existing ones.
NEXT: 10 Best Anime-Based Games, According To Metacritic
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