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A Look at the Best 21st Century Games Inspired by Anime Posted Jul 21, 2020

Even though Japan didn’t invent video games (that honour belongs to “Tennis for Two” developed in the US in 1958), it certainly made video games a worldwide phenomenon with the release of the Famicom, or the Nintendo Entertainment System for the rest of the world. It is perhaps due to this that Japanese inspired games have remained popular for decades. Some of these games include the likes of Super Mario, Pokemon and a variety of Japanese inspired high variance slot games.

Although recent focus could be said to have moved towards wholly western games such as Call of Duty, Halo and Skyrim, titles such as Persona, Danganropa, and more recently, Ghost of Tshushima, have remained constantly popular.

Dragonball Z: Kakarot

Instantly recognisable to a lot of people, Dragonball Z: Kakarot is a video game retelling of the story of Goku/Kakarot, told in the popular anime, Dragonball Z. The latest in a long line of games based around the show, it is an action RPG, rather than the traditional one on one fighting game that past titles have always been. This has been a welcome addition, as fans of the show have always wanted the opportunity to live out Goku’s adventure for themselves. Graphically, the game looks virtually identical to the show’s animation style, further strengthening the appeal that the game has to fans.

Saint Seiya: Soldiers Soul

Now for something a bit less well known, in the UK anyway. European countries France and Spain have, according to research, traditionally been more accepting of different animation styles. This has resulted in certain anime series’ becoming hugely popular on the European continent, whilst being largely ignored and niche in the UK and USA. Saint Seiya is a good example – hugely popular in Europe yet attempts to launch it in the UK or US haven’t really been successful.

Saint Seiya : Soldiers Soul is a one on one fighting game released in September 2015 on PS3 and PS4, as an update to the previous title, Brave Soldiers. Many features have been improved, such as an increased amount of air combos, better animations and effects, and the “Cosmic KO”. When a player finishes a round with a special attack, a small animation is played showing the player character sending the opposing character into space, simulating what happens in the manga.

One Piece : Pirate Warriors 4

More familiar to UK audiences, this is the latest installment of the Pirate Warriors franchise. With gameplay seemingly taken from Dynasty Warriors (another popular game series loosely based on Chinese history), one or two players take on hordes of enemies, with the objective being to defeat them all. This newest installment features improvements to the traditional gameplay, such as a new “Titan Mode”, where opponents are their actual size from the anime, being a lot bigger or smaller than the player, forcing the player to adjust their strategy accordingly. There is also a Story Mode, which takes the unfinished Wano Arc from the manga/anime and changes it, giving it an ending and allowing players to experience something they have never seen before. It also features four new multiplayer modes:

• Giant Boss Battle – Four players fight a giant enemy such as Kaido, Jack, etc. • Total Bounty Battle – Basically a giant horde battle, although the players have to raise their Bounty level in order to win. • Timed Defense Battle – Players must defend their territory for a certain amount of time. • Territory Battle – Three teams with four players on each team battle to capture every territory on the map.

Xenoblade Chronicles

Maybe the most anticipated game on this list when it released on the Wii in 2010 in Japan, there was a huge outcry for Monolith Soft and Nintendo to release the game in other territories. It released in PAL territories in 2011, and NTSC in 2012, with a port for the New Nintendo 3DS released in 2015 and a remaster on the Nintendo Switch this year. While not based on a particular manga or anime, the character and environment design clearly show a basis on traditional Japanese animation styles. The gameplay is that of an Action RPG, set in an open world with interconnected environments, which means no loading screens.

Xenoblade Chronicles was hugely popular when it came out, with both a spiritual successor, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and a true sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, releasing on the Wii U in 2015 and the Nintendo Switch in 2017, respectively.

With these examples, plus literally hundreds more, it is clear that the influence of Japanese animation and design will continue to have an impact on video game design for a while to come. And this is for the better, as it allows players to experience different themes and cultures that they may not see elsewhere, expanding their horizons and maybe inspiring them to learn more about eastern culture, which can only be a positive.

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