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How Anime Adopted Classic Traits of Strategy Games Posted Apr 3, 2019

Strategy is one of the most popular gaming genres in the world, with the best strategy titles balancing the charm of a classic board game with the height of modern gaming technology. While strategy can be a standalone genre, it is also often found working in collaboration with elements of other genres and themes, if not the genres themselves. Anime is the most successful regional video game style by some margin. It is difficult to think of another cultural gaming style that can boast anything like the same influence on the world’s gaming population, with anime games’ idiosyncratic style making them easy to identify, even to the layperson.

Despite their unique character and imagery, many anime games share overt similarities with strategy games created by American studios. The Valkyria Chronicles series deploys a military theme in the same vein as many of the American strategy games, although there is a greater focus on role-playing elements in comparison with series like Civilization.

However, the point-and-click control of units is reminiscent of legendary strategy gaming series Age of Empires, while the emphasis on discovering enemy positions and setting up military units in an effective fashion is also a classic trait of American strategy games. A classic expectation of strategy games is an understanding of which units to deploy in certain situations. This is something that is evident in another long-running anime franchise, the Fire Emblem series.

As with the Valkyria Chronicles, Fire Emblem players maneuver military troops across a battlefield in order to defeat their enemy. The Fire Emblem games also have an emphasis on narrative, in a manner similar to the campaign modes of Age of Empires, while they offer the distinctive feature for characters to die permanently in battle rather than respawn. This demonstrates how the genre of anime has placed its own twist on the classic formula of strategy gaming. While these anime games lean more towards tactics and role-playing, they have much in common with other strategy games.

In medieval real-time strategy games like the Age of Empires series, there is a strong focus on military and societal developments. The Age of Empires games remain true to history where possible, allowing players to interact with a broad range of civilizations. Many strategy games go deeper in exploring a specific culture or region, whether focusing on Ancient Greeks or a pirate's life. Viking games are becoming increasingly popular, with Vikings: War of Clans giving players the chance to conquer the Northern Kingdoms in the manner that real Vikings would have desired.

Some strategy games diverge more strongly from reality, though. The StarCraft and Total War: Warhammer franchises transport players to magical environments with fantastical characters. This juxtaposition between the grittiness of a real-time strategy game and the surrealness of these new settings makes for a compelling experience.

The same can be said of the Pokemon series, perhaps anime's most globally-recognized product. The breakout success of the anime cartoon causes people to perceive of Pokemon as a more light-hearted and comedic adventure, but an understanding of strategy and tactics is crucial to unlocking the full potential of the Pokemon games. Tactics and competition come to the fore, there is no one set pathway to success and gamers have great scope to customize their playing style.

Casual fans of both strategy gaming and anime may not instantly associate the two, but there is a wide range of anime strategy games that take the best of both worlds.

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