If there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that he should Most likely be more anime-based video games.
Regardless of how you feel about the medium (although if you’re immediately worried, I’ve got some recommendations for you), there’s no denying the phenomenon it’s become in the West over the past two decades. As Pokemon and dragonball served as a water tester for western audiences and the internet flourished as a haven for the likes of The attack of the Titans and Death threat, he had a whole new life. And now, as enduring fandoms tune in for new episodes of demon slayer and gorge on hell Haikyu!!, it is clear that the hype has not dissipated. And video games related to the series kept coming.
Although many remain limited to Japan and its surrounding regions (I’m still salty that the official Neon Genesis Evangelion the game never made it to our shores), games are still going strong, bringing these animated worlds to the interactive medium in a form that many fans are simply accustomed to.
But most of them suffer from a lack of innovation. And fortunately, change may be on the horizon.
Anime games have fallen into a rut
Games based on anime series and movies usually fall into one category over any other – fighting titles. We’re used to it by now, mostly thanks to the wealth of upcoming games from the dragonball series. Of Budokai at Tenkaichi at FighterZthe franchise has pretty much defined medium-bound video games, and there’s been a familiar reluctance to escape that framework.
The tastes of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, demon slayer and the cross title jump strength all fall into categories that reduce their source material to moments of quiet between flashes of hyperviolence – but at the very least there’s some sort of variation in its isolation. A play worked with the typical Warriors format that Nintendo popularized, and Sword Art Online even ditched its MMORPG styles in favor of an action-adventure RPG that, despite its flaws, at least had some scope. But, even so, games are reduced to slashing and bashing simulators that actually have no sticking power.
When you think of anime games, you probably first think of Genshin Impact or the Character series – games that are not based on the anime at all and just adopt their style. There’s not much to explain why these games can’t stay in the cultural conversation more than a month after their launch, beyond the growing monotony of anime games’ reluctance to innovate and their lack of confidence to go all out when they choose to step out of their comfort zone. So what’s the next step?
Is Gundam the way out of the repetitiveness of anime games?
While it didn’t quite receive the fanfare it might have hoped for, there is one game that could still change the attitude towards anime games forever.
Gundam evolution was revealed at a recent State of Play conference for PlayStation, and like one that was pretty disappointing overall, it was swept under the rug with the should-be-Dino Crisis.
The game, based on the classic mech series, seems to wear its influences on its sleeve, playing almost like a super geeky cross between Surveillance and Titanfall. The game may borrow from games we’ve seen before – but these are games we’ve yet to see mimicked by anime tie-ins, and it’s the cocktail of a recognizable format and a differentiation for the anime to really have an impact.
The game plays like a first-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on hero goals and abilities, and best of all, it’s designed to be free-to-play. It may be exactly what anime games had to be for a long time, with its ability to accommodate players who are unfamiliar with the source material and are enthralled by familiar gameplay with a fresh lick of paint. It seems to be the attitude of Vampire: The Masquerade – Blood Hunt too, which has just as much potential to be the next big thing.
The game may not be everything new, of course – but that means a wider change could be on the way. Anime fighting games work, as evidenced by the arrival of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battleis the remake, and Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles‘ success, but they could be much more. And attempts to stretch the legs of anime in video games could finally pay off with a game that has the potential to be the next big shooter.
Anime games are awesome – but they could be bigger
I love anime games for what they are, but the biggest problem with them is that when I say the words “anime game” you know exactly what kind of experience I’m talking about. There could be so much more variety that makes the most of animated worlds beyond your favorite characters battling each other.
A complete adventure RPG based on Neon Genesis Evangelion still has its audience, and sports games could follow with games based on Yuri!!! on the ice and Haikyu!! carrying such potential, it’s deeply shocking that we haven’t seen them on home consoles yet.
There are so many worlds to explore outside of the singles realms, and while serving Vegeta a freshly made knuckle sandwich has its own joys, there’s more to see. And weirdly, it could be a bunch of mechs showing us exactly how it’s done.