Video Game Anime - Anime Based on Games!
Some games seem made for anime adaptations. Others… not so much. CriticalAndroid and Littoface have teamed up to bring you the game to anime adaptations that worked the best. It might not be the same as playing the game, but the anime on this list do a great job of adapting interactive material into an animation.
For this list, we focused on adaptations that are not based on visual novels (we already have that article here), but rather on other video games and RPGs. We also tried to only include anime with a rating of 7 or higher (though we may have let a few lower ones slip by due to personal bias).
That concludes our tutorial level. On to the anime!
Since its Japanese debut as a video game in 1996, Pokemon has been an omnipresent media force. The original 151 collectible monsters that populated the original Red and Green versions of the game made the jump to the television screen a year later when Pokemon was given an anime adaptation. North America didn’t have such a gradual build of the franchise as Nintendo prepared a media blitz that saw the anime debut on Kids WB via 4Kids Entertainment on September 8, 1998, and the Red and Blue versions of the game hit store shelves late that same month on the 28th.
While each generation of games focus on a different protagonist in a different area of the world, populated with different Pokemon, the anime has always focused on the young Pokemon trainer Ash Ketchum, his trusty Pokemon pal Pikachu, and the friends they travel with along the way. The games have continued to shape the direction of the anime, introducing new people, places, and Pokemon for Ash to interact with. As of the time of this writing the series is in its 19th season and given the popularity of the mobile app, Pokemon Go, and the anticipated release of Pokemon Sun & Moon, there’s no shortage of material for the anime to draw from and no shortage of viewers either.
If ever there was an anime to be based off video games, this is the one fits that description more than anything. Hyperdimension Neptunia is a none too thinly veiled portrayal of the console wars, with all the characters and areas based off of real life gaming consoles.
Because both the game and animated series draw so much humor from this concept, it can come across as wonderfully satirical or a heavy handed joke that gets old fast. On the other hand, even if you haven’t played the games at all but still know something about the gaming, you can find enjoyment in the adventures of the Gamindustri Goddesses and their attempts to maintain peace between each other.
Sports themed anime have never really taken off in the United States, let alone any about soccer. Despite this, the charm and fun of Inazuma Eleven is something to behold.
The game series is a soccer RPG hybrid and the depth of its story and characterization has helped turn it into a riveting and lengthy anime. Unsurprisingly it’s been more popular in the UK where soccer aka football is more popular, but it’s worth tracking down to see if Mark Evans, the captain of Raimon Jr. High’s soccer team, can continue to lead his school to new heights of athletic talent.
Professor Layton & The Eternal Diva is one of those rare anime adaptations of a video game that’s actually a part of an overall canon. Taking place between the games, Professor Layton and the Last Specter, and Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, this feature length film tells the story of the titular Professor Layton and his assistant Luke, unexpectedly becoming participants in a game of sorts, hosted by a mysterious man. Even more mysterious to Layton is the prize the man is offering to the winner: eternal life. Being the curious minded puzzle solver that he is, Layton is intent on winning the game if only to figure out the truth behind it, the man responsible for the whole thing, and the prize at stake.
The film’s story is written by Akihiro Hino, the same man responsible for writing and designing the Layton games and animated by P.A. Works Corporation, the animation studio behind the cutscenes in the games. As such, the movie successfully captures the puzzles, emotion, and characterization that make the games such wonderful experiences.
Corpse Party is an interesting case of a video game being turned into an anime despite its dojin soft origins. Dojin soft games are fan made titles made for the sake of fun as opposed to profit. However in this case, the original game proved so popular that it spawned sequels, was acquired by an actual gaming company, and spun off into an OVA series.
The games are a throwback to the 16-bit RPG era of gaming and outside of small cut scenes and still images, don’t display the level of violence, horror, and gore that the OVA’s allow for. So if you enjoy watching young high school students get slaughtered by supernatural forces, then here’s your anime.
Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, otherwise known as MMORPG’s are often criticized for their lack of story. At first glance, it might look like the anime adaptation of Blade & Soul is going to follow in that trend, especially given the laughable amount of fan service, but the series is actually fairly deep. Though the game focuses on player created characters, the anime features the assassin Alka, attempting to find meaning in her life now that she’s trying to put her days of killing behind her.
The small town of Inaba has recently been plagued by a string of unusual murders. As rumors spread about “the midnight channel,” and how odd images can appear on a blank TV set at midnight, Yu Narukami discovers he can actually go inside a t.v. screen and into another world.
He and his friends soon band together to try and solve these mysterious happenings, even if it puts their lives on the line.
Perhaps the most noteworthy difference between the game and the anime is that the games make Yu a silent protagonist with no given name outside of what the player gives him. In the anime however, he’s given the name of Yu and a voice; actually giving the character a personality.
Lan Hikari is a young student in a world where the internet has successfully linked almost all aspects of life. In order to keep up with this, people own internet avatars known as NetNavis. Lan’s Navi just so happens to be MegaMan. The challenges they face together extend far beyond Lan’s classroom though as cyber crimes are escalating in frequency and intensity, and only MegaMan.exe has the power to stop these criminals and the syndicate they form. Given it’s a spin off series from the original Mega Man games, players and viewers are likely to get more out of NT Warrior if they’re familiar with the origins.
If you were a criminal roaming the world, where would you keep your weapons? In a coffin? Well you might if you’re Brandon Heat and were once dead. After being betrayed and killed by the Millennion Crime syndicate, Brandon Heat (later renamed 'Beyond the Grave') is brought back to life and is out for vengeance.
While the game was criticized for its repetitive action and short length, it was widely praised for the design and artwork by creator Yasuhiro Nightow of Trigun fame, and artist Kosuke Fujishima of Oh My Goddess! and Sakura Wars. So really it’s kinda like that Keanu Reeves movie John Wick...except if Keanu was dead, and animated, ...and had a coffin, and if he wasn’t Keanu Reeves…it’s actually not really like John Wick come to think of it...
God Eater as a game series is Bandai Namco’s answer to Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise. Both are games where players destroy giant beasts across a segmented map and then use the items they harvest from these beasts to upgrade their weapons and armor. Lather, rinse, repeat. But while the story of Monster Hunter is pretty bare bones, God Eater beefs things up with its post apocalyptic setting and details about the monstrous Aragami creatures and their destructive eradication of human life.
The story of the anime follows Lenka Utsugi and his adventures with the First Unit of the anti-Aragami force, Fenrir. Thanks to the increased emphasis on characters and relationships, God Eater as an anime provides a deeper story experience than the games do, and is well worth watching for gamers and non-gamers alike because of this.
F-Zero dates way back to being a launch game for the Super Nintendo. Despite its age, it's one of Nintendo’s franchises with the fewest entries in it. F-Zero's always been known for its varied and unique cast of racers. However, the games haven’t done much with this potential, which is where F-Zero: GP Legend comes into play.
Detective Rick Wheeler (Ryu Suzaku) is intent on taking down criminal syndicate leaders, Black Shadow and Deathborn. Because they fund their operations through prize money won from racing in the F-Zero circuit, (as do all good criminals) Wheeler and his fellow members of Task Force need to win instead and take the prize money for themselves. If the plot’s a little far fetched, the racing action makes up for it. And let’s be honest, the F-Zero games barely had a plot to begin with so you take what you can get.
Oh Monster Rancher; the game that made terrible CD’s somewhat more worthwhile. Unlike Pokemon that had you wandering the world in search of monsters to catch, Monster Rancher let you generate one monster at a time through letting the game scan any music or game CD you had. This doesn’t quite seem like a translatable concept to an anime series, but you’d be surprised.
The game actually exists as a game in the Monster Rancher series; a game which the young protagonist Genki gets sucked into. Now he must use his skills from the game to help free this world he landed in from the clutches of the evil Moo. It might not sound like much of a threatening creature but trust us, it is. Genki, Holly, and their monster friends have to try and find a mysterious disc which contains the Phoenix, the only monster with a chance of defeating Moo. Even though this anime starts off slow and “kiddy,” it evolves into something more threatening and emotional, complete with sad farewells and moments where no character is safe from being killed off.
Just barely missing the 7.0 rating mark, Viewtiful Joe is nonetheless a fun little anime. It's the show about the game about a guy trying to rescue a girl who gets sucked into a movie -- you don't get much more meta than that. Throw in a tie-in book and all the media bases would be covered. The anime sticks pretty close to the game, meaning there's a lot of silliness and humor. At its heart, it's a story about an ordinary guy trying to be a hero, and you can't help but root for him.
Zone of the Enders is a mecha game with strong ties to Egyptian mythology and a pretty serious tone. The titular Dolores in the anime spinoff is probably one of the most adorable mechas you'll ever come across. Despite how it's titled, Zone of the Enders: Dolores, I is actually about a gruff, ex-military, middle-aged man. It's a fantastic exploration of humanity and relationships.
And seriously, Dolores is freaking adorable.
The Tales of series of games are already like an anime in game form. So it's not surprising that many of them have anime tie-ins. What is surprising however, is that most of them have excellent ratings. This made it hard to choose just one for the list, but we're going with the currently airing *Tales of Zestiria the X], which has one of the highest ratings among the series (7.77 at the time of this writing).
The Tales of series is characterized by wonderful storytelling with the backdrop of a vast fantasy world. Tales of Zestiria, the anime, manages to maintain the balance between stunning visuals and a gripping story. The characters are pulled straight from the game, giving the game's fans something to be excited over, but the anime stands on its own as well and is enjoyable even for people who have never played the game. We're not sure what the magic formula is, but the Tales of series is game-to-anime adaptations done right.
Everyone's lovable pink glutton takes to the TV screen near you! Kirby is Nintendo's cute little ball.. thing? The games never really make it clear, and really, why question a round creature who swallows enemies and steals their powers?
The show tries to give the premise of the game some context and explains a few questions you might never have thought to ask. First and foremost: aliens. That's right, Kirby is an alien who crashes into Dream Land and becomes their little un-caped vigilante, defending the town from the malicious King Dedede. The show tries to add some drama and a story to the game, and it does a decent job of it.
It might not have the deepest story or the best rating, but the series is an adorable anime geared at children that's a fun watch at any age.
It's not easy to find a decent adaptation of Street Fighter, and trust us, it's been attempted a bunch of times. After the disaster of the American live action movie and subsequent cartoon, the anime at least makes a better run of it.
The series does take some liberties with the characters and plot (Ryu is a teenager, M. Bison's henchman and motivations are altered), but if you forget for a moment that it's a game anime you might actually find yourself enjoying it. Comprised of decent 90s animation and some absurdly fun action, it might not be an excellent Street Fighter anime, but it's the best one so far.
When you think of Sanrio, you probably think of Hello Kitty or one of the company's many other cute children's mascots. Show by Rock!! is Sario's first real attempt at targeting an older audience, and it does so with anthropomorphic rock star girls.
The show is based on a rhythm mobile game, which you would think wouldn't make for a very good adaptation. But the anime somehow manages to turn a mobile game into a surprisingly compelling story about the struggles of being in a band, and being true to yourself. Behind the cute visuals and character designs is a story about friendship and the self… if you can look beyond the pink frills and animal ears. It's Sanrio; what did you expect?
After a brief interlude as an MMO and an unusually dark action game, the Final Fantasy franchise is back for one more go with the highly anticipated Final Fantasy XV. And this time, Square Enix is pulling all the stops: the game will be visually stunning, feature an innovative interactive battle system, and revolve around a group of guys and their car who look more like they walked off the set of Grease than the latest installment in a fantasy RPG franchise.
They've also been trying to build the hype with the 'Kingsglaive' movie, and an anime. Previous Final Fantasy films and anime have had wildly varying rates of success, but this time the anime did fairly well. Instead of being showy and full of action, the 12 minute episodes introduce the characters and get more in depth about their personalities and relationships. The short 5 episode series serves as a prequel for the game, and although it was clearly made with fans in mind, it's enjoyable on its own.
Set in the same universe as the games, Bomberman Jetters tells a new story of revenge and responsibility. It's a ridiculously cute anime based on a similarly cute game about big-headed characters throwing explosives at each other. The anime fluctuates between child-oriented innocence and a darker side of things, which can make or break it for some people. If you're a fan of adventure, and have played any of the games, this series is a decent homage to the franchise.
Valkyria Chronicles is one of the most underrated games for the PS3. It featured fun tactical gameplay, and some fantastic, sometimes heartbreaking storytelling. Luckily, if you're not a fan of military tactics games, you can still enjoy the story and characters through the anime.
The anime follows the story and events of the game closely, and focuses more on the characters than the war - a focus that only serves to make it more compelling. Whether you've played the game or not, the anime is a must-watch.