Video games and anime have always crossed over, whether it’s through their own respective mediums or via interests of the fandom. It’s common to find gamers that enjoy anime and vice-versa, and being an avid gamer myself, I’ve always been interested in anime that are based on video games. Unlike the horrible job that is often done to adaptations on the big screen to some of my beloved gaming franchises, anime often does it right and even adds to already well-done games.
In fact, I’m sure if you are an anime fan, you’ve either encountered an anime based on a game, or seen anime in video games. A lot of Japanese games have characters drawn in an anime style, or are literally just games like visual novels. This got me thinking of all the different anime over the years that I’ve seen and which ones fall into this category. I also wanted to share why I feel the video games associated with the anime are fantastic, and why you should check them out.
1. Tales of the Abyss
The Anime: My first recommendation is Tales of the Abyss, another entry in the Tales Of series of games by Namco Tales Studio. Twenty-six episodes tell the tale of Luke fon Fabre, a spoiled rich kid and aspiring swordsman who becomes the target of a military organization, the Order of Lorelei, that believes he is the key to a prophecy that will change the world. Available for purchase on Amazon.
Why you should play this game: If you have never been exposed to this series before, it’s a treat in the JRPG scene. The action and growth you see from the characters are done so well. The story is deep and has some great twists, so you won’t be bored at all. Available for purchase on 3DS through Amazon.
2. Persona 5
The Anime: For fans of the Persona series, Persona 5 follows the video game but removes a lot of dialogue, some details, and gets straight to the point. The music and visuals are great, but it can be a little confusing at first for those that haven’t played the game before. Stream it on Crunchyroll.
Why you should play this game: I am a little biased and love JRPGs, and this one received the RPG award of the year for 2018 so you know it’s good. The music is super jazzy and fun, while the characters have a lot of depth as does the story. It is NOT a short game though and has a lot of dialogue, so keep that in mind. Available for purchase on Amazon (special editions abound as well!).
The Anime: What’s great about the Pokemon anime is that every season is tied to the games. So for those who keep up with each new release (Sword and Shield are coming soon), you will enjoy the anime counterpart. I highly recommend the movies as well! Stream it on Netflix.
Why you should play this game: These games have always been about one thing, the Pokemon! Sure, there’s a story and some memorable music, but going through the adventure to catch each of these unique creatures is what it’s all about. If you enjoy the thrill of finding rare treasures, then you should give this one a try. The Sword and Shield double-pack is available for pre-order on Amazon.
4. Sonic X
The Anime: This is the Sonic the Hedgehog anime we never knew we were watching. I watched it as a child and thought it was an American cartoon, not an anime until l figured out what an anime was! It follows the adventures in Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, along with its own filler and arcs. It’s not a serious show—it’s a lot of fun and great for younger audiences. Stream it on Hulu.
Why you should play this game: If you have not played Sonic the Hedgehog, it’s a fast-paced game with lots of different kinds of entries in the franchise. Personally, I recommend picking up Sonic Mania, which is the culmination of what made Sonic such a fun game packed with tons of nostalgia, new takes on old stages and it’s own plot. You will have a blast! Sonic Mania Available for purchase on Amazon.
5. Valkyria Chronicles
The Anime: If you enjoy strategy, war, the military, how a battle is won, and some science-fiction sprinkled in, then Valkyria Chronicles is the show for you. Like several of the others on my list, it follows the game accurately. I would not watch it if you are going to pick up the game, as certain important plot twists will be ruined. The DVDs are out of print on not available for legal streaming, but if you have $596 to spare…
Why you should play this game: The Valkyria Chronicle franchise is famous for winning war-time battles with strategy. You can lose your teammates permanently if they are killed in action, and every move you take can make or break a long battle. It can be difficult at times, but the story and characters keep you invested. This is a unique experience in gaming, so be sure to watch some gameplay to see if it’s for you. Available for purchase on Amazon (special editions are available as well).
The Anime: When this was released, a lot of gamers thought it would be another terrible show based on a video game. What we didn’t know was the care that the creators put into making sure this reflected the series and it’s fans thoughtfully. It didn’t disappoint! Castlevania is extremely violent, but the humor, story, twists, and fight with Dracula will keep you watching. Stream it on Netflix.
Why you should play this game: This series has been around since the original NES days, so if you are new to it I would recommend Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (available on PlayStation and Xbox) for your first time. The Belmont family, among other monster slayers, are tasked to do the job of destroying Dracula every 100 years. It is a dark video game with heavy occult themes in case you aren’t comfortable with that. I also recommend staying far away from the 3D titles—they are horrible. Many of the titles are available on Amazon (through our recommendation is pricey!).
7. Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie
The Anime: For people like myself who started watching anime decades ago, this movie is a perfect example of that era of animation. It’s gritty, violent, leaking plot holes, packed with characters, and is a great depiction of the game. There are several SF (Street Fighter) movies. but this one is the classic, and I highly recommend it for any fans of the game. Available for purchase on Amazon.
Why you should play this game: If you play video games you likely have heard or played Street Fighter. It has defined the fighting game genre and still releases quality titles. My recommendation would be SF V, or if you want to go old school try the recently released Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection. Haduken! Both are available for purchase on Amazon (SFV and and SF 30th PS4 / Switch).
8. Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV
The Anime: Based on the JRPG Final Fantasy XV, the anime delves into the backstory of the main character, Noctis, and his friends. It isn’t exactly pulled from the game, but it gives more detail on the story which has rarely been done for a game. Definitely check this one out if you have played the game! Available on Amazon, but for a pretty penny.
Why you should play this game: This Final Fantasy title took the franchise to places it had never been before, especially with the large world to explore and the cast of main characters. It’s action-packed, has a deep and emotional story about a group of friends you won’t soon forget. There have been mixed reviews, but that’s expected for a much-beloved series like this one. It does require a lot of hours to complete, but you won’t regret helping Noctis take back his throne from Niflheim. Available for purchase on Amazon.
9. Ace Attorney
The Anime: Phoenix Wright is an attorney in Japan who is helped by Maya, a medium who contacts spirits. He defends his clients with dramatic style just like the games are known for. Each case is different and pushes Phoenix to become a better lawyer, all the while wanting to bring justice and discover the truth behind the lies. Stream it on Crunchyroll.
Why you should play this game: Games like these are different and interesting because they put you in the role of the profession it focuses on, this time being an attorney. Yes, it is a game and is known for being silly but if the field of law is a topic you enjoy, definitely grab this one. For new players, I recommend Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, which was just released with the first three games, updated with better graphics for most platforms. Available for purchase on Amazon.
The Anime: Before Sword Art Online, there was .hack and it’s various seasons, movies, OVAs and spin-offs. The plot pertains to various people who get trapped in The World, which is a VR videogame that they can’t log out of (sound familiar?). It was one of the first isekai anime that garnered a lot of fans and attention, to the point it made several series of games and other media. There are a few main series, starting with .hack//Sign, then .hack//Roots among others. .hack//Sign can be streamed on Hulu.
Why you should play this game: The first series of games were based on the .hack//Sign seasons but it was a little frustrating because they split it into 4 games! You are playing a “game in a game” which was new at the time. It was like an MMORPG, without the online mode. There’s a re-release of the second series of games, .hack//G.U. Last Recode which put all the games on one disc, thank God. Available for purchase on Amazon.
I was going to add Hi-score Girl but since it’s not from a video game then it didn’t count. If there’s an anime that should have been on this list, share it in the comments, OR if you feel there’s a video game that needs to become an anime I want to know about it! Let me know your opinions on my list.