As the resident anime weeb of Comicon, I feel like I’d be letting everyone down if I didn’t talk about how 2018 became the Year of Anime Games. Yes, there are a ton of heavy hitters coming: Red Dead Redemption 2, Spider-Man, God of War…but don’t let that stop you from indulging in your inner anime geek and enjoying a few of these great titles. So I don’t get anyone’s hopes up (and this list isn’t endless), the only games on this list are intended for worldwide release in 2018.
Let’s start with what’s already happened:
Gintama Rumble: Unexpectedly announced following the release of the Gintama live-action film, Gintama Rumble was first announced last June in Weekly Shonen Jump. Marketed as a “traditional action game” with “super beautiful modeling”, the expectations were high for what was supposedly the very last game for the long-running shonen series. The game turned out to be another Musou/Warriors title however, and what fans believed to be possible with this title quickly mellowed out. Still, boasting some fan favorite characters and an eight chapter story mode, it might be worth a try for all the Gintama super fans!
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory: In 2015, the good folks at Media Vision released the title Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, a classically styled J-RPG allowing Digimon fans to explore a brand new story in that world while collecting Digimon. This year, Media Vision released a sequel in Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory. Besides being a game with a mouthful of a title, this sequel features similar locations but with a brand-new story and a larger number of Digimon players can collect, adding nearly one hundred new ‘mons for those completists. The game appears to be a worthy successor to its predecessor, so jump in if you’re hungry for a new Digimon RPG.
Dragonball FighterZ: This game blew both DBZ and long-time fighter fans away when the title was first announced back at Microsoft’s Xbox E3 conference last year. Developed by ArcSystemWorks (BlazBlue, Guilty Gear), the game is a three-on-three fighter featuring everyone’s favorite characters from the Dragonball universe throwing down in the deepest, most explosive title yet. Boasting a robust story mode and twenty-plus characters to play from, DragonBall FighterZ served as something of a replacement for the disappointing Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, and has been one of the biggest hits of 2018 so far.
The Seven Deadly Sins: Knights of Britannia: Though Seven Deadly Sins hasn’t caught on as an anime as much as similar series Naruto, One Piece, or even My Hero Academia, it’s still popular enough to have nabbed a video game. Developed by Natsume Atari, Inc, Knights of Britannia is an action game with beat ’em up mechanics and featuring many of the key characters and locations from the SDS world. The game released earlier this month to mediocre reviews, but from everything we’ve seen it looks like the ultimate fanservice title. There’s plenty of modes and quests to keep a player occupied if they just want to spend time in this world.
A Certain Magical Virtual-On: Virtual On is a long-lived mecha battle action series that started in the mid-90’s on Sega arcades and the Saturn. Featuring beautiful designs from mecha designer Hajime Katoki, the series’ last game was Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Marz in 2003 and since then all fans have been able to get are remastered editions of older games. But a crossover with popular light novel/anime A Certain Magical Index has given the series a second life on Playstation 4 and Vita. The game seems to be a perfect mix of the two titles, and while no proper reviews have surfaced on the title yet, fan reaction has been generally positive.
Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time: LWA was an unexpected smash hit last year. Set in a place known as the Luna Nova Academy, a school for young girls training to become witches, the show followed a young girl named Atsuko as she trained to become a witch like her role model, Shiny Chariot. Late last year, developer A+ Games released a title set in that universe–a cute little side scrolling action title that manages to keep the expressive, cute art style that helped make the series popular. The title launches worldwide this June, and if it’s as great as it looks, it shouldn’t have much problem winning over an entirely new medium of fans.
Attack on Titan 2: When Omega Force revealed they were doing a game based on the cult classic anime Attack on Titan, fan response was tepid at best. Many expected them to find a way to do another Warriors-style game, but opinions quickly changed after fans got to try out AoT’s omnidirectional movement system. The system offered an ability to allow fans to perfectly emulate the style of world’s unique traversal, and while reviews weren’t strong the game found a strong fanbase. Ideally this game will be able to reach similar levels of popularity amongst fans.
My Hero Academia: One’s Justice: Developed by Byking, MHA: One’s Justice is a fighting game scheduled to land on the PS4, Switch, XBO, and PC later this year. Set in the world of the popular shonen anime, you’ll play as the heroes of U.A. High as well as the league of villains, taking advantage of your unique powers (known as quirks) in order to win battles. As you play, your quirks will cause realistic damage to 3D arena stage around you, allowing players to potentially alter their strategies as the field changes.
So far, not much has been revealed about this game. We know it’ll have at least seven characters so far, with a handful just recently confirmed this week. One’s Justice has a neat art style to it, peppered with hilarious onomatopoeia comic book sound effects to drive home the game’s superhero origins, so it’s obvious Byking is having fun developing it. That said, between Street Fighter, Injustice, DBFZ, Tekken, and the upcoming Soul Calibur, the fighting game world has scarcely been as competitive for a player’s time. They’ll need to really pull out all the stops if they want people’s attention.
Naruto and Boruto: Shinobi Striker: Developed by Soleil Ltd, Shinobi Striker looks like Namco-Bandai’s attempt to enter the stage of eSports. Set after Naruto becomes the Seventh Hokage, Shinobi Strikers is a 4 on 4 team-based game featuring characters from the original series as well as the next generation of ninja from the sequel series Boruto. With multiple objective-based “rules” and the ability to play either against the computer or other opponents, it certainly seems like they’re trying to offer as much as possible to woo players away from games like Overwatch.
You can even build your own character, which doubtlessly has Naruto fans everywhere excited about building their OC to insert into the world of ninja. Initial opinions of this game were down, but they seem to have changed over time, which should make the open beta this weekend very interesting. If they really throw their support behind this title then a game like this could last for years.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet: It’s generally agreed that the best part of Sword Art Online (as much as there is a best) happens in the first part of the original series. But the best game in the fictional universe is Gun Gale Online, don’t @ me. Gun Gale Online is set on a world destroyed by war and abandoned, until one day humanity chooses to return from space. Like an ex that ruined your life but wants another shot. Highly advanced now, there’s few melee weapons in this game, instead focusing on sniper rifles and gatling guns to take on the corrupted AI and mutated creatures.
Featuring an original story by series creator Reki Kawahara, Fatal Bullet will follow the original character you create as they interact in the world of GGO, meeting all the characters from the Sword Art universe while you try to customize and improve on your character and fight through the harsh world.
One Piece: World Seeker: Developer Ganbarion has quite the responsibility on their hands. Managing one of the world’s most popular anime series isn’t usually a big deal, as it usually means churning out another low-budget fighter or a Warriors game most people either won’t care about or will buy and lose interest after the first week or so. But this game actually has high expectations on it because it’s something gamers have been begging to get for awhile now: an open world game! Even I’m a little interested, and I’m not even a fan of One Piece.
So far, the title doesn’t look half bad. Set on a new island, World Seeker is supposed to be a new adventure for Luffy and his friends. You’ll play as the Straw Hat Pirates’ leader for much of the game, but most of the other members seem to be present so perhaps it’ll be possible to play as them as well? That part’s unclear, but we do know they’ve put a lot of work into Luffy, even giving him some neat looking traversal mechanics in addition to some solid combat. But they better figure out a way to make all Luffy’s Gear power-ups work, or they’ll have some angry fans to deal with!
Black Clover: Quartet Knights: I’ve always had a soft spot for Black Clover’s manga. It’s nothing original, but it’s far more enjoyable than it has any right to be given its terribly derivative main character. And even though watching (and recapping!) the Black Clover anime might make people wonder if that soft spot was touched when I was child, I legitimately think this game looks pretty good.
It’s another four versus four multiplayer title that’s a “fantasy third person shooter”, and currently features all the major characters from the Black Bulls and Golden Dawn guilds throwing down in different locales from the anime. I was pretty bummed I wouldn’t get to follow the story, but then I remembered the best part is the mini-tournament they had a few months ago, and Quartet Knights is that in game format anyway.
Granblue Fantasy Project Re:Link: I like to call this game, “what the Tales of series would look like if they actually tried”. This beautiful game was subcontracted to the geniuses over at Platinum, who’ve brought the surprisingly deep world of a card game to gorgeous, breathtaking life. We don’t know much about how this game will work just yet–there’s supposed to be a multiplayer mode, but it’s unclear if that refers to co-op, the game being online, or some alternate mode in addition to the story.
The card game (created by CyGames) has its own story that’s reflected in the anime, but near as we can tell that’s been tossed in favor of a brand-new, unique tale just for this title. Still, it looks to be using the quirky cast of characters GBF’s known for, so hopefully it’ll take advantage of Granblue’s widely varied locales and monsters as well. Set on a planet where all the land masses exist as sky islands that each have different guardians, the lore for the card game seems like it exists to set up an RPG exactly like this one. Platinum Games is known for delivering quality projects though, so there’s nothing to worry about.
And that’s all! But given that’s fourteen games in twelve months, hopefully that’s enough. Anime and video games have always been fairly closely linked, but this is the first time so many of them looked potentially good: DBFZ got rave reviews, Cyber Sleuth is decent for Digimon fans, and Shinobi Striker, LWA, One Piece, Black Clover, and Granblue all stand a good chance of being good. Hopefully given more time we anime fans can crawl from the hole of neverending Warriors games that plagued the PS3 era and go back to the RPGs of the SNES/PS1 era.