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The Best Manga And Anime-Based Games

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 – Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2 (November 13, 2007)

For years gamers had to resort to modding their consoles or downloading emulators to play a decent Dragon Ball Z game. Then the Z Warriors started spilling forth onto the PlayStation 2. Of all the titles on Sony’s box, Tenkaichi stands above the rest for two reasons: it allows fighting in huge 3D spaces, and the list of selectable fighters takes longer to scroll through than it takes main hero Goku to charge up his Spirit Bomb.

The speedy gameplay in the open areas mimics what everyone imagines it is like to be a fighter in the DBZ universe, and the Wii version even includes waggling controls to make you look ridiculous as you flail your hands around to get off a Kamehameha blast. It sure beat pretending to shoot energy balls at my cat from my hands all those countless times in my living room. 

Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked – PlayStation 2 (April 12, 2006)

Samurai Champloo’s feudal era Japan is a decidedly different one. Point in case: hip hop is a popular music genre in the anime’s world.

Historical accuracy aside, Cowboy Bebop creater Shinichirō Watanabe crafted something bizarre and intriguing in the anime space and Grasshopper Manufacture’s (Killer 7, No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned) PlayStation 2 entry takes the crazy and runs with it.

Though essentially a button-masher, Sidetracked fuses hip hop into the fighting system. Records you buy at shops provide Jin and Mugen with different combos to equip for levels. Selecting new tracks for different battle styles changes up the gameplay more than your typical anime action game, but make no mistake: the game’s focus on providing the anime’s tone, humor, and sharp dialogue is what truly matters. In that regard, non-fans may not find too much to enjoy in this side story. 

Astro Boy: Omega Factor – Game Boy Advance (August 18, 2004)

One might think that the console offering of a game may be the one to get (and Astro Boy for the PlayStation 2 isn’t a bad game by any means), but Treasure’s handheld version truly shows off Astro Boy’s best arm cannon-totin’ side.

A 2D side-scrolling beat ‘em up game with the occasional flying sequence may not inspire much faith, but the GBA game provides a tight, challenging package that garnered much critical praise upon release.

Although short, secret characters that open up the path to the real ending keep replayability high, and the art is top-notch. Astro Boy still hasn’t topped this game – and it stands among the GBA’s best titles.

Ghost in the Shell – PlayStation (November 3, 1997)

For being such a popular anime and manga property in the US and Japan, Ghost in the Shell does not have many fun games tied to its name. The PSP and PlayStation 2 titles barely do it justice, and you have to be a fan able to look past some terrible blemishes to enjoy them. 

The PS1 game was much, much better. The shining light in the series’ tiny oeuvre of titles, Ghost in the Shell gives players control of a Fuchikoma. With this spider-like tank, players can traverse just about anywhere in a level, attaching to walls and ceilings. 

Though the action game is short and relies on the gimmick of utilizing the Fuchikoma, its production values, anime cutscenes produced by Production I.G., and generally enjoyable gameplay keep it a fun game in the Ghost in the Shell world. 

What do you think? Is there a game you think should have made the cut? Let me know in the comments below.

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