For a while, anime influenced many types of media not only because of its popularity, but also for its art style and the story telling. Because of this, it is easy to not only see anime not only as some form of advertisement, but also having a big influence on other types of media such as video games. You might be wondering: what aspects in video games do anime influences? I will share my take on it along with my thoughts about licensed anime games.
It is apparent that anime will have some effect on video games. It is because most people, especially otakus who watch these shows might also play video games too. Just like Animation, Japan played a big role in shaping the video game industry with companies like Nintendo and Sega. They not only saved the video game industry from a catastrophic crash in the west, but also made very innovative games such as Mario, Zelda and Sonic the Hedgehog. These games not only help revive the industry, but also laid the foundation for modern gaming.
Anime did not have much of an influence on video games until the early 90s when anime started to gain popularity even though there were some games that used anime styled graphics on the 1980s. Games like Pokémon (known as Pocket Monsters in Japan) is a good example of a game that is influenced by anime, which had a child going on an adventure to catch cute and mystical creatures in balls called Pokémon. In the game, you can collect and train them for battles.
In a short period of time, it became a big hit in Japan and it eventually got an anime in 1997. Since then, the Pokémon franchise became a huge hit thanks to the anime. The main series game still sells millions of copies worldwide up to this day. Youkai Watch, which is influenced by Pokémon along with elements from children anime, is also popular in Japan. As of now, it currently enjoys a good degree of success with five million copies sold.
Also during the 90s, other anime-influenced video games during that time like Digimon, Atelier Marie, Tales of Phantasia were being made. In addition to licensed anime video games, games like the Metal Gear series started adding characters like Otakon, who are big fans of anime and makes various references to them.
So, what influence does anime have on video games exactly? Quite a lot since not only it takes some of the common tropes and art styles seen in that medium, but similar story telling. Games like the recent Atelier games (e.g. Shallie, Ayesha, Meruru, etc) feel like a slice of life anime that have some heartwarming and sad moments. Of course, most Japanese roleplaying games in general take the save the world type of story and use the power of friendship to defeat the evil who is trying to take over the world along with other variations of it. Of course, there are also games with fanservice (Senran Kagura) while there are others like Choujigen Game Neptune that pokes fun at video game, anime and otaku subculture.
On the other hand, the anime influence does not necessarily make a game good. I have to admit that these games give a feeling of fantasy, enjoyment and good fun without being overly realistic like with western games. Japanese games or ones that have an anime influence in general focuses more on enjoyment in order to allow a person to temporarily escape from reality. This is probably why most Japanese RPGs in general have colorful and eye-catching scenery and attractive character designs. In other words, it is easy to see why a good majority of western reviewers tend to give these games bad reviews. Just like anime, Japanese games in general are geared towards a Japanese audience.
Lastly, we cannot forget the elephant in the room, which could explain anime’s influence on video games: anime licensed video games. Just like movie licensed games in the west, some anime series might even get a video game that expands more on the source material and the anime. Some recent examples of popular anime that received licensed video games are Sword Art Online, Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, Ore no Imouto, Madoka Magica, Love Live School Idol Project and Nisekoi.
From playing two different licensed anime video games extensively, a good amount of these games are basically visual novels with some having some gameplay elements mixed in, which can consist of roleplaying, action, rhythm, etc. While the quality varies since the developers who make them usually do not have a big budget, some of these games are fun to play, especially if you want to experience more of the show that you enjoyed aside from reading the source material.
At the end the day, while it is obvious that anime influenced some aspects of video games, I think that Japanese popular culture plays a bigger role in this. Aside from cuteness, Japan also likes their monster fights, idols, robots, Super Sentai. In addition, other aspects of their culture are included too such as emphasis on school life, cultural festivals among other things.
In short, it is easy to say that Japanese video games are influenced more by popular culture and like with anime, it never stays the same since it gradually evolves as trends change. Sure, people outside in Japan may like or dislike some aspects in these games, but for me, the strong anime or rather, Japanese culture’s influence on video games is what makes them very enjoyable to play.
With that, what are your thoughts about anime’s influence on video games? Do you enjoy playing these types of games or not? Feel free to share some of these games that you enjoyed.