Anime-Influenced Games

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To everyone who’s been a follower of Japanese games, have you noticed that there had been a boom in anime-influenced games? For the RPG genre especially, video game series like Hyperdimension Neptunia and Atelier are getting increasingly popular. While 3D titles like Final Fantasy still has their appeal, of course, but there’s no denying that anime-influenced RPG had been amassing attention, and recent years had seen more and more releases of such anime-influenced games, especially from Vita. Other genres are just as effected of course, with some examples being Senran Kagura, Akiba’s Trip and so on.

Anime is a very big thing in Japan now, and it’s no surprise that the medium had also been integrated into games as well. We had seen instances of it before, but one of the first major ones were definitely the Persona games, reinforcing the boom due to it’s fame in both Japan and in the West. Indeed, while Final Fantasy XIII had been amassing dislikes, video game series like Hyperdimension Neptunia and Altelier had been getting praises… is what I would like to say, but there’s more to this story.

Bad slimes, bad!

Bad slimes, bad!

Anime is an evolving medium. From Dragon Ball to Naruto, from Naruto to K-ON. You can clearly see that as the years went by, anime culture is shifting. Gone were the manly days of shounen and welcome to the glorious days of cuteness and moe (and yuri subtext for good measure), pandering and just fanservices in general. Not every shows released had followed this shift of culture, of course. Anime like Attack on Titan shows us that such genre still has a place to stay, though that’s more seinen than shounen. But nonetheless, moe had been a strong catalyst in this shift. There’s also one thing worthy of mention-typical fanservice-y scenes which involve hot springs, bath and the likes would pop up from time to time, a clear reflection of anime tropes. However do note that “fanservices” here can also include the cuteness appeal that Japan is trying to sell, which had nothing to do with sex appeal. So there’s a double meaning, fanservices here could mean BOTH cuteness and sex appeal. Please bear that in mind as you continue reading this post.

Some fanservices

In Japan visual culture, I think there had been one mindset which is on the rise lately-simple fun and enjoyment. Sure enough, there are still titles, be it anime or games, with complex story or gameplay mechanics. But recent releases seem to reinforce the simple entertainment mindset more, and the shift in culture is just the beginning of such mindset. Some of the stories for these titles especially, are either simple or just plain silly; and is really difficult to be taken seriously, and you shouldn’t be anyway, as these “stories” exist for pure entertainment.

And because anime had been getting more implemented into video games-such elements were also brought into them. Admittedly, I’m not someone who hate moe and fanservices to such a degree that I would point at them and shout “Objection” as loud as my lungs can muster (in fact, I’m a fan of “cute girls doing cute things” shows), but since this is my own unpopular opinion, it’s clearly shit.

shit

I feel like a lot of these anime-influenced RPGs had been getting bad reviews here and there just because.. there are.. well.. anime-influenced. I can’t remember how much I hesitated starting the Hyperdimension Neptunia series due to so many negative reviews I read (HDN1 I can understand, but mk2 and Victory too?). I remembered one review of Project Diva F where the reviewer was also talking negatively about the game and it’s cuteness appeal, but not much of the game mechanics are actually covered, despite being a “review”-thus, I immediately closed the tab.

MikuLen

Games, just like anime, is an evolving medium. They started out pixelized, before evolving into powerful 3D graphics and now a number of them had taken several steps down and become anime-influenced. I feel that a lot of these anime-influenced games are receiving very polarizing reception-and there are two sides of this; one which aren’t avid anime watchers, and the other side which are.

I feel like in order to enjoy and appreciate the nature of these games-one need to have an anime mindset, and to accept and appreciate the current culture of anime which strives on the cuteness and fanservices appeal. Sure enough, you may see typical hot spring scenes and the likes in these JRPGs, hell, even the Persona games have them (dat hot spring scene), and the games are still receiving praises. In the end, if you’re not a fan of fanservices, then you can ask yourself-are there any positive aspects of the games beyond that?

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This entry was posted by Kai.

9 thoughts on “Anime-Influenced Games

  1. I’d noticed the influx of these types of games over the last few years as well and was really keen to try out all of the brand new JRPGs when I finally got my hands on a PS3. I have to say, though, that i’ve been disappointed for the most part. Without even taking anime influence or fan service into account, many of these games just aren’t up to scratch when it comes to mechanics, technical details or story (Project Diva isn’t included in this generalization, by the way. I think it’s pretty neat even if I don’t actually own it).

    You’re probably right in saying that you need a certain mindset to enjoy those sorts of games but I feel that’s not really an excuse they should be using to explain away their deficits. I mean, can’t we have a moe, anime-influenced game with decent graphics, gameplay and story?

    • I was initially disappointed too (in fact, I didn’t know how I held out for so long with HDN 1, lol), but these games get better as more sequels are released, gameplay-wise at least. I can’t say much about the story since it’s mostly a love-or-hate situation. A lot also might had to do with character investment too, which HDN was able to do it for me. I do admit even with my mindset, I can’t say I really like Senran Kagura, probably the biggest reason because it relies more on sex appeal rather than cuteness appeal, and I’m more appreciative of the latter, that, and there’s nothing major about Senran Kagura’s gameplay too.

      Felt like I went off a tangent here, lol.

      “can’t we have a moe, anime-influenced game with decent graphics, gameplay and story?”
      The only one series I can think of that fits all these criteria-is the one and only Persona xD

  2. Personally, I love anime-influenced games, and it’s more likely that I will play them if they look/behave like anime! But I guess that’s because I came from an anime background and in to games rather than the other way around. These two hobbies intercept a lot these days which I guess is for the better and worse.
    I’m not as experienced as Silvachief though, and I’ve enjoyed most JRPGs I’ve played (even Final Fantasy XIII!) However, I do much agree with him that we shouldn’t settle for poor story among other things, just because a game has anime-cute in it. But I guess the industry is in a changing phase, experimenting with new things. It’ll all work out eventually, I hope (:

    • Yea, those of us coming from a stronger anime background, and still going at it with it’s current state, our appreciation will definitely have a better transition to anime-influenced RPGs.

      “These two hobbies intercept a lot these days which I guess is for the better and worse.”

      For Japanese games at least. American games, for the AAA titles at least, are still relying heavily on powerful 3D graphics from what I can see (and obviously there’s no anime tropes, lol) so gamers definitely still have more preferences to choose from if they are not too keen on “anime games”.

      Lol, Final Fantasy XIII :p Not sure about XIII, but XIII-2 has improved it’s gaming mechanics vastly definitely and I hear XIII-3 is surprisingly pretty good, though I still haven’t started it. I agree, though I think “poor” story sounds a bit subjective here :\ For the record, I like HDN’s concept, and Atelier’s slice-of-life story is also refreshing compared to traditional RPG’s “grandiose journeys”. To me, those can be considered “good” story even if they can’t be taken seriously (FYI, I’m going with things I had heard for Atelier because I actually haven’t started playing the series either). That, and admittedly, I’m usually very easily sold on cuteness (lol).

  3. I also agree that you have to be in a sort of mindset, but as stated before by Sliva, most of the titles I have played did not exactly impress me once I started playing games for systems I owned. If anything, I think lowered my standards just trying to enjoy the games because nothing else appealed to me. (Of course, I have done this for non-anime games, too). Hyperdimension Neptunia and the Atelier series is a perfect example, since I was initially disenchanted when I first started them and the other components in place did not cut it. Over time I did acquiesce and grow to like them, but that was only because I like the gameplay elements and the cutness/fanservice I could resist. They have sort of improved, but not my much. Although, since these games aren’t really meant to appeal to me or I was even meant to play in the first place, what I say doesn’t matter and depends on the home market entirely. Until then, unless they speak up nothing is going to change and will be stuck with same old hand-me-downs whatever company decides on what to localize.

    • I think lowering your standards is a good way to enjoy these anime games. Surprised to hear you didn’t like HDN and Atelier before though, you didn’t sound like it when I was talking to you about them.. :p And yeah, to appreciate the cuteness/fanservices is a good way to appreciate these games as a result, which brings me back to my point of appreciating the current shift in anime culture as well. Personally, I also find myself more easily growing attached to the series due to such mindset, and admittedly, I think I may be more forgiving of it’s technical flaws, though I still find HDN 1 to be pretty bad gameplay-wise, lol.

      Well yeah, I’m not too sure but I would assume local Japanese certainly aren’t complaining either :\

  4. Believe me, I have reviewed a lot of these games ever since I started importing most of them and playing them in Japanese. From playing them, I feel that Japanese games in general are influenced by Anime, mostly because it’s popular (video games are just as popular or probably more so in Japan). While there are some Japanese games that take on a realistic style, most of them are done in Anime style and of course, most of the tropes that relates to Anime are applied to Japanese video games, especially Japanese RPGs. Don’t forget that there are a good amount of Anime series that receive a licensed video game and vice versa with games receiving an Anime adaptation.

    On the other hand, while it’s nice to have to have a story that some influence from Anime, I feel that the gameplay is important. Sure, I have played some of the games that you mentioned and even reviewed them, especially Choujigen Game Neptune (aka Hyperdimension Neptunia in the west) and so far, I reviewed like 4 games from that franchise (2 main and 2 spinoffs). While the characters and the story was enjoyable and the gameplay is alright, it’s not necessarily something that I find groundbreaking especially since Ideal Factory/Compile Heart has a tendency to recycle their assets. As for Gust (who is now part of Koei Techmo), not so much although the gameplay of the Dusk trilogy is better than the Arland trilogy in that aspect.

    I do feel that the reason why these games get a bad release is mostly because the differences in values from the east and the west and for the fact that the reviewers on these big gaming sites are agenda driven and will give a game a bad score because something offends them, which pretty much lends itself in the sad state of the gaming fandom (at least in the west) right now since they are arguing over politics rather than on gaming. But in general, it’s always best to look at niche sites that review these types of games rather than a big review sites for a better impression on the games.

    • Yea, admittedly, this actually had been going on for a long while, long time ago even. But since anime culture back then was different, these games are anime-influenced only visually. It’s contents are still those of traditional RPGs-Ys, Suikoden and maybe older Tales games. It’s interesting that it’s contents had been gradually changing just as anime culture had started shifting.

      I haven’t play that much HDN games as compared to you, but now that you mention it, you might be right. I still don’t feel it’s gameplay to be overly repetitive and recycled atm (only finished the PS3 trilogy actually, might try out Rebirth on Steam soon) but I did notice Fairy Fencer F having very uncannily similar battle mechanics. I’m actually going to start the Arland trilogy first (Dusk a little later since it seems Atelier Ayesha will have JP voices on the Vita, and it’s obviously more preferable for me, though I still don’t have a Vita.. lol), we’ll see how it goes soon.

      Yea… I learned them the hard way and definitely agree that it’s better to just look at niche sites for game reviews rather than the major sites. About that “politics”.. I think it’s a good idea I don’t tread on it, lol.

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