The Big Book of Anime Game Genres
Anime games have been around for quite a while now, definitely a lot longer than the battle royale genre or even MOBAs, but there’s still some confusion as to how many subgenres they may have. Here, we’ll try to clear things up and introduce the few anime game genres that you may or may not be familiar with.
However, before we begin, let’s first answer this question - what is an “anime game”? This term has been used, in the past, to label any game that is inspired or based on actual anime, such as those in graphic novels and manga. However, the term has now expanded – and the lines blurred - to include certain video games that are from Japan or even any games that contain anime or anime-like art, especially animated TV series from Japan.
Now, there are a couple of very recognizable and perhaps fairly new genres that we’ve included in the list below.
Referring to the capsule-toy machine in which you put cash in, pull a lever or turn a crank, and get a reward, usually in the form of a plastic egg (toy’s inside!), Gacha or gachapon started off as being a humble game monetization mechanism that had blown up so quickly to the point where entire games are built around it, allowing it to be considered a subgenre of its own. In a way, it’s similar to how battle royale games started off – it was simply a game mode within another game until some developers took it out and made it into a standalone game.
Now, for fans of gacha games, this subgenre doesn’t need any introduction, but for those of you who have heard of it but haven’t given it a shot, games within this subgenre usually have a heavy luck-based rewards system where instead of directly giving you the rewards for performing certain tasks – you get a random chest, egg, card pack, loot box, or some rewards-containing object. You can then open these rewards to see what you’d get.
Things, however, get a bit muddy when the very same system is applied to reward chests or eggs that are purchased using real money. In some way, it does give off some gambling vibes mainly because most developers do not disclose the drop rate of the rewards you may get. It’s a controversial subgenre but it’s hugely popular among players and so far, it looks like it’s staying around.
Visual Novels are generally story-driven adventures that feature anime-style art and usually static graphics. It is a genre of anime games mainly because they are predominantly made using anime art, but of course, as it gains increasing popularity outside of Japan, this genre is also being gradually assimilated and adopted by others.
Now, Visual Novels have gained some form on notoriety as being rather sexual in nature, due to the fact that most of them are dating sims, with a sizable portion of them falling into the hentai (erotic and pornographic themes) or ecchi (general sexual content) subgenres. However, the genre is constantly evolving and as more people gets interested in anime games and hence, by some extension, visual novels, developers will start producing visual novels that cater to fans of various age brackets and tastes.
Mecha (giant robot) is the subgenre of anime games that deal with giant robot animes exclusively. The robots in these animes will have to be big enough for people to sit or stand inside them, and they can be controlled by the “drivers” of said mechas. Most of these mechas are used in battles, whether it is against other nations or against kaijus - monsters of gigantic proportions, like those you’d see in the movie, Pacific Rim or Ultraman.
It is this subgenre that had first helped popularize Japanese anime in the US in the 1980s and it remains a popular subgenre of anime games until today!
The fighting games genre, where hand-to-hand combat, especially martial arts-related techniques, is emphasized, has always been dominated by anime-like games from Japan, ranging from Guilty Gear Xrd to Dragon Ball FighterZ, and it still rings true today. However, the genre has seen increasing levels of assimilation, and you can now find fighting games that aren’t anime or anime-like in nature.
Japanese role-playing games, or JRPGs, are unique enough to earn themselves an entire subgenre that many would usually categorize under the RPG category. However, since most JRPGs are also anime games, we thought it would be apt to consider it as a subgenre of anime games as well.
Now, there are tons of examples of JRPGs, including one of the most popular (and probably long-running) anime game franchises of all – Final Fantasy. Most JRPGs have turn-based gameplay, besides having the iconic anime visuals and are produced in Japan.