Fans of anime and gaming can often overlap for good reasons. For example, while shouting at our TVs for Goku to beat Frieza, how many people thought it would be amazing to play a Dragon Ball Z game and do the same thing ourselves? Thankfully, there’s been no shortage of licensed anime video games over the last few decades. While many of these games are poor imitations of the anime that people hold dearly, there are also some shining examples where games and anime have combined to great results. This naturally includes fighting games based on action series like Dragon Ball Z, but it also includes games for all kinds of anime fans such as Japanese RPGs (JRPGs), visual novels, and everything in-between. The sheer quantity of games releasing on Nintendo Switch means that, in my opinion, it’s now the best console to own for every type of anime fan.
Perhaps the biggest overlap between anime and gaming comes from anime-based fighting games. The Dragon Ball series has a long history of fighting games, but probably none have been praised as much as Dragon Ball FighterZ. As a faithful recreation of Dragon Ball’s animation style, and as a brilliant fighting game with simple yet deep mechanics, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a game that Switch anime fans can’t miss out on.
Beyond that, the Switch also has titles like Kill La Kill – IF and My Hero One’s Justice. Both of these games may not be the best 3D fighters on the market, but they are full of opportunities to play out any dream matchups that fans could want after watching their respective anime. BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle offers yet another well-received 2D fighter with the bonus of having characters from the popular Rooster Teeth show RWBY. On the horizon, Jump Force is sure to please fans that want to pit all kinds of Shonen Jump anime heroes against each other. (I look forward to making Dio Brando fight Yugi Muto.) If you’ve ever been an enthusiast of battle anime, the Switch is likely to have your needs covered.
Several anime are actually based on the visual novel genre of games. These games often contain hundreds of dialogue choices over the course of a lengthy story. Player choices can change the route and endings of a visual novel to create meaningful branching story paths, in a similar vein to titles from Telltale Games. Steins;Gate is widely considered to be among the best sci-fi thrillers in anime, and several entries of the series are now on Nintendo Switch too. Fans can enjoy experiencing the various paths this visual novel can take, and personally, I think stepping into the shoes of mad scientist Hououin Kyouma sounds like a great way to spend some quarantine time.
For people that enjoy more tear-jerking stories, the Switch also now has the Clannad visual novel. As a game that rewards your decision-making with differing story routes, Clannad has a lot to offer for both newcomers and fans of the anime. While it’s not strictly based on an anime, last year’s release of AI: The Somnium Files is also a must-play visual novel, providing a thrilling detective story with some anime-influenced visuals. Finally, for anime fans that desire something a little different, the ludicrously popular Fate series is set to release Fate/Stay Night: Emiya Gohan later this year. This cooking spin-off of the Fate anime promises to be part visual novel, part rhythm-based cooking game, and hopefully a love letter to fans of the series (and if it makes up for Cooking Mama: Cookstar, then all the better).
While JRPGs are traditionally based on original stories and not anime stories, they still contain plenty of elements for anime fans to dig into. Games like the acclaimed Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition offer a meaty single-player experience to enjoy, complete with character designs from Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama. JRPGs share many of the same themes and tropes that anime fans will be accustomed to. One of the most important features of anime are the iconic characters they create.
Since JRPGs are often very long games, players get to spend a lot of time getting to know the characters they interact with. By growing attached to a fun cast of characters, major story beats that affect them become just as impactful as they would in an anime. As a result, games with anime aesthetics like Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 provide ample opportunities to become enamored with diverse casts of characters that leave lasting impressions.
There’s no shortage of JRPGs to enjoy on the Switch and even more to come. Following the success of Octopath Traveler, Square Enix is likely to create more games in its style, while the upcoming Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition will be a great chance to experience a fantastic JRPG that you may have missed on the Wii. Fans also have Shin Megami Tensei V to look forward to.
And of course, the Fairy Tail JRPG is on the way, an actual anime RPG.
What anime games have you been enjoying on Nintendo Switch?