Anime! Who doesn’t love anime? No one who’s clicking on this list, hopefully, because all these games are anime as heck.
We’ve compiled a list of the very best anime video games on the Nintendo Switch — the games which take the action, charm, and/or personality of popular and beloved anime and manga series and squish it into a video game.
(We’ve tried to narrow the list down to games based on anime and not the other way round, but it turns out the waters get really muddy if a game is basically already an anime, so… we bent the rules a little for Steins;Gate. Please forgive us.)
Of course, we’ll endeavour to keep this list up to date, so do tell us which games we’ve forgotten, and make sure to check back for new entries!
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft / Developer: MAGES
Release Date: 19th Feb 2019 (USA) / 19th Feb 2019 (UK/EU)
Murder! Conspiracies! A phone that can text the past! All are good setups for a time loop game, and Steins;Gate has them all. This beloved visual novel, given a major polish-up for the Switch, has spawned an entire anime spin-off from its intricate decision-making, time-altering plot. It concerns a mad scientist who accidentally stumbles upon time machine technology, alerting a somewhat evil time-travelling corporation to his presence and abilities. You’ll need about 25-40 hours to finish this one off, mind you!
The Switch version of PS4/Xbox One original FighterZ is simply stunning; in motion, it’s truly a sight to behold. Arc System Works has done an amazing job bringing the anime to life, and if you didn’t look at the PS4 version side-by-side with the Switch version, you’d likely have a difficult time finding the trade-offs made to make such an impressive-looking game run on hardware that is significantly less powerful. Back in 2018, we called it “the best fighting game we’ve seen on the system yet”; even in 2023, it’s still on our list of Best Fighting Games.
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This follow-up to Steins;Gate Elite, confusingly titled Steins;Gate 0, is a worthy entry into the main series. Adopting the same format, world and style as the original Steins;Gate, those looking for a lengthy time-twisting visual novel will not be disappointed. The story takes place during the events of the ending of the original game, and runs away with a cast of interesting characters and signature non-linear storytelling that is done incredibly well, thanks to Steins;Gate 0’s dynamic visual novel format.
Aside from Dragon Ball — which in the last few years has gotten an RPG, 2D fighter, and even a Dead By Daylight clone — most anime series are relegated to 3D arena fighting games like My Hero: One’s Justice or the Attack On Titan duology. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is no different, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good.
While you won’t find an Evo-calibre fighting game here depth-wise, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle R is miles ahead of your typical 3D-arena anime fighter affair. It would be a hard game to recommend to someone unfamiliar with the franchise, as without the fan service aspect you’re left with a basic fighter with some barebones modes. However, for those who adore JoJo, it’s an excellent example of how to do fan service right, and one where you can feel the love and adoration of the franchise’s 35-year history flowing through every part of the package.
Although Pirate Warriors 4 is the newer, shinier release in this series, our pick is the third One Piece: Pirate Warriors game. Why? This action game is, quite simply, a wonderful example of a licensed adaptation doing just about everything right; if you’ve ever read or watched One Piece and thought, “this would make a great video game!”, this is that game.
While it doesn’t spend nearly enough time on its story beats to fully immerse new players into its world, we’d still recommend it even if you’re new to the Straw Hat Crew — there’s plenty of rollicking fun to be had throwing elbows (and swords, and staves, and…) with Luffy and co., and longtime readers will have a blast revisiting their earliest days. A recommended romp for One Piece and Warriors fans alike.
At the end of the day, Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is the kind of game that you probably already know if you’re interested in or not. This is an anime-inspired, in-depth RPG that comes with all the trappings, good and bad, that your mind associates with that description. Fans of the show and of complicated RPGs will no doubt find plenty to love here in the likable characters, complex character customization, and frantic battle system. This is a good quality RPG – just make sure you do a bit of research in advance to confirm that it’s what you’re looking for.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot might not do much more than retelling the story of Dragon Ball, but it does that well enough that existing fans will find joy in exploring the world and fighting iconic villains from the franchise. Despite the lack of depth to its combat and a minor internet-based technical inconvenience to work around, the game saves itself by expanding on the already massive amount of Dragon Ball lore available and giving fans the slice-of-life moments we’ve so sorely needed. Non-fans won’t find much to love here, but it’s a more than serviceable retelling of an iconic story.
Xenoverse 2 on Switch does a great job of replicating the frenetic battles from its anime source material in action-game style. It fully understands the spectacle of Dragon Ball, and as such its Ultimate techniques are incredibly flashy, eye-catching affairs that will impress onlookers. Better yet, like its predecessor, Dragon Ball Xenoverse, it lets you create a custom character to plonk into the Dragon Ball universe, which is incredibly cool.
The brilliantly rendered cutscenes, deep character customisation and fine-tuned fighting mechanics make for a title that is easy to pick up but hard to put down. Fans of fighting games and Dragon Ball alike should look forward to picking this one up.
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