You know which two things make a great combination? Video games and Japanese-based manga/anime. It’s always a good time when you’re able to pick up a controller and beat down a few foes with spiky-haired heroes. Sure, there are some serious duds out there. But surprisingly, there’s a good number of respectable fighting games that feature fan favorites like Goku, Naruto, Monkey D. Luffy etc. We played ’em all and enjoyed ’em all (we can’t wait to get our hands on that new Jojo game and Battle of Z!).
These are definitely the top 10 anime-based fighting games.
12. Fate/unlimited codes
This PS2/PSP fighter gets its source material from the visual novels Fate/stay night, Fate/Zero and Fate/hollow ataraxia. This isn’t one of the more intricate fighting games we’ve ever played, but it certainly stands as one of the more fun fighters we’ve recently played. The cast of mystical warriors that do combat here may not be as well known as other anime characters, but they’re still awesome to take into battle. You usual array of super moves and long double digits combos are present here. Pro Tip – Pick Dark Saber if you’re looking for an easy win.
11. Super Dragon Ball Z
So some former developers who helped make Street Fighter 2 awesome decided to get together and make a Dragon Ball Z fighting game. And you know what? It turned out to be a pretty solid game. The cel-shaded graphics paid a perfect homage to the manga the game was based on, plus the controls featured those familiar quarter-circle motions for special moves. The roster was pretty small compared to the ones seen in other DBZ games, but we couldn’t complain too much. Each fighter could be upgraded and equip some devastating finishing moves. We’re glad this fighter finally let us pick badass Chi-Chi and old school King Piccolo.
10. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is just what the title says – Bizarre. Everyone that’s a part of this anime’s universe look super “eccentric,” plus they do battle while backed up by magical allies. Those Ripple and Stand powers look incredible in action, thanks to Capcom’s 2D fighting game based on the series. It played like your average 2D fighter, but its insane super moves (Dio and that steam roller beatdown were legendary!) and manga presentation gave its own identity. Go ahead and download the online version when you get a chance, gamers.
9. Jump Ultimate Stars
If you still happen to have your original Nintendo DS packed somewhere in your closet space, pull it out and import this entry. Jump Ultimate Stars features a crazy amount of anime’s greatest characters – 305! Yeah so we could only play with 56 of them but it was still cool to see those other characters pop up as assists. The most attractive feature of this portable fighter is the panels between stages that act as pages in a manga. If you’re addicted to Super Smash Bros., then we’re quite sure you’ll put a few hours into this game too. DBZ, Naruto, Shaman King, Yu-Gi-Oh…EVERYBODY WAS IN THIS GAME!
8. One Piece: Grand Battle! Rush
The pirate adventurers of the One Piece crew got to battle it out in this PS2 fighting game. One Piece: Grand Battle! Rush (some title they got there, huh?) presented the cast you could do battle with under the guise of miniaturized caricatures. They might have looked cute, but the massive finishing moves they hit were far from cute. This game featured open stages, items and some of the craziest finishers (RUSH SPECIALS!) we’ve ever seen. Take this piece ff advice – cop the Japanese version. The US version is missing a TON of characters.
7. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja 5
We’ve lost count when it comes to listing all the Naruto games out there. There just might be a gazillion and one games solely dedicated to the ninja in the orange jumpsuit. The PS2 featured a whole bunch of good Naruto games. The one we gravitated towards to the most was the fifth Ultimate Ninja game. If your PS2 is import-friendly, then go ahead and bring this one over to the states. There were 62 ninjas, assist maneuvers and a full-fledged action-RPG mode. The medium-sized battlefields and the flashy special moves did the anime it was based on justice.
6. Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Revolution 3
The Wii doesn’t have a long list of fighting games, but there’s one that we devoted a few hours to – Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution 3. 40 characters were available for you and your boys as you engaged in tight one-on-one skirmishes. There were also 40 stages (including the stage transitions) that you could jump all around in. We loved the Two-Man Squad option, the exclusive characters for the US version and the overall growth of the huge cast. Don’t pass this ninjitsu-based fighting game up.
5. Hokuto no Ken: Shinpan no Sōsōsei Kengō Retsuden (Fist of the North Star: The Twin Blue Stars of Judgment – History of the Fist Masters)
“You are already dead.” Thankfully, we get to live and still play this PS2-import. Now if you know anything about the Guilty Gear series, then you should know where this game gets its looks/game mechanics from. This fighter gets a top 5 nod from us thanks to its wide range of characters and those amazing looking Fatal KO’s. This fighter is way more hardcore than some of the more casual-driven gameplay of some other anime fighting games. You can pull off long-running combo strings that would make anyone reconsider taking you on. Kenshiro in 2D is beautiful, ain’t it?
4. Galactic Wrestling: Featuring Ultimate Muscle
Professional wrestling is controlled madness. But when you transfer it into an Japanese cartoon series, it loses all semblance of sense. But we have to admit it, you gotta love the madness that is Ultimate Muscle. The best video game that represents this manga series is the PS2 wrestling game, Galactic Wrestling. You can hop in the ring and jump to impossible heights, plus you can grab guys in midair. And the Legends and New Generation wrestlers we got to take into the squared circle were unforgettable. Sunshine? Kevin Mask? The Warsman? BONE COLD? HA! They were all cool in our eyes.
3. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3
The best Tenkaichi game has to be the third one. Budokai Tenkaichi 3 had a daunting amount of DBZ characters to choose from. Every iteration of the beloved anime series got full representation thanks to all the people we could play with. You had your Goku, Vegeta, Broly and evil Androids. But you also had obscure faces such as King Vegeta, Appule and even a low-class Freiza solider. The wide-open environments, cel-shaded visuals and tighter gameplay made this one of the finest gaming efforts in the entire series. We still devote our Saturday nights to team battles. We pick a bunch of Saiyans, you pick a bunch of his best adversaries…AND IT’S ON!
2. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3
Try this – enter this game’s story mode and just let it play on the big screen. Watch as someone passes by and says this – “This a new episode?” Yeah, that’s how good this Xbox 360/PS3 fighting game looks. The Ultimate Ninja Storm games got better with time. The most recent sequel happened to be the best one – Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3. Everyone that matters in the series is a part of this ninja battle royale. Even younger versions of the fully grown ninjas are selectable and playable. We hear some of you hardcore fighting game heads out there – “All you do is hit B/Circle button all day!” SO! This doesn’t mean the game isn’t deep. There’s assist attacks, multiple tailed beast forms and usable items to keep things fresh and more complex. Pick this epic fighter up!
1. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3
And the best fighting game based on an anime is the almighty Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3! The first two games were decent at best, but this third entry in the series took things to a whole ‘nother level. We got all the main Z Heroes, but this time we got movie characters such as Broly and Cooler. The Dragon Universe mode took a huge investment from most gamers since there was a large amount of content to unlock. The Ultimate Attacks, Super Saiyan 4 modes, Fusion moves and Dragon Rush mechanic made Budokai 3 one of the best…bar none. This isn’t just the best DBZ game and anime game, it’s one of the best fighting games period.