The Best in Anime-Inspired Combat
Thanks to the FGC scene revival caused by 2008’s Street Fighter IV, casual players and tournament pros alike have had plenty of reasons to continue enjoying their favorite genre. Besides genre stalwarts such as Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, The King of Fighters, Tekken, and Super Smash Bros., there have been a number of titles solely devoted to the healthy sub-genre known as anime fighters. Japanese development studios have dedicated themselves to creating fighting games that offer deep combat mechanics, a steep learning curve and an animation style that caters to otaku’s everywhere. Arc System Works, French Bread, FK Digital, Examu and Ecole Software are just a few of the talented dev teams that have put in hours of hard work towards raising the stock of the anime fighting game scene.
In preparation for the release of Granblue Fantasy: Versus, we decided to do something special. The five games listed below epitomize the greatness of anime fighters and showcase the high quality of the fighting game genre as a whole.
Under Night In-Birth
If there’s one thing that anime fighters are known for, it’s their outlandish names. Under Night In-Birth certainly falls into that category, but it stands out for another reason besides its confounding title. This fine-tuned fighter offers a roster full of variety in the form of weapon wilders, powerful mages, martial arts masters and even a few otherworldly beasts. On the gameplay side of things, Under Night In-Birth feels like a spiritual successor to Melty Blood in all the best ways possible. Flashy super moves are common, the music is surprisingly catchy and the many systems put in place to make each battle as epic as the last one place Under Night In-Birth near the top of the list for best anime fighters. Its two subsequent updates have done an admirable job of refreshing the series and continue to help it thrive as a go-to 2D fighter.
Arc System Works is considered royalty when it comes to anime fighters. They’ve managed to cement themselves as the very best within the sub-genre due to their penchant for producing fighters with the most gorgeous 2D visuals gamers have ever seen. When the Japanese development studio decided to deviate from their usual slate of Guilty Gear games, they went on to create something on par with their heavy metal fighter – BlazBlue. Across a number of main series sequels and updates, BlazBlue has grown into an immensely satisfying anime fighter. Each character has become a recognizable fixture within anime fighting game circles and garnered some attention from even non-anime fighting game players. The Drive mechanic offers a fresh take on utilizing character abilities, plus the advanced battle tactics makes everything happening onscreen exciting to follow. BlazBlue is proof that Arc System Works has the chops to craft all types of anime fighters and create compelling characters to boot.
Persona 4 Arena
As far as spinoffs for popular franchises are concerned, fighting games are usually introduced at some point. While some video game IP’s move in the direction of kart racers, musou beat ‘em up’s, or even zany party games, Atlus’ JRPG franchise chose to go the anime fighter route in 2012. Persona 4 Arena does an amazing job of honoring every characteristic that made the series great while presenting them all within an enjoyable fighting game. The clever implementation of Persona assists for each combatant happens to be the main calling card of Persona 4 Arena. Alongside that welcome attention to detail for hardcore fans, this anime fighter evokes the spirit of the JRPG titles thanks to the design of its menus and inclusion of popular tunes. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax did even more to make this spinoff fighter a top-tier selection for tournaments by adding new characters, Shadow versions for each one and a new way to charge up one’s special attacks. Here’s hoping a fighting game for Persona 5 is in the works…
Guilty Gear Xrd
The Guilty Gear series has come a long way. What started out as a niche fighter that only a select few knew about has now transformed into a recognizable FGC favorite that garners hype at tourneys across the globe. This heavy metal infused fighter truly reached its apex with the release of Guilty Gear Xrd. The anime visuals put on display within this intense brawler caused jaws to hit the floor upon its reveal. And even in its most updated state (Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2), the game still manages to bring curious onlookers into the fold. Sol Badguy and company stand tall as some of fighting games’ most popular characters due to their badassery and quirky personality traits. The headbanging soundtrack, gorgeous anime visuals and mind-blowing Instant Kill maneuvers in Guilty Gear Xrd put it in a class all its own. The high quality exhibited by this series entry has us chomping at the bit to get a few playtime sessions in with Guilty Gear Strive.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
For years, Dragon Ball Z fans had one major request – they all wanted to play a 2D fighting game that starred all of its favorite Z Fighters and villains. And not just some below-average fighter the likes of Ultimate Battle 22 and Super Butoden, either. After a ton of DBZ games that stuck to 3D clashes were released, Arc System Works fulfilled the wishes of fighting game fans everywhere by releasing Dragon Ball FighterZ. It features everything fans had been wishing for and more – crisp looking anime visuals, a massive roster, iconic stages and a host of signature moves that manga/anime fans instantly recognized. The focus on 3v3 team battles gave Dragon Ball FighterZ a gameplay hook that caused it to become a hit amongst the Marvel vs. Capcom faithful. Plus new characters are regularly being added to the game in order to keep things fresh and interesting. Dragon Ball FighterZ has become a favorite amongst the EVO viewing audience and is even featured in its own world tour tournament. After spending hours with its addictive gameplay and lovable cast, it’s easy to see why.