Why are we putting up with bad video game adaptations of the anime we love? That question has been stuck in my head, so think of this as my attempt to untangle some thoughts, vent a bit, and maybe come to an understanding. Because anime games are bad, and it’s really, really frustrating.
I think what rubs me the wrong way the most is the frequent reliance on arena fighters, and because of that, I guess what I’m saying is that the shounen genre deserves better–though other genres aren’t entirely free from shoddy adaptations. The arena fighter is, I think, a poisonous gameplay template when it comes to anime and manga adaptations. It emaciates its source material, reducing intricate stories, nuanced characters, fascinating worlds, and emotionally resonant themes into button-mashy pugilism.
I’ll say up front that, no, I’m not saying every game based on a shounen property is bad. Dragon Ball FighterZ stands out as a recent exception, but the rule it defies still exists: The vast majority of anime games are disappointing. And for some reason, we just seem to put up with it.