You know that phrase to never judge a book by its cover? Well, we all do it and have our reasons for it. Try not to do it too much on your fellow peeps, but for sources of entertainment, I think it’s relatively okay to do. Let’s talk a bit on anime-styled games.
Anime related and anime-styled games tend to receive a bit more flack (for lack of a better term) in the western market. Granted, what makes it outside of Japan is an extremely small portion outside of the widely known brands such as Dragonball and Naruto games.
N.I.S. is one of the few companies that tends to bring the lesser known franchises and games to the States, but it’s still a hard pitch to sell. Though it’s apparent that anime is has spread more widely compared to 10 years ago and is a norm to see anime games; there’s just something about them.
The reasons will vary person-to-person, so let’s go over 3 common points around the bend:
- Stylized design and graphics.
- It’s typically an RPG.
- Characters and story.
[HOW THEY LOOK]
On the subject of the aesthetics, design, and sometimes a more stylized look over a realistic one is point I can see on how it would be a turn off. We all have our itches sometimes to play the games with photo-realistic quality. Depending on the genre and setup, it can be more immersive. Then again, sometimes a bit of style is cool.
Trying to see both sides of the coin here. Though, it does make me wonder how a game like Persona 4, for example, would appeal if it were realistic. Maybe not too well. Think we’ll move onto the next point since this one is a bit moot, especially if an anime-styled game is based on an anime (or manga) source material.
[HOW THEY PLAY]
Typically, when a western consumer sees an anime game (or its cover), usually JRPG comes to mind first. With that, the mental assumptions start to kick in. Is it a traditional JRPG with a grind? Turn-based or action-based? Complex mechanics? How many hours for completion?
If you have or make the time for a game, by all means, play and enjoy it. For the rest of us, sometimes a game that averages 40+ hours to complete (and that’s sticking to only main quests) can be an immediate “forget it.”
Grinding can be found in almost any game that allows for it, be it through an experience system or RNG (random number generator) items, and not exclusive to games in the RPG genre.
So, it’s understandable that this wouldn’t pose a huge impact unless word gets out that the game’s designed to stick it to you unless you halt progression and power-up for awhile before taking on a boss or event.
Game design plays a huge part, be it turn-based or a more action-oriented combat system, such as real-time combat. Pokemon seems to be able to get away with a turn-based system so far, but I can see how it that kind of combat may not appeal to everyone.
In the older or more badly designed turn-based RPGs, a player would simply be able to spam the most powerful attack to succeed in most encounters. It’s important to keep in mind that not every JRPG is designed this way, but when you come across one, you can’t help but slump over feeling that your brain was numbed.
Along with combat are the associated mechanics JRPGs tend to introduce. Again, there are brilliant JRPGs out there with intuitive, deep, and engaging mechanics that flow with their chosen style of combat (the Persona and Valkyria Profile series are some worth noting).
Meanwhile, there are a slew of others (names shall be withheld) that aggravatingly stack and introduce new/more mechanics while not being fully utilized, or are there simple for the sake of being complex.
Less is definitely more. I kind of wish some of these mad-scientist developers that think up these overly obtuse mechanics would have a sticky note of that phrase somewhere at their work station. To be fair, I could do with that now.
[HOW THEY ARE TOLD]
This is probably the most preference-based point that can really drive someone to completely dismiss one of these anime games before or after the tutorial: the characters and story.
Story premises are a bit easier to stomach or ignore, as games have plots just as ridiculous as B-movies, regardless of the genre. A dangerous dragon that must be killed by a hero and company of companions with weapons the size of one of its claws and magic? Sure, I’m game.
However, characters are a bit harder to forgive, let alone forget. Anime-style and based games tend to have those archetypes that, over in the western hemisphere, can come off as annoying. Move the slider from slightly to insanely depending on your own tolerance level. You can probably think of what I may be referring to.
It’s a part of the culture, so there’s no wonder why it can be so awkward when rarely exposed to it. To make things fair, western games have their share of bad archetypes. The super-serious, guy-manly dude without a neck and absolutely no character is a common one.
I have to mention that I can’t help but roll my eyes every time I see a female character fall on top of a male protagonist, following through with a scream, then and slap to his face. I wish we all received a dollar for every time that occurs, in a game or anime. We’d be rich.
With all that said, I myself, am happy I took a chance on some anime-styled games in the past. Valkyria Chronicles and Persona 4 being ones I can recall off the top of my head. Does any game created by Swery65 count? Didn’t think so, but damn, do I love Deadly Premonition!