5 Video Game to Anime Adaptations That Don’t Suck

Bob Mackey

Based on all known evidence, movies based on video games usually suck. They’re either made by people who don’t understand the source material’s appeal, or alter the subject matter so drastically they might as well go by a completely different name. Thankfully, one medium has a relatively high batting average when it comes to video game adaptations: anime. It could be the extra hours creators get to tell their story, or the fact that they can aim for a much nerdier audience, but whatever the case, video game to anime adaptations have far more success stories than the world of cinema. If you’d like to digest your favorite video game story in a convenient, animated form, you can’t go wrong with the following.

Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie

Now this is a blast from the past. Most ’90s anime adaptations of games are far too dated, filled with troubling elements and dated animation. But the first adaptation of Street Fighter II took that game’s thin story and turned it into an enjoyable, silly action film. All the roster appears in some form or another, most getting at least one big fight scene that is gorgeously animated. The best of the bunch has to be the Chun-li and Vega fight, a rough brawl that is more intense than any you’ll see in the game, and better than you’ll see in most martial arts live action. [Henry Gilbert]

Danganronpa: The Animation

If you’ve heard buzz about Danganronpa, but don’t quite know what it is, don’t feel discouraged—the title is a pun that only works in Japanese. To give a simple explanation, Danganronpa plays out in a sort of Ace Attorney/Battle Royale scenario. Fifteen students find themselves trapped in a prison-like school, with the only chance of escape involving murdering another student, then being found innocent in the subsequent trial. This high-stakes premise sets the stage for a series of addictive cliffhangers, as well as the general thrill of knowing no character is truly safe. And if you dig the series, there’s no harm in checking out the video game to experience a more interactive version of the unabridged story. Seeing as the anime retells a 25-hour game in around five hours, it can’t possibly cover everything. [Bob Mackey]


Hundreds of episodes and dozens of movies later, and the Pokemon anime is still going strong. Beginning with Ash’s first steps on the road with Pikachu, all the way up to his newest adventures on the Alola Islands, the Pokemon anime has always been great at channelling the vibrant fun of the games. All while telling a long form story in the style of many great sports anime that came before it. Though styles can change from year to year, Pokemon has always been a great mix of all-ages fun and compelling action, just like in the games. [Henry Gilbert]


When it comes to anime adaptations, the visual novel genre of games exists as the ideal choice. Since “playing” one of these amounts to reading heaps of text while occasionally making decisions, adaptation is basically fool-proof. And, thankfully, Steins;Gate’s story of low-tech time travel gone awry makes for a perfectly watchable anime series. Though it condenses the game’s narrative into a more digestible 13-episode run, this adaptation strategically cuts the fat and delivers the finest moments of an original story that didn’t always have the best pacing. If you’re down for a darker, more scientific take on time travel—well, as “scientific” as this magical concept could possibly be—definitely make a note to watch Steins;Gate. [Bob Mackey]

Persona 4: The Golden Animation

If you’ve yet to play Persona 4 you’re missing out on one of the best role-playing games on this century. It’s an engrossing story that balances fantastical battles with the simple joys of everyday teen life. And it’s something the second anime adaptation captured beautifully. This series takes Yu, Yosuke, Chie, Marie, and the many other stars and tells the story of their time in the Shadow World while also experiencing a full year in high school. The anime version takes many of the best moments from the game and expands on them in cute ways. It’s a real treat for fans while also being a great introduction for newer viewers. [Henry Gilbert]

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Bob Mackey
Bob Mackey is Games Editor at Fandom. Since joining the games press in 2007, he's written for sites like 1UP, Joystiq, The A.V. Club, Gamasutra, USgamer, and many others. He also hosts the weekly podcasts Retronauts and Talking Simpsons. Follow him on Twitter @bobservo.
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