Many people growing up in the early 2000s fondly look back on the PlayStation 2 era, and this isn’t only due to nostalgia. Not only is the PlayStation 2 Sony’s best-selling console, it’s also the single best-selling video game console of all time, with over 155 million units having been sold worldwide. Over four-thousand games were released for the PlayStation 2, many of them being anime-style games, coinciding with the anime boom of the early 2000s.
Whether it’s Bleach, One Piece, Fullmetal Alchemist, or Yu-Gi-Oh!, just about every popular franchise at the time has at least one video game tie-in for eager fans to check out. Naruto and Dragon Ball Z also dominated the field, receiving almost a dozen video games each for the PlayStation 2 alone.
Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel released in Japan in late 2003 and became available in the West in early 2005. Edward and Alphonse embarked on a journey through lands filled with mysterious chimeras and attempted to uncover the mystery of where they came from in this action-RPG.
Broken Angel sold well in Japan, but it was subject to mixed reviews. In particular, most criticized the graphics and repetitiveness of gameplay. On the other hand, the story, as well as the incorporation of Edward’s alchemy into the combat, were praised, making it a worthwhile title for any Fullmetal Alchemist fan.
9/10 Become The Rose Duelist With Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelists Of The Roses
Players take on the role of the mysterious Rose Duelist in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelists Of The Roses. Instead of following part of Yu-Gi-Oh’s canon storyline, Duelists of the Roses bases its story on the real-world War of the Roses, which was fought for control over England during the 15th Century.
Instead of fighting against the likes of Yugi and Kaiba, players take on the roles of Henry Tudor and Christian Rosenkreuz, the Heads of the two opposing houses. Duelists of the Roses met criticism for its difficulty, but it remained one of the best-selling titles on the PlayStation 2.
8/10 Bleach: Blade Battlers 2nd Never Made It Overseas
Bleach: Blade Battlers 2nd, as well as its predecessor, were best-selling PlayStation 2 titles in Japan that sadly never made it overseas. Both of the Blade Battlers games comprised standard anime-style beat-em-ups, with the second game boasting a hefty roster of thirty-six playable characters.
Each playable character comes with a unique set of special abilities that can even transform the arena. For example, Rukia’s zanpakuto has the ability to freeze the stage, impairing the movement of her enemies. Even without a Western release, Blade Battlers 2nd is simple enough to pick up and play for those familiar with anime-style fighting games.
7/10 One Piece: Grand Battle! Follows Luffy And Crew Through Part Of The Canon Story
The nineteenth One Piece game in total to be released, One Piece: Grand Battle!, covers the canon events of the East Blue saga, up until the Foxy’s Return arc. Along with this story mode, Grand Battle! also includes a Training mode, Tourney mode, and a one-or-two player mode known as Grand Battle.
Grand Battle! features a total of nineteen playable characters, including Foxy and Aokiji, who appear for the first time. Critics recommend the game as a fun and visually appealing title for general One Piece fans, but they note that Grand Battle suffers from a lack of innovation, feeling like the standard anime-based fighting game.
6/10 Gungrave Is So Iconic It Spawned Its Own Anime
Most anime-style video games are based around an existing series, but Gungrave is one of those unique video games that birthed its own anime adaptation. The gameplay is rather simple, as players fight their way through hallway-style stages before fighting a final boss at the very end.
In-between these stages, Gungrave’s story is fleshed out in the form of stylistic anime cutscenes. Despite the gameplay only receiving moderate reviews, both the character and mechanical designs met notable praise thanks to the unique style that helped Gungrave stand out.
5/10 Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 Has A Triple-Digit Roster
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is one of countless Dragon Ball fighting games released around this time, but it’s heralded as the single-best title by both fans and critics alike. Budokai Tenkaichi’s roster is enormous, featuring 161 characters, many of them being alternate forms for characters like Goku, Vegeta, and Trunks.
Despite being released as a Dragon Ball Z title, Budokai Tenkaichi 3 also features characters from the original Dragon Ball, as well as GT.There are six core game modes, including the typically expected canon story mode, which covers everything from the Saiyan Saga to the What If Saga.
4/10 .hack//Infection Part 1 Feels Like A Multiplayer, Online Game
Fans of multiplayer online gaming will immediately feel drawn to .hack//Infection Part 1 due to its premise. A young boy named Kite is invited to play an online game by one of his classmates, Orca, and all goes well until an in-game injury causes Orca to slip into a real-life coma.
Kite has no choice but to continue playing if he wants to revive Orca, but things only take a darker twist from there. .hack//Infection simulates an MMORPG without actually including internet connectivity or other real-world players, receiving praise for its storytelling and its genuine feel.
3/10 Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Is A Deep Fighting Game With Unique Characters
Despite not featuring a story mode, which was expected for anime-based battlers at the time, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core became a highly praised fighting game. There were twenty-three total playable characters as part of its roster, as well as three characters who appeared but weren’t playable.
Accent Core is actually the third update to the base Guilty Gear XX game, and it makes a ton of improvements, while allowing players to use the fighting systems from older updates if they choose. Accent Core met high praised for its gameplay and polish, although the A.I. was noted to be brutal in terms of difficulty.
2/10 Arcana Heart Looks Like Fanservice, But Has A Surprising Amount Of Depth
Arcana Heart is an anime-style fighting game that looks like mere fanservice on the surface, but hides a surprising amount of depth underneath. Where Arcana Heart truly stands out is its characters, as unlike other fighting games at the time that have mostly male-dominated rosters, Arcana Heart’s cast is filled entirely with female characters.
Although there are only eleven characters making up Arcana Heart’s cast, players select an Arcana for whichever character they’re playing, which drastically changes their special moves. The fighting system is notably complex, but most of this complexity comes from mastering the timing of recoveries, skill cancellations, and so on.
1/10 Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3 Is Heralded As The Series’ Best Game
Countless Naruto fighting games have been released over the years, but Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 3 is regarded as being one of the best despite its age. Not only does Ultimate Ninja 3 feature a story mode that takes players through almost the entirety of Part One, it also includes a storyline unique to the game and over fifty missions.
Although Ultimate Ninja 3 is primarily a fighting game, its main story mode plays out more similarly to an RPG, letting players level their party and unlock special skills for them before going into battles. There are a total of forty-two playable characters, including alternate transformations for characters like Naruto and Sasuke.
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