Top 10 Arcade Anime Games [Best Recommendations]

Growing up in the 90’s was a time of prosperity for those who lived in the west, because that was the time when the arcade scene was booming and many players would flock to them to play the latest titles. Unfortunately, much of that prosperity has dissipated since now almost all arcades in the west have either gone out of business, or no longer serve a purpose anymore. In Japan, however, that is entirely the opposite as the arcade scene is still incredibly popular, with a plethora of new titles being released consistently to maintain a seamless trend of excitement for those passionate about the home of gaming. We’re situated right in the heart of Akihabara so we’re going to give you a closer look at the top 10 Arcade anime games that are currently heating things up in the arcade scene.

10. Ultra Street Fighter IV

  • System/Platform: Arcade, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: April 18, 2014

When Ultra Street Fighter IV debuted in arcades, it was seriously a feat to find a cabinet to sit on and just train for a while. We managed to meet with Yoshinori Ono, the producer of the title at one of the early location tests, and we were starstruck because we had never been able to meet the man in person. A truly memorable experience. Ultra Street Fighter IV was the upgrade from the already popular Super Street Fighter IV, but threw in a ton of updates along with new character appearances that just made everyone go wild. It didn’t matter what part of Japan you lived in, everyone would flock to Shinjuku’s Taito Station to play against the world’s best, such as Tokido and Daigo Umehara.

Now with Street Fighter V currently on consoles, the heart and soul of the SF franchise has somewhat waned over the past year, and now only the very hardcore fans of Ultra Street Fighter IV go to the arcades to play. Good news however is that recently there was an announcement that SFV would be coming to arcades, so fans of the series may want to start saving up their yen again!


9. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

  • System/Platform: Arcade, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
  • Publisher: Atlus
  • Developer: Arc System Works | Atlus
  • Release Date: November 28, 2013

Persona has always been a series that many anime fans admire, simply due to the remarkable story telling and riveting narrative that the series has mastered over the years. You take all of that success and throw it into the arcades as a fighting title, and you have yourself a pretty popular arcade game for fans to try out. When Persona 4 Arena Ultimax was announced, more people came out to play the title since it received an overhaul of updates.

The title may not have the same hype as it used to back when it was first announced, considering that the arcade scene is constantly evolving and more titles are being released every year. That isn’t to say that people don’t play Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, but compared to its early years it seems more people have decided to perhaps play Persona 5 or Blazblue instead. Nevertheless, this is one title that any fighting game fan should try out because it’s truly a unique experience.


8. Hatsune Miku Project DIVA Arcade: Future Tone

  • System/Platform: Arcade, PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Sega | Dwango Music Entertainment
  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: November 21, 2013

Rhythm games are incredibly popular in Japanese arcades that it’s oftentimes difficult to find a free cabinet to play on. No matter the time of the day arcades in Japan are always busy with young teenagers or just hardcore arcade fans who just love the atmosphere. The minute you ascend to the rhythm game floor (each floor is separated by the genre of game) you’re greeted with a cornucopia of titles such as Groove Coaster, Jubeat, and of course every otaku’s favorite Hatsune Miku.

The Project DIVA series has done a fantastic job of selling units on the PSP, and PS Vita along with the more recent PS4 and Steam additions, but Hatsune Miku truly shines in the arcades. Project DIVA Arcade: Future Tone is the latest installment in the popular rhythm series where you star as Hatsune Miku and must follow the symbols on screen along with the music playing in the background. Timing and coordination is everything, so listening attentively to the beat will give you the upperhand when progressing through the game. It’s addictive, entertaining and truly satisfying, so if you ever go to Akihabara’s arcades, be sure to check out Hatsune Miku Project DIVA Arcade: Future Tone.


7. Final Fantasy Dissidia

  • System/Platform: Arcade
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Developer: Team Ninja
  • Release Date: November 26, 2015

When Final Fantasy Dissidia was announced, every FF fan stormed out of their house and made sure to carry a bag full of yen to the nearest arcade. Originally taking off on the PSP, the arcade version comes with all of the bells and whistles you expect but throws in a lot more features to really make the title shine. You choose from a list of characters, all of which stem from various Final Fantasy stories and take them out into the battlefield where you hack and cast spells to defeat the enemy, claiming the top spot on the rankings.

We can still remember our first week with the game being such a blast because it all felt so reminiscent of the previous title, but the arcade controls and features really took it up a notch and created a new sense of excitement. Every battle was intense, with enemies flying at you from all different directions and so you needed to be on alert at all times, switching the targets constantly to keep track of who’s alive to attack you. While the popularity of the game has somewhat died down in the recent months, Final Fantasy Dissidia is a wonderful title for anyone who’s a FF fan and wants an experience that you can’t find anywhere else other than the arcades in Japan.


6. Puyo Puyo Tetris

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Sonic Team
  • Release Date: February 16, 2014

Tetris made sure to leave its mark on the game industry as being one of the pioneers of the puzzle genre, and to this day many still consider it to be one of the greatest games ever made. The mechanics are very simple, all you need to do is make sure that your blocks align with the other blocks so that they make room for new ones to continue racking up points. The challenging aspect behind it was keeping up with the speed since each level progressively got more faster, which meant your reaction time needed to be on point at all times.

Fast forward to present day and now Sega has taken the classic title and created Puyo Puyo Tetris, a title that still feels a lot like Tetris but with a lot more added features to keep things fresh. One major feature of course is the entire appearance of it, since everything has now been altered to create a more anime feel, and instead of solid blocks, you drop much cuter Tetriminoes that closely resemble their ancestors. Puyo Puyo Tetris is highly competitive and the wonderful aspect about it is that it targets every demographic perfectly without diminishing the Tetris aesthetic. If you love puzzle games with a nice twist, then be sure to check out Sega’s popular Puyo Puyo Tetris which is now out on consoles too!


5. Pokken Tournament

  • System/Platform: Arcade, Nintendo Wii U
  • Publisher: The Pokemon Company
  • Developer: Bandai Namco Studios
  • Release Date: July 16, 2015

When Bandai Namco announced that they’d be teaming up with Tekken’s Harada-san to create a Pokemon fighting game, many speculated whether it was a new Pokemon Stadium. When the dust cleared however we were greeted with something even more thrilling, and that was Pokken Tournament. Taking everything you love from Tekken’s fighting game franchise and tossing Pokemon into the mix was just the right solution to have fans rejoicing, and jumping for joy. With more and more Pokemon being announced for the title, Pokken Tournament is shaping up to be one of the better fighting games at the arcades.

Pokken Tournament is everything you’d expect from the Pokemon side of things, but throwing in the 3D fighting aspect was a total surprise but really meshed well. The cabinet is set up with a unique controller that works exceptionally well with the game, and the mechanics are quite easy to understand once you spend a good chunk of time training. Once you’ve chosen your favorite Pokemon, it’s then time to hit up the arena to see who takes the number one spot in the illustrious Pokken Tournament.


4. Initial D Arcade Stage 8

  • System/Platform: Arcade
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: July 17, 2014

There’s no arguing that Initial D is perhaps the best racing anime ever created, with Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune coming in a close second. When you take all of the rush and excitement from the anime and throw that all into an arcade experience, you’re rewarded with a game that’s not only a blast to play but also a thrill to listen to. We say listen because as you race through Mount Akina or hit up the downhill course in Myougi, you’re greeted with some heart pumping eurobeats to keep the adrenaline rush at maximum.

Arcade Stage 8 is the most recent Initial D title out in arcades, but just last year Initial D Arcade Stage Zero was announced, and had location tests set up for fans of the series to try out. The reason for Initial D’s surge in popularity is simply down to the action and rush you feel when Takumi overtakes his opponent, and that eurobeat turns up to create more hype. Now you can take that very same hype to the arcade and compete nationwide against other passionate JDM fans who will stop at nothing to ensure they’re the king (or queen) of the drift.


3. Gundam Extreme Vs Maxi Boost ON

  • System/Platform: Arcade
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
  • Developer: Bandai Namco Games
  • Release Date: March 9, 2016

Gundam EXtreme vs has really taken off in popularity ever since its initial debut and now with Maxi Boost ON currently being the current hit, Bandai Namco’s flagship title is soaring high in the arcade scene. For those who haven’t played the Extreme vs series, it’s essentially a fighting game that takes place in a 3D environment where you and your team must eliminate the opposing side and their Gundams before time runs out.

You can choose from a long list of Gundams, all of which stem from different arcs in the series and come with their own strengths and weaknesses. Once you get the hang of the controls along with being able to react on the fly, Extreme vs Maxi Boost ON is an incredibly addictive title that you simply can’t let go of. Every second is filled with non stop action, laser beams traveling across the screen with Gundams dashing and evading attacks left right and center. When you come to Japan, be sure to drop a few 100 yen on this title because at the moment competition is heating up.


2. Blazblue Central Fiction

  • System/Platform: Arcade, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Arc System Works | Aksys Games
  • Developer: Arc System Works
  • Release Date: November 19, 2015

Blazblue has been the go to fighting game for any anime fan, and with Arc System Works dropping the most recent update to the popular franchise, Central Fiction, fans of the series will have a lot to be excited about. We put together a review of Blazblue Central Fiction that you can take a look at in our gaming section, so if you’d like to know more details pertaining to what features are in the game be sure to check it out.

Blazblue is heavily followed in Japan, with herds of players running to the cabinets to face off against each other to see who can take the number one spot. It’s truly a spectacle to watch because these players pour hours upon hours into the game with their favorite character, and make everything seem so easy when in fact it takes some high execution to pull flashy combos. One great aspect about Blazblue when compared to other games is that it speaks to not only the male oriented audience, but you’ll see a ton of high level female players duking it out as well. The roster is massive which allows for more variety at high level play, but even at a casual level Blazblue Central Fiction is a blast to play whether you’re at the arcade or at home.


1. Gunslinger Stratos

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  • System/Platform: Arcade
  • Publisher: Square Enix Holdings
  • Developer: Byking
  • Release Date: July 12, 2012

While many in the west are unfamiliar with Gunslinger Stratos, the title is almost always occupied whenever you go to the popular arcade spots around Tokyo. With monthly tournaments that are streamed frequently, along with constant updates to keep the game fresh every time, Gunslinger Stratos is arguably the most popular arcade title out at the moment. You take control of a character as you dash and fly around the map trying to eliminate your opponents as quickly as possible. You can work as a team or individually as you try to shoot your enemies out of the air with your weapons.

Think of Gunslinger Stratos as a third person shooter title that plays a lot like J Stars Victory Vs in regards to the combat mechanics, combined with the high flying fast paced action that you’d find in a gundam game. It’s truly an exciting game not only to watch but to play also, and with Taito and Square Enix working together to always treat fans with exclusive costumes, weapons and more, Gunslinger Stratos will continue to shoot down the competition in style.


Final Thoughts

We simply cannot forget the Hokuto no Ken fighting series that still continues to get play time in certain arcades across Japan, along with other fantastic titles like Dead or Alive, Wangan Midnight, Tekken, Idolmaster and more. Whatever your cup of tea, the Japanese arcade anime scene has a lot to offer any fan and with constant updates being made throughout the year, you can expect there to be a ton more coming down the pipeline. The arcade scene is not dying in Japan anytime soon. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and to like and retweet our articles to keep the community buzzing!

As always, if you want to know about all the latest buzz straight from the bee’s nest in Japan, be sure to keep it locked here at Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Editor/Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

100% Vegan. A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and join me on Discord! Take care!

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