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Anime strategy games have played a huge role in the video game industry. Considering that most games used to be turn-based, an element of strategy has always been involved. Is now the time to use heal, go for the kill, revive a party member, perform area magic? These questions are standard affair in even the oldest games. Overtime, though, game designers have developed more and more intricate concepts with new spells, different attacks, and enemies with various weaknesses. This overload of possibilities have, in some ways, made strategy games more interactive than even massive open-world games. So in case your looking for something to take up the rest of your holiday break, then you might find it your time to pick up one of these anime strategy games.
10. Shining Force (Sega Genesis/PlayStation Store)
Yes, this game is from 1992 and yes this series did not continue on past the 90s. However, Shining Force is the JRPG that set the standard for strategy RPGs back in the day. Large maps, challenging enemy arrangements, a mixture of skills, and hidden characters made this game both challenging and exciting. It showed the industry how to best carry forth a story, introduce characters through mission, and challenge the player without punishing them too harshly for failure. Even if you lost a mission or your MC died, you would still retain all the experience and gold earned through your last try. The only punishment is that you have to pay money to bring your character back to life.
9. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (PS2)
The Star Ocean series is one of a few long-running franchises that you’ll run into on this list. With a cast of quirky characters, a massive story, and a lot of fighting; it’s pretty close to shows like Cowboy Bebop. Albeit, this is a videogame on the PS2 and the graphics (though awesome when made) are a bit subpar for today’s standards. That being said, the epic battle system more than makes up for any of the video game’s weaknesses. A mix of strategy and some much needed hacking, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time gives the player control of three characters with which one can map out complex battle strategies. Being able to customize for team attacks or playing towards individual strengths or putting faith in defensive counterattacks is what makes this strategy game so addicting.
8. Suikoden III (PS2)
If you’ve watched the opening credits to Suikoden III, then you probably swore there had to be an anime adaptation of the video game. There are simply so many facets of the game, from plot to character designs, that correspond with anime. The flashy main characters, the unlikely troupe of heroes, and the intersecting destinies are more than enough evidence of that. Enough with the similarities though, Suikoden III is a great strategy game. It requires a lot of mental fortitude on the player’s side to defeat the enemies that line up before you in this world. Choosing between light quick strikes and powerful time-consuming magic while building up each character’s personal skills, demands thoughtful allocation. It’s this type of strategic obligation though that makes employing your team to create devastating attacks.
7. Persona 4 (PS2/PlayStation Store)
Atlus is well-known to gamers as one of the best developers of JRPGs in modern times. The amount of games they have built around the magical ability of summoning demons/sprits/persona from different religions and mythologies is astounding and has yet to become boring. Even though Shin Megami Tensei fans generally refuse to view the Persona series as a serious endeavor, they cannot refute its incredible appeal. Between balancing the character’s daily life with school, work, friendships, and dungeon crawling; it feels like a mix between The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Is it Wrong to Pick up a Girl in a Dungeon. This mixture also happens to be why Persona 3 and 4 both have their own adaptations. But back to the topic at hand, the game blends so many statistics that it’s easy to waste hours grinding stats and fusing persona in order to have the ultimate team. Even the relationships influence growth rates to a degree that can be crucial.
6. Jeanne D'Arc (PSP)
Jeanne D’Arc is a diamond in the rough and needs to get more light thrown its way. The premise follows that of several actual anime with Jeanne D’Arc being a main character (looking at you Fate/Stay series) and her life gets flipped upside down as the 100 Years’ War begins (every anime out there). In terms of strategy, Jeanne D’Arc is both familiar and unique. It’s turn-based and you have a cast of characters to sue, but instead of leveling up to gain skills, characters are given the abilities of the magical stones that they carry. These stones allow for a wide range of abilities as well as a massive amount of allocation. Figuring out the best combination of skills to decimate your enemies provides your mind with a nice little workout and the payoff is awesome. Just add in spiritual affinities that you can affix to characters and your brain will be doing some serious lifting.
5. Pokemon Sun & Moon (Nintendo 3DS)
The beloved Pokemon series has come a long way in its 20-year run, and it is probably one of the top video game franchises in the world. With the latest editions of Sun and Moon, Pokemon has proven that its inherent strategy is still just as addictive as ever. Even without the traditional gyms that acted as the main mental tests for players, Sun and Moon’s trials are just as challenging. That being said, everyone knows the true strategy of Pokemon comes in the competitive leagues. Choosing the right item and ability to go with each Pokemon is necessary to handle battle-ready opponents. Admittedly, there are online guides that can tell you exactly what Pokemon should be in your lineup and what their moves, ability, and item should be. However, this is why online multiplayer is so beneficial for players, as it forces us to predict your opponent’s next move, whether it be an attack or a switch.
4. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance (PS4)
Playing Disgaea is like watching Nichijou. It is funny, fast-paced, and deceptively intelligent, which is exactly why they made an anime of the first series and why Disgaea 4 and 5 should get their own adaptations. What’s unique about the Disgaea series is that it is the sandbox type strategy game that you can spend 100’s of hours on. Outside of just the main story arc, you can jump into the worlds of items and stats to increase them to ridiculous degrees while taking on hordes of enemies. Now, this might not sound different from any other type of video game, but the maps you are thrown into are full of magical squares that have both massive benefits and disadvantages that can suddenly throw your easy victory into utter defeat. Learning to not only navigate such fields but also clear such fields of their magical properties requires a lot of calculating, especially if you don’t want any of your own characters to take damage. Oh, and a nice little bonus of this series is that it is riddle with anime tropes.
3. Devil Survivor Overclocked Nintendo (3DS)
Another Atlus game greets the list and this time a more faithful entry to the Shin Megami Tensei difficulty. Now even though most SMT games have anime-influenced artwork, Devil Survivor is one of the few to actually have an anime made from it, which is why it gets to represent the true SMT line. Now, Devil Survivor is an intricate chess match that demands player precision with each move. A miscalculated step can and will most likely lead to death. However, it’s not just the tactical know-how that makes this strategy game so fun. The aspect of summoning demons, which have ties to so many different lore, creates a unique fantasy world. It gives the game a massive amount of hidden depth as you work your way through the demon compendium and the storyline.
2. Fire Emblem Fates (Nintendo 3DS)
If you’re still not familiar with this 26-year-old game series, then now is a good time to get acquainted with it. If you’re already familiar with it, then maybe you can explain why one of the oldest editions is the only one with an anime. The level to which Fire Emblem Fates needs an anime aside, this franchise provides some of the best tactical gameplay out there. Though Awakening and Birthright are somewhat easy games, any other entry in the series requires quite a lot of planning. Properly utilizing spells, weapons, potions, and of course your units requires constant battle awareness, both on and off the field. If you forget to replenish your stocks after a battle then chances are you’re going to lose a character the next match, if not the entire battle. Plus, many stages require a specific use character strengths in order to come out on top.
1. Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)
Possibly one of the best strategy RPGs out there that doesn’t come from a long-running series, Valkyria Chronicles is a gem among gems. A mixture of chess and third-person shooter, the game feels extremely interactive and demands thoughtful execution from the player, You start with choosing your players, deciding the make-up of your team (there are a few classes) and choose their starting position, while having limited intelligence of enemy positions. From there you click on a unit and control from behind the shoulder as you traverse the field. Discovering enemy whereabouts and arranging your team correctly is the difference between victory and defeat. All of that aside, Valkyria Chronicles gets a lot of bonus points for unfolding like an anime. It even has its own version of the beach/water park episode.
There you have it. The top 10 anime strategy games out there. If a friend or loved one is a fan of anime or games, then you can’t go wrong buying him/her one of the these over the winter season. Just make sure he/she doesn’t already have it, because these games are hot!