It’s A Shame Anime Games Waste All Their Potential Just To Become An Arena Fighter

When will they realize it's not the only genre out there?

Story Highlights

  • Recently, just about every popular anime that gets a game adaptation is a repetitive arena fighter.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash was the latest monotonous arena fighter and was a big flop.
  • Just because it worked for Dragon Ball and Naruto, doesn’t mean no other genre even exists now.

The concept of adaptations is pretty well-established in entertainment media, and video games are no exception. It works both ways; either books, movies, etc. receive a video game adaptation, or a particularly well-received game gets adapted into a movie or TV series. Uncharted and The Last of Us are some of the examples. And when it comes to video game adaptations, there’s one particularly favored medium: Anime.

Long before I started following anime, JRPGs were some of my favorite games. In fact, I got into them because of JRPGs in the first place. It wasn’t long before anime became mainstream enough to start receiving video game adaptations. Although there’s no shortage of anime games these days, there’s one thing that bothers me. They haven’t quite escaped the “arena fighter” domain.

Do anime games see no other genre than arena fighters?
Do anime games see no other genre than arena fighters?

Demon Slayer, My Hero Academia, One Punch Man, What Else Will Follow The “Arena Fighter” Trend?

So, what exactly is an “Arena Fighter” and how is it different from fighting games you ask? In essence, it’s a 3D fighting genre where two characters or two teams occupy opposite positions in an arena, the camera takes a third-person-like approach and you fight it out with flashy moves and 3D orientation, in contrast to the 2-2.5 D arrangement of fighting games and a restricted side-view background. 

It’s not essentially a bad genre in itself, it’s the oversaturation and extreme repetition that leaves a bad aftertaste now whenever I play a new one. I mean, once or twice it worked. Twenty different games with the same mechanics? Give me a break, please. It’s like the word anime game has become synonymous with arena fighter lately, do we pretend no other genre even exists?

A meme showing frustration with anime fighting games these days
byu/ComprehensiveDate591 inFighters

Now, when I hear about a new anime game, the first thing that comes to my mind is “Another arena fighter, huh?” And can you blame me? Demon Slayer game is an arena fighter. The highly creative Shounen jump collaboration: Jump Force is an arena fighter. Did you know that One Punch Man got a game, too, but guess what? It’s an arena fighter.

Jujutsu Kaisen Was Yet Another Arena Fighter And A Major Flop

The Shounen anime legacy continues even today when the torch is passed onto a new one. It started with stuff like Dragon Ball, Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece, and now we have My Hero Academia, Black Clover, Demon Slayer, etc. While their quality is a different debate, the fact remains the genre continues to thrive at the hands of these “new guys.” And one of the newest entry to this family was Jujutsu Kaisen.

Featuring interesting characters, over-the-top superpowers and the concept of curses earned this newcomer a solid reputation, enough to warrant a video game adaptation. But, you guessed it, it’s another arena fighter! (Oh, the horror). And people have had it with this genre it seems.

People who played Jujutsu kaisen cursed Clash , is the game good?
byu/Illustrious-Sky-4631 inJujutsufolk

Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash was released to a horrendous reception. It was a highly cliched game with little to no novelty and just about every “anime arena fighter” trope I could think of. Not only did it flop hard, but everyone who bought it started refunding pretty soon.

If there’s one thing everyone agrees on over at the Steam forums, it’s “Nah, I’ll refund.

Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash is everything that's wrong with today's anime games
Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash is everything that’s wrong with today’s anime games

This massive flop needs to serve as a wake-up call for all anime game developers. A shounen is not automatically an arena fighter; this mentality needs to stop. These anime carry their own identity, they don’t need to chase after what their predecessors did

I Blame Dragon Ball And Naruto’s Success For This Curse

You must be wondering, there has to be some origin of the arena fighter genre that influenced practically every new anime game. And you’re not wrong in thinking that, it indeed started with some of the most renowned anime, Dragon Ball and Naruto. The Tenkaichi and Storm series success is responsible for all this.

Why did the shitty arena fighter have to be the one that lived on?
byu/jayvancealot inKappachino

No one even stopped to think for a moment that just because it worked for these two, doesn’t mean it would for others as well. In fact, when these two series started overusing this concept, I was pretty upset with that, too. Dragon Ball spiced things up with the brilliant Fighter Z, but the Xenoverse series is still being needlessly prolonged, and Kakarot was yet another arena fighter.

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 has long overstayed its welcome
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 has long overstayed its welcome

And Naruto is an even worse offender. I mean, at least Dragon Ball games did go out of the arena fighter genre, but after the Storm series’ success, Naruto’s fixation on the genre spiraled out of control. The entire saga had already been adapted into arena fighter games, yet we got another one that essentially added nothing other than a half-baked nostalgia trip.

Paint it in any fancy nostalgia you want, the arena fighter underneath shows its oversaturation nonetheless.

Plenty Of Genres Remain Unexplored, Why Not Go For Those?

At this point, even if an anime arena fighter features creative mechanics, it will never escape the burnout that excessive use of this formula has created. It’s high time developers start exploring other genres. They should have done so in the first place, anime are not so shallow that they can only make arena fighter games.

Shonen anime should have more games that aren’t fighting games
byu/leiablaze inTwoBestFriendsPlay

Just take a look at One Piece. Just like Naruto was a pro-arena fighter, One Piece was all about the Musou genre. It’s not like it was doing poorly, Pirate Warriors 4 was solid, but the anime still experimented with a new genre. One Piece Odyssey was a turn-based RPG, and boy was it a ton of fun. The setting and mechanics fit One Piece’s characters extremely well and create an exceptional adventure.

If One Piece can do it, I see no reason why some of these other shounen can’t. Turn-based RPG was just one example, there are plenty of genres out there that can suit the rich presentation of Shounen anime a lot better than Arena Fighter, they’re just waiting to be explored. 

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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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