Sand Land Is A Breath Of Fresh Air Among All These Anime Arena Fighters

Instead of chasing trends, finding your own strengths is important.

Story Highlights

  • Sand Land, Toriyama’s creative shounen manga has received an open-world RPG game adaptation.
  • With a heartwarming shounen plot, wacky themes, and enjoyable gameplay, it’s a breath of fresh air.
  • Anime games only see a single genre, Arena Fighters. It’s about time they escaped that loop.

Anime and manga are a rich and diverse medium with something for everyone, except when it comes to games. When immensely popular shows like Dragon Ball and Naruto opted for arena fighters and succeeded, every subsequent anime thought “Arena Fighters is where it’s at, let us do the same,” instead of exploring their own strengths. Soon, the repetitive genre was the only thing we were left with.

In this monotonous time, came Sand Land to prove just how much good an anime game can do when it explores new possibilities. It’s a shounen, but didn’t succumb to the curse. Created by Akira Toriyama, the legend is no longer with us, but his works continue to inspire.

YouTube video

What Is Sand Land? Mad Max Meets Anime

Akira Toriyama was far and wide known for Dragon Ball in particular, but he also had other mangas like Dr. Slump and Sand Land. Although Dragon Ball is what brought him international recognition and success, his other works were also pretty brilliant. Dr. Slump was a very popular product of its time, and Sand Land is a rather short but heartwarming story.

Without going into any spoilers, let me discuss the premise a little. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by war and natural disasters, where water is deficient and what little’s left is under the tyrannical possession of a king.

Panel from toriyama’s ‘Sand Land’, from the year 2000. It’s plausible!!
byu/magicmonkey1992 indragonquest

Tired of the oppression, one mysterious old man rises up and enlists the help of the demons of Sand Land, particularly the demon prince Beelzebub, the protagonist of our story. It’s a very shonen-esque story filled with friendship, fighting oppression, and banding together for a just cause, all executed very well. And while the story may be different, the premise and presentation are an anime-style Mad Max.

Sand Land, the Mad Max-but-anime | Source: Crunchyroll
Sand Land, the Mad Max-but-anime | Source: Crunchyroll

An Anime Game Done Right

That’s all good, but I’m sure you came here to know about the video game adaptation, so let’s cut to the chase. To answer that question, the Sand Land game is without a doubt a highly enjoyable adventure you shouldn’t miss out on. Its vibrant visuals, creative gameplay elements, and superb vehicular joy come together to paint a beautiful picture.

Sand Land: The First 15 Minutes of Gameplay
byu/pezdespo inPS5

In terms of the story, the game closely follows the original plot, albeit with a little more filled pasted in between to populate its world. The open world itself is nothing to write home about, but it’s not a boring mess, either. There’s plenty of incentive to go around and roam the scorching desert in your funny-looking tank.

The gameplay is where things get very interesting. From hand-to-hand brawls utilizing Beelzebub’s might, allies lending aid amidst the heat of battle, creative mission design with exploration intent and unique mechanics like stealth rooms, and the no-holds-barred shoot ’em-up style of the vehicles, Sand Land is a true shounen romp packed brilliantly in the video game.

A wacky shounen adventure was all that I wanted | Source: eXputer
A wacky shounen adventure was all that I wanted | Source: eXputer

Sure, it has some problems, but at least it doesn’t shy away from trying something new and unique, which is a lot more than I can say for many of the other anime games around.

A Much-Needed Break From Arena Fighters

Sand Land itself is a very well-done game, but there’s another reason why I keep it in such high regard. It’s the fact that it broke away the curse of every new anime game being a copy-pasted arena fighter. I’ve already discussed in detail just how monotonous and boring this overuse of the concept has become.

The Arena Fighters curse is real | Source: eXputer
The Arena Fighters curse is real | Source: eXputer

Dragon Ball and Naruto succeeded in it, yes, but that doesn’t mean every subsequent anime gives up its identity trying to replicate that success when it should be playing to its strengths. One Punch Man, My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer, Jujutsu Kaisen, practically every anime game ends up becoming an arena fighter in one way or another.

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

Take a step back and ponder for a moment. Can anime games only be arena fighters and nothing else? Is the source medium so one-trick-pony that only arena fighters can come out of it? You know as well as I do that that’s not the case. We have examples of novel anime games, a very recent one is One Piece Odyssey; an absolute gem

Sand Land’s Example Needs To Be Replicated

This brings me to the crux of my discussion. I wanted to highlight just how impressive Sand Land was, primarily because it was a breath of fresh air from all these suffocating arena fighters shoved in our faces. Toriyama’s parting gift boldly announces that anime games can indeed be versatile and unique, you just need to give it a try.

Thus, subsequent games must follow this example. Anime is a very rich and beloved medium with unimaginable depth and versatility. It’s practically an insult that it be translated only into arena fighters, when in fact, it can do much more, much better.

We need less anime arena fighters and more games that capture the true essence of the shounen genre
byu/leiablaze inTwoBestFriendsPlay

I hope Sand Land becomes the trigger for more anime games exploring the many genres out there just waiting to be utilized.

Did you find this helpful? Leave feedback below.

Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡

How can we make this post better? Your help would be appreciated. ✍

Subscribe to our newsletter and get up-to-speed gaming updates delivered to your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read more in our privacy policy.

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.

Related Articles

Join Our Community

Enjoyed this article? Discuss the latest gaming news, get expert help with guides and errors, and chat about all things gaming on eXputer Forums and Discord Server. Connect with fellow gamers who share your passion by becoming a part of eXputer's community.