5 Japanese Games that would make Horrible Anime

Especially in the midst of the success of the Ace Attorney anime and the convention season, everyone loves talking about what games they think would make good anime–particularly Japanese games for obvious reasons. I’ve watched a pretty fair share in anime in my day, I even co-host a podcast on anime. My point being, I think I know enough about anime and the anime industry that I could make some pretty sound predictions about Japanese games that wouldn’t make good anime. But just to make sure we’re on the same page for this list, let me lay out some rules and disclaimers:

 

 

  • This is NOT a list of my least favorite Japanese games. I’ve exclusively selected games that I like for this list to help get my point across.

  • All the games on this list are Japanese, but they’re not all JRPGs
  • All these are games have not received an anime adaption
  • I’m not saying that these would 100% definitely make bad anime–nor am I implying that they ever will get anime. I have no way of knowing if any of these will ever get an anime, nor would I have any way of knowing if they were bad unless I’ve watched them. These are just educated guesses–games that I think would have a significantly higher chance at having a bad anime regardless of circumstances.
  • When I say “anime” I mean anime–not an OVA, not a movie, not a special. I mean a full-blown anime with at least 12 episodes, though almost certainly more. The fact that most anime from the last decade are 12, 24-26, or 52 episodes should be kept in mind, though. I’m assuming the anime would be an adaptation of the games (EX: Persona 4, Ace Attorney) NOT a continuation, re-imagining, or separate story of any kind (EX: any of the .hack// anime, Advent Children)

On that note…

 

Zero Escape (999/Virtue’s Last Reward/Zero Time Dilemma)

via redbrick.me

Any Zero Escape game–especially Zero Time Dilemma–would make a horrible anime for the same reason Watchmen made a horrible movie and Bioshock would make a horrible anything-but-a-game: The medium this story was told through is no accident–it’s a story that only works as a game. The major theme of the series is learning that your decisions–not the characters in the game, but you, the player–in the game come at a cost, and ultimately, you have to go through every decision to reach a true ending. In an anime, you’d lose that theme: It’s a theme that only works as a game because it’s a theme that thrives on the player’s decision’s. Moreover, without spoiling it, I’ll say that it would also ruin the point of the ending of Zero Time Dilemma, as it also plays into the theme of the player’s choices–not the characters in the game, but the player themselves–will always come at a cost. It’s a very subtle but graceful way of breaking the fourth wall that only works through a medium in which you yourself can make a conscious decision–a medium like a game. In an anime, you don’t have to make decisions, the characters do, and therefore the theme is lost. Again: Bioshock does the exact same thing which is why the idea of a Bioshock movie absolutely sickens me. Watchmen does this as well (although in comic book form) which is partially why the movie never stood a chance at being good.

The entire Silent Hill franchise

via criticalteatime.wordpress.com

Silent Hill is a very tricky beast when it comes to adaptation. As you may or may not know, there have already been 2 Silent Hill movies made in the West. Personally, I think they’re okay movies as long as you’re not considering them to be adaptations of their games (Silent Hill 1 and 3) but rather, a re-imagining. If nothing else, like their games, they’re visually stunning. But there’s a number of reasons why I think any given Silent Hill game wouldn’t make a good anime: First and foremost, the visuals. Silent Hill games are generally made to look like horror movies, which is why we see a realistic art style and dynamic camera angles in each entry. By making it look, well…anime, it loses its tone of realism, and thus a lot of the seriousness would be lost as well as the idea of it being like a horror movie–because now it simply doesn’t look like one. Secondly, it’s a survival horror series: By making it an anime–something you watch rather than experience, you lose the survival aspect of it–therefore losing even more of what makes it Silent Hill. Finally, another important theme in Silent Hill is exploration: Wandering around the almost barren, unfamiliar streets of Silent Hill and exploring–at least when you’re not greeted by a locked door. It’s one thing when you’re the one doing the exploring–it’s another watching someone do it. Although I doubt it would be awful, and of the games on this list I think that (if it were Silent Hill 1-4) a Silent Hill game would have a higher chance of being at least somewhat more interesting than the rest of these, but because so much of the already short Silent Hill games are spent exploring and solving puzzles, I doubt simply watching it (which you’d almost certainly have to because Silent Hill games are so short) would be as fun. Without a doubt it would lead to pacing issues that simply aren’t present in the games. I think that, if done properly, a really good Silent Hill–and I mean really good–movie is very possible. It’s already been proven that it can at least be okay. I just don’t think that, primarily due to the length which would definitely cause pacing issues, art styles, and lack of involvement, a Silent Hill anime would likely get really stale and repetitive really fast.

Besides, if the Silent Hill game that got an anime happened to be Book of Memories, that alone would be a red flag.

The entire Kingdom Hearts franchise

via gamezone.com

As dearly beloved (ba dum tssss) as Kingdom Hearts is, it should come as no surprise that it’s on this list. First of all, the length. Between all the games,  it would probably take so long to finish a Kingdom Hearts anime that covered everything that Kingdom Hearts 3 would probably be out by the time the anime finished–and that’s assuming that its production company would give it all the time it needs rather than restricting its episode count like practically every anime to have come out in the past 10 years as I mentioned at the beginning of the article. Second, Kingdom Hearts is infamous for its horrible, incomprehensible writing. Especially if it had to be shortened and thus further rushing the already questionble writing, you’ll do Kingdom Hearts no favors. If you take the game play out of Kingdom Hearts, you’re left with a story that loses itself in its alleged symbolism, clearly doesn’t know where its been or where its going, and tries entirely too hard to be emotional and unpredictable to the point where it becomes the entire opposite: Dry, predictable, and forceful (and thus highly unsuccessful) in its “emotional plot twists.” The characters make it no better, since almost all of them are two-dimensional tropes rather than characters. The whole thing would look like a desperate attempt by the devs to see how many Disney characters they can throw in before Disney will finally sleep with them and give them some royalties.

In other words, I’m saying a Kingdom Hearts anime would be awful because it would be Once Upon a Time, but animated.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

via dorkly.com

When I think about why Ocarina of Time is such a fun game, I think about the freedom of the game: Freedom to forget the story and go on side quests whenever you want, freedom to leave the temple and explore, a huge open world with so much to explore and dozens–if not hundreds–of secrets to uncover. Sure, none of these things are required to beat the game, but they make it exponentially more fun. Ocarina of Time isn’t a very story-driven game–at least not very much compared to other Zelda games. This is a game that emphasizes the player’s freedom and wants you to get distracted and take your time and do what you want, when you want. This is a theme common in Zelda games, but is most prevalent in Ocarina of Time–at least out of the Zelda games I’ve played. I’m not an expert when it comes to The Legend of Zelda. Far from it. However, without the sense of freedom to do what you want when you want–not to mention the game play and the puzzles–I think Ocarina of Time would suffer more than any other Zelda game to rely entirely on its writing, characters, and story alone–free of side quests or distractions of any kind–as an anime would have to. Because it was made to be such a free game, the story isn’t as interesting as it is in other Zelda games–particularly Majora’s Mask, which has excellent storytelling in addition to freedom and fun game play. In short, Ocarina of Time wouldn’t be very interesting to watch because it would likely turn into another generic adventure anime with no particular highlights. Whereas games like Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess, for example, could still be found generally enjoyable relying on just their writing, Ocarina would struggle exponentially more than them because it simply has less writing because the game emphasizes freedom and game play more than any other Zelda game. The fun of Ocarina of Time comes from its freedom and game play–not the writing and story.

 

Anything Donkey Kong related

 

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, to help get my point across, I exclusively used games that I love for this list–including Kingdom Hearts, which I know is probably hard to believe at this point since I trash talked it so much, I’m sure. This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t watch any of these anime though: If an anime were announced for any of these titles tomorrow, I’d absolutely watch them. I just wouldn’t count on them being good unless it were a side story or a retelling of some kind. Regardless, I’d like to encourage leaving comments with your thoughts: What are some games you like that you think would make awful anime? Why? Do you disagree with any of the games on this list? Did I leave anything out? Again, in the pursuit of knowledge, I’d like to heavily encourage feedback.

Zero Time Dilemma: A Spoiler-Free Review

This is a spoiler-free review. No Zero Time Dilemma (henceforth ZTD) spoilers, no Virtue’s Last Reward (henceforth VLR), and no 999 spoilers. Read to your heart’s content, but know that this is a trilogy that needs to be played in order: 999, VLR, and then ZTD. DO NOT play ZTD with having first played 999 and then VLR because several very important scenes won’t make sense, and moreover, you’ll spoil 999 and VLR for yourself.

 

 

It’s no secret that I’m quite a big fan of the Zero Escape series.

ZE

Being the finishing piece in a trilogy of critically acclaimed games, ZTD had very high expectations for its release. Ignoring the Amazon snafu (which thankfully, didn’t affect me) it seems to have been very well received within its first week, and definitely living up to the hype. Like many other fans, I’ve been looking forward to this game since before its release was even confirmed. I had high hopes. Seeing as how I picked it up on a Tuesday and beat it the following Friday, I’d say it didn’t disappoint.

 

 

Writing:

Arguably the most important part of a Zero Escape game is its writing. Most notably, it’s unique, almost Bioshock-esque way of strongly yet gracefully breaking the fourth wall—which is stronger than ever in ZTD. The plot, at its base, remains unchanged: Nine people are captured by a mysterious figure going by the name of Zero, who tells them that they must risk their lives and play his game to escape a confined area. Taking place one year after 999, it features the two main protagonists of 999, the two main protagonists of VLR, and 5 new characters. Unlike any other Zero Escape game, , character interactions feel more personal in this game because there are simply more characters who knew each other prior to the events of ZTD. Moreover, they’re the most bold, dynamic group we’ve seen in a Zero Escape game. Watching them interact with each other throughout the course of the game an seeing just how even the smallest things can set them off and how it effects everyone else—very much like a domino effect—is one of the best parts of the game. Moreso than any other Zero Escape game, ZTD truly brings the player into its world with its writing. The only main flaw with the writing is that whereas most of it is so detailed and well-thought out (like these games have been in the past) certain aspects of it (which I won’t mention specifically, but the image will say it all for those of you who have played the game, I’m sure) seemed to be written hastily, as they were never fully explained, and in some aspects, almost seem contradictory to previously established facts and traits of certain characters. Compared to the otherwise stellar writing in the game, it makes it all the more obvious when something wasn’t thought out to the fullest. Fortunately, this only happens a small number of times, but unfortunately, it only makes it all the more obvious and disappointing when it does happen. Although the writing in this game isn’t perfect, and definitely flawed by the aforementioned hasty sections, overall it’s still wonderful: All the questions left behind from 999 and VLR have been answered (albeit, some of them answered poorly, but answered nonetheless.) It’s worth mentioning, however, that this game left behind a few small questions itself. Not a ton of questions, but enough, I think, to warrant making an epilogue.

This just in: Local Man Ruins Everything via koizumiappreciation.tumblr.com

 

Gameplay:

The gameplay of ZTD consists of 3 major things: Shifting from fragment to fragment, puzzles, and decision games. Without any kind of context, the player is thrown into a story that, rather than being linear, is scattered into fragments. These fragments are bits of the story through the perspective of different groups of characters. You play as the different groups at different times, making different decisions that will affect other fragments. When it comes times to make choices, the story will branch based on what you choose, though you will return later to see what would happen had you done something else. When you switch to a new fragment, it’s referred to as “shifting” and there are characters who become aware of it, eventually, which is one of the major factors that the plot revolves around. Ultimately, you’ll be exploring every possible fragment and seeing every possible outcome and using your knowledge of the story to lead you to one true ending. Through this, you get to see the story unfold in a way unlike any other game. Additionally, there is a flowchart to help you keep track of the chronological order of everything.

via TechRaptor

Secondly, there are the puzzles. This is wherein the most gameplay resides. Throughout the game, you’ll be trapped in 13 different rooms and, through a series of puzzles and use of just about anything you can fin in the room, must escape. Additionally, many times the rooms will contain something that’s relevant to the plot, as well, so it’s not like you can just escape from a room and be done with it. What you find in that room remains relevant. Just as its the nature of a Zero Escape game to have these puzzles, though, it’s also in their nature to be quite… obtuse. ZTD is very interesting in this regard because there are many escape puzzles in this game which are, for a Zero Escape game (which are already known to be pretty tricky unless you’re using a guide or a walkthrough) pretty easy. These games make it no secret that they want you to use your brain—whether its in the scientifically-inclined writing or the gameplay. Despite that, however, most of the puzzles in this game didn’t feel as challenging as they were in the previous entries. On the other hand, the rooms that were difficult were obscenely difficult. There’s very little in-between, making it really hard to say whether this game is an easy or hard one overall—especially considering that you can do these rooms in any order you want because of the non-linear nature of this game.

via usgamer

Finally, there’s the decisions. Zero has gathered and trapped our nine protagonists to play the Decision Game. Essentially, what that means is, he reveals to them that to escape they need 6 X-Passes. Every time someone dies, an X-Pass is revealed—essentially meaning that to escape, 6 people must die. To add to the suspense, he constantly puts the characters in very difficult situations and puts them into (usually) life-threatning decisions: The Decision Game. You, the player, will be the one making the decision. As mentioned before, the point of the game is to see every possible outcome, so eventually, you will choose every possible answer to every possible dilemma. Rather than taking away from the situational drama, however, it adds to it. The point of the game is to use knowledge that you learned from shifting between fragments—even if it’s something that the characters you’re playing as don’t know. It is explained in-game how it’s possible for them to have this knowledge, but this is a spoiler-free review. One of the most satisfying parts of the game is learning new knowledge that’ll affect a decision that you might not have been able to make, or revealing a new answer that’ll take you deeper into the rich story of ZTD.

via punkandlizard

Despite all this, it’s worth noting that you will definitely be spending more time in this game watching cutscenes than not. Having such good writing and a riveting plot, I don’t think it’s much of an issue, but if you don’t like games where you watch more than you play—even if there’s still definite gameplay—then you probably won’t like just ZTD, but the Zero Escape trilogy as a whole because all 3 games are like this.

 

Art/Graphics:

Although the 2D art looks superb—especially next to the art of the previous entries in the games—and the sprites look remarkably better than they did in previous games, the visuals in this game aren’t without sin. Particularly in characters with long hair there are several instances of slight clipping, and mouths almost never sync up to what the characters are saying. Some might attribute that to the fact that this is a Japanese game and that it’s designed for the Japanese voice actors. I find that strange, however, seeing as how Zero Escape is remarkably more successful in the West. Moreover, the English version was released before the Japanese. Combined with the stiff animations, it’s easy to see why several fans were disappointed. Regardless, although noticeable, these aren’t major issues that are so distracting that they detract from the game over all.

via GamersAssaultWeekly

 

Verdict:

Although slightly marred by slipshod graphics and a few dashes of hasty writing, ZTD is the finest entry in the Zero Escape trilogy. It’s been a very long time since a game has put me on an emotional roller coaster as extreme in the one in ZTD. Worth every penny of its $40 price. A must-play for any Zero Escape fan, fans of puzzle games, fans of science fiction, or anyone looking for a few new handheld games to play.

via wegotthiscovered