The 10 Best Anime Adaptations of Video Games


Video games let us experience adventures that we otherwise wouldn't have any chance of undertaking.

The Final Fantasy XV universe had the potential to do so much better than it did.

From the savior of the entire world to being the last of your kind or perhaps just a teenager looking to make his mark in the world, these are all the kinds of roles that video games let us experience and make our own.

So intriguing are these roles that even non-gaming studios and companies are trying to join in on the fun. Over the years, there've been countless anime adaptations of video games. Unfortunately, just like the video game movie adaptations, the quality can vary wildly from being downright unwatchable to being equal if not better than its source material.

With that said, we've rounded up five anime adaptations of video games that fans and newer audiences can enjoy.

Castlevania

Netflix's Castlevania takes the characters and some of the events of 1990's Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse and turns it into one of the few good anime adaptations of video games out there. But while it is indeed based on a video game, Netflix's Castlevania also manages to separate itself from its source material.

In the Castlevania anime adaptation, the story follows Dracula's quest to punish humanity for killing his human wife, Lisa. Due to his anger, Dracula, the most powerful vampire in the world, summons others of his kind and other monstrosities to join his cause and wreak havoc on all of mankind. But, when all seemed lost, Trevor Belmont of the infamous Belmont family, steps up to the plate.

Aided by the sorceress, Sypha Belnades, and Dracula's own half-vampire son, Alucard, the trio successfully defeats Dracula by the end of the second season.

What's most surprising here is that the latter two seasons of Castlevania are just as good and compelling as the first two. Even with the absence of Dracula, for the most part, the third and fourth seasons of Castlevania are still worth watching. Not to mention, once Dracula does return, the story manages to give the Dark Lord himself, as well as the trio of heroes, each a satisfying ending by the time the story concludes.

Here's to hoping that the success of the Castlevania anime makes Konami revisit the IP in video game form.

Dota: Dragon's Blood

Dota: Dragon's Blood had the unenviable task of taking something so unfamiliar to the majority of people that's been carefully handcrafted over a period of more than a decade and give it an original story that even people who'd only heard of Valve's MOBA because of its absurd prize pools would want to watch.

Given that Dota: Dragon's Blood has been greenlit for a second season (if not more), it's safe to say that it's succeeded.

What makes Dragon's Blood such a good anime adaptation of a video game is that it doesn't assume that audiences know what's happening. It's not that slow of a burn either. It finds a way to blend in years of existing in-game lore into an original story with enough humor and action sprinkled in between to keep viewers interested for eight episodes.

Dragon Quest: Dai no Daibouken

1991's Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai got a Blu-ray Box containing all 46 episodes and 3 films in July 2020.

Some video game franchises are as old as the video game industry itself. Case in point, Dragon Quest.

Dragon Quest was first released back in 1986. Since then, the series has seen every adaptation imaginable. We're talking about movies, animation, and manga, among others. But, of the lot, 1991's Dragon Quest: Dai no Daibouken easily stands out as the best of them.

Produced by Toei Animation (yes, the same people behind Dragon Ball, among others), many believe that the 1991 anime adaptation of Dragon Quest is one of its best works ever. This is why fans of the Dragon Ball franchise will find the pacing and art style familiar. But, what really seals the deal is the excellent character development throughout the course of 46 episodes.

Perhaps it's no surprise that Dragon Quest: Dai no Daibouken saw three theatrical movies produced and released from 1991 to 1992, among others.

Pokémon Origins

Hot take: Pokémon Origins is the best anime adaptation of the Pokémon franchise.

Make no mistake. We are well aware of the memories most audiences have of the original series. After all, the show has aired since 1997, and while Ash may never grow older than his 10-year-old self, it is this arguably this decision that has allowed his adventures to resonate with viewers from all around the globe for over two decades.

But, Pokémon Origins was an entertaining take on the franchise that was also more faithful to its source material.

Even though Pokémon Origins was far from perfect, it managed to showcase something different and fresh for a franchise that's in desperate need of innovation after airing all these years. Although it can't contend with the original's longevity, Pokémon Origins was a breath of fresh air that most probably would have loved to see more of.

Final Fantasy XV Brotherhood and Kingsglaive

Whether you like the term or not, "Bros on the Road" is the perfect way to describe Final Fantasy XV. But, at the same time, one of the most divisive Final Fantasy games ever has so much more for those who bothered to explore other related media.

Not that we're blaming you for not taking the time though. Square Enix didn't exactly make it clear that the best way to experience Final Fantasy XV was to watch the five-part anime series, Brotherhood, and the feature-length CGI film, Kingsglaive.

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Enjoyed altogether, and you'll exactly see why many are saddened by how Final Fantasy XV never reached its true potential.

Unfortunately, even the "trilogy" isn't enough to salvage the incomplete game that Final Fantasy XV was. Plagued by development issues that saw the game go from a spin-off to Final Fantasy XIII to a standalone title with two DLCs scrapped and turned into novels instead, we might never know how good Final Fantasy XV had its original vision been fully realized.

If it's any consolation though, Final Fantasy XV did give us Brotherhood, which is easily one of the best anime adaptations of video games ever released.

Devil May Cry: The Animated Series

Although short and shallow, The Devil May Cry: The Animated Series was a fun and beautiful ride worth finishing over the course of one afternoon.

Three words best describe the Devil May Cry franchise: extravagant, stylish, and over-the-top.

And while it had a short run, Devil May Cry: The Animated Series had all of those in spades.

True, Devil May Cry: The Animated Series is far from perfect. Its story was largely forgettable and the writing was so bad. This isn't to say that the Devil May Cry games are known for their nuanced stories and complicated writing. However, the game's intentional lack of depth and cheesiness was part of the franchise's charm.

Unfortunately, the writers of the Devil May Cry: The Animated Series must have missed the proverbial memo.

In a way, we could describe Devil May Cry: The Animated series was that if the studio hired some of the best animators out there, which left it with little money to work with to hire a writer. The result was fluidly animated action sequences and fight scenes that stood as a stark contrast to the bland writing of the entire series, which is frustrating when most started on a good note only to leave entire plotlines hanging without a definitive conclusion.

Thankfully, the shoddy writing isn't enough to detract from the beauty of the Devil May Cry: The Animated Series.

God Eater

"Solid fun" is how we'd describe the God Eater animated series.

The anime adaptation of God Eater first aired in 2009 as a 12-minute prequel before a 12-episode season was released in 2015. The first two episodes did a great job at keeping casual audiences hooked and interested in what's to come. Although the later episodes ultimately failed to keep the momentum up, the entire season was still worth watching due to its interesting art style that mixed both 2D and 3D elements.

Had the anime adaptation of God Eater gotten a second and third season, it would've probably garnered much interest.

Unfortunately, we're left to take the God Eater animated series as it is - a decent action show with a hit-or-miss story.

Persona 4: The Animation

Expecting an anime based on the Persona series to do just as well as the video game is a tall ask. This is especially if we're talking about Persona 4, which many consider as the best in the series. But, while the verdict is out on whether Persona 4: The Animation is as good as the source material, it's far from being bad either.

The showrunners had the unfortunate task of making a show out of a game predicated on decisions and their outcomes. Thus, while the animated series tries to stay faithful to the original material, it had to make some creative decisions. The result was a viewing experience that had its occasional dip in quality and writing. But, in the end, those who are familiar with the Persona series will come to appreciate the anime for what it is.

Just make sure that you watch Persona 4: The Animation and not Persona 4: The Golden Animation. The latter one is just bad. Just plain bad.

Tales of Symphonia The Animation: Sekai Tougou-hen

After an okay first OVA and a largely forgettable second one, the studio saved its best efforts for the last.

Similar to the Dragon Quest series, the Tales series has also seen its fair share of anime adaptations. However, most are largely forgettable. Luckily, the one that stands out is good and not just relative to the other Tales anime adaptations.

Tales of Symphonia The Animation: Sekai Tougou-hen is a mouthful that serves as the final OVA in the Tales series with the animation studio, Ufotable, bringing its A-game.

From its top-notch music to fantastic animation, the third OVA tells an unforgettable tale that wraps up the story quite nicely with each show character being given a satisfying conclusion.

Halo Legends

Perhaps the worst thing about Halo Legends is it will have you wishing for more Halo anime.

You can't make a list of the best anime adaptations of video games without including Halo.

Yes. You heard that right. You might not have heard of the Halo anime adaptation before, but you probably won't ever forget about it now.

Halo Legends was a massive undertaking that saw six different anime studios work together. Mind you, we're not just talking about small ones. It saw the likes of Casio Entertainment, Bones, Bee Train, Toei Animation, Production I.G., and Studio 4°C, play roles in the making of Halo Legends.

The 7-part anime series told several events and groups like the Covenant and the Spartans that all play key roles in the Halo games. But, perhaps more important than its narrative side is that it didn't alienate those who are new to the franchise.

The resulting material is one where fans will love pointing out the differences between the film and the games. Meanwhile, casual audiences will like watching the story play out as it takes its time fleshing out the characters.

If nothing else, Halo Legends is the perfect way to pass the time as you wait for Halo: Infinite to drop.

Ray Ampoloquio
Ray is based in the Philippines. He is a lifelong gamer and a PC hardware enthusiast. He builds and repairs laptops and computers for friends and family in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.