When it comes to licensed games, unless you’re a real die-hard fan, most gamers would say they stink. It has improved over the years when companies have the time to actually develop something unique. Batman, for example, had notoriously some of the worst games ever made until Batman: Arkham Asylum changed perceptions.
All that aside, one of the worst generations of lazy licensed games was the PS2, and the animated subgenre was particularly disappointing. While the console produced a lot of horrible titles that were not worth the plastic they were printed on, some games were actually okay. Let’s remember these titles, one per series, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the PS2. Maybe there will even be a surprise or two from Japan.
Cowboy Bebop: Tsuioku no Serenade
Cowboy Bebop: Tsuioku no Serenade was released in 2005 and only in Japan. Unlike the previous Cowboy Bebop game which was essentially a space shooter on PS1 that was also only available in Japan, Tsuioku no Serenade was more of an action-adventure brawler.
He also stayed closer to his anime roots. While this side story may not have the lasting impact of the series, hungry fans will surely take a hit. He’s not the best anime brawler, but Tsuioku no Serenade has his charms.
GioGio’s bizarre adventure
GioGio’s Bizarre Adventure was released in 2002 and was based on the Golden Wind arc of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, which was not that old at the time of this game’s release. Golden Wind started with the manga in 1995 and has gone completed in 1999.
As the anime adaptation just aired on Adult Swim, now is a great time to research this adaptation. Oddly enough, Capcom announced it was releasing it for North America at the time, but that just never happened.
Bleach: Blade Fighters
Bleach: Blade Battlers was released in 2006. Its release date could be the reason why this fighting game and its sequel have never been released outside of Japan.
Bleach was growing in the West at the time, but perhaps not enough to warrant a release in the same year as the new console, aka the PS3. Bleach eventually got western game adaptations for PS3, Wii, and DS.
Releasing only Japanese versions, Gungrave was launched in 2002 in North America. Fans of Adult Swim right now might be interested to know that the creator of Trigun, another classic anime in the lineup, worked on Gungrave.
Yasuhiro Nightow helped with the adaptation of the video game as well as the link to the anime. This shooter still looks good on the PS2 due to its art style, although it is nothing special in terms of gameplay.
Samurai Champloo: Hijacked
Samurai Champloo was sort of the spiritual sequel to the Cowboy Bebop samurai. This 2006 game adaptation of the anime had a lot of flair, but nothing helped get around some of its shortcomings.
The emphasis was on beating enemies to the beat and the remixing maneuvers that tied into the vibe of the anime. Notably, Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked was developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and even made by Goichi Suda, aka Suda51.
The blood will tell
Blood Will Tell is based on Dororo, a manga by Osamu Tezuka, who is essentially the grandfather of the medium and even the anime. You are probably familiar with his most famous work Astro Boy.
This 2004 game was like a reboot, although it still kept the manga idea of a samurai replacing body parts. Think of it like Inspector Gadget, like he’s a Japanese samurai fighting demons.
Fullmetal Alchemist was another hit anime on Adult Swim that inspired many games to cross to the West. The PS2 received these two action RPGs from Square Enix, but not the third sequel, unfortunately.
2005 Fullmetal Alchemist 2: Curse Of The Crimson Elixir, the best of the two localized titles, chronicles the beginning of the anime while delving into an original story afterwards. It’s a basic action RPG, but the visuals and hardware made it better than most adaptations.
MS Saga: A New Dawn
It might be hard to tell from the title, but MS Saga: A New Dawn is a Gundam game. When it comes to this series, Japan has more games than it can count compared to the West. Most are action games, shooters, or fighters, but MS Saga turned the tide by telling an original story based on lore and choosing to be a turn-based RPG.
MS Saga: A New Dawn doesn’t come close to matching the best RPG exclusives on PS2; However, this late entry into the console lifecycle has yet to be remembered to at least try something new for Gundam fans.
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi
Dragon Ball Z is another long-running anime series like Gundam with too many Japanese exclusives to name. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi was the start of this series, finally getting some good fighting game adaptations starting in 2005.
Of the PS2 trilogy, this was considered the best. It handled the source material with great care and was actually fun to play in fighting tournaments.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja
Finally, Naruto: Ultimate Ninja was the start of another fighting empire in 2003. It was CyberConnect2’s first Naruto game and like Dragon Ball Z, the developer has treated the manga and anime with care.
The visuals were stunning back then, and players felt like they were controlling mighty ninjas. Ultimate Ninja and its sequels released throughout this generation were crucial steps in creating an even better love letter to the franchise in the form of Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm.
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