Ask John: What’s John’s Favorite Anime-style Video Game Intro?

What are your favorite videogame intros which mimic the typical anime intro format? Even though you’re more of an anime guy, I’m sure you’ve played more than your fair share of Japanese games and must have developed a few favorites over time that you’d like to share.

All of my picks for favorite animated game openings hail from the PSX and Dreamcast era, as game openings from prior to that era mostly didn’t have the technology to utilize conventional anime, and most console games from the post Dreamcast era no longer use 2D anime openings. I can’t claim that all of these selections are the absolute best examples of 2D anime openings for video games, but these are the ones which are most memorable to me, in most cases because I played the games.

I first played Konami & Kyoto Animation’s interactive anime game Dancing Blade: Katteni Momotenshi! when it was released in 1998, then I played it again 1999 when the extended “Complete Edition” was released for the Dreamcast. I enjoyed the game so much that I eventually collected as many of the figures as I could find, the manga, the trading cards (although my set is still missing one card. Grrr!!), the game guide books, and a promotional wall poster.

For the sequel, I skipped the Playstation release, instead just jumping straight into the Dreamcast “Complete Edition.” I still love Houko Kuwashima’s opening theme song “Believe.” She also played the voice of heroine Momohime. I also love the way the second game’s opening is an larger scale homage to the first game’s opening sequence. To this day I remain disappointed that KyoAni has never released the Dancing Blade anime footage on conventional DVD.

If I remember correctly, the “clean” 1998 Playstation port of Xing’s 1996 adult PC RPG Guardian Recall ~Shugo Juu Shoukan~ was the second isometric SRPG I ever played, after 1997’s Vandal Hearts. I remain amazed to this day that I was able to somehow stumble through and finish both discs of this Japanese language strategy game.

I’ll concede that Eretzvaju was never an especially great 3D Playstation fighter, but it was tremendously fun to play. The game was neat, in part, because it structured itself like an interactive anime television series, with each fight being a new “episode.” I played my Japanese import quite a bit, as the later American port known as “Evil Zone” was simply wretched. The 1999 game was also one of several to jump on a bandwagon of using great theme songs by Masami Okui.

Advanced V.G. 2 was another Playstation fighter that employed a Masami Okui opening theme song. Some of the game’s opening animation footage came from the 1996 V.G. OVA series, but I liked the way the opening, and the game itself, served as a sequel to the OVA series. This was another import that I played quite a bit of during the late 90s.

As I recall, early into my attempt to play Crime Crackers 2 I got stuck and couldn’t figure out what to do next, so I set aside and never finished the game. But I remember it being fairly cute and fun and having a neat anime opening sequence.

I also think that I never did finish Tales of Phantasia, but I do recall playing at least some of the US release. This particular installment in Namco’s “Tales” franchise was not the first with an anime opening and may not be the most impressive of them all, but I vividly recall being especially impressed by Production I.G’s animation, especially by the sweeping camera shot of Chester drawing his bow at 90 seconds in and the animation of Claus’ rhythmic arm movement in the subsequent shot.

I didn’t get around to playing the 1999 Tail Concerto action game until a few years after its release, but when I did finally play it I kicked myself for waiting so long to get around to it, as the game was cute and very fun. The adorable opening theme “For Little Tail” by Kokia is also a wonderful tune.

I can’t even recall now how many times I’ve played through Chrono Trigger. I played the game numerous times on the SNES then replayed it repeatedly on the PSX. While the Playstation re-release may have suffered from some terrible load times, I appreciate its anime sequences for breathing fluid life into the characters and scenarios I loved. I’m especially fond of the shot of Ayla running on all fours.

I never seriously played the 1997 Ghost in the Shell Playstation game. At most I played a level or two. But the opening animation sequence from Production I.G is breathtaking.

Also breathtaking to me in 2001 when I first saw it was Production I.G’s “A” version opening sequence for Sakura Taisen 3. The nearly three-dimensional depth when the girls do their chorus line kick, and the wonderful zoom-around shot of the girls standing on Tokyo Tower floored me when I first saw this opening and still strike me today as exceptional animation shots. I played through Sakura Taisen on the Saturn, but I never did play any of the subsequent games, this one included.

I was never any good at Taito’s interactive anime laserdisc game Time Gal, but I always liked it in part because heroine Reika Kirishima reminded me of Dirty Pair’s Yuri.


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