Anime adaptations of video games have become increasingly more frequent as high profile productions like Netflix's Castlevania have paved the way and shown that it is indeed possible to make good adaptations of video games. While less critically acclaimed than Castlevania, other Netflix anime like Dragon's Dogma and the recent Dota: Dragon's Blood have still managed to bring video game adaptations further into the mainstream.

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However, there have been plenty of anime based on video games over the years that never got the same level of mainstream attention as these recent adaptations. From JRPGs to sci-fi shooters, anime adaptations of video games can be incredibly diverse in subject matter and often quite obscure.

10 Tales Series

Tales of Zestiria Cover Art

Spanning 25 years with games on well over a dozen different platforms, the Tales series has definitely left its mark on the video game industry. However, many gamers are unaware of the series' similarly long tradition within the anime industry. Since the first adaptation in 2001, six games in the series have received anime adaptations.

Of those six, Tales of Zestiria the X (2016) boasts some of the highest production quality of any anime adaptation, Tales or not. Made from the studio responsible for anime like Demon Slayer and Fate/Zero, Zestiria the X features similarly gorgeous animation and impressive fight scenes that do justice to the original game's exciting combat. For any Tales fans, this anime adaptation is a must-watch.


9 Mass Effect

Mass Effect 3 Cover Art

An American franchise, Mass Effect might not be the first series players would expect to have an anime adaptation, and yet Mass Effect: Paragon Lost, an anime film set during the events of Mass Effect 2, is just that. The anime tells the story of Alliance marine James Vega's troubled past before his debut in Mass Effect 3.

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Produced by the anime studio behind Ghost in the Shell and scripted by one of the head writers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Mass Effect: Paragon Lost of course delivers epic sci-fi action and offers insight into some of the less explored aspects of the Mass Effect universe.

8 Kirby

Kirby All Star Allies Cover Art

With its bright colors and adorable characters, the Kirby franchise feels like it was made for anime, and Kirby: Right Back at Ya! perfectly captures the cute aesthetic and lighthearted tone of the games. Throughout its impressive 100-episode run, Kirby: Right Back at Ya! follows the childish Kirby, accompanied by brother and sister duo Tiff and Tuff, as he bumbles his way into thwarting the plans of King Dedede and ultimate big-bad Nightmare.

Colorful and fun, the Kirby anime embodies the best elements of the franchise and prominently features beloved supporting characters like Meta Knight and the Waddle Dees. This anime serves as a great, child-friendly introduction to one of Nintendo's most iconic gaming franchises.

7 Star Ocean

Star Ocean Cover Art

With only five installments across twenty-five years, the Star Ocean franchise has never had two games on one console and as such has never cultivated the kind of large fanbase similar JRPGs have. While the games were initially critically well-received, the series' legacy survives only within its small cult following.

Like the games, the anime Star Ocean EX (2001) has faded into obscurity. Based on Star Ocean: The Second Story, the 13 episode anime follows astronaut Claude Kenni who lands on the primitive planet Expel where he meets Rena Lanford, a local who believes he is the legendary Hero of Light destined to save their planet. The two set off on a quest to investigate the mysterious Sorcery Globe and the Ten Wise Men who control it. The anime only covers half the game's story, but for those few Star Ocean fans, the anime does provide an interesting take on the classic franchise.

6 F-Zero

Captain Falcon from F-Zero

Since the series went on hiatus in 2004, F-Zero has become a cult classic, remembered fondly among fans who earnestly wish for its return, but it has never enjoyed the same recognition as Nintendo's other franchises. Because of its relative anonymity, almost no one has watched its anime adaptation, F-Zero: GP Legend (2003). The anime follows Ryu Suzaku, a policeman who is nearly killed in a car chase but is preserved and revived 150 years later. After waking, Ryu joins the Mobile Task Force, a group of racers dedicated to thwarting the evil Dark Million Organization.

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From the lanky character models to the use of flip phones in the year 2201, everything about this series screams early 2000s anime. F-Zero: GP Legend should appeal to anyone who enjoys high speed races and melodramatic storytelling. If nothing else, the anime at least provides an excuse to listen to the epic Mute City track over and over again.

5 Halo

Halo 2 Promotional Art

A co-production between 343 Industries and six different anime studios, Halo Legends (2010) is an anthology film, composed of seven separate shorts set within the Halo universe. The shorts' topics range from intense tragedy to comedic spoofs, and a few shorts elaborate on the origins of Halo staples like The Flood and the Covenant alliance.

Although some shorts include familiar characters like Cortana or Dr. Halsey, they mostly focus on unique characters and their individual stories within the larger Halo universe. While lacking in polish and cohesive narrative structure, Halo Legends does satisfy the desire to see anime-style action set to the Halo series' beautiful score and offers the occasional moment of stylistic brilliance.

4 Animal Crossing

Tom Nook and the Player in the Animal Crossing Movie

From the opening scene of Kapp'n in his taxi, there are plenty of references to Animal Crossing games throughout this anime to amuse fans. Animal Crossing: The Movie (2006) replicates the comforting mood of the games, seamlessly incorporating the music and gameplay mechanics into the story.

Based primarily on Animal Crossing: Wild World, the movie features familiar villagers Margie, Rosie, Apollo, and Whitney and includes cameos from visitors like Pascal, Wendell, and Gulliver. The anime depicts the reality of friends moving away and the struggles of achieving personal goals, all through the lens of Animal Crossing. As such, the movie feels like a comprehensive and genuine love letter to the franchise that will make any long-time fan feel nostalgic.

3 Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles Cover Art

Valkyria Chronicles remains one of Sega's most critically acclaimed franchises and boasts four games across a number of platforms, as well as a good anime adaptation. The anime faithfully adapts the events of the first game, following Alicia Melchiott and Welkin Gunther of the Gallian citizen-turned-militia as they resist an alternative history Axis Powers, called the Imperials.

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While the anime's plot sometimes deviates from the game to fit its 26 episode run-time, it accurately preserves the series' atmosphere and tone. There is a big emphasis on humor, romance, and character development just like in the games, so fans of the series will find plenty to appreciate about this adaptation.

2 Professor Layton

Professor Layton, Luke Triton, and Emmy Altava from The Eternal Diva

Despite being DS exclusive, the Professor Layton series has evolved into quite the successful franchise and has spawned two different anime adaptations. The anime series is loosely based on the spin-off game Layton's Mystery Journey, but the anime film Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is actually a canon story set between The Last Specter and The Miracle Mask.

The film sees Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke getting caught in a death game where a masked villain offers the winner eternal life. The anime perfectly captures the feel of the series, employing the same art style, highlighting Layton's puzzle-solving process, and slowly revealing a mystery that could easily be the plot to one of the games.

1 Fire Emblem

Fire Emblem Cover Art

Before Fire Emblem Awakening reinvigorated the Fire Emblem franchise and introduced a distinctly anime art style to the series, there was a little-known, two-part original anime released in 1996 that was based on the original game, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light. Like the game, the anime follows Prince Marth as he tries to reclaim his stolen throne, restore peace to the continent of Archanea, and defeat the evil wizard Gharnef.

While the anime rushes through and only tells an incomplete portion of the game's story, there are still moments of classic Fire Emblem humor, cheesy drama, and exciting action, all accompanied by the games' iconic score. Most fans of the series will find something to enjoy in this throwback adaptation.

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