15 Best Anime-Themed PS1 Games Worth Playing

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The original PlayStation was released worldwide in 1995 – a golden age for anime when many iconic series like Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z created new fans in Western countries every day.

Still far from how it is today, the market for anime games was already growing.

By the time it was discontinued in 2006, the PlayStation had a wealth of notable anime-based titles anyone would enjoy.

Back then, anime fans would play the hell out of whatever they could find. But if you’re going back to an almost 30-years-old console, you’ll want to focus on the real gems.

Let me point you in the right direction with my picks for the best anime-style games on the original PlayStation.


15. Dragon Ball: Ultimate Battle 22 (2003)

Dragon Ball: Ultimate Battle 22 (2003) PS1 screenshot

Dragon Ball: Ultimate Battle 22 shines as a product of fanservice.

It has a massive character roster of 22 characters (with the appropriate transformations) and five extra fighters to be unlocked in Arcade mode.

Thanks to the care the development team put into the sprites, based on actual cel drawings from the original animation, the visuals were superb.

What kept Ultimate Battle 22 from greatness was the sluggish combat, which may have been fine when it came out in Japan in 1995, but wasn’t well-received in 2003 when it finally made it to the US.


14. InuYasha: A Feudal Fairytale (2003)

InuYasha: A Feudal Fairytale (2003) PS1 screenshot

You’ll get a better fighter experience from InuYasha: A Feudal Fairytale.

This beautiful title follows our favorite dog-man, Inuyasha, and his friends Kagome, Miroku, Sango, and Shippo as they piece together the Jewel of Four Souls.

Throughout the game, you can unlock Naraku, Sesshomaru, Demon Inuyasha, and even heart-breaking shrine maiden Kikyo for the game’s competitive mode.

The game got average reviews at the time of release, but for an InuYasha fan, it was a lot of fun.


13. Shaman King: Spirit of Shamans (2002)

Shaman King: Spirit of Shamans (2002) PS1 screenshot

Just a year before InuYasha: A Feudal Fairytale, developer Dimps had finished work on Shaman King: Spirit of Shamans, which I consider the better of the two.

The game features a visually striking art style, presenting the flesh-and-bone shamans as 2D sprites and their summoned spirits as 3D models. It’s unusual, but it looks fantastic.

The game covers the first half of the anime’s story, with a playable roster including beloved characters like Yoh, Ren, Wooden Sword Ryu, and Chocolove.

Short automatic combos and easy-to-use special moves streamline gameplay and make the game fun and flashy even for beginners, making it perfect for picking up and playing after all these years.


12. Ranma ½: Battle Renaissance (JP) (1996)

Ranma ½: Battle Renaissance (JP) (1996) PS1 screenshot

Ranma ½ had a long history of excellent 2D fighters by the time they decided to jump to 3D with Battle Renaissance.

The developers at Atelier Double kept Ranma ½’s name high with a fun and visually appealing fighter starring returning characters like Ranma, Shampoo, and Akane, along with some new ones that were previously manga-exclusive, such as Ryu Kumon and Rouge.

The addition of changing weather conditions that trigger the different characters’ curses, transforming them against their will, keeps combat dynamic and exciting.


11. Digimon World (2000)

Digimon World (2000) PS1 screenshot

Digimon World is a complex RPG where you recruit and raise Digimon to revive File City after a pandemic of Digimon losing their memories and going feral devastated the settlement.

When I say “raise,” I don’t just mean fighting for EXP.

Your Digimon needs to train, eat, rest, and even poop – and it’s your responsibility to keep everything flowing smoothly.

Do it right, and you’ll have strong Digimon to help you rebuild the city and face Machinedramon in the game’s final battle. Do it wrong, and they’ll evolve into this.


10. Monster Rancher 2 (1999)

Monster Rancher 2 (1999) PS1 screenshot

Another monster-raising anime game you can’t overlook on the PlayStation is Monster Rancher 2.

This game is focused 100% on raising monsters, so forget about any crazy adventures or a complex plot. Instead, you’ll send your monsters on adventures, train them in different disciplines, and slowly raise their attributes until they become outstanding specimens.

It’s not the most dynamic game, but thanks to its gorgeous graphics, you’ll enjoy watching your monsters going on adventures and facing strong opponents.

Monster Rancher 2 wasn’t based on an anime – it’s the other way around.

However, the Monster Rancher anime was popular and widely available in Western countries, so I made an exception.


9. Macross VF-X2 (JP) (1999)

Macross VF-X2 (JP) (1999) PS1 screenshot

Piloting a giant robot has always been the dream of mecha anime enthusiasts – so Japanese Macross fans must have gone wild when Macross VF-X2 was released.

This Japan-exclusive third-person shooter puts you in control of Aegis Focker, an ace Valkyrie pilot deployed by the U.N. Spacy to quell unrest and rebellions as part of the VF-X Ravens squadron.

Along with the high-intensity 3D combat that earns this game a spot on the list, its story mode is a definite highlight. The plot is gripping, and your choices can influence how it plays out.

A 100% original plot was written for Macross VF-X2, but much of it was later woven into the Macross Frontier anime, so don’t be surprised if you find some striking similarities there.


8. Hokuto no Ken: Seiki Matsukyu Seishi Densetsu (JP) (2000)

Hokuto no Ken: Seiki Matsukyu Seishi Densetsu (JP) (2000) PS1 screenshot

Known in Western countries as Fist of the North Star, 1983’s Hokuto no Ken is one of the manliest, most bad-ass manga ever written. The 1984 anime adaptation doesn’t stay behind.

This fighter allows you to experience the entire plot of the first half of the manga, from the very beginning to Kenshiro’s final battle against Raoh.

You’ll become immersed in the post-apocalyptic world of Fist of the North Star through epic confrontations and in-game cutscenes with superb voice acting.

Fans will love the Century’s End Theater, where you can create your own cutscenes with sprites, backgrounds, and dialogue from the game, along with some secret unlockable lines.

It’s a real treasure trove for fans of the Hokuto no Ken saga.


7. Rurouni Kenshin: Ishin Gekitouhen (JP) (1996)

Rurouni Kenshin: Ishin Gekitouhen (JP) (1996) PS1 screenshot

Rurouni Kenshin – known in some Western countries as Samurai X – was one of the most influential anime of my childhood, and it only gets better the older I get.

With gameplay comparable to the hit fighter Tekken 3, Rurouni Kenshin: Ishin Gekitouhen is much easier to get into than most. Its anime-based 3D graphics are well above average, and unleashing flashy special moves on your foes is thrilling.

While the story mode is faithful to the original story and very entertaining, the Vs. mode is what you’re here for.

There are nine playable characters, including Sanosuke, Han’nya, Aoshi, and Kenshin.


6. Initial D (JP) (1999)

Initial D (JP) (1999) PS1 screenshot

When I first watched Initial D as a kid sometime around 2002, I remember thinking the 3D-animated races looked remarkably like a video game – and I wanted to play it.

Regrettably, the PlayStation Initial D title that would’ve made my dreams come true was never released outside of Japan.

This Initial D-based racer has you drifting on courses around Akina Pass, Mount Myogi, and Usui Pass as protagonist Takumi Fujiwara on his Toyota Spriter Trueno GT-APEX.

Other cars featured in the game include the Nissan Skyline GT-R, some Lancer Evolution models, and a Mercedes-Benz S-Class W126.


5. Neon Genesis Evangelion: Girlfriend of Steel (JP) (1998)

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Girlfriend of Steel (JP) (1998) PS1 screenshot

Anyone who’s watched Neon Genesis Evangelion can tell you that everyone in Tokyo-3 needs a therapist.

Shinji is already emotionally unstable – so when you surround him with an alcoholic Misato, a traumatized Asuka, and the emotionless Rei, only disaster can ensue.

So what if there was someone more stable who could give him the love he deserves?

That’s the scenario explored by Girlfriend of Steel, a Japan-exclusive dating sim/visual novel where Shinji meets the love of his life: Mana Kirishima.

An English-patched PC version of the game can be found here.


4. Digimon Rumble Arena (2002)

Digimon Rumble Arena (2002) PS1 screenshot

Digimon Rumble Arena is a legendary 3D fighter starring some of your favorite Digimon from the first three seasons of the anime.

If you played this back in the day, you know how addicting it could be – at least until somebody chose Reapermon as their fighter and ruined the fun for everyone else.

This game shines for its varied character roster and unique interactive stages that change as the battle draws on and present different environmental hazards to keep an eye on.

Along with the appealing graphics, the game’s superb soundtrack keeps every battle exciting.


3. Gundam: Battle Assault 2 (2002)

Gundam: Battle Assault 2 (2002) PS1 screenshot

If I ranked the best-looking anime game on the PlayStation, Gundam: Battle Assault 2 would be a leading contender for the top spot.

This fighter was developed for the American market by the same team behind the gorgeous-looking Gundam Wing: Endless Duel on the Super Famicom. Clearly, they kept visual appeal a top priority.

The game is centered on the Mobile Fighter G Gundam continuity, but it features pilots and mobile suits from all over the franchise.

The original MS Gundam, Zeta Gundam, Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, War in the Pocket, and the original Gundam Battle Assault are all well-represented in the fighter roster.

It might feel sluggish for button-mashing pros, but the average Gundam fan will love this game.


2. Ghost in the Shell (1997)

Ghost in the Shell (1997) PS1 screenshot

Futuristic technology is one of the most exciting parts of the Ghost in the Shell franchise.

Who doesn’t want to drive a Fuchikoma Tank after seeing them in action?

Ghost in the Shell puts you in the shoes of a Rookie in Public Security Section 9, working under Major Motoko Kusanagi to dismantle a terrorist plot with the help of the iconic spider-like Fuchikoma.

It’s a fantastic Cyberpunk-themed third-person shooter with terrific presentation thanks to original manga author Shirow Masamune’s involvement.


1. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2000)

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2000) PS1 screenshot

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has entered the realm of video games several times, but this PlayStation title is by far one of the best results.

This game brings Stardust Crusaders’ colorful cast together with excellent fighting mechanics courtesy of the masters at Capcom. Power gauges, super moves, and even a “Stand Mode” transformation make battles as exciting as they are in the anime.

Capcom also contributed their experience with anime-like sprites from the development of Darkstalkers, making Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure one of the best-looking games on the console.

The fact that this gem was released in English is nothing short of a miracle – so do yourself a favor and check it out!

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.