Castlevania can easily lay claim to being the best video game adaption of all time. The Netflix anime does a phenomenal job of adapting everything that makes Castlevania what it is, from the melodramatic gothic story to the insane gory violence.
The anime is a loose adaption of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, following the story where Dracula finds his human wife burned at the stake and launches a war of vengeance against humanity. Trevor Belmont, last living descendant of the legendary Belmont clan takes up arms against the lord of darkness, with the help of the magician Sypha Belnades and Dracula’s son Alucard.
Castlevania has fantastic production no matter how you look at it; gorgeous animation, stellar voice acting, complex storytelling that embellishes on the game, and more. Although the first season felts a bit too short, season two feels much more robust and digs deeper into the lore of the world.
With a season 3 on the way, and the showrunner Adi Shankar now working on a Devil May Cry anime, it looks like there may be even more great video game adaptions on the way.
Steins;Gate is one of the best anime of the last decade, and almost instantly became a cult classic after its release. However, the anime is actually based on a fantastic visual novel developed by MAGES and Nitroplus.
Steins;Gate tells the story of Rintaro Okabe, a self-proclaimed mad scientist who accidentally discover the secret to time travel, and all of the baggage that comes with it. While the show starts off innocently enough, things quickly take a dark and psychological turn with some seriously weighty themes that only help to strengthen the characterization and storytelling.
A gripping story, stellar animation, tight pacing, and a memorable soundtrack are just a few of the reasons Steins;Gate is considered at the top of anime.
In a strange loop, the anime even inspired MAGES to go back and develop Steins;Gate Elite, adapting the original visual novel into a full-motion one that uses scenes from the anime.
Defiance won’t go down on a list of greatest TV shows of all time, but it’s leagues ahead of the pack in terms of live-action video game TV shows. Now, technically, Defiance isn’t totally based on the video game, but it was more intended as a trans-media project from the very start.
The series takes place on a post-apocalyptic Earth, filled with different species of life. Some of these arrived from space, while others were created by terraforming technology used by the alien Voltans, which has also transformed the surface of the planet and its plant life. The show follows Joshua Nolan and his adopted daughter, inhabitants of the city-state of Defiance, located where the city of St. Louis used to stand.
Defiance is pretty popcorn sci-fi, but it’s a fun romp that ties well into the video game by Trion Worlds. Season 2 and 3 definitely improve on the overall experience, and there’s plenty of lore to dig into.
Kirby: Right Back at Ya!
There have been plenty of Nintendo cartoons over the years, but Kirby: Right Back at Ya! takes the cake as the most fun of the bunch. This Saturday morning cartoon ran of Fox in the United States for years, as well as various networks in Japan and around the world.
The show sees Kirby’s spaceship crash-land in Dream Land, and the hero is quickly befriended by two of the local siblings, Tiff and Tuff. Like many Saturday morning shows, Right Back at Ya chronicles the crazy events of Kirby’s life in Dream Land, as he continuously faces off against King Dedede and his gang of ruffians.
The whimsical tone of the perfectly encapsulates the Kirby series, and there are so many different characters, enemies, and references from across Kirby’s history. It’s completely lighthearted and non-serious, but it’s one of the best video game adaptions out there.
Devil May Cry
Although we have a brand new Devil May Cry anime on the way, there’s already been a pretty great anime adaption of the franchise before. The series was made by Madhouse, the prolific studio known for Trigun, Gungrave, Death Note, No Game No Life, and much more. As you might expect then, Devil May Cry featured some super stylish animation, matching the series’ emphasis on style.
What really made Devil May Cry so interesting, however, is that it told an original story set sometime between the events of the first and second game. The episodic series chronicles Dante’s experience running his Devil May Cry agency, and introduces two new characters, Dante’s agent Morrison and a young orphan girl named Patty Lowell, who Dante forms a unique relationship with. These characters would, later on, appear briefly in Devil May Cry 5.
In this case, bringing original content to the series worked well, and although it has some pacing problems Devil May Cry: The Animation is easily one of the best adaptions out there.
What really needs to be said about Pokemon? It’s the most successful children’s property of all time, and the TV show has enjoyed enduring popularity for nearly two decades, with tons of feature films packed in there as well.
While the original Game Boy games, Red and Blue, certainly gained enormous popularity, it’s the Saturday-morning show that really surged Pokemon’s status as a phenomenon. Following the story of a young Pokemon Trainer named Ash Ketchum, the anime took you around the world of Pokemon to meet new creatures, characters, and more.
There’s a spirit of adventure in the first few seasons that few other shows can match, regardless of genre, and Pokemon has continued to reinvent itself with later seasons, especially recently with the Sun and Moon anime.
Whether you like Pokemon or not, you’ve probably seen at least one episode of this show, and it’s already gone down in history as one of the most prolific children’s shows of all time.
Pokemon inspired countless other imitators and series, although only a few of those truly stand out. One of the best of the monster collecting-genre is Yo-Kai Watch, a quirky and colorful series from the masters at Level-5, the creators of Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, and more.
Yo-Kai Watch follows a young boy named Nate, although in the game you could also play as a girl named Katie. During a bug-collecting assignment for school, Nate inadvertently discovers a device known as the Yo-Kai Watch and meets a Yo-Kai butler named Whisper. Together the two discover the wacky world of Yo-Kai, as Nate helps and befriends even more of the creatures.
The Yo-Kai Watch show is incredibly fun, with each episode basically serving as a “monster of the day” kind of experience. There’s a comedic tone to the entire thing, and some seriously likable characters, first and foremost of which is Nate himself.
Obviously, Yo-Kai Watch is intended for younger audiences, but it’s robust enough that anyone can watch it.
Sonic Boom, the game, was an unmitigated disaster, and one of the worst Sonic games we’ve ever seen. Luckily, the same can’t be said about the TV show, which is a surprisingly funny self-aware animated show.
At its core Sonic Boom is what you’d expect, Sonic and his buddies continuously have to fight off the evil schemes and forces of Dr. Robotnik. Beneath that, however, is a show with genuinely good comedy and righting, that constantly makes fun of itself and spoofs video games and media in general.
You’ve probably seen at least one meme from Sonic Boom while perusing social media, like this hilarious scene that features a really awkward live-action clip of Sonic throwing away trash. While the show is very memeable, it’s more than just that. Sonic Boom features truly thought out plotlines that oftentimes have good messages for younger audiences, and then it layers the comedy in on top of that.
Sonic has had a pretty great history of animated shows, but Sonic Boom, believe it or not, is secretly the best of them all.
While Pokemon may have dominated the scene in the 90s and early 2000s, Digimon played a close second fiddle, and the franchise quickly found a groove all its own. Digimon focuses on a group of kids transported to another world called the “Digital World,” where they meet and befriend mysterious creatures.
Now technically Digimon started as a series of Tamagotchi-like digital devices that had you raising your own little creature. The series quickly took off after that with its first game, Digimon World, and its first anime, Digimon Adventure (simply titled Digimon in the West).
While at first glance it may seem like a Pokemon clone, Digimon had a distinctly different style that featured much more drama than Pokemon, as well as a continuous storyline instead of the episodic format of Pokemon.
Digimon, over the years, has turned into an absolutely massive media series with over 8 seasons of anime, a handful of anime films, countless video games, a trading card game, and more.
By and large, most of all of this has been quality, and the new films, Digimon Adventure Tri, are particular standouts as some of the best Digimon content out there.
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
That’s right, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego was turned into a game show in the early 90s. The point-and-click educational game exploded into popularity, turning into a successful PC game franchise, and this children’s game show loosely adapted it.
Each episode would feature three middle school-aged contestants made into gumshoes, amateur detectives, and answering geography-related questions to find the location of one of Carmen Sandiego’s cronies, and then eventually Sandiego herself. There are three rounds , with one contestant winning everything in the end.
All of this is themed around a specific story, with recurring characters across the entire series like the show’s host Greg Lee, the chief of the ACME Crimenet, and the various crooks that work for Sandiego. In fact, The Chief became such a popular character that the actress, Lynne Thigpen, actually reprised her role for later video games.
Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego ran on PBS for five years, with a whopping total of 285 episodes. The show ran for years after that with reruns, and it easily became one of the staples of educational programming in the 90s.