Best Manga Based On Video Games
Although many people cherish watching anime, they often forget that most anime serve as adaptations of the original source material. While there are some instances where the anime is better than the manga, those instances are few and far between. With the amount of manga released on a daily basis, it could be hard to cut through all those books to find the “Best of” for any chosen topic.
Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest, and unforgettable manga through the years. For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best manga, our attention this time turns to those based on popular video games. From Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. to Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll get them added on!
Kingdom Hearts – Tetsuya Nomura
Kingdom Hearts has to be one of the most unique gaming ideas of all time. Who’d thought mixing the worlds of Final Fantasy and Disney would produce one of Square Enix’s most unforgettable IPs of all time? As with any successful IP, it would come as no surprise that a manga would release based on the game itself.
The Kingdom Hearts manga offers beautiful artwork and the same gripping storyline fans recall from the game with slight tweaks here and there. It follows Sora, a boy who wants to go on an adventure with his friends, Riku and Kairi. One day, a mysterious force bestows Sora with the Keyblade and transports him to a strange town to battle monsters.
Fortunately, Sora receives help from an old man named Cid and a warrior named Leon. Eventually, Sora meets Donald and Goofy and they join forces to search for Sora’s friends and the King. Like the game, the manga introduces refreshing spins on classic Disney worlds and some instances carries unpredictable outcomes. Furthermore, the Kingdom Hearts manga is notorious for carrying small Easter Eggs for fans to pick out and get excited over.
Pokémon Adventures – Hidenori Kusaka
Pokémon Adventures is a great manga based on the hit gaming franchise, Pokémon. It follows the adventures of Pokémon Trainer Red who embarks on a mission to collect badges, defeat Team Rocket, and meet new Pokémon. Many praise the manga for fleshing out the game’s characters, making the world feel darker and genuine, and containing several thoughtful plot twists.
Battles feel more faithful to the games in the manga as opposed to Ash’s journeys in the anime. You’ll see Pokémon endure extreme pain from status conditions and see evil teams torture them to near death. Things like Arboks getting chopped in half and Magmars getting frozen to death are a few images that’ll crop up during your reading session of this work.
The series expands into different regions and isn’t solely focused on Kanto. This allows the authors to expand upon the Pokémon Adventures universe by introducing new gameplay elements and characters that appeared in future regions. Overall, Pokémon Adventures is a thrilling adventure manga everyone can enjoy regardless of its darker aspects.
Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai – Riku Sanjo
No matter if you’re a fan of it or not, Dragon Quest is pivotal to opening the door for RPGs and JRPGs. It gave fans memorable characters to follow, diverse monsters to slay, and excellent gameplay mechanics that hold up well. Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai is a gripping story from the Dragon Quest world and one that all fans of the series should read.
The story follows a young Dai, who dreams of becoming a hero. One day, a villainous group arrives on his home island to kidnap the Golden Metal Slime. Furthermore, Princess Leona arrives and asks for his assistance. Despite lacking powers, Dai accepts the Princess’s offer and embarks on a journey where he’ll grow stronger, make friends, and vanquish evil.
It’s a simple story that gets more captivating and intruiging as it continues. The characters receive nice development and are indelible. Riku Sanjo spends time exploring each character’s growth and struggles, giving readers reasons to grow attached to them. Koji Inada’s illustrations are vibrant and detailed, adding a layer of depth to the storytelling. With its combination of adventure, humor, and action, you’ll adore what this manga delivers.
Fate/Stay Night – Kinoko Nasu & Type-Moon
Fate/Stay Night started off as a visual novel that’d eventually receive an anime and manga adaptation. It offers a captivating storyline, complex characters, and intricate world-building. It takes place in Fuyuki City, a battleground for a deadly war that society doesn’t know about. Seven Sorcerers (Masters) use powerful familiars (Servants) to battle each other to see who is superior.
The winner will receive the Holy Grail which will grant them a wish. Our protagonist, Shirou, has trained diligently to become a sorcerer like his stepfather. Although he’s not ready to compete, he’ll summon Saber, one of the strongest servants, who’ll force him to compete in the upcoming Holy Grail War event. This plot is well-thought-out and gradually builds up to the climax.
The characters have intruiging backstories, personalities, and reasons for participating in the Holy Grail War. Emiya undergoes significant development throughout the series, making him feel like a character audience should root for. The illustrations are detailed, visually appealing, and convey the emotions and actions of the characters wonderfully. With some exciting fights and developed characters, you’re in for a pleasant time with the manga.
Higurashi When They Cry – Ryukishi07
Following Fate/ Stay Night in visual novels turned into different adaptations, we examine Higurashi When They Cry. This work received high praise for its chilling mysteries, horrific imagery, and indelible cast. The manga was illustrated by countless artists but maintains the core narrative written by Ryukishi07.
The manga offers some compelling imagery that outclasses the animation you’d find in the 2006 anime adaptation by Studio Deen. The artwork is highly stylized and conveys the raw emotions of the character’s attitudes and actions in the story. There are some character close-up shots that will genuinely horrify you.
With its engaging plot, psychological tension, and multiple secrets, this is a must-read for any diehard horror fanatic. Our story follows Keiichi who moves into Hinamizawa Village with his family. He becomes well-acquainted with its residents and befriends a few people along the way. After taking part in its annual festival activities, strange things start to happen around Keiichi and his friends. We watch the events unfold through several mind-boggling story arcs that will send shivers down your spine.
The Legend of Zelda (series) – Akira Himekawa
Although many would prefer an anime adaptation of The Legend of Zelda series, Akira Himekawa’s manga adaptations for its various games should suffice. They’re not entirely faithful in portraying the games but offer enough fun jokes and well-designed characters and backdrops that will give you a swell time. Some notable differences include giving Link dialogue and fleshing out characters like Mido.
This makes each manga adaptation feel refreshing to diehard fans. You can expect our characters to receive great development and personality throughout each work. It captures Hyrule and many other locales’ fantastical aura well without implementing things that’d damage the reputation of each The Legend of Zelda entry. If you cherish The Legend of Zelda and are craving an anime-like experience for the series, Akira Himekawa’s manga series should satisfy you.
Steins; Gate – Nitroplus
Steins; Gate’s manga feels like a fast-paced version of the anime. Both products were based on the original visual novel but maintained the same storytelling from it. For those who’ve never watched, played, or read Steins; Gate, it follows a proficient scientist named Rintarou. He attends a scientist’s conference on time travel and experiences strange phenomena with his Phone Microwave device.
He catches a mysterious organization’s attention, leading to a never-ending battle between Rintarou and himself as he attempts to minimize the damage his invention stirred up. Steins; Gate offers great depth, tension, and twists that will keep you hooked. It mixes science, drama, and thriller genres to create a thought-provoking and exhilarating narrative.
The manga’s artwork is breathtaking and many may prefer it over the anime’s interpretation. The characters are all unique and distinguishable, and the scenery is defined with complex details. Furthermore, the characters have enough depth, so there’s no need to worry about its cast feeling forgettable. Give this a read if you crave a mature and thoughtful science-themed story.
Mega Man NT Warrior – Ryo Takamisaki
Mega Man NT Warrior follows Lan and his NetNavi, MegaMan.EXE as they battle against cybercriminals and viruses in a virtual setting. This manga offers a faithful to Mega Man’s themes and concepts, but adds unique twists and turns to keep fans excited. Lan and other characters undergo notable character growth over time, maturing and learning valuable lessons along the way.
The side characters also receive similar treatment. They have their own personality and backstory that will vibe with most audiences. The characters are compelling enough to entice readers to be emotionally invested in their journey, even if their character’s arcs aren’t too original. Ryo Takamisaki delivers beautiful, eye-catching illustrations in this manga.
The fight scenes are well-choreographed and impressive, too. Overall, this is a great video game manga. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it offers enough delightful aspects to keep you glued to each page.
Super Mario Adventures – Kentarou Takekuma
Super Mario Adventures is an amusing manga or comic that will give you a fun spin on Nintendo’s mascot. It follows Mario and Luigi’s first endeavors in the Mushroom Kingdom as they vow to prevent Princess Toadstool from seeking revenge on Bowser. He had turned his Mushroom Kingdom folk into stone, so they must thwart Bowser’s nefarious schemes and protect Princess Toadstool at all costs.
This captures the essence of Super Mario Bros. well. It captures the game franchise’s colorful world and features visually appealing character designs and world aesthetics that are true to the source material. The manga’s loyal to Mario, Peach, Luigi, Toad, and other characters’ portrayals in the games. However, it’s not afraid to touch upon new territory with them to give the manga some uniqueness.
The manga is mainly lighthearted and contains fun and filly moments that will make its audience smile. With its enjoyable narrative and take on these classic Nintendo characters, this is a story diehard Mario fans should read to get them pumped for the Super Mario Bros. movie by Illumination.
Yo-Kai Watch – Noriyuki Konishi
Yo-Kai Watch is an entertaining monster-tamer game franchise. It used to be a big shot along with Pokémon but hasn’t reached peak popularity in ages. Nonetheless, the franchise is beloved for its quirky monster designs, fun gameplay approach, and countless merchandise. Noriyuki Konishi’s manga is equally impressive and enjoyable.
It follows Keita, a young boy who meets Whisper, a ghostly figure. Since Keita can see Whisper, Whisper hands him the Yo-Kai Watch, a device that will allow Keita to befriend, see, and summon yokai at will. With its abilities, Keita and Whisper embark on a mission to resolve every yokai-related issue in town. This is a great manga for adolescents who want to get into the medium.
The creatures are wonderfully designed and have engaging personalities that will make people smile and laugh. You’ll adore seeing Keita and Whisper interact with these beings and grow as a pair. For those looking for a wholesome monster-tamer manga based on a popular gaming franchise, Konishi’s Yo-Kai Watch manga should please you.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best manga through the years that are based on video games!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!