The Weird World of Anime Flash Games

Flash games were a big part of my life when I was a teenager. My family had many financial problems and my part-time work brought in depressingly little spending money. Buying games was not something I could afford often and my PC was too rubbish to make pirating worthwhile. What it could do, however, was run Flash games hosted on dubious websites. A surprising amount of which were fan-games based on anime series.

Since I’ve recently been playing around with Flashpoint, I figured it might be fun to try out a bunch of these anime games. To get a better perspective on this now-ancient part of anime fandom and see if any of them are still worthwhile to play today.

This little idea did run into a big problem right out of the gate: most of these games are just trash.

The most basic games trend towards being simplistic time-wasters. Dress-up games exist for just about any character you can imagine and I also ran into many “Interactive” games. These let you “interact” with your favorite characters by poking them with a virtual hand. Most of these had like 4 different potential reactions, all using the most barebones of animation. You’ll be done with these games in less time than it takes to install them.

Many other “games” of this caliber were barely-functional or devoid of content. Take, for example, Desu: The Game. A 2D “platformer” ostensibly acting as a meme game for Rozen Maiden. You control a static image of Suiseiseki in a level that only has 1 platform and nothing to interact with. I think it’s a joke, but I am not sure where the comedy comes into it. I endured a number of these games, but they are not worth the time of day recounting.

Another type of game that I found plenty of were fan-made visual novels. These were certainly a step up compared to the shovelware, though often not by much. Many of these lean on a particular flavor of puerile internet humor that was prominent in ye olden days. An obsession with drugs, alcohol, sex, and coarse language, which gets awkwardly forced unto familiar anime characters.

If you ever see a game with someone named Klacid or Hurrel listed as the developer, then just stay away. They try so hard to be edgy with their comedy, only to come off as painfully unfunny. Maybe if they just wrote in a few more swear words it would’ve gotten a laugh.

Still, I rejoiced anytime I found one of these games that was worthwhile. Academy Hetalia is a nifty little visual novel that reimagines Hetalia as a high school comedy. Seemingly as a means to cope with the fact that we never got an actual translation of Gakuen Hetalia. Though it’s short, it is very well put together and shows a lot of passion for the setting and characters.

Some of the better games that I ended up playing were the official ones. Quite a few Flash games were published by the likes of Jetix, Shonen Jump, or even McDonalds, and so are beholden to much higher standards. Or, at the very least, standards beyond “Asuka does drugs and shouts slurs at you.”

Many of these are really fun. My favorite ended up being a racing game tie-in for Oban Star Racers, the French-Japanese collaboration scifi anime. It’s a high-speed racing game in which you get to take on the familiar courses. It’s very polished and controls pretty damn well for a game that ran in your browser at one point.

For more mainstream alternatives, Shonen Jump has a bunch of games for Dragon Ball Z and Naruto. Including an honest-to-God Naruto TCG. Even smaller players would get in on this, with McDonalds putting out a Medabots game and Funimation publishing Fullmetal Alchemist: Quest For The Philosopher’s Stone.

These mainstream licenses also attracted some of the more ambitious fan creators. You can find quite a few quality fighting games and beat ’em ups that use shounen characters. Including Smash Bros. style crossover games that far precede the actual Jump Force fighting game. If that sounds good, then check out games like Anime Fighter CR, Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Power 2, or Anime Battle 3.2 if you can make sense of Japanese.

There are even games like Sailor Moon Fights out there for the ladyfolk. Though sadly, female-oriented Flash games overwhelmingly fall under the aforementioned category of dress-up games and timewasters. Sorry girls.

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention that there is porn. Lots and lots of porn. A frankly inconceivable amount of porn. Any even remotely popular character will have multiple flash games available where the sole objective is to go to town on them. Sakura Haruno? Haruhi Suzumiya? The K-On girls? All of them prime targets. Hell, even characters you wouldn’t expect will regularly have games dedicated to them. You want to do unsavory things to Aisha from Outlaw Star? Or did Desu: The Game reawaken your lust for Suiseiseki? Don’t worry, there exist games to cater to your very specific needs.

Most of these games are simplistic, of course. They are a collection of looping animations that you toggle between from a menu. Sometimes just the same animation at different speeds. Some games will toss little bits of gameplay in there to keep it interactive. You hammer buttons or have to click around on the girl instead of picking actions from a menu—little stuff.

As barebones as these are from a gameplay perspective… they are effective. Their purpose is to let horny geeks watch their favorite characters get railed and that’s what these games deliver. They even tend to cleverly recycle sound-bites from the relevant series to add a semblance of authenticity. Even if that thrill is short-lived, that’s fine too. That’s the trade-off for getting to actually see your character animated as opposed to the static pictures of a doujin.

There do exist some hentai games that push for more gameplay. Pokeplay is a fine example of this. It’s an honest-to-God Pokémon game in Flash format, with a puzzle game twist. Fighting mons out in the world is not actually your objective. Instead, the game’s story revolves around girls from the various towns being kidnapped and transformed into Pokémon against their will. To rescue them, you have to learn about what habitats different Pokémon like and interact with the ones that are in strange locations. Get it wrong and you initiate a fight that you’ll likely lose. Get it right and you save the girl, receiving a lewd CG picture of them as a reward.

Sadly, games like this are rare. At least to the extent that I am aware off. There are some dating sims available, there’s a lewd Hidamari Sketch shoot ’em up game, and a fighting game with Yoko and Zone-tan in it that, to my knowledge, was never finished. You’re better off on GOG or Steam if you want to play a hentai game with worthwhile gameplay to it. Though even that’s a crapshoot these days.

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