Did Asura’s Wrath Create a New Game Genre by Accident?
The ‘Interactive Anime Series’
by Daniel Geikowski
© 2012 Daniel Geikowski
Ever since Asura’s Wrath had been announced, I had kept an eye on the game’s progress.
Being a fan of Japanese Anime, such as Dragonball Z and the like, the game looked to take various cues and themes from Anime Pop Culture.
The art style looked to be a nice balance of hand-drawn and computer generated images. Battles take place on such an immense and global scale.
Asura’s Wrath promised an engaging story; I couldn’t wait to get stuck into it.
Time to get angry!
Asura’s Wrath places you into the angry boots of Asura, one of the Eight Guardian Demigod Generals tasked to protect the Realm of Shinkoku from the “Gohma”, beings who have been corrupted and wreak havoc across the planet.
After an initial battle with the Gohma, the angry Asura gets even angrier once he is betrayed by his fellow Generals, who murder his wife, kidnap his daughter, and kill Asura himself.
Funny how that happens. Asura becomes so angry that he comes back to life 12,000 years later to dish up some revenge. Hijinks ensue.
Body Odour is his strongest weapon.
While the art style and story are worthy enough to attract gamers to Asura’s Wrath, the gameplay might not.
Players will need to get used to watching a 5 minute cutscene, playing for about 2 minutes, before sitting back to watch another 5 minutes of dialogue.
The gameplay varies from time to time, ranging from Beat ‘em Up brawling one minute, to On-Rails Shooting the next.
That might not sound like the most exciting gameplay I know, but the context is what helps make the gameplay a tad more exciting.
You see, Asura goes through some crazy scenarios.
Never gonna survive, unless we get a bit crazy…
At various points throughout the game, Asura will be flying through space blowing Gohma into pieces, fighting a blind dude on the Moon, fighting another guy about twice the size of the planet, and my favourite, trying not to stare too much at the attendants while bathing in the Hot Springs.
Each one of these crazy scenarios are presented in Asura’s Wrath as an episode. Each episode plays out like an actual Anime series, complete with start and end credits, recaps, and teasers for the next episode.
This also makes Asura’s Wrath a polarising title.
The absence of hefty amounts of gameplay will most likely turn most gamers off, feeling like they’ve been cheated, they haven’t got their money’s worth. In around the 6 hours it takes to complete the game, probably no more than 2-2.5 hours of that is actual gameplay.
Also, every gamer’s favourite mechanic, the Quick Time Event (QTE), features quite heavily throughout the game. Sure, it keeps you on your toes while you’re kicking back watching the cutscene, but after an hour or so, it gets a little annoying pressing Y or mashing B all the time.
Repeatedly mash B to win
No doubt other fans of Anime would also find more enjoyment here than the ordinary gamer looking for their next action fix.
It got me thinking, is this a new genre?
Asura’s Wrath is obviously a video game, but is essentially an Interactive Anime Series.
A lot of people state that some games are now becoming like Interactive Movies, so I think it’s a natural progression. Asura’s Wrath works to bridge the gap between games and movies/anime, and does it somewhat successfully.
Imagine if the Dragonball Anime was given the same treatment? Neon Genesis Evangelion? Cowboy Bebop? It allows fans to experience the narrative while also interacting within their favourite worlds.
Interactive Anime Series
This sort of setup would work well with the current feature of gaming, DLC.
Asura’s Wrath has DLC in the form of new Episodes. It allows players to gain more insight into the story of Asura long after finishing the main game. I believe an Anime Series could work well, with new Episode or Season DLC being released sporadically, to keep the narrative flowing.
Then there is the debate of whether gamers should shell out the money to purchase DLC, or wait for a sequel to expand the story. Perhaps each entry could work as one or two seasons, with episode DLC incorporated into that?
Whatever the case, I believe there is a future for titles such as Asura’s Wrath.
A category which allows for more interaction with our favourite worlds.
You can’t get angry about that.