Top 10 Side-scrolling Anime Games [Best Recommendations]

Since the late 80’s with the debut of Super Mario Land on the Gameboy, side scrolling games have played an integral role in the growth, and now astounding popularity of the gaming industry as a whole. What was once a simple approach to creating games for the masses, has now evolved into a very entertaining genre of its own, with many major developers such as Nintendo creating some of the world’s best side scrollers out there. Being such huge fans of the genre, Honey’s would love to share with all of you, our top 10 picks for the best side scrolling anime games that have truly helped to transform the industry into what it is today.

10. Double Dragon Neon

  • System/Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Windows
  • Publisher: Majesco | Arc System Works
  • Developer: WayForward Technologies
  • Release Date: September 11, 2012

Fans of the old school beat em’ ups will most surely be familiar with Double Dragon, because it was one of those games that truly defined the genre. With side scrolling elements implemented into the mix, Double Dragon became a household name in the 90’s which eventually spawned numerous television shows, anime, and most recently a new Double Dragon title from Arc System Works known as Double Dragon IV which is slated to release sometime this year.

Double Dragon Neon was one of the more recent titles that featured the two fearsome brothers Billy and Jimmy, as they fight their way through a horde of bad guys in order to rescue Marian from the evil Shadow Warriors gang. Much of the gameplay that you’ve come to know and love is still very much intact, along with bonus features that truly bring the game to the next level. It’s a side scrolling beat em’ up that feels modern enough to invite new players into the fray, while maintaining that old school feel that we nostalgia fans love the most. Let us not forget Battletoads and Double Dragon also, since that game truly helped to define the genre, and was a direct competitor to Ninja Turtles at the time.


9. Rayman Origins

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
  • Release Date: November 15, 2011

Ubisoft released Rayman back on the PlayStation in the mid 90’s, and to critical acclaim as it managed to carry this addictive style of play that you can still see in the more recent Rayman titles. Rayman Origins is the fourth installment in the popular series, which follows Rayman along with his pal Globox and two teensies as they fight together in order to stop the Darktoons from infecting the Glade of Dreams.

Rayman has always been recognized for its very quirky animations and humorous dialogue, along with the more notable platforming gameplay that started way back in 1995. What makes Rayman Origins stand out more than its other predecessors is that, what lacked in the others Origins totally revamped it to create a very robust gaming experience. Darting around and taking out enemies feels seamless, while boss battles are challenging enough to keep you coming back for more. Rayman is usually the type to fight on his own, but Globox and the teensies make the adventure that more satisfying and memorable in this wonderful side scrolling adventure.


8. Kirby & the Rainbow Curse

  • System/Platform: Nintendo Wii U
  • Publisher: HAL Laboratory | Nintendo
  • Developer: HAL Laboratory
  • Release Date: January 22, 2015

Kirby has been a notable figure in the gaming world simply due to its very cutesy, pink and puffy appearance. While many quarrel about whether Kirby is a boy or girl, the fact remains that despite the gender Kirby games will almost always come with a guarantee that, your experience will be uplifting. In Kirby & the Rainbow Curse, Kirby must save the world from peril as a mysterious enemy appears to rid the world of color and now you must paint it back before it’s too late.

Many who pick up the game will come to realize that the main antagonist King Dedede isn’t around, and that’s because he can only be summoned through an amiibo. Nintendo wanted to create a new experience for players, along with a fresh story to keep you entertained as you stroke your stylus against the gamepad to paint your way to victory. The graphics are simply gorgeous, while the gameplay hooks you as you try to overcome puzzles with your paintbrush, and avoid dying by drawing out your platforms as you race to save the world. Despite the game feeling somewhat short, Kirby & the Rainbow Curse is by no means a curse but moreso a wonderful blessing to any fan of the franchise.


7. Super Meat Boy

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: Team Meat
  • Developer: Team Meat
  • Release Date: October 20, 2010

Super Meat Boy has grown to become a series that many speedrunners enjoy racing through due to its fast paced action, and very challenging obstacles that will truly test your patience. Initially releasing for PC and eventually making its way to consoles later, Super Meat Boy is all about solving puzzles on the fly, while traversing through the stage overcoming death with every step you take.

You don’t have to be a hardcore speed runner to enjoy Super Meat Boy because there’s so much that you can take advantage of in the game, such as collecting all of the unlockable characters, as well as trophies that you can add to your collection. What makes Super Meat Boy a wonderful side scrolling experience is that it really throws you into the shark’s pit, and you need to know how to swim quickly to avoid being eaten. While that may sound intimidating to some, the real joy that comes from playing the game is the depth paired with trial and error methods, so don’t be afraid to jump in and try your hand at this one.


6. Metal Slug

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: SNK Playmore
  • Developer: SNK Playmore
  • Release Date: April 19, 1996

Back when Neo Geo was really at its highest point along with SNK, Metal Slug was the title that brought everyone to the arcades and throw every quarter at the machine until they were dead broke. The gameplay behind Metal Slug was very reminiscent of the old Contra titles where the objective is to take out as many enemies on screen as possible, without losing a life. That intense challenge is what hooked you because while you tried desperately to cling onto dear life with grenades flying at you, that number one spot on the high score ranking was what you cared about.

Not only was Metal Slug a blast to play by oneself, but it became this great multiplayer title where you and your friends could work together to take out the hordes of enemies that just don’t seem to stop respawning. With SNK now rebranding themselves for the next generation, we’re hoping and praying that they bring back the Metal Slug franchise in some way or another perhaps as an HD remake? A brand new approach? Just give it to us already!


5. Super Mario Bros. 3

  • System/Platform: Nintendo NES, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo Wii
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: October 23, 1988

Super Mario is your quintessential side scroller and you just can’t simply ignore Nintendo’s main mascot. Whether you like it or not, Mario Bros. 3 really blew everyone away with brand new additions that other titles at the time lacked, one of which were powerups. While the story remained very much the same, racing your way through stages with new upgrades to save the Princess from Bowser was thrilling and gratifying. Stomping on the heads of enemies felt great, while soaring through the sky with the new Raccoon suit was just spectacular.

Many of you are wondering then, why not put Mario at number one? Well, while Mario helped to define the side scrolling genre, so many other titles took what Mario did and really hit the nail on the head in the gameplay department. There’s no question however that we shouldn’t ignore this timeless classic, and for that very reason we’ve placed it on the top 5.


4. Sonic 2

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Sega | Sonic Team
  • Release Date: November 21, 1992

Back in the 90’s competition was fierce, as Nintendo and Sega fought what seemed like an eternal battle for the top spot as best company. The whole “We do what NintenDon’t” trend was manifesting into something huge, and perhaps you could say was the meme of the early 90’s. Sega had Sonic, the blue hedgehog that would race through stages at an incredibly fast speed, while looking flashy all at the same time.

Sonic 2 was another classic gem that helped to breathe life back into the game industry, as it took everything from past side scrolling adventures and really threw in a plethora of exciting gameplay elements that can be seen even to this day. Sonic 2 was a title that was mind blowing for its time, because the graphics were just simply amazing and the soundtrack was unforgettable. Even if you sided with Nintendo during that era, you couldn’t help but mention Sonic because he was just that incredible. Sonic 2 is the reason so many of us bought a Genesis and to this day continues to shine on as Sega’s biggest and most notable mascot.


3. Mega Man X

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: December 17, 1993

Mega Man X sees vast improvements over past iterations such as allowing players to dash and scale walls, along with other gameplay elements that made the title a groundbreaking one. Taking place in a futuristic world years after the original Mega Man series, Mavericks have now taken over and it’s up to you to put an end to the destruction before the world turns to ruin. Mega Man X is one of those titles that if you were to ask any old school gamer what one of their childhood favorites were, it would certainly come up in the conversation.

Mega Man was the birth child of Inafune who took the side scrolling genre to a whole new level, as you scaled walls and dashed under enemy attacks to stay alive as the challenge continued to escalate through each level. One defining aspect about Mega Man is that you’re able to choose which stage you wanted, and which boss to defeat in order to strategically prepare yourself for what’s ahead using whatever power up you obtained. That very aspect of Mega Man X is really it’s selling point, and what makes the game so addicting in the end.


2. Super Metroid

  • System/Platform: Super Nintendo, Nintendo Wii
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo | Intelligent Systems
  • Release Date: March 19, 1994

As you can tell by our list, many of the games in our top 5 are all titles that helped to define the game industry as we know it. Moreso, they all came out in the 90’s when gaming was really at the highest point and transformed many of us into the hardcore gamers we are today. Super Metroid is one of those titles you simply cannot forget because of the lasting impression it left on the minds of every gamer out there. You took the role of bounty hunter Samus Aran, as she races across the universe to stop the space pirates and take out Ridley once and for all.

We mentioned earlier, the incredibly fierce competition between Nintendo and Sega, and just how the two just couldn’t stop pushing out hit after hit. Super Metroid was one of those hits and for that very reason, it spawned a new genre known as Metroidvania simply due to its thrilling gameplay, allowing players to venture back and forth between levels to collect items. That type of gameplay was unprecedented at the time and even today, Super Metroid is still looked up to by many developers who respect it highly for its over the top action, versatility, and challenging boss battles.


1. Donkey Kong Country: Diddy’s Kong Quest

  • System/Platform: Super Nintendo, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Rare
  • Release Date: November 20, 1995

When Rare was still with Nintendo that company was arguably the creme de la creme, and no other company could come close to the quality they pushed out with their titles. One of those game changers was Donkey Kong Country: Diddy’s Kong Quest for the SNES, that took players on a wild ride with DK and Diddy as they throw barrels at enemies in hopes to take out King K. Rool and restore peace back to the jungle.

We couldn’t help but place Diddy at the number one spot because for its time, Donkey Kong Country: Diddy’s Kong Quest surpassed everyone in the graphics category and became a cornerstone for upcoming developers to take note from. Rare pushed the Super Nintendo to its limits with spectacular graphics that even by today’s standards looks like it has never aged, along with really addicting action packed gameplay that took you above and beyond in so many ways. This title was the shining star for Rare during their time working with Nintendo during the 90’s, and still continues to shine brightly in the speedrunning community. Hats off to Rare for their wonderful work and dedication to ensure fans of the side scrolling genre never leave disappointed.


Final Thoughts

There’s just so many heavy hitters to mention on our list, but this list truly justifies how popular the side scrolling genre is, and also how far it has evolved over the years. With titles like Shovel Knight, Ori and the Blind Forest along with Elsword taking inspiration from these classics, we only hope more developers will look back at the good ol’ days of when gaming was at its finest and help to bring back those feelings of excitement once again. Which side scroller is your number one pick? Let us know in the comments section below, and of course be sure to share, like, and tweet our articles to keep the community buzzing!

As always, if you want to know about all the latest buzz straight from the bee’s nest in Japan, be sure to keep it locked here at Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Editor/Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

100% Vegan. A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and join me on Discord! Take care!

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