As the next year approaches, it’s time to look back on and celebrate the highlights. That usually means all kinds of lists ranking the top anythings and everythings of 2017. Like, for example, Google Play Japan’s voting competition to find the best games of the year.

From rhythm to action to Magikarp fishing, 2017’s seen the debut of plenty of great games. But which ones are actually the best of the best? The games that you inevitably start playing at the bus stop or when you’re putting off homework and realize you can’t put down? The games you return to every day, sometimes for hours on end? Google Play is on a mission to find out, and with help from voters, it’s so far managed to whittle down the list to the year’s top twenty. Considering the tons that came out this year, it’s a pretty big cut. And that, perhaps, is what makes it so surprising to find anime games taking up a good 30% of the spots on that list.

The games themselves split evenly in terms of genre. You’ve got rhythm games in the form of BANG DREAM, iDOLM@STER, and MACROSS. Then there are battle games adapted from IS IT WRONG TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON?, SENKI ZESSHO SYMPHOGEAR, and PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA. Stories and gameplay differ between the selections, but ultimately it seems that voters have a clear indication of their tastes. Check out below for more details on Google Play’s top anime games of the year!

BANG DREAM!

BANG DREAM is a multimedia franchise focusing on high-school girls forming bands. Despite also having anime and manga adaptations, its mobile game is probably the most popular branch under its name. Girl’s Band Party released in Japan on March 10th and since then has accumulated over 4.5 million players.

google play bang dream
The lead singers of GBP’s main bands | Image: Google Play Official Website

The game features original songs as well as covers of famous anime openings, endings, insert songs, and more. Players can also collect “cards” of different characters and form teams with them to help complete the beat-maps. Additionally, levelling up characters and playing certain songs unlock various stories and pave the way to more stat-boosting items. Not to mention extra costumes and other bonuses you can acquire through completing more objectives.

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THE iDOLM@STER

THE iDOLM@STER is one of the biggest multimedia idol franchises out there right now. Boasting a whole slew of anime and manga adaptations, its expansion is unstoppable. The franchise actually has three rhythm games currently ongoing, but only one has made the top twenty list. Million Live: Theater Days, starring the franchise’s third generation of female idols, released in Japan on June 29th.

google play theater days
Full dance sequences are a must for iM@S games | Image: Google Play Official Website

As per usual with iDOLM@STER mobile games, the player acts as the Producer of these aspiring idols. Through collecting more characters and clearing more songs, the Producer can converse and bond with the girls. Going along with the franchise’s other mobile games, Theater Days features full computer-generated dance sequences. Additionally, it shares a similar character-collection and team-building system as Girl’s Band Party. Offstage gameplay also involves interactions with entirely 3D-animated models—which is pretty ambitious for a smartphone game.

MACROSS FRANCHISE

MACROSS’s game, Song Macross: Smartphone Deculture is a celebration of the franchise’s 35th anniversary. MACROSS itself began as an anime in 1982 and since then has grown to numerous generations and series. The latest, MACROSS DELTA, aired throughout the spring and summer seasons of 2016.

google play macross
Help Freyja save the world with songs | Image: Google Play Official Website

Song Macross: Smartphone Deculture features songs and characters across the MACROSS franchise. Unlocking more characters also means unlocking new dance choreographies for certain songs, an interesting aspect not seen in the other rhythm games in the list. Additionally, this game involves an actual plot in the form of various MACROSS characters uniting to fight a game-only antagonist. Although the fights, in classic MACROSS fashion, occur through songs rather than sole battle.

IS IT WRONG TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON?

IS IT WRONG TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON is often shortened to DANMACHI. The series, which started as a light novel, has grown to multiple anime adaptations and, most recently, a mobile game. The story follows a solo adventurer as he explores dungeons, grows stronger, and, as the title suggests, makes all the girls around him swoon.

google play danmachi
A look at Dan-Memo’s battle system | Image: Google Play Official Website

Memoria Freese, affectionately shortened to Dan-Memo, released in Japan in June. It’s a classic turn-based battle game as users form teams of characters and go adventuring. Playable characters include protagonist Bell Cranel and major characters Ais Wallenstein, Riveria Ljos Alf, and Liliruca Ard. Aside from battling, players can also interact with various characters one-on-one.

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SENKI ZESSHO SYMPHOGEAR

SENKI ZESSHO SYMPHOGEAR is an anime franchise that basically revolves around idols who sing and fight aliens at the same time. The original series came out in 2012, and the fourth and latest season aired during the summer of this year. Its premise isn’t dissimilar to MACROSS’. However, where the MACROSS game went for the rhythm route, SYMPHOGEAR’s opted for battle.

google play symphogear
Clearing stories and quests unlock more cool bonuses | Image: Google Play Official Website

Symphogear XD Unlimited came out in Japan in June. Its story involves a series of quests following the anime’s main storyline. Side quests explore characters’ daily lives, and training quests give the opportunity to strengthen characters. Players can control nine different characters and battle is turn-based and involves a deck of cards with candidate and support characters. Clearing certain quests unlocks music that players can use in battle.

PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA

MADOKA MAGICA’s anime released way back in 2011, but it’s still out here producing new content. Known as the subversion of the magical girl genre, it’s hard to discuss the series without entering spoiler territory. The basics are that it involves a group of magical girls fighting enemies known as witches.

google play pmmm
There’s lots to do in Magia Record | Image: Google Play Official Website

Magia Record released in Japan in August. It came out much later than the others for it to still rank as one of the top 20 games of the year. Goes to show what a success it is! This plot-based RPG game introduces several new magical girls aside from the main ones from the anime. The main storyline follows new character Iroha Tamaki, who arrives in the setting city to search for her missing sister. Players fight in turn-based battles using teams of these magical girls.

Who Will Reign Supreme?

The top winner has yet to be decided, but any one of these make a pretty strong contender. Especially Girl’s Band Party and Memoria Freese, which are popular enough to get English releases in 2018. But if you can’t wait that long, it’s pretty easy to access Japanese app stores to download any one of these games. Just make sure you brush up on your Japanese beforehand (although Girl’s Band Party is pretty easy to navigate regardless.)

If you’re interested in voting, just visit the Japanese Google Play page and let your voice be heard!

Featured image from YouTube.

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