One of the most interesting things about Capcom's Lost Planet spin-off E.X. Troopers is its art style. Like more than a few games, it has cel-shaded graphics and bright colors which give off a distinct and beautiful look. But what makes E.X. Troopers stand out is how committed it is to being a manga-in-motion. Every cutscene is a mixture of still frames and animated scenes all set up in a manga page format, complete with panel frames and voice bubbles. While this style in a game is rare, E.X. Troopers is not the only game to utilize a manga-inspired format.
In the past, we looked into games that were trying to bridge the gap between game and anime; so now let's take a look at games that try to do the same only in regard to manga.
We've looked at Jump Ultimate Stars on the 3DS before here at Kotaku as one of the best Japanese anime games never to come west. But while many of the characters in the game have starred in their own anime, Jump Ultimate Stars has much more to do with manga than anime. In fact, everything about the game, from its title on, is manga-inspired.
Jump Ultimate Stars has 305 characters from across 41 different Shonen Jump-published manga—meaning everything from One Piece and Kenshin to Dragon Ball Z and Naruto. But it's not just the characters that are taken from the manga anthology. Every stage in the Super Smash Bros.-esque fighter is laid out like a manga page. To knock enemy characters out, you break the panel borders on the sides of the stage and punch your enemy into an unending abyss. You even customize your team by choosing panels from the various parent manga so as to create your own manga page featuring the characters and skills you want.
The original Valkyria Chronicles on the PlayStation 3 is another great example of a manga-style game. The entire game, both in and out of cutscenes, appears to be animated colored pencil—especially when you look at the shading. The intro and ending of the opening movie even show the scene coming from and returning to a sketch. Manga-style onomatopoeic sound effects litter the game and appear whenever you do anything from fire a gun to crawl through grass. In the end, Valkyria Chronicles is somewhere between playing a manga and playing a colored-pencil masterpiece.
Much like E.X. Troopers, the characters in Gravity Rush are all cel-shaded and thus have a very "drawn" look to them in the gameplay. Also like E.X. Troopers, all of Gravity Rush's cutscenes are told in a half-static, half-animated manga format, complete with panel frames and speech bubbles. The fun twist is that by moving the Vita, you are able to adjust the angle of the frame and see the scene from a slightly different angle—almost like a 3D depth effect. It's a fun little extra that adds to the interactive manga feel.