Best Vanillaware Game
Image via Vanillaware

Which Vanillaware Games Do You Like Best and Recommend?

Vanillaware has been something of an darling among consumers for upwards of a decade now. And who can blame anyone that gravitates towards what this studio puts out? With unique visuals and an interesting catalogue of games, we’ve created a list of what we think are some of the best Vanillaware has to offer. And feel free to let us know what you think and other titles you’d recommend in the comments!

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I am divided between Muramasa: The Demon Blade and Odin Sphere (the Leifthrasir re-release in particular). While both are excellent and unique games, in terms of both gameplay and tone, I have to go with Muramasa. The environments and vistas in that game are especially stunning. It’s a real shame that Muramasa is currently trapped on the Wii and PS Vita. Maybe if it appeared on modern platforms and PCs, more people could play it? Hey, Vanillaware? — Daniel

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a work of art, both from the actual classic Vanillaware visual standpoint and the incredible storytelling as well. The massive cast of playable characters are all memorable with some poignant moments and shocks throughout. I will admit the combat is forgettable and the ending was really disappointing for me, but I still think fondly about this game quite often. — Cody

For me, the answer is pretty cut and dry. I loved playing Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow of Mystara, so naturally my favorite Vanillaware game has to be Dragon’s Crown. It’s a great 80’s-esque side scrolling beat’em up, only made better by Vanillaware’s signature painterly art style that lends itself so well to the atmosphere of the game. I’m personally a huge fan of the character designs in Dragon’s Crown because I’m a big “sword and sorcery” fan, but outside of the impressive visuals I’m a sucker for co-op. So being able to dungeon crawl with friends meant I dedicated around one-hundred or so hours to this simple but exciting title. — Kazuma

Listen, I’m going to come here and be the weird one. I liked Kumatanchi on the DS, and I still die a little inside every time I think about how I let someone borrow it and didn’t go full bounty hunter on them to get it back. (It is going for $200 on eBay, last I checked.) It’s a fun life sim about a bear-girl hybrid named Kuma-tan. You look after her at the zoo, ensuring she’s well cared for so she performs well, while also seeing her interact with the other people-animals there. It’s not an artistic achievement like 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, but I consider it one of the best Vanillaware games. — Jenni


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Image of Kazuma Hashimoto
Kazuma Hashimoto
Senior staff writer, translator and streamer, Kazuma spends his time playing a variety of games ranging from farming simulators to classic CRPGs. Having spent upwards of 6 years in the industry, he has written reviews, features, guides, with work extending within the industry itself. In his spare time he speedruns games from the Resident Evil series, and raids in Final Fantasy XIV. His work, which has included in-depth features focusing on cultural analysis, has been seen on other websites such as Polygon and IGN.