Long before the 2006 merger, Bandai and Namco were known for vastly different things, with the former specializing in action figures, and the latter favoring coin-operated amusements rides. But that was during the 1950s, a time before video games became all the rage all over the globe. Once those days came, of course, the two meshed together to form an almighty alliance — one that would take the world by storm and go on to publish some of the biggest titles in gaming.
Granted, when we think of Bandai Namco, we think of fighting games. Tekken, Dragon Ball, and SoulCalibur, to name but a few. But outside of its enormous portfolio of button-mashing favorites, however, lies several fantastic equals, many of which have gone on to topple the torchbearers over time. The question is, which of the thousands of games under Bandai Namco’s aid has climbed to the highest peak?
5. Dragon Ball FighterZ
It’s easy to get lost in the ocean of Dragon Ball games that have been put out over the years, to the point of feeling anchored in a bottomless pit. Though, all it takes is one strong buoy to send you wading back to the surface. And in this case, it’s Dragon Ball FighterZ, Bandai Namco’s powerhouse of a fighting game.
Of course, without Arc System Works there to grease the wheels, then the game never would’ve become the groundbreaking success it is today. Collectively, the developer and publisher delivered an almighty saga of compelling battles and signature cel-shaded cinematics. Many would even go on to say that, all things considered, it turned out better than the majority of Bandai’s long-term fighting games. But, of course, that’s a debate for another time.
4. Dark Souls 2
A series that needs no introduction is Dark Souls, a role-playing saga that has amassed a global following for its brutality and complex fighting mechanics. As a trilogy with an iron backbone and an unfair amount of obstacles, fans all over the world have looked to it as no-nonsense tribulation. But, for the sake of bragging rights, it’s a struggle millions have pledged to endure, if only for the experience.
As a series, Dark Souls packs one heck of a punch. Standalone entries, on the other hand, differ in power and momentum. That said, Dark Souls 2 became a fan favorite shortly after its release, which later spiralled into the top spot after toppling the third instalment. Its reason for such success came from the next-level aesthetics and epic boss battles that the journey employed. Like its predecessor and successor—only, you know, a thousand times better.
3. Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition
Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition has every right to be stapled up on this list—even when slotted next to the likes of Souls and other Bandai Namco kingmakers. The simple reason for its presence, of course, boils down to its next-level multiplayer features, which actually went on to score the devs with a BAFTA for Best Multiplayer Game back in 2018, surpassing both Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
Like its original, Divinity: Original Sin 2 has you playing alone or with up to three teammates. Set in Rivellon, the Void continues to summon otherworldly monsters that only wish to disrupt the balance of power. As a Sorcerer with untapped potential, you must strive to restore the kingdom, either alone or with a group. And with that, of course, comes epic battles, limitless energy, and a whole lot of strategic storytelling.
2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was co-developed by Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco, and of course, Nintendo. Although not one of Bandai’s first rodeos in the fighting realm, it was definitely a step in the right direction for the publisher. And, being the poster child behind Nintendo’s long arm of popular platforms, the brawler was destined to garner high numbers for the publisher from the get-go.
Like entries that have come before it, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has you assembling a team of brawl-loving characters for a series of weird and wonderful trials. The major difference with Ultimate, of course, is that it features one monster of a character overhaul. With nearly 100 icons filling up the ranks, as well as a polished arsenal of attacks and combos, the game goes on to become the be all, end all of fighting crossovers.
1. Elden Ring
There isn’t a day that goes by when someone doesn’t speak highly of Elden Ring. It’s in the air, and people breathe its fumes like a battery-powered fan in reverse. The simple reason behind this, of course, comes down to FromSoftware’s impeccable ability to build compelling open world games that are both immersive and impenetrable. For this, Elden Ring was a sure-fire success, and Bandai Namco knew all too well that it would be celebrated long before its launch day.
Elden Ring boasts a near-perfect Metacritic score of 96 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and PC, giving it that awe-inspiring must-play branding. And as far as Bandai Namco’s published works go, it certainly hits higher than the vast majority of games that came before it. Mechanically, it’s superior, to the point of being a new benchmark on the open-world action-adventure arc. And for Bandai, it’s a true marvel to behold, and one that shouldn’t be neglected for even a moment.
So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.