"Fighting game based on a popular anime" is going to apply to every game that Bandai showed us in their surprisingly quiet meeting room right on the show floor, so let's get that out of the way right now. The fact that these games are also bound to be popular titles in their own right is pretty much a given. For if there's one thing Bandai has learned from their years of adapting anime franchises to the videogame world, it's what their fans want, and how to deliver above and beyond their expectations.
Zatch Bell! (PS2, GC)
I admit I know nothing about the anime this is based on, but after seeing the oddly cute characters and their powerful and sometimes silly attacks, I can't help being curious to where it all comes from.
Zatch Bell is a head to head fighting game with AI controlled assistants. The game puts you in control of the mamodo from another dimension who use the Earth as a proving ground to determine which one of them is powerful enough to rule their world. Their human partners are all magicians. Armed with spell books, they can fight on their own or join forces for special combo attacks. While the fighting isn't on the level of VF4, it does take some skill to get the proper timing, and launching counters at the right moment, as well as building up the super meter for devastating super attacks, which can actually collide with each other with frantic button mashing to determine the winner.
Cell-shaded graphics capture the anime feel, moving at sixty frames per second with only very minor spots of slowdown over eighteen stages, which make it fun just to sit back and watch. Aside from two player versus, there's a complete story mode for each character, where trading cards can be unlocked to gain new abilities. These cards are actually identical to the ones in the forthcoming CCG game, letting you experience the world of Zatch Bell in two very different forms.
Inuyasha: Feudal Combat (PS2)
Every dog demon has his day, in this fighting game based on Rumiko Takahashi's long-running manga and anime. Going beyond stiff cell-shaded polygons, the fourteen playable characters of Inuyasha have flowing hair and rippling clothes that provide a tangible weight to their movements as they battle through diverse and interactive environments in story, mission, and two player modes.
Like Zatch Bell, characters are paired up with AI partners, though this time you can chose your ally, and even have the ability to command their actions in real-time on the battlefield. Though how quickly and correctly they respond to your orders will depend on the relationships from the anime, with some pairs even turning on each other instead of directing their anger against their enemies. However, time heals all wounds, and by using a pair repeatedly through the game, that match up will become stronger and stronger; something that's essential for beating the game's tougher end bosses.
Being developed by the makers of the Bloody Roar series ensures the fighting is as flashy as it is fun, including full screen specials that send enemies flying, and unlockables to satisfy fans of the dramatic fighting series.