Let’s look back at some Neon Genesis Evangelion video games

In honor of Thrice Upon a Time, let’s look back at Eva‘s virtual legacy

Today, the final of the Evangelion Rebuild movies hits Amazon, bringing a long series of films and the anime series before it to a—theoretical, at least—close.

For some fans of Neon Genesis Evangelion, this is the culmination of years and years of waiting, and literal decades spent following the series. Personally, I did a full rewatch of the TV series on Netflix near the start of the pandemic (even if it wasn’t exactly the best way to do so) and just finished going back through the Rebuilds. I’m ready. This moment’s been waiting for me, ever since I first picked up an Evangelion DVD from the local video store at what psychiatrists would call an “impressionable” age.

But with the Rebuild line coming to a close, I’ve also been thinking about the roads less-traveled. Sure, there’s been a lot of Evangelion media in terms of both the series and movies, but what about the video games?

Today, in honor of the last Evangelion Rebuild coming stateside, let’s look back at Neon Genesis Evangelion‘s strange, winding history in the world of interactive video games.

The Evangelion games

In 1996, Evangelion got a series of games on the Sega Saturn, mostly mixing RPG elements with full-motion videos. They admittedly looked pretty cool, using animated clips for attacks. But the most notable entry here is Neon Genesis Evangelion: Girlfriend of Steel.

It’s an interactive story, with the player navigating a map and dealing with the interpersonal relationships that Shinji Ikari has with the other Eva pilots. It also introduces a new character, Mana Kirishima, who adds a bit of conflict to the group of pilots. There are three endings, focusing on three different characters (Mana, Asuka, and Kaji), and another ending was added in the PlayStation 2 release.

After this, we get a series of short collections of minigames, multimedia discs, and mahjong games. Then, in 1999, one of the most recognizable Evangelion games hit the market.

Neon Genesis Evangelion for the Nintendo 64 brought the series into full 3D, and added a lot more action to the combat. I really dig the segment where you have to do a quick-time event with Eva Unit-01 and Unit-02, recreating Shinji and Asuka’s practiced dance from the series. It even, somewhat horrifyingly, runs up through the End of Evangelion, where you can play through Asuka’s last stand against the mass-produced Evas.

After that, we’ve got a series of life-sim management games. These get a little weird, ranging from Princess Maker-type games with Rei Ayanami and Shinji Akari to Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angel Raising, where you play as Ryoji Kaji raising an Adam fetus. Yeah, it’s weird.

There’s also Detective Evangelion, a spinoff I’ve only learned of today that apparently involves investigating murders. It uses Ace Attorney-style gameplay within the Evangelion world, as well as beat ’em up and mecha segments. It also has a serialized manga adaptation? Truly, this is the next localization we need to demand. Oh, and lastly, check out this sick ad for an Evangelion VR experience.

The Evangelion crossovers

Aside from actual Evangelion games, there are also a bunch of crossovers with other properties. Super Robot Wars makes the most sense; here’s a series that’s already about giant robots from various anime series coming together and scrappin’ it out, so the Eva Units make a perfect fit.

Phantasy Star Portable 2 featured some costumes and weapons from the series, and some other service games have had collaborations with the series, like Puzzle & Dragons and Honkai Impact.

In one of my favorite crossovers, Granzella—the developer of the Disaster Report series—made a game called Kyoei Toshi. It features giant monsters causing damage all over the city, while you, a helpless human on the ground, have to escape from all the havoc and destruction. It’s got characters from Ultraman, the Godzilla franchise, Patlabor, and even Gamera. And of course, it has the Evas, as well as some of the Angels from the series, too.

Kyoei Toshi has only been released in Japan, so you’d have to import a copy to play it. But hey, in what other way will you ever get to play an Eva Gamera crossover?

And of course, no list of Evangelion games and related crossovers is complete without Taiko no Tatsujin. The most recent entry on Switch has Neon Genesis Evangelion‘s excellent, extremely catchy, arguably iconic opening theme, “Cruel Angel’s Thesis.”

Could we ever see another big-budget adaptation of Evangelion? Who knows. But between the N64 game, some Taiko drumming, and whatever the heck Detective Evangelion is, we’ve already got a lot.

Got a favorite Evangelion game, or just excited to watch Thrice Upon a Time tonight? Let us know down below in the comments.

Eric Van Allen