Ever since the release of Fate/Stay Night in January of 2004, Saber has become the mascot of Type-Moon. Because of this, she has become a household name among gaming and anime circles and it isn’t uncommon to see her be used to advertise various products. We’ve seen her face be used to advertise everything from instant ramen to Axe body spray.
However, there is another character from the original Fate/Stay Night who has also been used to promote a lot of products: Illyasviel Von Einzbern. Despite being only the fourth most prominent female character in Stay Night, Illya was given her own spinoff and has developed a fanbase all of her own.
So today on the Story Arc I’m going to examine one factor of their popularity: Who has appeared in more video games? We’ll look at every game each girl has appeared in and tally up the results at the end.
If you were to try and predict the result then on a surface level this is an easy question, it has to be Saber. She is the Super Mario of Type Moon and is in all of their products. This is a true statement and will help her numbers in this analysis. However, this can potentially hurt her numbers too. While Illya isn’t a household name like Saber this has actually resulted in Type Moon being much more willing to put her in collabs as her appearance in various things is unlikely to hurt their reputation at all.
With the idea of this article explained, let’s now begin counting the games each girl had appeared in.
Games in the Fate franchise
Okay, let’s get this out of the way first. The Fate franchise has a lot of games and these two characters appear in most of those games. Saber and Illya obviously both appeared in the original Fate/Stay Night and its fan disc Fate/Hollow Ataraxia so that gives both of them two points right off the bat.
Then we’ve got several spinoff games from early in Fate’s lifespan that featured soley the cast of Stay Night like Fate/Tiger Colosseum and Fate/Unlimited Codes. This brings Saber and Illya’s count to four games each. These two entries bring an end to the short era of Fate where every single spin-off featured the entire cast of Stay Night, so later entries in this list may not include both Illya and Saber.
When the Fate franchise transitioned into the 2010s, the types of spinoffs we began to get would stop including solely the Fate/Stay Night cast and would instead branch out with their own original casts. Because of this, neither Illya nor Saber appeared in the spinoff Fate/Extra or its sequel CCC.
The early 2010s then gave us an unexpected and forgotten spinoff with the 2013 Prisma Illya 3DS game. This 3D fighting game featured only the main cast of Prisma Illya and as such, had no appearance from Saber. Illya is now at five points, having one more Fate game appearance than Saber.
2015 then saw the launch of the extremely popular mobile game Fate/Grand Order. Saber was of course in the game at launch while Illya wasn’t, but it took only two years for Illya to be added, giving them both a point for appearing here. Fate/Grand Order would then receive an arcade spinoff aptly titled Fate/Grand Order Arcade which also featured both girls.
In 2016 the Fate/Extra subseries of games would receive a Musou spinoff titled Fate/Extella. While nearly all of this game’s roster was ripped straight from Fate/Extra, Saber was included as a hidden character. Fate/Extella would soon receive a sequel titled Fate/Extella Link which once again included Saber as a hidden unlockable character. With these two appearances, Saber has not only tied Illya, but surpassed her count.
Finally, 2021 would see the release of a cooking game known as Everyday♪ Today’s MENU for EMIYA Family, based on the manga of the same name. This spinoff featured only the three main girls of Fate/Stay Night and thus had Saber and not Illya, putting Saber another point ahead of her.
With all the games in the Fate franchise counted, here are the current total appearances by Saber and Illya
Saber has a commendable two point lead and if I were to only count appearances in the main Fate franchise she would be the clear winner, but I want to be thorough. So let’s now move beyond the Fate franchise and look at the two girls’ appearances in other games.
Saber Appearances in Other Games
Because she’s in the lead, let’s look over Saber’s various collaboration appearances over the years first. Being the much more mainstream character you’ve likely seen one or two of these appearances before.
Over the past few years, Saber has actually had a few appearances in fighting games. The first of which was in 2015’s Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel. This game was a crossover featuring female characters from various anime and visual novels published by the company Nitroplus and featured Saber as one of many guest fighters.
Saber’s next fighting game appearance was in 2021’s Melty Blood Type Lumina. Her appearance in this Tsukihime fighting game controversially opened the floodgates to including other guest characters from Fate, a controversy that has only grown as more DLC characters from the Fate franchise have been added.
While these two fighting games are the only console/arcade games that Saber has been included in outside of the Fate franchise, we’ve had quite a few mobile game collaborations that have featured her to advertise the Unlimited Blade Works anime and the Heaven’s Feel movies.
The first of these mobile game collabs was in 2015 with a mobile game known as Divine Gate. The crossover event between this game and Unlimited Blade Works featured ten characters from the latter anime and that of course included Saber.
Next, we have two collabs that I can barely find any info on online. One 2017 collab between Unlimited Blade Works and a game called Hortensia Saga and one collab between Heaven’s Feel and Summons Board. While I can barely find any info on these collabs it is at least very easy to confirm Saber was in them as she’s in the promotional images for both.
The final Saber appearance in another mobile game worth mentioning was during 2020 with a collaboration between Heaven’s Feel and Puzzle and Dragons. This collaboration featured a multitude of characters from Heaven’s Feel which of course means one more appearance from Saber for our tally.
With all of Sabers appearances in other games counted, that brings her game count up to 15. In order for Illya to have appeared in more games than her, I would now have to count nine appearances from Illya in other games. Let’s see if that’s possible.
Illya Appearances In Other Games
While Illya hasn’t appeared in any console or arcade games without the Fate title, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had many appearances. As I stated in the opening to this article, Type Moon is always more than willing to put Illya in various mobile game collabs. Whether that be on her own or with the rest of the Stay Night cast, Illya will appear to advertise both the mainline Fate franchise and her spinoff, Prisma Illya.
The first mobile game to feature Illya was actually one that featured Saber too. As Illya was one of the ten Fate/Stay Night characters included in the 2015 crossover between the Unlimited Blade Works anime and the game Divine Gate. This wouldn’t be the last time Illya appeared in Divine Gate though as the same game would later cross over with Prisma Illya in 2017
The next mobile game to feature Illya was a collaboration between Tenka Hyakken and Prisma Illya. Because this was explicitly a crossover with Prillya it included no other mainline Fate characters like Saber. Crossovers like this will be pivotal to the final tally if Illya wants to pull ahead.
The next mobile game to feature Illya was actually the final one to feature Saber as well. 2020’s collaboration between Heaven’s Feel and Puzzle and Dragons featured a multitude of Fate characters and Illya was naturally included among them.
2021 saw Prisma Illya collaborate with two different mobile games via a crossover event with Kurokishi to Shirou no Maou and another crossover with Bofuri Line Wars. Both of these crossover events included Illya as well as her companion Miyu and Chloe.
When 2022 rolled around and a new Prisma Illya movie was releasing, Type Moon and Silver Link decided to push Illya as hard as they could and allowed three mobile games to feature crossover events that would include both Illya and her companions.
The first of these crossovers was with a puzzle game featuring anime characters known as Crash Fever. This crossover was the largest Prisma Illya had ever gotten as nearly the entire cast of the anime was included.
Prisma Illya’s next collaboration with a mobile game was actually a crossover with another magical girl series as Illya, Miyu, and Chloe all got to appear in the game Symphogear XD Unlimited.
The next mobile game to feature Prisma Illya was Assault Lily Last Bullet. This crossover featured Illya and her two companions sporting a wide variety of outfits as well as many new voice lines from their VAs.
The most recent appearance of Illya in a mobile game was as recent as February 2023 as the mobile rhythm game D4DJ announced it would have a collaboration with Prisma Illya that of course features the titular girl.
With this being Illya’s most recent appearance in a game, that brings her total count up to 15! It may have taken a lucky year for her but she has now appeared in exactly as many games as Saber.
This was just a fun experiment to fill up an afternoon for me, so I don’t really have any long reaching conclusions about what this means for either Saber or Illya’s popularity or who Type Moon is willing to push to the general public at any given time.
It is amazing though how a single year of collaborations turned this from a complete landslide by Saber into a close tie, and the Prisma Illya collaborations do not appear to be slowing down either. We are currently at a tipping point where if Illya appears in one more game you can say she has more game appearances than Saber. The people you tell this to will of course call you a liar, but hey that’s what this article is for! Show it to anyone who calls you a liar when you say that!
I’ve been Skeith from The Story Arc and if you enjoyed reading this please consider checking out my various other pieces about Illyasviel Von Einzbern and her spinoff anime.