Before the forthcoming release of Alicization Lycoris, we review the video game adaptations that the series created by Reki Kawahara has had.
Since the series’ light novels were published in 2009 and with the subsequent release of its animated adaptation, Sword Art Online, the series created by Reki Kawahara, who is also the author of Accel World, has been gaining in popularity until becoming one of the most relevant franchises in recent years to the point of, like other series with growing acceptance, receiving adaptations to video games capturing the adventures of their characters for different platforms, including consoles and mobile games.
Although it is common for such conversions to video games to faithfully follow the plot of the series, except for a certain freedom in some points of the plot to offer an alternative view of the story, in this case it was decided to offer an alternative line with respect to the plot. original, in turn offering new characters in each new installment that have been added to the roster of controllable characters or support for combats through following the established order of the story arcs of the series, with certain exceptions in some of its games. On this occasion and due to the proximity of the launch of Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris shortly, we will review some of the most outstanding titles that the series has brought about during its more than 10 years of existence.
INFINITY MOMENT / HOLLOW FRAGMENT
The first title appeared in the franchise was Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment, a title that appeared in Japanese territory in 2013 for PlayStation Portable, a console that still had a pull in the Japanese market at the time despite the arrival of its successor, PlayStation Vita. The following year an improved version of the title would appear, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, precisely for the new Sony portable console, which would be in practice the same game as the previous one but including some significant changes, especially in technical performance with a palpable improvement in the graphic quality and also in the development of the combats. The portraits and events designs went from the designs of the light novels to show a more faithful style to the anime series, while the costumes of Kirito and Asuna, which in the first game were very different from the known ones, counted in the new version with greater fidelity to the original material. On the other hand, variants were introduced in the development such as the appearance of Leafa or Sinon that in the original title required progress in the game to be able to have them as selectable characters as companions, becoming available in the new game together with Strea, original character of the game, while being able to recall the story through a recap of sequences to understand the development of the plot.
In turn, the new version would include online multiplayer options, with options to create a quest in which other players could join or alternatively play solo by adding up to four groupmate characters. On the other hand, when starting the game you could edit the appearance of Kirito with various settings for face, hair and voice, a feature that in the high definition version for PlayStation 4, Re: Hollow Fragment, would be expanded with the possibility of creating a female variant of the character. Finally, the possibility was added, meeting certain requirements, to face Yuuki, a highly relevant character within the Mother’s Rosario arc, in a special combat, being able to add her as a friend, and therefore with the possibility of choosing her as a companion in a new game +, after managing to defeat her.
The story of the game unfolds from the climax of the Aincrad arc, with the death match between Kirito and Heathcliff, the latter being the avatar of Akihiko Kayaba the perpetrator of the deadly game that Sword Art Online has become. At the moment when Kirito is about to be defeated, a glitch affects the normal development of the game preventing Heatcliff from delivering the coup de grace, which causes both contestants to regroup and changing the course of the fight completely: Kirito gets deal several blows, noticing in each one of them the effect of the glitch in the game until he finally manages to deliver an apparent final blow. However despite the victory, the game is not over, so the members of the assault group decide to advance to the next floor that takes them to the city of Arc Sophia. There Klein informs the group that something has happened with the skills and equipment, an aspect that Kirito and Asuna also notice, while realizing that it is impossible to return to the lower levels of Aincrad. This implies that not only will they have to face the remaining 25 floors in order to escape the deadly game, but they must also be careful with the possible effects that the glitch may have on the game.
An additional plot was added to this story in Hollow Fragment as a novelty for this version, presenting in it a new character, Philia, with whom Kirito meets when being mysteriously transported to an unknown area of the game, the Hollow Area. After colliding their swords, Kirito notices the orange cursor of the girl, which denotes that she is a Player Killer, and at the same time both must join forces before the sudden appearance of a Skull Reaper, although with weakened parameters. After defeating their opponent, the two decide to cooperate together to explore the entire area while trying to discover why Philia is unable to escape from it, for which a strange mark that appears mysteriously in the hand of the young black swordsman.
The game was developed through each of the remaining 25 floors of Aincrad while investigating the Hollow Area together with Philia, in both cases having to fight enemies that will populate each of them, both normal and more powerful, offering in This aspect is a real-time action cut combat system in which the player controls Kirito, being able to enter commands to execute skills, attack or other actions, while having the support of a companion, controlled by the AI, with the that it will be necessary to cooperate following the suggestions that it will give at certain times to deal greater damage while activating additional effects temporarily and in turn increasing the affection between them.
To advance through each of the floors, they would have to be fully investigated in search of the boss’s dungeon, which once located would require completing certain secondary missions to obtain relevant information in order to defeat him, including details such as his attacks, weaknesses. , etc. The level of the members of the assault group should also be taken into account, since this would increase the number of troops necessary to confront the boss and prevent the players from perishing in combat. In the Hollow Area, on the other hand, it would be necessary to complete a series of missions, most of them defeating a powerful enemy, in order to advance and gain access to new areas, also having the implementation option that allowed activating additional advantages in combat fulfilling a series of secondary missions, which required Hollow Points to be able to activate them.
Another feature of the game is the possibility of equipping Kirito with different types of weapons apart from the character’s double swords, being able to select others such as axes, maces, foils, two-handed swords, etc., each having its own own skill tree with different unlockable sets through points, which were earned with each level up. This allowed not only to gain unique abilities such as increasing the percentage of experience for a limited time or activating a healing field, but also to access weapon abilities with greater offensive power. Finally, the game would offer several endings for which some sub-stories related to them would have to be completed in certain cases.
The next game in the franchise, Sword Art Online: Lost Song, would arrive in 2015 and although it would see the light on PlayStation Vita, like its predecessor, it also got to see the light in desktop versions, appearing on PlayStation 3, a version that it would stay in Japanese lands, and PlayStation 4, which was originally adapted for the West and which would later arrive in Japanese lands along with Re: Hollow Fragment, this only through a single-use code to download the digital version of the game , included in the same pack called Game Director’s Edition. The development of the game would be carried out by the Artdink studio, known by other titles such as the A-Train series, independent titles such as Mr. Domino or, in Japanese lands, responsible for the latest games of the Macross franchise for consoles, the latter being the Obvious inspiration for in-game flight controls. This would be the first title of the franchise, after the good sales acceptance of its predecessor, to arrive fully translated into several languages in addition to English, also being included in Spanish.
The plot of the game centers on Alfheim Online, the VRMMO that Leafa named in the previous game and that in the series was the epicenter of the events of the Fairy Dance arc, with the difference that instead of focusing on the tree area of the world, the action is located in an expansion of game content called Svart Alfheim that consists of four areas of wide extension and featuring different designs and weather. Kirito and his group intend to be the first to complete this expansion through solving the different puzzles and defeating the bosses that will cross their path. However, they will soon collide head-on with members of the Shamrock Players Guild, a group led by the young Seven, a young idol who enjoys great popularity in the game, and Sumeragi. On the other hand, a young woman named Raine will follow Kirito’s group without making her intentions clear.
The gameplay of the title would move to focus on an action system with simple gameplay through basic attacks using special techniques along with magic. As in the previous game, a character is controlled, although with the difference, this time, of choosing both the controlled character and the two battle companions, forming a larger combat group with greater power of action. and also support for extreme situations, such as healing in times of need or resurrecting if the main character is dejected. The selection options cover a total of almost 20 characters, some of them unlockable through the progress in the plot of the game and the postgame, being among them original characters from previous games such as Philia or Strea and including new ones, as is the case by Rain, Seven and Sumeragi, as well as others such as Lux, one of the main characters of the Sword Art Online manga: Girls Ops, and also Kuroyukihime from the Accel World series, which will become part of the group after a special confrontation in the game. Additionally, the possibility of creating up to three extra characters through an in-game editing option was included, however the customization options it offered were very poor, focused on choosing between the different races of Alfheim and hardly varying the skin tones and hair.
The development of the game will take Kirito and company through each of the areas of which Svart Alfheim is composed, having in each of them to fulfill the objectives marked on the map, mostly dungeons with labyrinthine and little inspired designs, in the You have to face different enemies and bosses while obtaining various objects, materials and treasures. In principle, each area will have an impossible to exceed altitude limit, which prevents reaching certain areas of each area, but as the game progresses, it can be eliminated to access them. On the other hand, the game will offer various events with the different characters of the group that will offer interesting sub-stories with them, including, for example, the deepening of the relationship between Asuna and Yuuki in a similar way, although not trustworthy, to the events of the Mother’s Rosario bow.
Technically the game was intended as a portable game development, especially in the case of its predecessor, and therefore the PlayStation 3 version is more a vitaminized version of it. In contrast, the PlayStation 4 version includes some substantial improvements such as the inclusion of a greater number of enemies in each area and also hostile players who will not hesitate to attack allies when they are face to face. On the other hand, the game has some striking details such as the accumulated damage to each enemy, which faithfully reflects what was seen in the animated series, hinting at the enemies’ data layers by fitting the attacks and the quality of the modeling of the characters, with a much more detailed level compared to Hollow Fragment.
Finally, the multiplayer options would allow players to carry out missions together in the field or to defeat bosses through access in one of the areas of the city of Ryne. On the other hand, denoting that in Japan the downloadable content was completely free and implemented through updates for the game, which included from new missions to costumes and extra characters, as was the case with Lux, while in the West such content was included as standard in the physical versions of the game.
A year later the next game in the series would appear, Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, which would be developed again by Aquria studio, responsible for the first two games in the franchise. The result would be what is possibly, at least until the arrival of Alicization Lycoris, the best game in the franchise to date, which takes the base of Hollow Fragment and takes it to much higher levels both in the technical field and in The playable, offering a global package of remarkable quality and a feeling of being the closest thing to playing an online MMO for a player. In this regard it is worth noting that Final Fantasy XIV references were taken for some of the aspects of the game, including the game’s interface for skills.
The plot of the game this time takes Kirito and company to a new VRMMO called Sword Art: Origin. This title is in beta phase, having given access to several players to test the functionalities of the game, the protagonists having gained access through their relationship with Nanairo Arshavin, also known as Seven, who is in charge of development. On the verge of leaving the session, Kirito perceives a mysterious figure that watches him while receiving a strange message without a sender that talks about the return to Aincrad. With the mysterious figure is presented before them, which they will later call Premiere, a mysterious girl who is actually a NPC of the game that offers a strange mission without apparent utility or reward for the players. Over time, the interactions of the group will evolve their character while they will investigate this mission related to their character that seems to have relevance to the evolution of the game world, while they will discover the dark reality that affects the NPCs of the game and the treatment they receive from the players. On the other hand, a mysterious player named Genesis, who gets the nickname of black swordsman among the players, will wreak havoc on the game, demonstrating an enormous force capable of defeating experienced players, reaching the point of rivaling Kirito.
The playable changes in this game are minimal, offering a scheme similar to Hollow Fragment but much more polished both technically and playably, being able to form groups of up to four characters, Kirito and three companions, in combat during story mode and up to a maximum of eight through solo multiplayer, keeping the request scheme of the first chosen character and also the praise system. On the other hand, the world of Sword Art: Origin is quite extensive, offering a wide variety of areas to explore and enemies to face as well as special missions in which it will be necessary to eliminate a certain number of enemies or beat one condition. special more powerful than the rest, which is denoted through its level.
The system of skill progression and different types of weapon that Kirito can equip is also maintained, investing the points obtained when leveling up to unlock new skills from the different trees related to each one and use them in combat, although the progression It goes further with the introduction of a much more extensive system in the free expansion Sky Warriors, included among the updates that the game had, which would require performing specific tasks that included collecting hidden elements in the maps and learning special roles to each of the females in the group, unlocking extra abilities.
As for interaction with the characters, just like Hollow Fragment included some parts of dating other characters through conversations. On this occasion, this mechanic was used in an improved way through conversational events with a certain interaction in which the answers given during this point, either in an affirmative or negative way, and the actions carried out when gradually approaching, affected the chosen girl in a that his state could change.
As for characters, in this title a good part of the main characters of previous games would return as combat partners while others, such as Lux or Sakuya, among others, would not appear in this title. In return, and apart from Premiere, would include Kizmel, a character who appeared in the Sword Art Online Progressive plot novels, who would have some specific missions in game development. On the other hand, characters like Seven and Rain would be included again through the game’s downloadable content along with Alice and Eugeo, protagonists of the Alicization arc. Such downloadable content would include three additional content expansions, included in the game’s season pass, under the title Maiden in the Abyss, which recounted how the group made its way through new areas of the game in search of Tia’s whereabouts, the Premiere’s twin sister, whose fate had become uncertain after the end of the main game.
ACCEL WORLD VS SWORD ART ONLINE
The next title that would see the light would be this spin off game that brought together the characters of the two franchises created by Reki Kawahara with a totally original story. Artdink would be the study that would be in charge of the development, giving rise to a title that follows the mechanics offered in its previous game, Lost Song, but with palpable improvements in the playable section and also in the technical aspect.
The plot of the game would unfold with Kirito, Asuna and Yui having a pleasant family time in Alfheim Online. A notice pops up shortly to warn players of impending maintenance, urging them to leave the game immediately. Kirito and Asuna ignore the warning, following Yui, who has been behaving strangely, reaching the Niebelheim area where they discover a mysterious character who kidnaps the young AI. Kirito and Asuna try to help her but a mysterious fighter, who introduces herself as Black Lotus, stands in her way. Through development, the characters of both franchises will cooperate against the threat of Persona Babel, the person responsible for the kidnapping and disappearance of Yui.
The playable section in this version of the game improved significantly compared to Lost Song, showing a combat system that although it drinks from the mechanics of said title, it is much more accessible and allows a much more satisfactory combat when fighting, especially for the implementation of controlling the other members of the group, a better change system and also the option to chain special techniques increasing the percentage of damage in the process, which makes the combat much more versatile and spectacular. Regarding graphic quality, the modeling of the characters improved remarkably as there were changes in the design of areas and the city of Ryne, which are affected by the clash with the world of Accel World, giving rise to a peculiar mix among the original design seen in the previous game with futuristic aspects. This affects the areas of the game, offering significant changes in the environments of the areas already seen in Lost Song, being in some cases much better in this new title. The dungeons, meanwhile, were favored by offering somewhat more inspired and less repetitive designs, as well as including areas from beyond, taken from the Accel World series, at certain points in the game, accessible through special portals that only they would appear after defeating a boss of considerable level and strength.
The character roster expanded considerably, encompassing a total of 36 characters in the base game, many of them unlockable through in-game progress, and reaching a total of 45 if DLC content packs were obtained, They also included various outfits, an additional story, and an extra dungeon. The character roster would retrieve many of those seen in Lost Song along with new ones, including some like Sachi, from the first story arc in the series, Yuna, a character who appeared in the movie Ordinal Scale, Oberon, villain of the Fairy arc Dance, or Heatchliff. This variety allows you to see different nuances when playing because although the characters of ALO (ALfheim Online) perform with better performance in combat thanks to their flight capacity, the characters of Accel World offer, for their part, different styles of Combat, being Black Lotus very versatile and fast when it comes to attacking or Scarlet Rain has enormous firepower thanks to its hidden weapons.
The last game to appear on consoles to date and which has been the first title in the series to appear on different platforms, initially on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC and later on Nintendo Switch, in its full version. The development of the game was carried out by Dimps, the studio responsible for titles such as Street Fighter IV, Dragon Ball Z Burst Limit or Freedom Wars, offering in this case a title as peculiar as it is striking.
In this case, the action focuses on Gun Gale Online, the VRMMO in which the Phantom Bullet arc takes place, with the peculiarity that the plot of the game allows the player to create his own avatar for the first time. The plot of the game is divided this time into two different parts. On the one hand, following the character of the player who, after obtaining an ArFA-Sys unit, a very rare object to obtain in the game, will begin to stand out among the high-level players of the game, including his childhood friend Kureha, the mysterious Zeliska who It also has an ArFA-Sys unit and the brash Itsuki, which never hints at what it really feels like. Kirito and his friends will befriend this new character while they will carry out missions within the game together, reaching the moment when Death Gun will appear. From this point, and well advanced in the game, the option is given to change to follow the story, controlling Kirito and his confrontation to defeat this fearsome enemy that torments him, reminding him of the past in Aincrad while also influencing the Sinon’s attitude.
The game system would be TPS cut in which the player would venture either alone or in a group with three companion characters, through the different areas of Gun Gale Online facing various types of enemies while complying missions related to the main plot, in several cases focused on investigating different dungeons. For this purpose, it could be equipped with two different weapons, each with up to four types of equippable abilities, with different applicable effects including stats improvements, healing, etc., and four devices that range from medicine cabinets to heal different types of grenades. .
The enemies would cover different types from small insects to large scorpions or deadly robots when attacking, providing experience and item drops when defeated, including various types of weapons that, depending on the level, may have a greater rarity and better characteristics. in combat in addition to applying some effects in combat.
The progression in the game allowed obtaining points by leveling up, which could be spent to improve the parameters of the player character and the ArFA-Sys, being able to configure different builds in this way and especially having the option to save configurations and reset the progress. On the other hand, you could also configure the skill points to unlock new ones to equip and use with the different types of equippable weapons.
The game’s character roster offered the series regular cast including new characters, such as the protagonists of the spin off series Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online (LLENN, Fukaziroh, Pitohui, and M) who would be introduced later in the game, adding new ones via DLC content expansions, included in the game’s season pass, which added an additional story after the very short endgame main game. With them they would add Dyne, Musketeer and Yamikaze from the second season of Sword Art Online, Clarence and Shirley from Sword Art Online Alternative and finally Alice, Eugeo and Subtilizer from the Alicization arc. The independent expansion pack, released last year, would include a new area in addition to introducing the characters of Seven, Sachi, Yuna and Eiji to the game along with a story with them of protagonists.
The online game options included several types of game mode including cooperative type variants to complete missions and player versus player, being able to control the different main characters in the series, each with specific equipment and specific skills that they define their role when it comes to fighting.
TITLES FOR MOBILE
Sword Art Online is not exempt from having adaptations to mobile phones, which today are very popular in Japan and which cover a good part of the development of titles for several years, reaching the point of having several titles under their belt. Although there have been several titles, some of them even having ended their service today, we will keep the three most outstanding that are currently offered in this system.
First of all we have Sword Art Online: Memory Defrag, a title that closely follows the plot of the series in its various stages while also including totally original parts for this title, offering an action combat system with tactile controls to movement and defense techniques together with the use of skills, showing off a 2D graphic section in vertical screen format. Currently the game has celebrated its fourth anniversary since its release in Japanese territory, it was released in June 2016. The western version, meanwhile, appeared a year later available for iOS and Android devices.
Second is Sword Art Online: Integral Factor, an Online MMO that follows the original plot of the series in Aincrad in which players will live the story of said arc with their own avatar while being accompanied by a girl named Kohaku while They try to escape the deadly game by completing the 100 floors of which it consists. In between, the plot events may vary from the original plot, giving rise to different situations. The graphic section of the game is fully 3D with recreations of the locations of the series, both cities and wilderness areas, and real-time combat against enemies in the field through the use of touch controls in a practical and simple way.
Finally, there is the last game in the series released at the end of last year: Alicization Rising Steel. This title focuses on the events of the Alicization arc closely following the plot of the arc through Kirito’s perspective within the Underground world and his progress in it while offering other stories such as the retrospectives of the adventures of Aincrad o Gun Gale Online o los esfuerzos de Asuna por reunirse con Kirito, ofreciendo en ciertos casos capturas sacadas de la serie animada como en otros ofreciendo escenas creadas utilizando tecnología Live 2D. El sistema de juego incluye fases de recorrido de áreas muy simples con un trazado con algunas bifurcaciones y combates por turnos, pudiendo configurar grupos de cuatro personajes en primera línea más dos en retaguardia junto a un personaje extra de apoyo de otro jugador.