For a long time span, Sword Art Online has managed to continue it’s reign as one of the most popular anime. Since it revolves around some real characters trapped in an interesting gaming world, you might find it very natural to watch the Sword Art Online games. This franchise made it’s debut in ASCII Media Works as a light novel in 2009. Reiki Kawahara, the author, and Abec, who is the illustrator, are both parts of the official SAO games.
You might be aware that these novels were given the shape of Manga by numerous illustrators, followed by anime with various seasons, TV specials, OVA, movies, and different types of merchandise.
At present, there are about 7 canon Sword Art Online games along with a remaster available. You can find these easily on the Bandai Namco official Page. Please note that Canon here means the author has supervised the storyline, mechanics, and gameplay of these games. Also, there are some significant spin-offs, some with release options only limited to Japan. There are about 11 SAO games at present.
The Sword Art Online Game Series
Bandai Namco takes care of the SAO or Sword Art Online games. The 1st one made it’s debut for the PlayStation Vita in 2013 and is based on the 5th Light Novel in this franchise. Since then, the company has been releasing games of this Japanese series, with each game presenting a certain part of the story, with the timeline respecting the default release order of Sword Art Online entries.
On a whole, each of the entries features more or less similar gameplay. Often, they work as the JRPGs imitating the MMORPG titles offline or online. You will be running around with the protagonist, i.e., an Avatar or Kirito, getting done with the main quests, followed by completing the side quests, leveling up, and interacting with different NPCs.
The game features an open world, but numerous sections are effectively connected with the loading screens. This is followed by each area brimming with enemies, which is why a larger time of the game involves combat. This is why Kirito uses a combination of skills, spells, and melee attacks for combat. Some games provide dodge mechanics, combos, party members, and shouting orders directed toward the party members. Nonetheless, the SAO games have come up with added the RPG action adventure as well as the dungeon crawling elements. The Sword Art Online games are also not a segment of the anime canon timeline.
Every SAO in Order of their Release Date
Starting with the Sword Art Online game as per their date of release, here you go as follows:
Sword Art Online- Infinity Moment- 2013
Infinity Moment is the very first Sword Art Online game, even though it is not technically available as of today. The actual title made it’s debut in 2013 only in Japan for PSP. After Bandai Namco Released Re: Hollow Fragment, they happened to bundle a remaster of the Infinity Master and made the actual version unavailable.
Infinity moment adheres to a different story after the anime’s first season. Leafa and Sinon are the protagonists and a few other recurrent anime characters. Along with other VRMMORPG players, real-life people are also trapped in the game after Kirito defeats Heathcliff.
The game imitates an MMORPG, even though it is not online. But, the players enjoy the privilege to freely roam, complete the primary quest along with taking part in side quests, upgrade and buy weapons, and engage in completing missions along with a party.
Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment – 2014
Hollow Fragment happens to be the first Sword Art Online game for the international audience. Making a debut in 2014 for PlayStation Vita, it introduced Kirito as the primary character. The gameplay of Sword Art Online imitates the MMO world of novels and anime. It mixes action-based combats, RPG elements, and some free roams. Coming to the active party, it is inclusive of skills, dodges, and combos along with commands to the party members.
Kirito, in particular, interacts with various NPCs, including adding other players to your party or romancing with them. The story takes place after the Aincrad Story arc. This is an alternate plot whereby the Sword Art Online game was still one even after the defeat of Heathcliff by Kirito on Floor 75.
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax – 2014 (spin-off)
With a debut in 2013 for PlayStation 3, Fighting Clima is for use only in Japan. However, there is an option to play the foreign version too. Either way, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a 2D fighting game featuring crossover heroes from different manga animes. This franchise includes Dengeki Bunko, Durarara, Sword Art Online, Shakugan no Shana, and Accel World.
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax Ignition – 2015 (spin-off)
The Fighting Climax Ignition is the update for a 2D fighting game. It debuted in 2015 for PlayStation Vita (Japan) and PS4. Likewise, the theme song for the Fighting Climax Ignition game is ID by LiSA. Interestingly, this Japanese rock artist turned out to be quite a notorious, post making a few songs for Demon Slayer Season 1.
Sword Art Online: Lost Song – 2015
The next major entry of Sword Art Online made it’s debut in 2015. Talking of Lost Song, it is an RPG for PSVita, Windows, PS3, and PS4. Though it takes a lot of characters and events from the SAO franchise, the same explores a real storyline. Firstly, the story happens to take place in Alfheim Online- which is a new game universe. This world is full of fairies and magic. Now again, Kirito is the protagonist here. Along with a group of friends, he will attempt to capture a floating land named Svart Alfheim by simply completing an RPG-like major quest.
Still, you can go ahead creating a custom protagonist. If you create a custom character, all other NPCs will refer to you as Kirito. However, the gameplay is the same as the previous one. Here, the combat is fast-paced, with various mixes of skills, commands, and combos for the party members. As a novelty, this game will add aerial combat so the players can ride the beasts some 360 degrees skyward.
The game even goes with adding hundreds of weapons and 3 different types of weapons. Each of these provides some worthy skills and advantages. Last but not the least, the game comes with various player modes. It opens up team-based PvP arenas with more than 16 players for each lobby. Adding on, it comes with a Co-Op mode with as many as 4 players involved in completing some special missions.
Sword Art Online Re: Hollow Fragment – 2015 (remaster)
SAO Hollow Fragment Re was made available for PlayStation 4 and PC in 2015. It is a remake of the initial Hollow Fragment version, which was available for the PlayStation Vita title. It also includes a remaster of the 1st SAO game- The Infinity Moment. The new version comes with enhanced HD graphics for PC and PS4.
This being said, Re is the version available on various official stores, meaning Infinity Moment is now available for all players worldwide. In the meantime, the actual Hollow Fragment game is available only for the PlayStation handheld console. Both the Hollow Fragment and Infinity Moment have similar storylines and gameplay mechanics. The RE game, too, lets you act as Kirito or as a customizable avatar. But, other NPCs will end up always referring to Kirito as the avatar, even though you end up creating a female lead.
Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization – 2016
The hollow realization made it’s debut for PSVita, Windows, and PS4 in 2016. It became largely available for Nintendo Switch, too, in 2019. This title introduces a new game universe or a VRMMORPG-the Sword Art: Origin. It is a very familiar setting. However, different than the game Kirito had left during season 1 of the anime.
In fact, the Origin is a very strong restoration of the actual Aincrad. Ainground is the new land name, a single large floor meant for research work. The primary character here is a 14 years old Artificial intelligence- Premiere. Along with Kirito, they go on trips to Ainground with the mission to uncover the dark mystery that is behind the new version of the game.
The new title mixes well with various elements from the prior entries. It is loaded with action MMO and RPG elements and begins with a character creation screen.
The title also comes with around 300 NPCs, all of which are available as party members. The character can bond with any NPCs to create friendships, romances, or rivalries. And NPCs become stronger with the creation of bonds. Further, the game continues by adding a brand new battle system where you will have a team consisting of 4 members. This is followed by a healing system as well as a revival system.
Last but not the least, the game comes with some multiplayer modes. Like before, it also brings some PvP battles that are team-based, along with a co-op mode with 4 players at the most for completing this game.
Accel World vs. Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight – 2017
In 2017, Millennium Twilight made it’s debut for PSVita and PS4 as well as Windows. This one is an amazing crossover between SOA franchises and Accel World by Artdink-the developer. It is still a part of the Bandai Namco game series named Sword Art Online game. The accelerated World, along with Svart Aflheim are perfectly merging while Yui seems lost in the chaos. Now Kirito needs to challenge the 7 kings coming from accel to rescue her.
The NPC players from both the VRMMORPGs happen to come together to save Yui from the control of Personna Babel. If you do not know about it, Accel World is a light novel by the famous Reki Kawahara. Accel World vs. SAO is a very original story, even though not a part of the canon of any of the universe.
Coming to the title, it features similar gameplay just as Hollow Realization and is inclusive of some of the elements of Lost Song. Say, for instance, it comes with aerial battles and lets the players explore the world freely, right from the sky to the ground. Since it comes with elements of both the Manga anime worlds, this game happens to cover all the characters from the 2 distinct universes. Interesting to note, you can actually form a team with 3 players simply using characters from 2 of the franchises.
SAO heroes, in essence, turn out to rely on aerial combat, utility skills, and magic, while the Accel characters are dependent on speed, special techniques, and melee. In addition, you will be able to shuffle the members of your team, and each of the characters will possess their own powers and abilities. You can then use your team to complete the major quest of Yui’s rescue. Just like that mentioned in the prior title, Millennium Twilight comes with a character progress system. In this respect, you have enhanced your characters and gained some extra points. The Floating City of Ryne- which is the hub of the game, comes with shops offering character improvement options.
And that the title does not have various options too. It is around team-based Pvy Battles, along with 4 players per hobby.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet – 2018
Fatal Bullet made it’s debut for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Windows in 2018. Bandai Namco is the publisher in this game, while Dimps is the developer. The game presents an original story inside a new VRMMORP. You can go ahead creating an avatar to explore the story in the third person in this world of Gun Gale Online, just as an action/shooting RPG. Alongside, you will be able to find new and old faces from the Sword Art Online universe.
The Gun Gale Online provides you with urban Science fiction scenarios whereby the players get access to various weapons, abilities, skills, and fighting styles to approach combat. Just after the Phantom Bullet manga and season 2 of the anime, Zaskar comes up with the Gun Gale Online. The Fatal Bullet reveals another interesting alternative story just within the Sword Art Online universe with the use of elements from manga and anime.
The story is based on a new protagonist who is involved with finding a rare AI named Arfa-Sys. The character, along with the humanoid, embark on a new adventure responsible for deciding the fate of the GGO. It is inclusive of the decisions that end up producing numerous endings and branching paths.
Unlike prior entries, Fatal Bullet provides firearms on top of advanced melee weapons. In addition, the players can also unlock the ability to wield a sword and gun together. For the traverse, the game adds a zip line in order to move easily between the areas i.e. the Bullet line System.
The protagonist can communicate with many NPCs and keep adding them to the party. Say, for instance, you have Kirito present as an NPC. The title also comes with a multiplayer co-op mode as well as a 4v4 PvP mode.
Sword Art Online: Integral Factor – 2018 (Spin-Off)
Integral Factor refers to a mobile MMORPG by Bandai Namco, which made it’s debut in 2017 for iOS and Android platforms. It’s plot is based on the playable character as they keep fighting across 100 floors of the Aincrad. Just as they keep fighting across these levels, the characters keep earning the experience to enhance their skills and stats. All other players can join you to defeat the bosses, take a leap into dungeons, and participate in the raids.
This SAO: Integral Factor comes with fast-paced gameplay with different ranged weapons and melee. Players possessed weapons, skills, combos, and potions.
Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris – 2020
Alicization Lycoris made its debut for PS4, Windows, and Xbox One in 2020 and happened to be the latest of the core games in the series. The game setting is in the Underworld, with the plot being based loosely on the Human Realm Segment well within the Alicization Arc.
Players become a part of this game for having a new JRPG experience and modern visuals. In this story, Kirito happens to be a protagonist of a non-canon story and stays faithful enough to the 3rd season of the anime. Now is the time to take a step ahead into the world with the enhanced essence of some JRPG visuals with Kirito.
Even though he happens to wake up in a virtual world totally unknown to him, he feels it to be familiar. The hero then makes a step ahead with Eugeo-his new friend, who discovers the truth that is hiding behind this new world.
The gameplay comes with action-packed battles that use sacred arts, numerous SAO characters, and sword skills in the party. It also adds parries with Guarding System and different potions to recover the novelties’ life. Talking of other features, these include ultimate attacks, deep skill trees, and team combo assaults. Last but not the least, you can team up with 4 players, and each player is allowed to have a party with 3 other characters.
Every Sword Art Online Game in Chronological Order
- Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment – 2013
- Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment – 2014
- Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax – 2014 (spin-off)
- Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax Ignition – 2015 (spin-off)
- Sword Art Online: Lost Song – 2015
- Sword Art Online Re: Hollow Fragment – 2015 (remaster)
- Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization – 2016
- Accel World vs. Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight – 2017
- Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet – 2018
- Sword Art Online: Integral Factor – 2018 (spin-off)
- Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris – 2020
What is referred to as a Light novel?
Light novels are the ones in the Japanese medium. It simply features easy grammar drawings and stories.
What is a VRMMORPG?
VRMMORPG is the short form for Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Game. As of the Sword Art Online Universe, the VRM games provide support to thousands of different real-life players, all in a virtual world. The players require an artifact to access all of these worlds. Technology lets humans easily translate their 5 senses into the virtual worlds.
What is “Accel World”?
Accel World is a popular light novel by the famous Reki Kawahara. It is also an ASCII Media Works Publication, available under the Dengeki Bunko Magazine for young audiences. The light novel, too, has an anime adaption and a manga for the Sunrise studio.
The plot revolves around the same universe as Sword Art Online games, about 24 years from the previous story. As of 2046, Haru is a very lonely but talented VRMMORPG player gaining the attention of shady gaming corporations.
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