It’s All Fun and Games Until Shit Gets Serious: Sword Art Online First Impression

July 9, 2012 § 3 Comments

The concept of an online game is quite clean and simple thanks to the WoW express. For those who do not know what an MMORPG is, its an acronym for “Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game,” such examples are World of Warcraft, Terra, and Runescape (which popped my first MMO cherry). These games, although all similar in play style (with slight changes in mechanics), are all enjoyable because of the people you meet online.

The appeal for these games is that you, the player, are off on an ambiguous adventure to become the very best that no one ever… ahem. Well, along the way, you quest, get better gear, and quest some more and get even more better gear. If that is all what the game is about, then why play? The best thing about online games is that you meet new people along your journey as an adventurer, and through these online interactions, the game becomes much more enjoyable; the hard dungeon boss you had a hard time going solo, would become significantly easier if you fight in a group and form tactics. These people make the game much more enjoyable, interactive, and push you farther than you would on your own. People might disagree, but this is a truth for me: why play a game, if you can’t enjoy it, right?

What got me into MMO’s was .hack//sign. I yearned for a game like .hack, and I wanted to be in that same world that Tsukasa struggled in, that Kite struggled in the actual PS2 game. I wanted to have an interactive game with real time combat like that… sadly, such a game does not exist. However, it was a start that inspired me to jump on Runescape in Junior High. For two years, I made good friends, had fun, and started a wealthy fishing company for non member players and made much gold… However, I grew out of the game since my friends all quit. Dark Souls, although it isn’t a fully multiplayer online game, it does have a similar concept to MMO’s such as incorporating cooperation, pvp, and boss battles. I love playing Dark Souls simply because its fun to PVP someone in this area, and help another person beat Smough and Ornstein in another. The game has many quirks, and these players either thank you for the help, or indict you for being a prick. Even when you PVP, the online community is mostly just and fair, and like a duel, you take a respective bow and face your opponent with skill and luck on your side. If it wasn’t for these things, I would have quit DS after I got the second ending in the game. Everyone loves to play online game (take the WoW community). There are millions of players just in World of Warcraft, all having fun or initiating in jolly cooperation. Terra, a recent game, has gotten a large spike in popularity with its innovative gameplay and setting. There is a demand for these games, and people want it.

Now… imagine World of Warcraft’s large community, all playing at the same time… Lot of people right? Now imagine that the players cannot log out of the game, and because you are logged into a neural interface, you yourself cannot manually remove the helmet. Scary right? Now, to continue this, the creator of the game has claimed that he made this game for this specific purpose: to force players to survive this twisted game at the cost of their own lives, and to escape, the final boss must be defeated. Should you die in the game, your real body shall also die. Should someone manually disconnect you from the game, you shall die. Terrifying! Since the concept of leveling is important in these games, lets have the entire games resources be limited… Yeah, I would shit myself too… This is the concept of the anime/manga, Sword Art Online.

What got me to watch the first episode of Sword Art was due to my friend Chaz. While hanging out with my friend, Adam, just hanging out in his place, his roomate, Chaz, walked into the room and asked if we watched the new animes. Replying that we haven’t, Chaz left the room and came back with a flash drive and demanded we watch Sword Art, claiming that, “If you like .Hack, you will get a boner over this.” Sure enough, he was right. Adam and I sat down to watch the first episode, and just jizzed when we saw the protagonist, Kirito, put on a helmet like device and log into the game. So much like .hack, however, we kept our eyes wary. Unlike .hack, Sword Art has no mage classes and such. The magic was the use of the weapon (confirmed are swords). The only thing that is truly similar is that it required a head mount display to play.

**Spoiler Alert: Minor** Continue at your own risk

As Kirito starts the game, he meets a new player who requests to help him get the hang of the game. Nothing serious, just getting the basics down. Despite also being a level 1, Kirito has been playing since the beta test and knows the enough of the game mechanics to survive the game. Using his knowledge, he teaches his new pupil the ropes, ain’t that nice of him 😀 After a bit of an ass whooping from boars, the duo come across the first issue: logging out. The Log out button is gone, and both Kirito and friend think it’s just a bug in the game that will be fixed immediately; soon after, they are warped into a main city, along with a large amount of players confused of the situation.

Gather Around Kiddies

The GM, in such a dark and sinister tone, pretty much says “Y’all gonna be stuck in here. Anyone who leaves will die. Anyone whose HP hits zero will die.” Thinking this is a joke, the players just try to brush things off and deny this. The GM identifies himself as the lead developer of Sword Art, creating the game and the head crab… Helmets that they are wearing (pardon the Half Life Reference). The helmet uses microwaves to read the players brain waves, and that same feature can cook the player should he die in game or be disconnected from the outside. To show he isn’t joking, he displays various news broadcasts around him, along with a list of those who have been cooked recently. Like the cattle they are, the players just look in awe

Kirito, who has read the user manual and experienced the game, knows that the GM is telling the truth. The GM reveals the entire twist to this game. The game must be completed in order to be freed from their confinement in Sword Art. The final boss, at top the 100th floor of this dungeon tower (or something), must be defeated. However, the games resources are limited, meaning the monsters will not respawn when killed, and even weapons and gear will be a fight for power, giving a whole new meaning to dog vs dog.

Knowing that the resources will be limited, Kirito decided to head to the next city, knowing that he would have a better chance to get more experience points if he farmed another place rather than stay. His smart decision leads him to leave his current city, and ending the first episode. Kirito will have many difficulties in the future, so I look forward to more.


If it isn’t obvious now, I have found a new passion. Sword Art Online is a promising anime for the summer season, with a great concept, amazing art style, and dark plot to keep me cringing in agony and excitement. The music score is done by none other than my favorite composer, Yuki Kajiura, and the opening is done by LiSA. Two of my favorite artists in one anime. It just gives me more reason to watch and love.

Now, for the discussion. I don’t mind if you comment on here, however, here is food for thought. I assume, that since the resources will be limited, that there will be an insane amount of PVP, despite that players are killing other people (in real life). So… what would you decide? Maintain your morals and risk hindering yourself, or would you try to survive by any means possible? It’s quite a hard concept to really imagine, I mean, you aren’t just killing an avatar, your killing the person as well. That would make me second guess myself, and I would try to play the game as just and fair as possible. Maybe I will kill only if I had no choice, for survivals sake.

Well, with that said, I hope you enjoyed my impression on this. I hope this got you thinking, and I also hope that this anime becomes really popular to continue on. So long, farewell, and make sure to gain as much Exp. as possible!


§ 3 Responses to It’s All Fun and Games Until Shit Gets Serious: Sword Art Online First Impression

  • xninebreaker says:

    While I agree that SAO is a strong anime for the new season, I also get the feeling that the idea inherently falls flat because of the simple basis that it is revolved around: being stuck in a virtual world.

    (Spoiler? I think.) The anime already stated that eating in game only makes you ‘think’ that you are no longer hungry, but how to the players really sustain themselves? It was eating at me around halfway through the episode. If they are stuck for a long period of time, then their real bodies would die.

    In .Hack, the people could actually log out to eat. The ones that couldn’t log out were sustained through IV’s and feeding tubes (hospitalized). In Accel World, the virtual time is accelerated and is effectively 1000 times faster than real time, meaning that while you couldn’t stay logged in forever, you certainly could last a very very long time.

    SAO lacks the ability to explain this hole, or at least for now it does. For me, it’ll be fighting an uphill battle where the story and action will have to outshine its flaws.

    • findvega25 says:

      I agree with you with the whole nutrition thing. I assume that some families will have to resort to feeding their family members through IV. The unfortunate ones will probably die of starvation, or will die because someone tried to free them. I think it’ll make sense… then again, take this concept. What does it matter if they don’t explain it? Most of the story takes place in game. Like the .hack series, real life is rarely introduced to explain anything, and when it is introduced, it is really vague. It did, however, have an OVA taking place in real life

      • xninebreaker says:

        You can’t just go and stick a thousand people in hospitals especially when hospitals have little room as is xD. But yeah, like I said, if the story is good enough to immerse me in their world, then I won’t mind. Great story telling will be what makes or breaks SAO. A mediocre story will have me keeping more tabs on what’s wrong, rather than making me wonder what’s going to happen next.

        You don’t see me complaining about how Clannad starts off as a harem. It’s because once I began shedding tears, I didn’t care about anything other than Tomoya and Nagisa (and Ushio).

        Let’s hope SAO lives up to expectations!

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