Eric Kelly On September 10, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment_YUI_03It’s been a long time since there’s been a single player RPG that tries to emulate the feel of an MMO. Now there’s an answer in Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, the video game adaptation of the popular anime and light novel series. Despite feeling people might have over the show, this game is at least an alternative to those who may have loved the show’s concept, but hated its execution. Although Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment does have a few issues of its own.

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is the port of an earlier PSP entry, Infinity Moment. The Vita version has a new scenario called Hallow Area, with a new storyline. And the storyline is a bit beefier than the Aincrad arc from Infinity Moment. The story of Hollow Area has you go treasure hunting with a new character named Philia. Of course the plot evolves beyond the treasure hunt. The enemies are usually a bit tougher in Hollow Area, but this is more because this part of the game is treated more like an open-world type. You can do missions to earn hollow points, which can then be used to unlock passive upgrades to combat and other things. You need to perform certain tasks in addition to having the required number hollow points. The Aincrad arc by comparison is a linear floor by floor affair. It takes place after the end of the first arc of the anime, but a plot shift happens that forces the players to still play the game to get to the 100th floor. There is no more story than that really. There are interactions with your various friends. These little skits give some decent character development that was lacking in the anime, but sometimes they are insufferable fanservice laden affairs, are bouts of where it will be a long winded string of text and voice acting, with the girls fawning over Kirito. The anime also suffered from this problem, so its little surprise that’s it happens here a bit. Thankfully the gameplay is better in contrast.

The combat plays out like a fake-MMO, with your avatar being tailored to your liking. Although there are various options to tweak your appearance and name, you will always play as a male, and from the perspective of Kirito. The actual gameplay mostly consists of using burst attacks to build up combos for a much stronger skill based attacks. If you run out of Burst and SP, your avatar will use basic melee strikes, which are weak but better than nothing. You can set shortcuts to the direction pad and face buttons with the use of the shoulder buttons, as well as issue commands to your partner. You can also do quests, and interrupt missions to receive items, money, experience and equipment. Interrupt missions are timed and usually are pretty generous on the time limit, and they always drop equipment. The floors also have bosses, which are the biggest highlights of the game. It truly feels like an MMO the most during these parts, with multiple NPC’s and your two-person party taking on these monstrous creatures.

There are a few problems marring the experience, however. You can collect ore to strengthen your weapons or create new ones. But when strengthening weapons, you can only develop them on a specific attribute line at a time, and successive upgrades becomes harder to accomplish because the success rate drops every time, and even at 70%, the attempts fail way too often. Also, being on the Vita, the game lacks additional keys to bind skill hot keys. The game is trying very hard to pretend to be a PC based MMO in a Vita format. There’s also the issue with it’s localization. A few months prior to the US release, it was released in Asian territories. It had an English test option, but the translation was the worst kind of babel fish machine text quality you could have the misfortune of viewing. The US release likewise uses this translation, albeit cleaned up. But only just a bit. That is pretty lazy of Bandai Namco. There is a big patch expected to come in September that adds more content, so hopefully the script will also get updated. Outside of the localization, the game can be a bit repetitive. It’s a game that’s better suited for short bursts of play. The voice acting is entirely in Japanese, so any hope of hearing the English dub cast for the anime are denied. Despite these shortcomings, the game is thankfully enjoyable, and it will offer a lot of playability, going for 70 hours for both storylines, and much more for completionists. For people on the fence, maybe waiting a bit before hitting the buy button is in order.


If taken in spurts, it’s a fun fake-MMORPG style of game. Pretty repetitive though.


Mostly just an up-res from the PSP original release.


Some of the music is nice, but it’s mostly background noise. Nothing great, serviceable Japanese dubbing only.


A fun but somewhat repetitive ‘fake MMO’ game that suffers from a very poor translation, best played in spurts.about nothing, maybe.

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