Bandai Namco Games will bring Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment to North America and Europe. In the vein of .hack, the PlayStation Vita game is a pseudo-MMORPG where you explore the world of Aincrad with a partner character.
Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment includes the content from the PSP game, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment. Within the game’s town, players will be able to choose missions from either the Infinity Moment storyline or the Hollow Fragment storyline. Producer Yosuke Futami said there were some changes to make Infinity Moment fit with Hollow Fragment. The graphics have been updated for PlayStation Vita and Infinity Moment uses the battle system from Hollow Fragment. Players will be able to see ending variations from both games. Bandai Namco also said they are cleaning up the English translation from the Asian version for the North American release.
Can you tell us about developing the original storylines for Hollow Fragment and Infinity Moment?
Yosuke Futami, Producer: I actually start out with what I want to make, not so much what fans are expecting. One theme I keep in mind is you’re playing as Kirito and I want him to look like a heroic and cool character. When creating the game, I thought about what I would do if I was in Sword Art Online.
That’s different from the Kirito in the series. He isn’t exactly suave.
Yeah, but in the game he’s cool. [laughs] In a lot of the other stories, he’s always trying to help someone. That’s still the goal in the game. If you look at the whole story, he has moments where he’s really heroic.
Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment has Strea, an original character who Kirito meets in the game. Can you tell us how you created her?
Do you know Yui? The original inspiration came from the idea of Yui having another sister.
What about Philia who was added in Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment?
When I was thinking of making a game, I wanted to have a heroine that’s a criminal. That’s how Philia was born and why she is [an] Orange [player]. A criminal heroine didn’t exist in the anime or the original story, which is why I wanted to create one.
How do you come up with the date events for the Sword Art Online games?
Hmm… I try to imagine what players would want to do with those characters. [laughs] The storyline for Sachi was pretty difficult to make. Philia is my favorite character to date. I always think about what characters do or should say that would make me feel happy and attracted to that character when designing date scenes.
Can you tell us why you added more date elements into Hollow Fragment like holding hands and carrying characters?
In Infinity Moment, even if you became friends with other characters you wouldn’t be able to directly interact with those characters. With Hollow Fragment we wanted to tighten the game and let players to get closer to the characters.
Are there any ideas for date scenes that you didn’t use?
There were a lot of ideas that we thought of that we didn’t use. Some of the more risqué ones we had to throw out.
Why did you add pillow talk into the game?
[Laughs] That was my preference.
If there is another Sword Art Online game what kind of dating elements would you add?
Hmm… [thinks for awhile] kissing, maybe?
Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment has a pseudo-MMORPG system. Can you tell us how you designed the AI partner characters so they are helpful in battle?
One of the the things we did when we were creating the AI was we took a lot of care in creating emotions. We made sure they were all original and cute so they feel realistic.
When you control your character, you don’t have to think about your partner. The partner will act as you AI and grow on its own. When the player starts thinking about how they want to raise their partner’s AI and how they want the AI to grow, the AI will grow around your actions. Having the partner change depending on how you act is something we wanted to do.
Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment has changes to the battle system too like adding the Burst system. Why did you add this in?
When we released Infinity Moment in Japan we did a lot of research and listened to what the fans said. There were a lot of people that said they wanted to directly attack, which is why we added the Burst system.
MMORPGs are a grindy genre, but I think playing with your friends doesn’t make it seem as lengthy. Even though Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is a pseudo-MMORPG it’s pretty grindy too. Was this purposeful to capture the feeling of a MMORPG?
We balanced Hollow Fragment so there is grinding, but there is less than a typical MMORPG because the social aspect of playing with your friends isn’t there. We wanted to put in grinding because it is set in a MMORPG environment. In the future, we still have to determine because this game is set inside a MMORPG grinding is there. Depending on the theme of the next game, if there is a next game, we may change it to match other game styles.
The level cap for Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment will increase to 250 after the update. That’s a lot to work up to!
Leveling up with the patch will be a little bit easier. You won’t have to grind as much. Depending on your play style there are other ways to level up more efficiently.
How would you refine the battle system if you were to make another Sword Art Online game?
I would want to make it more interactive. Maybe add in jumps.