Today marks the start of Anime Expo 2014 in Los Angeles, where Oculus VR is representing with a booth at the show. The company is showing a never-before-seen Sword Art Online demo for the Oculus Rift, a popular action anime show which focuses on virtual reality and MMORPG themes.
There’s not much info yet regarding the demo, though the splash screen indicates cooperation by Bandai Namco Games, who has published one Sword Art Online game for the PSP and is currently working on a title for the PlayStation Vita based on the anime. It isn’t clear at this time if this is a segment of a forthcoming Sword Art Online game for the Oculus Rift, or just a short promotional piece for the show.
In a video taken at Anime Expo today, we can see users with the Oculus Rift DK2 walking through the Sword Art Online VR demo, which seems to be a passive experience as viewers don’t appear to have any form of input other than the headset itself.
From the video we can see scenes similar to those found in the anime: Asuna, a main character from the show, defending the user against a boss-like creature and eventually destroying it and, during another segment, resting in the grass on a sunny day. Later in the video we can see some head-based interface interaction which appears similar to what’s seen in the show.
A Vine from Anime Expo shows an Oculus Rift version of the VR loading sequence that’s seen in the anime itself:
Sword Art Online is a recent action-anime, aired in 2012, which was based on a novel series by the same name. The show show centers around the main character Kirito, a teenage boy who plays a virtual reality MMORPG called—you guessed it—Sword Art Online. Players in the show don the “Nerve Gear” VR headset which directly interfaces with the brain for life-like simulation and input. The virtual world within the show is called the Aincrad. Like any good anime based on VR, players eventually get stuck in the virtual world, with dire consequences if anyone were to remove their VR headset in the real world.
The show has gained a cult following which has only been bolstered by the recent resurgence of consumer virtual reality. Many fans have been eager to see a Sword Art Online game based on the anime, or perhaps moreso, the fictional MMORPG game that is presented within the show.
Sword Art Online is a but a recent entry into the world of anime with themes of virtual reality, including the acclaimed .hack series and others such as Accel World, Log Horizon, Btooom!, Ixion Saga DT, and plenty more.