We recently got to sit down and play a portion of Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet. Thanks to the in-universe switch to Gun Gale Online, it’s feeling fresher than ever. We had the opportunity grill the game’s producer Yosuke Futami-san, who’s also worked on most of the other console Sword Art Online games, about making the switch.
R: Gun Gale has been a large part of the anime for some time now. Why are you only just getting around to exploring Gun Gale in the video game series?
F: We’ve already adapted the Alfheim Online from the Sword Art Online universe in the video game series, and wanted to adapt another world in the game and thought the next one would be Gun Gale Online. Being able to enjoy various universes is a unique feature of Sword Art Online, and I want all audiences to enjoy the entire universe of SAO.
Being able to enjoy various universes is a unique feature of Sword Art Online
R: When considering adding guns into the series, because of the setting, was making it a third-person shooter always the decision? What were the considerations with that decision?
F: At one point we did explore the option of making it an first-person shooter. But a lot of fans love the characters from Sword Art Online, and in order to show the popular characters and express the atmosphere of the series, being a third-person shooter ended up worked better for us.
It’s very hard to design a game based on the existing content in the series.
R: Sword Art Online, the anime and light novel series, takes place within a video game itself. Do you think that makes it easier to design a game based around it, or does that make it harder?
F: It’s very hard to design a game based on the existing content in the series. Extremely sophisticated gestures and fierce battle actions are expressed in the anime or original novels. So, we need to pay close attention to the game itself to make sure it doesn’t differ from the original work, while making sure the audiences can enjoy it as a game. Actually, I think designing the game based on anime and original work, with their own solid concepts, is exciting and creative in itself.
R: When making a Sword Art Online game, what is the relationship like between the development studio and Aniplex & A1 Pictures?
F: We can say that the relationship between the development studio and Aniplex & A1 Pictures is very close. We’ve been working together with the original novels team to discuss on the scenario. And sometimes we request Aniplex team to create key visuals for the game, and often borrow the set content of the anime from them to provide the closest universe of the anime to the fans.
[Thinking about how to please fans] ends up providing more motivation, and is a welcome challenge.
R: Sword Art Online has a massive fanbase worldwide. Is there a lot of pressure to please fans?
F: No pressure. Sword Art Online is very exciting, and our team is always thinking and discussing what we can provide more fun and more impressive experience to the fans. Rather than being pressure, that just ends up providing more motivation, and is a welcome challenge.
R: How hard is it to walk that line between making a Sword Art Online game that appeals to fans without alienating potential series newcomers?
F: I feel it’s difficult to reproduce the story and appeal of the characters in the game while at the same time unfolding the game’s original story and the interaction with the existing characters. It’s also difficult to explain and introduce the background of Sword Art Online to series newcomers so they don’t get bored. But, Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is a story that uses your own original character as a protagonist, which I believe will help everyone enjoy this game whether they’re already Sword Art Online fans or not.
Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet releases 23rd February 2018 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.