Sword Art Online: Variant Showdown, the newest entry into the long-running franchise, plans to release globally this year

Sword Art Online: Variant Showdown, the newest entry into the long-running franchise, plans to release globally this year

Legendary game development company Bandai Namco has announced that, in honour of the anime series’ 10th anniversary, Sword Art Online will be receiving a mobile adaptation subtitled “Variant Showdown”. Pre-registrations have opened up already, and the game is set up for a global release at some point this year.

Any anime fan can tell you about Sword Art Online, as it is certainly one of the biggest names in the sphere. And those diehard fans can also tell you about the abundance of both mobile and console games the series has had. Whether a fan or a newbie, the newest entry into that line is hoping to get your attention with exciting 3D arena-based combat featuring all of the characters from the titular anime.

Details are relatively scarce, but there is a storyline available to peek at on the official website. It’s fairly standard SAO fare, as the main character Kirito and his friends get involved in a competitive in-world game called Cross Edge, where it’s rumored that if you’re defeated by a certain unknown and mysterious player, you’ll lose a portion of your real-life memory. Those of us familiar with SAO know that this is essentially the plot of the entire series on repeat, so this story sounds comfortable to fans and newcomers alike.

Subscribe to Pocket Gamer on

Also available is a trailer, featured above, that features snippets of gameplay, but there aren’t any solid mechanical details put out just yet. For now, we’ll simply have to keep an ear out for any details as the year continues on, and maybe even receive a closed beta test for the new entry. A noteworthy addendum is that the game is, perhaps unsurprisingly, going to be a free-to-play title as well, likely with gacha mechanics too.

All this being said, if you’re a fan or a total newbie to the world of Sword Art Online, this one might just be a good entry point. In the meantime, there’s also a large amount of other mobile SAO RPGs to start with as well. For now though, you can follow Bandai Namco’s official Twitter handle and also tune into the planned Facebook stream about Variant Showdown planned for April 2nd, where you can also pre-register as well.

Want another anime-inspired RPG to play while you wait for Variant Showdown? Check out our Top 25 JRPGs for Android devices!
Connor Derrick
Connor Derrick
Connor is a diehard JRPG fan and an equally diehard fan of writing. When he isn’t putting 100+ hours into the latest Atlus release, he’s playing board games with his partner or blasting a mid-2000s punk record. Music, film, writing, and games are his biggest passions, and he hopes to one day unite all of those in some way or another.