Get ready to explore Aincrad, for real! You know… without the crazy “you die in the game, you die for real” stuff.

Earlier today, IBM Japan kicked off a website for a new Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online RPG (VRMMORPG) based on Sword Art Online. The new project, titled Sword Art Online: The Beginning, will be a showcase of IBM’s cognitive computing platform, as well as IBM Cloud Services and SoftLayer technology.

The project’s website is accepting applications for alpha testers through March 4. 208 fans will be chosen via lottery to try the game at a location in Tokyo. The tests will be held from March 18 – 20, and applicants must be able to comfortable wear a VR headset and walk around without assistance. Alpha participants will be able to enter a virtual space to interact with other players via a 3D avatar.

Sword Art Online Visual 001 - 20160222Three actors from the TV series are confirmed to be reprising their roles in the project:

  • Kirito: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka
  • Asuna: Haruka Tomatsu
  • Yui: Kanae Itō

Reki Kawahara’s Sword Art Online was first released as a self-published web novel under the pseudonym Fumio Kunori. The first printed edition was published by ASCII Media Works in 2009. To date, 16 novels have been released in the ongoing series.

The series has seen several spin-offs, as well as a pair of anime TV series, made-for-TV film Sword Art Online: Extra Edition, and the upcoming theatrical film Sword Art Online Movie. Tomohiko Ito directed all of the anime adaptations at A-1 Pictures, while Yuki Kajiura scored the soundtracks. Both Sword Art Online and Sword Art Online II aired on Adult Swim’s Toonami block.

Source: Crunchyroll