.hack//AI buster

    (Tokyopop, 2005)
™ and ©

Popularized through an online role–playing game, videogames, anime, and manga, the premise of .hack//Sign is paradoxically about how people become submerged in the massive multiplayer online role–playing game (MMORPG) they are playing. Consequently, the virtual realm of “The World” has spawned multiple timelines, just like Mobile Suit Gundam.

A prequel to the main story, this novelization tells the first–person narrative of Albireo, a veteran player who debugs a beta version of the game to delete vagrant characters controlled by Artificial Intelligence. However, in a dungeon, he meets Lycoris, someone who should have been erased. As her mysterious existence complicates matters, Albireo bumps into the novice Hokuto and the legendary Orca and Balmung, in an adventure that reveals how “The World” was created and how it really functions.

Diehard fans may like the instant immersion into game terminology, playing procedure, and the additional layers of complexity of this fantasy universe. But those unfamiliar with the core concepts of the franchise will find this backstory dense and uninviting.

— Oliver Chin
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