It’s very hard to describe a game like Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed. The nearest comparison I can give is that it is similar to Sega’s Yakuza series. Instead of Shinjuku, you will explore the Otaku mecca: Akihabara or Akiba. The trip however is not without its flaws.
Platform(s): PS3, PS Vita, Ps4 Publisher: Xseed Games Developed by: Acquire Genre(s): Adventure, Beat ’em Up, RPG Release Date(s): August 12, 2014 (Ps3,PS Vita)/ December 2014 (PS4) Rating: M for Mature
(Quick Note: I’m reviewing the PS3 version of the game.)
My recent history with Beat ‘Em Up’s is with Sega’s Yakuza series and it was a incredible beat ’em up. With it’s brutal finishers, and near replica of Japan’s Shinjuku district. It was like a virtual tour in Japan. When I heard that this game would be similar in that aspect, but with the famed Otaku Mecca of Akihabara or Akiba, I just had to see if that would hold up to that promise. That was the preconceptions I had when going into Akiba’s Trip (or Akiba Strip, take your pick.) In short, it does keep that promise somewhat.
Vampire, Otakus, and Stripping, Oh my!
The story itself is not too great, but I can’t help but feel absorbed into the world. You play as an Otaku, (default named Nanashi meaning “No Name”) who was lured with the promise of a limited edition figurine. Needless to say, things go sour real fast. You wake up being tied up to a table and you’re about to have your essence stripped from you and not in the good way. Here, you get your first dialogue choices like in a Visual Novel game. This gives you an insight into what your character is seemingly portrayed as. Xseed’s localization team pokes fun at the Otaku stereotype, either by depicting you as a materialistic person who follows his desire as an Otaku or as a normal Otaku who retains his common sense. Mostly, the dialogue choices are divided into either the normal, the expanded/suave, or the downright silly/perverted responses.
Thankfully, you get saved by a cool beauty named Shizuku Tokikaze and get your first tutorial mission. This is where it starts to get ugly. Combat is simple, but very stiff. You attack: either a high, mid, or low attack. Each targets either the head, body, or feet. There is no health bar like in other typical Beat ’em-ups. Instead, your clothing is the health bar. Each time you damage any article of clothing worn by your enemy, you raise the chance of it being to be stripped. Yes, stripping clothes is the main focus of this game. Since your enemies are “Synthisters,” the only way to destroy them is to expose them to the sun through destroying their clothes
This also applies to you well. If you take too much damage, you can be stripped and it’s game over. Thankfully, you can retry again if you do. They won’t penalize you for it, so if you die, don’t worry. Also, when you hold L1, you can fix your clothes and regain all your clothes HP. A nice feature to have.
Another bad point is the camera. It doesn’t adjust to you when fighting. The camera would just stay in the angle that you put it. For example: if you attack an enemy and push that enemy towards the screen, it doesn’t adjust to place the camera behind you. Therefore, you can’t see the enemy. You have to adjust the camera manually with the right stick in battle. That is just no good. It feels awkward and in battle, you can’t afford to do that. There is something to help relieve that but it is not perfect. R1 resets the camera behind you but is also your defensive stance, which automatically dodges any any attack, except heavy unblockable attacks. When you hold it once, it goes to the stance, so you would have to double tap R1 quickly in battle. This gets real troublesome, especially when dealing with a crowd of opponents. Personally, this doesn’t feel right because I believe you need to have a camera that works with you, not solely dependent on you. Sega’s Yakuza games are prime examples of a Beat ’em-Up that has great camera.
To sum up the intro, you protected Shizuka from a blow and were gravely injured in the process. She made a blood contract with you by kissing you with her blood, drinking her blood in the process and saving you. That said, You are now a familiar of Shizuku. It then shows you that you are a part of the Akiba Freedom Fighters, A volunteer group who patrols Akiba and keeps the peace. You also get introduced to your shut-in sister: Nana , which the script for her is just funny overall. You then meet your comrades in the group. Your Childhood Friend: Touka Sagisaka. A Finnish exchange student who works as a maid: Kati Raikkonen. The Manger of the base/game bar of MOGRA: Kihachi Sugiyama or Pops as people call him. Lastly, the Tachibana Brothers. Kaito is the older sibling who is enthusiastic about protecting Akiba but lacks the brain power. While Yuto, the younger sibling, is more composed and is the brains of the group. You then go learn who is this organization, who are the Synthisters, and finally put a stop them.
There are more character’s introduced but it is up to you to find them. The characters themselves are okay, even if they follow the usual anime tropes that we know. Besides the main heroines, who you can have an ending with, the characters are pretty forgetful. Story is not deep, so don’t expect a riveting complex story. To sum it up, Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed is average and the only reason to go through it again is to get the multiple endings with the girls.
The Sights and Sounds of Akiba
When you explore the town of Akiba through the main mission or the side quests, there is a good amount to see. The towering ads and the stores depicted are real in Japan. The world also has flyer girls like in Japan. So if you want to get a feeling of what Akiba is like, this is as close as you can get in a video game without a plane ticket.
The locations are separated into their own areas. This is another down side. Every time you go to another area, there is a loading screen. This can be annoying. Also as you can tell, it’s not detailed with specks of dust or cracks on the sidewalks. Backgrounds or alleyways are simple copy paste pictures of their real life counterparts. Another critique is about the people roaming about. Usually there are at most 5 types of characters you see which loop spawns when you’re in the area. In some areas, it can just be simply empty and barren. Xseed said that this is fixed in the PS4 version, so wait if you want the improvements.
When fighting or travelling in these areas, the frame rate drops and becomes jagged. This is especially true when there are multiple people on screen. There are even rare times of freezes as well. I’ve only had two freeze ups in my first play through of 30 hours. It is wise to save when you have a chance.
Acquire decided wisely to go with an anime, cartoon model look for the visuals. The highlight of the visuals are the conversations that come up in the story. Like with the Disgaea series, the portraits of the characters are great. The CG sets keep the feel of the moment well. If you like Disgaea, this is right up your alley.
A big plus is the voice acting. The game is dual audio so if you want to keep the original Japanese voice cast, you can. Surprisingly, the dub is very well done. When the moment asks for it, the actors really capture the moment of the scene. So kudos to them and give the English voice cast a chance. There has been hate on Nana’s English voice acting, saying it is too monotone and flat. Not like with the Japanese counterpart of bubbly and cute. I say give it a chance. For me, it grew and I appreciated it in due time. Again, it’s all preference.
Fan Service to Go Around
This game is Otaku bait, as I like to call it. You will like this game if you are a gamer, an admirer of Japanese Culture, or an Anime/Manga lover and so forth. Other audiences may find themselves alienated or disgusted by this game. This game is about stripping people’s clothes off, after all. Some may even say that this is the “most despicable game ever.“, which is not true. You have to understand the cultural difference between the US and Japan. Besides, we have seen far worse than this in the game industry.
One thing I like to point out is that this game is pretty much self aware. If you seen any anime of late or familiar with the culture, you will recognizes the these ads .
They also have game adverts ranging from themselves to Disgaea 4.
Even the side quest themselves pay tribute to the past. One example is one quest giver directly quotes Final Fantasy 10 line of: “Listen to my story. This may be our last chance.” Also in one dialogue choice, it even says “Well EXCUSSEEE~ me Princess.” The script of this game is full of references and laugh out loud moments which I love and thank Xseed’s localization team.
Another fan service tribute is the finishing strips. There are about 10 strip styles. One style even pays tribute to Fist of the North Star, which you do Hokuto’s Fist of Penitence. Again, there is a lot tributes and parodies to all anime and games here, so see if you can spot them all.
Then there’s of course the “ecchi” fan service. You will be stripping both male and female down to their underwear Even to the point of stripping them of their underwear. When you strip chain more than 8 articles of clothing, you will do a sentai style finish and blind them to the light, literally.
Xseed said that they will include both Male and Female strip portraits in the game, so it would be fair on both sides. So yeah….
And for the Ladies…
Up to you to decide if the fan service is a good or bad thing.
What You’ll be Doing During Your Stay
Overall, this is a short game. You will explore the city, do some side quest in between main quest, after finish with side quest you go to the main quest, head back to MOGRA, trigger next story cut scene and repeat. There is also an encyclopedia to fill up, so if you want to complete it, more replay value for you. A small detail to take note is your weapons and clothes. You can use hand drills, wooden swords, a sniper rifle, capsule machine, all sorts of weapons. You can then upgrade it by heading to your sister Nana and synthesis the material. For your fusion, you will get the title: Alchemist. Yes, that is a Full Metal Alchemist reference there. This can also be done for your clothes as well. But like with any RPG, you will only go for the one that has the highest stats, so the clothes and weapons are generally cosmetic.
I finished my first play through in 30 hours. I did most of the side quests, completed the battle arena, and story. There is a bit of grinding if you so wish to choose to do so. Overall, it’s a pretty mundane flow when you play though the game. When you finish and gain New Game +, you can change your model to a women and play as one. However, the story will still perceive you as a guy. Strip Skills, Titles, Encyclopedia, and Strip Portraits are carried over, so you will want to play more than once if you want to get 100%.
So with all that said and done, is Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed worth the trip?
A Flawed, But Fun Trip.
There is so much potential and bits a pieces that make this trip worth going. However, it’s held back by graphical limitations, frame rate drops, a stiff combat system, questionable camera, and basic game flow.
The encylopedia, and the multiple endings will make you come back for more and the dual voice over will make you want to listen to both sides.It has good humor and a decent story, just not well on gameplay aspect. Best to get this on a bargain or rental. A valiant effort. But when it comes to having a virtual tour of Akiba, there is no other game like this one.
+ Great Voice Acting
+ Virtual Tour of Akiba
+ Good Customization
+ Great Humor
+ Good Side Quest System
– Stiff Combat
– Frame Rate Inconsistent
– Bit Too Easy
– Nana’s Conversation Minigame