Publisher: Acquire, NIS America, XSEED Games
Genre: RPG, Adventure, Fighting
Platform: PlayStation 4
Rating: I would say “Teen” minimum
Release Date: November 25, 2014 (in North America)
I have played a LOT of Nippon Ichi Software (NIS) published games in the past – such as the Disgaea, the Altelier Alchemist and the Hyperdimension Neptunia series – and enjoyed them. I have also played total bombs put out by NIS America – such as Time and Eternity. It is a fifty/fifty proposition when trying anything imported from Japan to North America, to be honest, so I always approach such games with trepidation. By setting my bar low, most of these games are then surprising entertaining. When Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed (or Akiba’s Trip 2 in the US) emerged on the PlayStation 4, I was given a copy to review. I don’t know why they’d want me to review another Japanese RPG/Fighting game after I came down hard on Conception 2, but I accepted. I had heard good things.
I’ll try to sum up the plot the best I can without giving away spoilers or getting you too confused: basically, you were tricked into becoming an artificial vampire that feeds on peoples’ emotional states. You are an otaku (extreme fanboy), therefore you spend a lot of time on Akihabara – the area in Tokyo, Japan known for electronics and catering to just about any anime/manga fetish possible. You escape your captors with the help of a young woman named Shizuku Tokikaze, she saves your life, and you vow to fight the evil people who did this to you with the help of your friends and the same, mysterious Shizuku. Various plot points are highlighted with animated cut-scenes and close-up talking bits. So far, it sounds like a typical anime/manga plot, for which I am accustomed. Believe it or not – I read a lot of manga and watch a lot of anime in my spare time.
Like any Japanese RPG game involving otaku, it’s largely stereotypical. It makes fun of all the things that define the district as well as the people who a lot of time there. For example, the NPCs wandering around the area all have yellow tags that float above their heads telling you what their current obsession is (maybe because you are a vampire who is supposed to be feeding on these obsessions). Almost everyone is a FANBOY/FANGRIL, with GOTHIC LOLITA, TOURISTS, FOREIGN TOURISTS and the occasional rare characters like nurses, debt collectors and photographers. You are bombarded by loud, flashy advertisements on video boards for animated dramas and video games. The stores are all recognizable, although they are plastered with tons of posters and signs, so you can’t exactly see inside the stores. Cars and buses with crazy painted images fly by on the streets, while there’s cardboard stand-ups of popular female anime characters on side streets.
The graphics suffer a little on the PS4, since this game was largely meant to be played on the PS3 and the PSVita. Things are a little pixel-y when you are out running around. Things feel largely closed off to you (for obvious reason – they can’t recreate EVERY shop in the district. The character models are repeated over and over again, with a few variations in objects they carry. The game sometimes seems to expand to go outside the borders I set in the Display configurations, making it a little weird to look at. On the other hand, the main characters and all their artwork is pleasant, and they did a good job of animating them while they are talking. The animated cut-scenes are well done. It’s not a terrible looking game – it just harbors the older graphical style of a game developed on a lower budget than, say, Dragon Age: Inquisition or Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag.
The game also sounds pretty good, with the voice acting being top-notch. The music is also pretty good, even though it can get repetitious. Atmosphere sounds are goods and fighting sounds are hilarious. They took a lot of care in how the game sounds, which is a nice touch. The dialogue, on the other hand … ranges from good to downright goofy. That seems like a bad thing – and if you are not one for games attempting to be intentionally goofy and stereotypical, you might HATE the dialogue. I didn’t mind it, since I was aware of the incredibly bizarre attitude the game encompasses from the start. Some of the goofy dialogue is pretty funny, as well. And for those of you who don’t want to READ along with the game, you can push buttons to turn off the titles at the bottom. Although the only reason I think you would do that is because you are too busy staring at the full view of the models (since the text often obscures the bottom half of the screen).
The game is mostly a fighting game, with button smashing going on. Battles are the weirdest element in Akiba’s Trip, to say the least. Victory conditions normally involve scaring off normal people or turning other vampires like yourself (called Synthisters) into dust. Brace yourself – combat is won or lost by damaging an opponent’s clothing and then RIPPING it off of them. You heard me correctly – to win, you must disrobe your opponent to their underwear (and sometimes more). If the game being about otaku wasn’t enough, now you add stripping to the mix (hence the play-on-words title of Akiba’S TRIP). Synthisters burn up in the sun when they are mostly naked, which makes sense. Regular people … they run away. Some require full nudity to defeat, but no worries – the game makes their offending regions shine so brightly you can’t see anything. You use your weapon of choice to wail on the item of clothing a person’s wearing, which weakens it enough for you to either rip it off in one smooth action, or you play a mini game of tap the button fast enough to fill a meter. If more than one item of clothing on a person or any person in your character’s vicinity is damaged, you can start a combo of ripping off several pieces of clothing at once to shorten fights. Depending on your stats for disrobing various body zones, you could end a fight in half a minute or two. If all your clothing is torn off, you burn up and game over.
Role-play elements include stopping at stores to buy equipment, food and boosters … if you ever have enough money to afford the things you like. You can have your sister – the NEET gamer costume seamstress – upgrade your clothing and your weapons. You gain experience so your speed and strength increases. There is the ever present dating simulation going on, as you try to win girls over with your witty or geeky responses. There’s side-quests to complete for money and items, some of which unlock the ability to dress up your female partners in popular outfits. You can even dress yourself up in a variety of optional clothing choices to look however you want. Although, there’s reason enough not to do that and stick to using the clothing with the greatest durability. Or arming yourself with a powerful broom vs a cool looking wooden sword. Again, the weird combat system reigns supreme, despite your desire to look like a version of Goku from Dragonball Z. It gets even weirder when you see people beating on each other with umbrellas, computer keyboards and briefcases while wearing suits, bandanas and animal decorated boots. Not to mention it feels awkward trying to pull some young girl’s bloomers off while shouting, “It’s vital for my survival!”
Most of the game is controlled through your character’s cellphone. There’s email; side-quests; a camera app for taking pictures and finding Synthisters; Pitter for rumors (a knockoff of Twitter); an app to change your clothes and so much more. You can set the camera’s wallpaper to be one of many moments captured during the game’s talking scenes. The game chooses these wallpaper moments, although I would have liked to get all the girls in bikinis as my wallpaper at some point. I can feel the game’s slight ironic pervertedness creeping in even as I type. >_<
Did I enjoy it? Yes.
Will anime/manage fan peeps enjoy it? More than likely.
Will hardcore gamers like it? Most likely not (unless they have a secret fetish).
Will someone who hates to read like it? No.
It is for all intents and purposes a Acquire game published by NIS America. And like all NIS America games, it is hit or miss depending on your expectations and preferences. It falls somewhere in the middle of good/funny and great/hilarious for me. Not quite there, but does it really need to be? All it really needs to be, in my book, is challenging enough to keep me interested in sitting through the drama and the cliche Japanese anime plot lines.
It’s an odd game with an odd premise with several endings including one that ends with GAME OVER when you die. Can’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s a little expensive, but give it a few weeks, should go on sale on the PSN store. Let me leave you with a quote from the game:
Nathan is a 40-ish year-old gamer, father and programmer. His hobbies are board games, video games and watching his son. He wrote for http://www.ironmanmode.com/ for the years of 2012 and 2013 to make money for Child's Play. He has been basically playing games since the 1980's in one form or another. His very first favorite video game was actually an arcade game called Dig Dug. He has played every generation of video game console (including the Magnavox Odyssey)