Akiba’s Trip was created by Way of the Samurai creators Acquire and published by the awesome people of XSEED Games. You play as Nanashi, the protagonist who is a hardcore otaku that falls for a shady deal to accept whatever happens to him, so that he may be paid in rare figurines. Shortly after it is revealed that a shady male, Zenya, has modified your body to become a Synthister, which is basically a man-made vampire that feeds off of energy instead of blood to create an all-powerful race.
You are freed by a mysterious girl named Shizuku and following you taking a deathblow from Zenya to save Shizuku, Shizuku performs a blood transfer to save your life. Story pique your interest yet? After that you and Shizuku return to MOGRA, a game bar that houses the Akiba Freedom Fighters. These are friends of the main character that perform good deeds and aim to keep Akihabara safe. The story then leads to these crazy otaku heroes saving Akihabara from the Synthister threat.
Akiba’s Trip 2 is obviously a professional game that should be taken seriously, and it needs to be. When reading some other reviews, some reviewers have complained about the games core combat mechanic – which is stripping, which is seemingly affecting them psychologically or on a social standard level, one went so far as to give the game a zero. How this pertains to the story is that since Synthisters are man-made vampires, they are prone to sunlight from the neck down. Therefore, the main character has to remove the clothes from both synthister men and women to vanquish them.
It’s a shame seeing reviewers bring the score down just for that point. The game is silly but the mechanics behind it and everything else are actually quite solid. Based off the equipment the opponent is wearing, you must wear down an enemies head, torso, and legs to fully vanquish them.
There are different styles of weapons that exist that perform different and outrageous, silly looking attacks that simply lower the durability of said articles of clothing. If multiple bits of clothing from various enemies are weakened, the character can massively strip everything – even underwear, which can then be worn by the character.
To go in a bit more detail about the combat; it is very akin to the Way of the Samurai in nature. In fact, the whole game feels like a vanilla version of it, which isn’t bad at all. Throughout the game you have a partner to help dish out the pain, which can be one of the 5 main heroines in the game. Both the player and enemies can perform unblockable attacks, counters and basic hits, all of which will tout more damage the higher the combo you make. The combat is fun but there are a few problems that hinder the gameplay a bit, one of them being camera control.
It’s pretty easy to lose focus on the enemy, but one of the more annoying factors is when the battle ends up near an exit – which auto locks the camera into position, meaning the main character can go in and out of that auto lock which creates disorientation in battle. Other then that, the difficulty can be challenging as playing the game’s hard mode got me stuck with enemies wiping my durability bar to zero with one hit. Luckily enough, the battle allows for a healing effect, which is the ability to re-sort your clothes to restore durability and save it from being stripped, because once stripped your clothes are gone for the battle.
Another little nuisance is when the main character performs a failed strip alongside many enemies, he may teleport from his original position, leaving you more prone or safe from danger. It makes sense why this happens, as it seems like the collision box of the MC is temporarily disabled for the cinematic and then reattached on top of other enemies. This in turn leads the game to calculate where to drop the hero, without causing a collision error – this isn’t a major issue as it’s not outwardly outrageous. Overall though the combat is very silly and fun to play, but it can be a nuisance with the camera controls, which I believe is the main Achilles heel of the game.
Moving on from a few of my gripes – the art, feel, and immersion of the game is the strongest asset of this title. The game takes you to a legitimate recreation of Akihabara Strip, complete with stores that are existent in their respective real locations. The game goes to the lengths of representing the Akihabara Strip in reality by doing tiny things that simply add to the experience. Examples of this include having street vendors pass legitimate advertisements of the real stores, and these are also viewable pictures on the MC’s smartphone. A nice touch was having loud advertisements from different media on load screens and big screen displays within the game.
The smartest thing in fact is how the game advertises live concerts and multiple game trailers from various companies. There are trailers showcasing Mind Zero, The new Legend of Heroes Title, Conception II, and other various Japanese titles, with the aid of other great companies like Nippon Ichi, Sega, Square Enix, and Spike Chunsoft. Advertisements from all of these game companies was a smart move to cross promote games and also aid in the immersion of the title. Another cool thing the team added was a pseudo-social media aspect to the title, which is the chat forum call Pitter and the usage of cell phone email messaging.
The translation via XSEED Games did a pretty good job in simulating reactionary posts from NPC’s, but I could only wish they added more random people as it got to the point that you’ll recognize each and every poster within a thread or two. Aside from the advertisement and social media pieces, the environment art may need a slight tune-up.
As the game utilizes more of a realistic, photographic, texturing in lieu of an anime/cartoon based character setup, the resolution of the wall textures are quite low and flat which makes sense to balance out the characters anime-style pop of color to the environment. However, the game at some parts fails to give significant visual monikers of certain locations.
An example of this is the Raffle vendor, which is a small red box full of advertisements to hand off raffles for a possible chance to win ludicrous amounts of money. Despite its significance, it utilizes the low resolution which makes it look like some insignificant box and is hard to tell if the player can influence it or not.
I feel as if things like that could solved with possibly a highlight underneath an influenced object, or by adding more to the particular object to make it loud and apparent that it is something. Although the environmental art may need a slight tune up, the animations for characters are amazing and I was extremely surprised by them.
I had a lot of fun with the ability to switch the MC’s walk cycle and strip animation cycle to something as realistic as a tourist based walk cycle to ones as silly as a pantomime walk. You can even strip enemies like a luchador, or with psychic powers. The game offers really awesomely smooth animations that give the player more customization that I appreciate which is normally not done in games.
Audio is performed pretty well. The game does offer dual audio, which most general Niche Gamers will probably end up picking the Japanese voice work but the English voice sets are actually not too bad. The only one that is a bit odd I found was Nana’s voice (MC’s sister), I appreciated it and liked her dub as it strikes the shut-in, really weird character vibe, but it went into a more solitary serious sounding sister.
This is while the Japanese VO did a more cutesy sound to the shyness, so it gave a completely different feel. It was pretty cool to have live concerts shown on the big screens of the strip, most of which featured pretty catchy songs. On top of that the store music switched from poppy-jazz ensemble which is becoming common in these style games and the always fun rap music. the music varies and it is fun to listen and quite catchy.
To add in my last tidbit of critiquing, the another major problem I found in the game that hinders the experience is simply navigating the world. To be clear, these are many small issues that lead to something a bit more grandiose. While it did make sense that some areas can be small and confining, I’ve noticed that there are a good amount of small areas within that game that are separated with loading screens.
Although the load times don’t last too long, the problem lies in going place to place in quick succession. This leads to multiple loading screens, which easily stalls the gameplay quite a bit. I began to wonder if some areas could be linked together directly, such as the Radio Kaiwan/Electric Plaza going into the train station.
For a small area such as the train station, it could have been linked with either one of the plazas, but luckily enough there is a quick jump option to jump from place to place easier. Another related issue I had was character load-in; it can take a good 8-15 seconds before NPC’s are loaded into the area. Unfortunately, this stalls the movement of the character and technically stops gameplay. When you add the loading screen in conjunction, this simply adds to lost time in gameplay.
This can get especially annoying during side missions when you are fervently looking for the client or objective which can get to be frustrating. Last but not least, I think that the game could make do with a tiny mini-map compass on the UI to aid with the nuisance of finding clients. This isn’t necessarily a downplay on the game per se, that one is just a critique I had.
Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed allows for a good amount of replayability and length due to side missions, new difficulties leading to newer stronger clothing, and it also features 5 different endings based off the strongest affinity you have with the girls. It’s not as intensive as Way of the Samurai in customization and scheduled-based gameplay, but fans can find a huge amount of similarities between the title.
Luckily enough, I find that with Akiba’s Trip being a slightly watered down Way of the Samurai, it’s a lot easier for anyone to get into it. With a direct story and no time limit, the game allows the player to take in the experience of a delightfully weird, quirky, otaku-crazed story coupled with fun, engaging gameplay, in the immersive world of Akihabara.
Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed was reviewed on Playstation Vita using a code provided by XSEED Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s reviews/ethics policy here.