Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed - PS3 Review
As anyone who regularly reads Futuregamez would know I'm mad keen on my RPGs. When I was younger it was all but impossible to get my hands on a JRPG with English text (or voices) outside of a few big franchises. Nowadays that's all changed and more and more JRPGs are finding their way to Western shores. We still get the big budget JRPGs, but more and more quirky titles are finding their way here too. And that's where Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed comes in…
|Streets of Akiba have been accurately reproduced.|
Akiba's Trip is set in the real life region of Akihabara (or Akiba), Tokyo, and begins with your character strapped to a table having unwittingly undergone a procedure that's turned you into a Synthister. What's a Synthister? Essentially they're man-made vampires – they have extraordinary strength and reflexes, but are vulnerable to sunlight. The shady guy that turned you into a Synthister now wants you to steal the “life force” of the residents of Akiba.
Unsurprisingly you're not a fan of that idea, and luckily it's at this point a mysterious girl breaks into the compound and helps you escape. After evading some hired goons the two of you make your way back to MOGRA, a pub where you and your friends hang out. Your friends at MOGRA like to call themselves the Akiba Freedom Fighters (they're like the Neighbourhood Watch, doing the odd good deed), and once they hear about what the Synthisters are up to, they're intent on stopping them.
From the outset Akiba's Trip settles into a rhythm where you have a fight (usually against Synthisters), then a conversation with your friends, rinse and repeat. Fighting in Akiba's Trip is quite simple; the triangle, circle and ‘x' buttons attack the head, upper body and lower body respectively. You can guard against most attacks by holding R1, and counter-attack with well-timed button press while blocking.
|Akiba's Trip is very 'unique' game.|
The most unique part of fighting, and perhaps Akiba's Trip's biggest selling point, is that to win a fight you must strip your opponents down to their underwear (or less). Before you can strip an enemy you have to damage their clothes to breaking point, at which time the clothes start to flash. From there it's a simple matter of holding down the corresponding button (e.g. triangle for head gear) to rip it off. If multiple pieces of your opponent's clothes are at breaking point you can perform a “chain strip” by pushing the button that comes up on screen. If you remove enough pieces of clothing in the one chain you will strip your opponent's naked (though their modesty is retained via a bright white light covering the naughty bits).
The stripping is justified by the fact that once a Synthister is reduced to their underwear the sun turns them into ash. Despite that, it's hard to overcome the feeling of wrongness as you grab a woman's skirt and rip it off, possibly throwing her to the ground in the process. That wrongness isn't helped by the occasional Dead or Alive-style bounce of the bosom, or close-up underwear shots when you strip one of the main characters and villains. On the plus side Akiba's Trip is even-handed about stripping, and you'll be tearing clothes off men almost as often as women. It's also done in a generally good-natured, lovable anime way, but still…
|Attack or defend, it's battle time.|
The conversations in between battles are quite lengthy because all your friends have an opinion on what's happening to you, and, more importantly, Akiba. There's a lot of story here but thankfully conversations can be fast-forwarded if they're not your thing. Occasionally you'll have to choose from one of three responses during a conversation. The responses range from sensible to juvenile (e.g. “Strip fight, huh? I am ALL over that!”). Your conversation choices will have an effect on the affection each of the four main female characters feels for you though, so you might want to be careful.
Actually, you definitely should be careful because the final third of the game plays out differently depending on which of the girls likes you the most, and unlike other games I've played with a feature like this, the changes in Akiba's Trip can be significant. As an example, I've finished the game twice now, and the first time I went down the “normal” path, i.e. took out the villains and saved the world. The second time I went down a different path *cough* Shion *cough*, and before I knew it I was fighting my friends, aiding my enemies, and had no idea how the game was going to end. Needless to say the missions on each path were totally different too.
|This is a very Japanese styled game.|
In between the main missions and conversations you can undertake side missions to earn a bit of extra coin. Few of the side missions are exciting though, i.e. take someone shopping, take photos of local scenery, help a nerd get a date by feeding him lines, and the monetary rewards don't justify the effort required, so you're unlikely to do more than a few.
Unfortunately Akiba's Trip is not without issues, some of which are significant. If you are able to get past the stripping aspect, the combat system is quite flawed. More often than not you'll be up against a large number of enemies in a confined space. Unfortunately Nanashi (you) has no way to target a specific individual so your attacks often miss your intended target, which in turn leaves you open to attack from others. It's quite possible to go from full health to almost nothing in the space of moments when this happens.
|Characters can be customised with different gear.|
The camera is also a major letdown, constantly moving above or behind you, completely obscuring your view of the battle area in the process. The loading times are terrible considering how small some areas are, conversations are overly long, and as mentioned above, side quests are decidedly dull. In other words, all the core elements of the game have issues that stop them being as much fun as they should be.
Akiba's Trip isn't a bad looking game, but the visuals are more in line with a PS2 game, than the PS3 (let alone PS4). Special mention does have to be given to Akiba itself, which has been faithfully recreated if the image search results on Google are anything to go by. A host of real businesses from Akiba have put their names in the game, so you're able to walk past, or even go shopping in some of Akiba's most well-known stores. On the downside there are some frame rate issues, and the loading times are disappointing as mentioned above.
Aurally Akiba's Trip is, like the rest of the game, mixed. The music gets repetitive, and some of the sound effects grate on you almost instantly. Walking through a busy street you'll often bump into people and their screeches are painful. Luckily the voice-acting is of a generally high calibre, giving real life (ok, anime life) to the characters. The actors are let down by a script that is cringe-inducing, but they do very well with what they have to work with.
|Battle in the streets, with a 56 chain!|
Akiba's Trip is not a great game then, but it's also one that's very hard to dislike, for reasons I can't quite pin down. If you're into anime, don't mind the pervy premise of the game, and can put up with some frustrating camera and combat issues you're going to get a lot of enjoyment out of Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed. If, however, you're not in that select group, I suggest you steer clear.
Review By: Mike Allison
Talk about Alien: Isolation in this forum topic now.
|GRAPHICS||Looks like a high-end PS2 game, but it's nothing to write home about these days. Akiba is wonderfully recreated, but loading times and camera issues hold it back.||63%|
|SOUND||Like much of Akiba's Trip the sound is mixed – repetitive music, some annoying effects and good to great voice acting.||69%|
|GAMEPLAY||Combat has flaws that stop it from being as much fun as it should be, while side missions are dull, almost without exception. The stripping is unique though, and nowhere near as pervy as it could have been.||60%|
|VALUE||With heaps of different endings to chase and a robust New Game+ to do it in, Akiba's Trip offers plenty of replay value if you enjoy it.||74%|
|OVERALL||Akiba's Trip will only appeal to a (very) select section of players, but if you're in that group it's worth checking out.||65%|