Publisher: XSEED Games
Platform: PS3, Vita
ESRB: M for Mature
Release Date: August 12, 2014
It must really suck to be a vampire in Japan. According to Akiba“s Trip: Undead & Undressed, all vampires want to do is sulk around Akihabara with a hunger for rare goods. Of course, such a simple plan is ruined if the Akiba Freedom Fighters catch up with you. They“ll beat you up and tear off your clothes, leaving vampires to evaporate due to sunlight exposure. Akiba“s Trip puts you on the side of good although the protagonist himself has inherited inhuman powersâ€¦
This isn“t really a spoiler because the poor hero is captured within the opening moments of the game. There he comes face to face with a man in charge of converting regular otaku into vampire slaves. What“s this all about? As the game progresses, you learn more about this strange organization and its goals. In any case, the basics are that Akihabara is swamped with vampires and you need to stop them from converting more unsuspecting citizens to their side.
Thanks to newfound powers, you“re suddenly a super powerful and skilled fighter. Armed with random objects you collect from downed enemies, you enact street justice whenever a vampire crosses your path. Most of the time fights are initiated due to story sequences. However, there“s also a lot of room to simply explore the city. After a smartphone upgrade it“s even possible to sense which NPCs are vampires. No matter what, there are a ton of fights to pick during an Akiba“s Trip playthrough.
The game appears to take inspiration from other modern beat ”em ups. At the start you“re given just paltry weaponry, but after downing a few vamps you gain access to greater goods. For example, one might drop a baseball bat which offers increased attack reach. Then again a street sign offers even more reach, although it“s slower as well. Enemies also drop clothes which you can then equip yourself. It“s a bit creepy but each clothing item has its own stats. Basically, you want to have â€œstrongâ€ clothes so vampires can“t strip you as easily.
There“s also a special system in play for how to damage clothing. In two of the three difficulty settings, players must target hats, shirts, and pants/skirts separately. Each item of clothing has its own defense and by attacking it you wear that segment down. Once low enough it“s easy to tear off the garment. As you do this to enemies, they do the same to you. Players can return clothes to full health but it takes a few seconds to do this. Usually there“s not many openings to get spruced up.
Beat ”em ups are really hit and miss and it feels like it takes a long time before Akiba“s Trip really gets into a groove. Much of the early fights seem almost unfair thanks to super cramped fighting quarters and big groups against you. The camera also tends to get in weird spots. Yes, you can move this but while being beaten by a group of vampires that“s probably the last thing anyone wants to worry about. Eventually, fight areas widen up and you have access to enough goods to balance fights but the game ends shortly after. Thankfully, there is a New Game + mode which lets you restart with all previously collected items and characters already.
From the outside, Akiba“s Trip appears like a truly ridiculous, silly title. I came into the game fully expecting juvenile humor, male gaze-y scenes, and a ton of humor. What I didn“t expect to find was unchecked bigotry. You see, there“s a optional message board called Pitter which updates in game with responses to what happens in the story and there“s a particularly hateful user on there. They name call one other user multiple times and somehow this fictional hater shocked and bothered me. Most players were not harmed in any way by these segments, but because I was it“s something worth mentioning. If you might also take issue with it then ignore Pitter entirely.
Although Akiba“s Trip had the potential to be a riotously fun title, it feels weirdly restricted. Yes, it“s awesome that Akihabara is replicated in video game format, but it“s cut up into chunks with long loading times between each. Yes, there are a boat load of weapons but what benefit is there to trying each when so many are totally weak? Honestly, the best portion of the game is its storyline and interaction between characters. Every time a battle cropped up I couldn“t help but groan because they were annoying most of the time. It would have been so much better to simply skip all that periphery and enjoy the story alone. Akiba“s Trip is not a visual novel but it might have honestly been better as one. As is, the game is an average beat ”em up with a better than average storyline.
+ Surprisingly entertaining story with a fun cast
+ Lots of character customization, especially during a replay
+ Incredible visual reproduction of Akihabara
- Fights for majority of game feel especially cramped and annoying
- Little reason to utilize the wide array of available weaponry
- Camera gets into messy angles at all the wrong times
Overall Score: 6 (out of 10)
Akiba's Trip is certainly odd, but that alone fails to make the beat 'em up experience all that compelling.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.