-Plenty of Japanese Subculture Referencing
-Quickened load time on the PlayStation 4 Version
-PlayStation 4’s Twitch.tv integration added in unique twists and plenty of chaos
-Minor load times still exist between each zone
-Combat enemy lock-on’s are still problematic
-PS Vita and PS3 versions both struggle with long load times
-No Cross save functionality
Ever wondered what it would be like to wander through Akihabara, Japan’s Electric District? That has been handed to us by Acquire with their imaginative, hilarious, and rather creative title; Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed. Undertaking this game some must enter with the knowledge that this game makes fun of the stereotyped Japanese social groups and even to some, stink with sexist jokes and even sexism at its finest, but this is not something that the game does in any form of intentional purpose. In the game players get to take control of Nanashi (used by default or renamed). This character is an ordinary otaku who just manages to live in Akihabara that has decided to apply for the job of being an experimental drug testing position in exchange for some rare figurines. The problem here? He was blinded by the fact of his promise for shiny plastic things, but low and behold; he was turned into a Synthister or vampire like creature that harvests life-force of enemies in order to survive. Let alone does he end up constantly beating the clothes off of enemies and stripping them down into their underwear and or bra’s in order to defeat them.
This is where the game begins to take a bit of an amazing – yet at times unsettling twists in the world of a video game; players will find themselves exploring the idea’s of anime fandom, obsession, and even the darker twists of what underlies within the fandom world. After spending a bit of the game it was not hard to see that the story would spend time with Nanashi spending time to come to grasps with the fact he had almost been brainwashed in order to become one of the lifeless Synthister.
Finding out what had happened to him, it was no surprise that he had decided to take on the task to rid the world of Synthisters and to protect Akiba (short for Akihabara). With his mind free, choices made, and his enemies set clear, it’s time for players to meet the bigger picture; a team of rascals that hang out at the local bar called Mogra. Once learning of what happens, the team decides it’s time to set sail and protect the otaku of Akiba from the darkness growing from within.
“‘Explorations such as a Sega store ended with my character walking away”
When stepping away from the game, the story itself is very anime-like and will keep those who want an adventure such as this at bay. Unfortunately, several of my explorations such as a Sega store ended with my character walking away, and almost (not really, but we can pretend) tears running down my face in frustration at having not been able to go in. This was repeated several times due to the iconic stores being present within the game, but only to learn once more; these are just empty shells of their real-life counterparts that one could go see in real life if the money, time, and effort was taken. With that aside, players were able to visit several more places and actually enter them only to be introduced to a rather cliché storefront where the menu is simply “Buy, Sell, or Leave”. This can become frustrating as the ideology of such an open world on Platforms such as the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 would have seemed fully possible given the chance. Much like other reviewers have pointed out, there are many places within the technological paradise that are cordoned off to those who have a free-roaming spirit.
Unfortunately; that is where the Vita version did begin to suffer a bit more than its PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 counterparts due to the load screens. They were easily timed at between 10-20 seconds per load screen (and there are tons of them), 5-10 on the PlayStation 3, and roughly 2-5 seconds on the PlayStation 4. Even with these load times having been trimmed a bit, it didn’t leave a good feeling there as players will want to explore the open areas and see what Akiba has to offer them on its rather ‘small’ map. True to what it is, Akiba’s Trip does take a few things about itself seriously; avatar population (this had bad pop in and out’s on the PS Vita version), sights, sounds, and even a lot of varied passer-by’s such as the “Gothic Lolita”, “Privileged Skank” (this one I felt was a bit overboard), Tourists, and even “Oktau Fanboy” as a few of the many names that players will come across. Spotting them on the PlayStation Vita version was a bit of a hassle due to the version having suffered rather large load times of NPC’s even after having loaded into a zone (I spent a quarter of the time loading in within the fifteen hours spent playing, free-roaming, and even starting random fights) and causing a bit of frustration when finding the proper fight or finding the proper NPC’s to speak with.
Much like one would expect, the game doesn’t leave its setting as a stereotyped JRPG with its brawler quirks. Many of the games missions are simply a matter of going somewhere, grabbing an item, and or reporting back. Players will need to note that many of these missions will disappear after completing certain points within the games main campaign. Some of them included finding an enemy and beating them up in order to strip them of their clothes and watch them vanish in a purplish shadow like appearance before reporting back, but this is where the stat system, weapon system, and progression system on the RPG front play a role. Weapon’s as one would expect determine how much damage is done to each piece of an enemies clothing before it can be removed. These weapons fortunately can be upgraded to increase their damage and usability while clothing can be found and just worn in order to provide more ‘health’ or ‘armour’ depending on the way one looks at it.
“With the plague of brief Loadscreen, I felt myself cringing each time on the PlayStation 4 itself”
Unfortunately there were things that the PlayStation 4 version had available that could have saved the game; processing power, larger discs, and the ability to add more content within it. Unfortunately, it settles for a rather familiar taste that I received when playing its counterparts on PS3 and Vita. The game was lacking, NPC’s were barely interactive, the game was hit with brief loadtimes, and even with the Twitch.TV feature the game still felt bland despite the small changes that viewers could add in. This was something that the game was deserving of in changes, the lack of load ties being necessary, the ability of seamless gameplay had been fully possible had the time been taken to fully rebuild the game itself. With the plague of brief loadscreens, I felt myself cringing each time on the PlayStation 4 itself, which made the game feel as if each area could have been one giant zone that could be explored thanks to the games anime-style graphics and the powerful machine that we know as the PlayStation 4. With this version being slightly underutilized, many players will find themselves slightly flustered at this lackluster touch since areas don’t feel like one giant one.
Instead, this game attempts to make up for it with the games Toybox mode, which gives players access to every avatar, item, and even weapon in the game from the start. Whilst this game is fun, players will be disappointed to see that the Toybox mode does not have its own trophies and even locks trophies. Though the best part of it all for me was the experience of having broadcast viewers changing the way my gameplay. They were able to start a brawl, drop panties, and even create NPC’s of their own name, and drop them into my game. This wasn’t as outrageous as one would have hoped, but it does change the way the game is played and makes for an amusing time for those wanting to see their game get taken over by people they’ve never encountered before or their friends looking to settle old scores.
“One was the want for minor load times”
Even with these changes, there were a bit of things to actually look upon when digging deep into the games tastes. One was the want for the minor load times; while this game was fun, this had truly taken away from the game itself and actually hurt the game itself. This was something that cripples it at its highest peak. Unlike other reviews, the use of stripping enemies down to their underwear or even to nothing and being covered by glimmering light offers for a rather amusing game. Though it is not an area that will allow for players who dislike this thing to avoid. Instead it is imbedded very much-so within the games DNA (code) to be apart of the base game itself. Even with the games insanely realistic boob physics that could easily put it in competition with both Senran Kagura or even Dead or Alive in this area. This is not to say though that it is not amusing regardless of it being a possible fan service or not. Even with this being a small possible issue, there are others such as the small load screens that damage the console versions from being one of the most amusing sandbox games to take on the most famed area of Japan for tourists and locals alike. Combat is another part where this game was suffering. The combat system feels flawed in many ways due to how players will find themselves frustrated with the game being stuck in what seems to be a not-so-soft-lock mode. Unlike other games where the target lock felt more like a good idea, this time around it was not such a good idea to not let players swap targets on the fly while yanking off pants and shirts as well as hats and or glasses.
Even with this, it’s not hard to see a rather skilled storyline behind the main game. It’s not hard to see that the skilled writers behind this game did a good job, but there is also a heavy nod that is due to the XSeed Games localization teams hard work to provide such a humorous game. Even the game being aware of its own tropes, pop culture references, and its not-so-hidden gamer showings; Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed can be considered a Japanese culture masterpiece despite its small hitches and even humour that some who will not understand outside of the games anime-filled humour. Unfortunately for those who have not played it prior to the PlayStation 4 release will find the game between 6-7 hours with only the main quest at the games primary focus. Though the question will come down to whether or not that players can enjoy the game in its default state or if they will take to the games visual editor and enjoy the game in varying appearances, which all of them make the game quite fun and easy to enjoy. Players can turn their screens all sorts of interesting colour’s in order to amuse themselves within this game.
With all of these things stacked up, it is not hard to see that Acquire targeted at a specific group of fans, and they will not be displeased. However, to those that don’t understand this type of game; it will be seen as sexist and filled with sexism that could be considered a disgrace to the gaming industry. With all that said, this game is one of the funniest, most awkward and even brilliantly composed to be a neatly weaved piece of hilarity. If players were to get any, the PlayStation 4 version is the go-to-version out of all three.
Review Score: 7 out of 10
Review Note: Our PlayStation 4 copy was provided to us by the publisher and is based upon the final retail version downloaded through PlayStation Store. The PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3 versions are based upon the final digital versions, which launched earlier this year.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, MMO’s, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable and can’t be softened by even the biggest names in the gaming industry. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. To follow Dustin, hit him up on Twitter over at @GamingAnomaly, find him on his Google+. Wanna game with him? You can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.