Review: Akiba’s Beat – Akihabara’s Groundhog Day

Pros:
+Amazingly well done visuals and music that serves up an enjoyable experience for any otaku.
+Dialogue is hilarious and often-times very well done.
+Animations run smooth on both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita

Cons:
-Combat is repetitious and a nuance after 20+ hours
-Enemy designs in dungeons are over-used and lacking diversity
-Dungeons could have used more diversity and difficulty between each of them


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When it comes to looking for things to do outside of Final Fantasy XIV: StormbloodThe Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Marvel Heroes Omega; my time has been delicately consumed by games such as Persona 5. With the review period of games having come down to a slow down, it was now time for me to begin looking through before setting my eyes upon the review code for Akiba’s Beat. A game that would set forth to be the spiritual successor to Akiba’s Trip.

Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself throwing down a few good brawls as I decided to take a stroll through one of Japan’s most famous locations for anime, games, electronics, and all things fun. What I did find? My ability to strip down my enemies are now long gone. My determination to smack some punk upside the head with a computer keyboard has been taken away. My ability to even romance my characters best friend had been taken away. Instead I’ve even found my weapons had been taken away and stripped down to basic things.

This does not go without saying that Japan and its culture are wonderful. Both pieces of it are absolutely mesmerizing to folks like myself. We often find ourselves daydreaming about being that otaku is salivating at the very sight of giant mechs, games for miles, and more anime than you could imagine. We dream of the day we can get our hands on the figurines hidden behind glass panels. Such reasons are the reason us geeks are quick to admire games such as Akiba’s Beat since we get to live out our digital dream to some form by running through Japan’s neon light filled district as protagonist Asahi Tachibana, a kid who has dropped out of college and has become a self-professed NEET (Not in Educaton, Employment or Training).

And Begins the Akiba’s Beat Ropes

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Much like some of modern society, Asahi hits home with the idea that he is proud of this feat. of his, that he is proud of running around reading manga, playing games, and grabbing lunch as maid cafes. He’s proud of his few accomplishments and thus boasts on about what he does in his life. Sadly, this does not help benefit his characters development or move it forth. This instead makes him a rather drab character, one that does not move forth in any form, nor does his long lie-in’s with Akihabara move him forth in any ways.

Luckily for the player, it doesn’t take long before the reality for Asahi to set in. He’s in a time loop within Akihabara and things are getting just a little weird. If you’ve ever seen Bill Murray’s movie Groundhog day, you can get the idea of what’s going on here, but without the toaster in the tub option. Asahi comes to realize that he has been living every day on repeat, that everything he does has been an infinite loop to some extent, and somehow he’s been stuck in that same Sunday, over, and over, and over again.

For him it begins to become a reality that sets in when he realizes that this region is filled with people whom are consumed with strong passions and desires. The realization sets in even more that his otaku lifestyle and daydreams have become apart of what has run him through, and trapped him here. So with that in mind it’s time for Asahi and his rather… Colourful band of friends to take to the streets of Akihabara to find what is going on.

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Serving as the games hub, player will find themselves wandering through Akihabara trying to locate information about what is causing all this to happen. In the game Delusionscapes will serve as dungeons as players slip into the rifts that lie hidden within the games ‘reality’. In order to obtain entrance, players must work at gaining entrance by uncovering the person(s) responsible for it happening. For those that have played Persona 5, this serves much as the palaces did, and serves up a small bit of running from point A to point B between fights.

Combat’s Here, but it’s Repetitious

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Luckily, these dungeons change appearance based on the persons delusions… Wait, we saw that with Persona 5 where each dungeon was based upon that persons vanity. Oh well, here’s one to basic tropes. While dungeons do have a massive array of layout changes, the one thing that doesn’t change is the fact many are quite simple, and their vivid imagery serves as the one thing that keeps each of them interesting within the 30+ hours you’ll be hooked into the game.

Much as one would expect the combat will feel rather familiar for those of you whom have looked into the game. The combat is close to the Tales series, but offering a lack of abilities, and creativeness. It’s a combat system that is basically a “bop your enemy a few times without specials” and they’re down type thing. While skills do exist, don’t expect anything super flashy or off the wall. It’s a system that will feel rather slow as players will find themselves only being able to hit a enemy a few times in the beginning of the game before allowing your combat meter or beat meter to refill before smacking an enemy around some more.

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While combat does feel as strong as a weak point as anything else, the games Imagination Gauge is an admirable feat that allows you to power up your character for a short span of time. While doing so players will find themselves activating it in order to allow a song to play (this can be changed out throughout the course of the game) that boosts your stats. Each song does change what stats do what for the entirety of your party. While this song is active there is not a limitation to how many attacks can be made during that time frame. While you will feel weakened without the Imagination Gauge having been triggered, it does allow for you to have something to look forward to as the game progresses. With the progression comes the noticeable gear upgrades from clothing and weapons equipped, which essentially gives them value compared to previously, and will send you shopping for items on occasion.

While the Imagination Gauge is quite enjoyable, combat still remains lackluster in the long run. It’s something that won’t remain interesting to players with short attention spans. Lets thank button mashing for that. Combat will grow repetitious over the 30+ hour span, so sometimes it is best to just explore Akihabara while you can. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take away from the fact that even on the PlayStation Vita (both versions ran solid) the game does find itself in trouble with limited enemy designs. All enemies may replicate in multiple ways with minor color pallet and ability changes. Aside from that, there’s not much in the form of creativity as far as enemies are concerned.

Akihabara is Actually Pretty Amusing

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Outside of combat being a big disappointment compared to its predecessor title, the game does come to light thanks to the games characters. Players will grow familiar with characters such as Pinkun, whom is a cute plushy-like creature with a spiteful tong that loves to slap Asahi and his status as a NEET around quite frequently; Riyu, the games idol wannabe, and even characters such as Kotomi who serves as the games goth-like lolita, which will surely send Malice Mizer fans into some sort of salivating fan-filled frenzy. While Saki and Yamato serve as other major characters, there’s plenty to go around for all the tropes the game could come up with. Each of these characters will serve a central role for Asahi’s adventure through Akihabara.

While it was hard not to get attached to them, the game does this completely with intent on luring you in, and having you grow amused with their interactions. As like Akiba’s Trip, this latest title fortunately doesn’t take itself seriously unlike games such as Persona 5 where seriousness sets the games entertainment value. It’s a game that isn’t shy to poke fun at itself and dish out pop culture references to keep you amused over the games course. Let alone are the references a delightful piece, it’s not to go without saying that the games writing is quite amusing. It’s the rather redeeming factor of the game without being shy about it.

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With how well the game is scripted as far as the novelty of enjoyment, the game is one that will delightfully send you through a good few minutes of cutscenes every chance it gets. This entertainment value will fill the anime fan inside of you with a form of joy. With beautiful animations, character voice overs, and even music; there’s no doubt you will be busy undertaking the games dungeons while completing both the main story and even the side-quests given by random residents of the district.

 

Akiba’s Beat – PlayStation 4 (Reviewed) and PlayStation Vita (Reviewed)
Developer:
 Acquire
Publisher: Marvelous USA
Release Date: Available Now
Cost: $39.99 USD

While it’s hard to say that the combat truly is what damages the game, it keeps a redeeming factor within the games cutscenes. With the cutscenes, music, and animations being profoundly well done, it’s no surprise that the games unique blend of characters, twisting storylines, and amusing dialogue will keep you sucked inf or the duration of the game. With a well crafted pacing between visual novel, open world exploration, and RPG elements, the game is a delightful piece that deserves a spot on any otaku’s shelf for years to come as a collectible piece.


Our review is based upon a retail version provided to us by the games publisher.  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 7 out of 10


About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

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, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. 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. You can find him over on TwitterGoogle+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.

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