When partaking in a brawl (as I know many of you do on a regular basis), what’s your best attack method? Punching? Kicking? Stripping your opponent down to their undies to expose them to sunlight and then watch them disappear in a cloud of dust? I definitely favour the latter. Who wouldn’t? Clearly this is what was going through Acquire’s minds (at least I hope that was the intention) when creating this unique parodic take on Japanese pop culture.
Akiba’s Trip (the not so subtle pun is a clue as to what to expect) follows the exploits of Nanashi and a misfit group of vigilante-types called the Freedom Fighters. They have made it their mission to rid their beloved Akihabara (one of Japan’s most famous shopping districts aka geek city) of vampires called Synthisters set on sucking the life out of everyone. The catch? Nanashi himself has been turned into a Synthister after a dodgy job interview where the prospective employer turns out to be an evil Synthister-making villain. Thankfully (or not depending on how you take to the game), Nanashi is sprung loose by the mysterious Shizuku, who teaches him the ways of stripping…
…his enemies in order to destroy them. There’s a bizarre logic at play here; Synthisters are vampires, therefore they are vulnerable to sunlight ere go they must relieved of their clothing immediately because, like it or not (and you very well may) they will try to do the same to you. Despite the deadly sun, enemies seem to only be wearing one layer of clothing, and some are sporting head gear, while others aren’t. My point is, surely they would frazzle anyway? Short skirts and t-shirts don’t seem particularly effective at keeping the sun off sensitive skin. But we’re bone-picking here. Nearly naked people! Hooray!
The combat, for what it is, works pretty well. I had no problems with controls, frame rate, etc. It plays like a brawling game with high, medium and low attacks. Constant pounding of these areas wears down the clothing (polyester is tough stuff) and that’s when you get to rip it off like some crazed pervert. Once all clothing is removed, your enemy will vanish with a poof. Not satisfied? Why not try a strip finisher where you chain together several clothing removals at one time. It’s the ultimate attack.
Suppose you can’t wait to get your enemy down to their tighty whities (I can be quite impatient at times) and you try to strip them before they’re ready. You won’t get their clothes off but you will engage in a highly exciting button mashing QTE experience which should be enough to prevent you from being too eager. However if you’re an expert at button mashing (which it turns out I’m not, surprisingly) you’ll rip all your enemies clothes off in quick succession. Another QTE will follow where you can earn a strip finisher.
I’ll admit, reviewing a game where I’ve had to use terms like “strip finisher” does make me die a little inside. There must be something else to do in Akihabara. Alongside the main campaign, there are also side missions which are entirely optional and this turns out to be a good thing. Consisting of mostly “fetch” quests (I’m not talking about the good kind from Mean Girls), they get really old really quick. Slowing down the fast pace of a game like this, as idiotic as it is, isn’t a great move especially with mundane tasks that no-one, even a reviewer, is going to remember (hence the lack of examples).
Giving the devs their due, they have tried to pack a lot into Akiba’s trip and one thing I did like was the use of your in-game smartphone as a menu tool. From here you can catch up with social networking, check your emails, change and upgrade equipment and so on. New weapons and loot are dropped by enemies after you’ve defeated them and you can take them to Nanashi’s weird little sister, who mushes things together to create super versions of whatever it is. The resilience of your armour (i.e. clothes) can therefore be improved and unconventional weapons such as laptops can be modified for greater stripping abilities. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.
Nanashi himself turns out to be a complicated man, rather like Shaft but without the effortless coolness and catchy tune. Or rather, he can be as complex as you feel he needs to be. There are several ladies in the group who have the potential to be more than just friends and you can win them over with your conversational skills and picking who to go on patrol with. Then you can check with a fellow male to find out who likes you best. It’s an unnecessary and ultimately pointless distraction but I still found myself trying to win over the girl who irritated me the least, just to see if I could. Turns out I’m pretty good with the ladies. Need some dating tips boys? I’m your (wo)man.
If you happen to have been to Akihabara, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the level of detail that has gone into lovingly replicating this unique place. I haven’t, unfortunately, so the whole thing was wasted on me. But I’m told it’s excellent.
Everything looks good though, from the detailed background to the character designs. Anime style cut scenes are a delight, if that’s your thing, and the whole city environment has a buzz. The voice acting is also pretty good, though the snappy dialogue is a bit cringey at times. The option to hear the original Japanese voice track will please a lot of people but the localisation is also very good. And with fun techno electronica style music pumping as you jump into battle, I have to say the attention to detail is second to none. It’s a shame about everything else.
Bearing in mind this is a parody, it’s difficult to know whether to recommend this or not. While it’s not as exploitative as it first appears, it still feels a bit on the seedy side, with both men and women being running around in their underwear. The combat doesn’t go anywhere – even though you upgrade and there are extra collectibles and so on, you learn everything you need to know right at the start. So it gets repetitive and boring after the first hour or so. I didn’t find the story either humorous or engaging and I couldn’t care less about the characters, who were highly stereotyped, probably deliberately as part of the “parody”.
You could say Akiba’s Trip exposes itself too soon, like a stripper on a time limit. Once you’ve got over the shock of what you’re trying to do, there’s nothing left to discover.
MLG Rating: 4/10 Format: PlayStation 4 Release Date: 06/02/2015
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Akiba’s Trip:Undead and Undressed by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 1 week on a PlayStation 4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.