TRUE STORY by Haruna Luna
Your innocent smile
Tells me it has begun
So my chest tightens
During this unreachable night
Our breath of love begins to move
In the world dyed in your colour
As our feelings overlap
Don’t be afraid of getting hurt
I love you
I’ll turn myself around
I don’t want to lie to you anymore
Even though it seems scary
Causing this feeling in my chest
It all feels so heavy
In your gentle embrace
Yet again, it’s time for Under Your Radar! Today, we’ll be covering the PS3/Vita/PS4 game Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed, released in Japan as, simply, Akiba’s Trip 2. It is, however, not a sequel to the PSP original that was never localized, so don’t worry about that. It was developed and published by Acquire in Japan, localized for North America by XSEED, and published in Europe by NIS America. Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Asia assisted in translating it to Chinese and Korean. XSEED gave this game a full dub (an absolute rarity) and offers full Japanese text, with the exception of the one thing cut from the Western release (something that had to do with the IRL versions of the stores in the game, so no big loss). I played the Vita version.
By the way, yes, you’re meant to misread the logo as “Akiba Strip”.
This game is an open world game that takes place in Japan’s Akibahara district. The story is, to put it at simply as possible, that you, a member of the Akiba Freedom Fighters, are turned into a vampire-like being before being rescued and must put a stop to those doing this using your new powers. The story is very short and how the plot moves is heavily dependent on your choices and relationships with the heroines, so I’ll refrain from much in the way of further explanation of the plot.
Akibahara makes for a rather small open world, as should make sense given the size of the real life area. It’s represented very faithfully here, by multiple accounts, including the locations of certain NPCs who try to peddle their bad artwork on you. Further accentuating the world’s level of detail is that there are NPCs who hand out flyers. These represent real stores that you can visit in Akibahara, and these stores are also all present in the game at those exact locations. There are tons of stores in the game. Perhaps too many, since the inventory overlaps a bit too much.
One thing that really pushes the authenticity, however, is the sheer amount of advertisement everywhere. Videos showing actual trailers for music videos, anime and games from around the game’s release play periodically on the various screens in the game with full audio. Among those I spotted were Mind Zero, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited and Eiyū Densetsu: Sen no Kiseki (one of the The Legend of Heroes games that we’re far too behind in the series to see localized anytime soon). There are also various non-video ads present all over the place, such as various stills present in loading screens. I saw an ad for Hyperdimension Neptunia The Animation, among other things. This keeps me immersed in the world, but you can disable some of the ads in the settings if they annoy you.
But enough about the world, let’s get to the gameplay. It’s actually very simple. You equip various things, like different clothes and weapons (all of which play differently) and wear down the opponent’s clothes with your attacks. Then you strip their clothes off of them. The enemy dies if you they’re fully stripped, and you get a game over if it happens to you. If you get an opening, you can go into a fairly long animation to fully heal the clothing you still have equipped. Any clothes you strip off someone can be added to your inventory to merge with others for a stat boost or simply equip. Any clothes stripped off of you can be repurchased at a specific store if you get there soon enough after the fact. If you get a combo of strips going, you can also strip off their shoes and underwear, which can also be equipped for a solely aesthetic effect.
After a while, you get full cross-dressing capabilities. New game plus and DLC allow you to change the models and voices used for the protagonist and his sister. As you perform certain actions in the game, you also gain some titles that characters will call you as they pass by you. There’s lots of customization here, but the strangest bit of customization has to be the ability to change your walking and stripping animations. Want to walk like a mime? Go on ahead. Look like a tourist? Sure. The scared posture used by your little sister? By all means!
But this is where one has to ask what the catch is. I’ve listed a lot good about the game, but I’ve actually kinda merged some the negatives in there. One of which is the fact that Akibahara is fairly small for this type of game. This limits a lot of what they can do, so the world can feel… empty’s not the right word, but there’s not too much to actually do aside from the main game and sidequests. There’s also no post-game present – the game goes straight to new game plus. This is actually fairly annoying, since you have very little opportunity to freely look around the open world with whoever you want (going to certain areas with specific partner characters will just progress the plot). I suppose that this is why they didn’t put much extra to do in the game, but it defeats the purpose of making it an open world.
Some encounters can take far too long, too, thanks to the roaming vampire-like enemies that are disguised as ordinary people. When they walk by a fight, they’ll just join in, making many fights take much longer than they have any right to take. This is, of course, without mentioning the sidequests where you have to take on 48 enemies (I think you can put 2 and 2 together on the context for this). Not at once, since the game can’t handle that, but a lot at a time, with more cycling in as their allies go down until you take out all 48. There are also sidequests based on the random spawn chance of certain types of enemies that only appear after you’ve taken the sidequest on. Speaking of sidequests, you can’t cancel one unless the game does it for you when you get too far in the story to complete it, and you can only take limited sidequests at once, which can be annoying at times. Also, the police are useless.
The final thing I would like to bring up are the loading screens. They’re placed at the ends of each area, and I can’t decide if I love or hate this. I hate how frequent they are because nobody likes having to wait for constant loading, though it loads faster the more powerful the system you play it on is and doesn’t take too long regardless. I love how frequent they are because running to them after putting your weapon away is the only way to flee from battle, which makes sense.
Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed is a fairly flawed game, but a fun one while it lasts. It’s definitely too good to be rated Rightful, but its flaws actually make me hesitate to rate it Unjust. I have a middle-ground rating planned, but I also feel that this game is just a bit too good for that.
So, by process of elimination…
The game is good, and the customization can keep you coming back despite its lack of length. Just be wary of its quirks – it’s by no means a perfect game.