Review: Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed (PS3/PSV/PSTV)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed
Format: Blu-ray Disc / Game Card / PlayStation Network Download (PS3 4.5 GB) (PSV 2.5 GB)
Release Date: August 12, 2014
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: AQUIRE Corp.
Original MSRP: $39.99 (PS3) / $39.99 (PSV) *This is NOT a Cross-Buy title
ESRB Rating: M
Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita.
The PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita download versions were used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

After waking up in a dimly-lit basement, it seems that you’re strapped to a lab table and surrounded by men with gas masks, as well as a strange, well-dressed man. It seems that you’ve received an anonymous email for a job interview that pays in rare collectible figurines. Being the Otaku that you are, you apparently agreed and signed a contract to be a test subject for a pharmaceutical company. After some back and forth dialog, it seems that you’ve been injected with some type of drug that has turned you into a Synthister – a type of synthetic vampire that drains the life energy out of unsuspecting people in Akihabara, Japan (Akiba for short).

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Gameplay:
The gameplay begins with a character customization screen; however, on the initial play-through, you are not able to customize your appearance by much. You’re pretty much only able to change the name of your character, who is the main male character of the story, Nanashi. Once Nanashi learns that he’s been roped into being a Synthister, a mysterious woman breaks into the lab to save you. After a quick battle, you’re able to escape to a nearby shrine for the evening and when you wake up the next morning, you discover that you are still weak. The mysterious woman, Shizuku Tokikaze, explains to you that you have been changed into a Synthister and that you are now extremely sensitive to sunlight.

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In your current state, you must now take care to keep yourself fully clothed, and avoid being stripped, lest you be turned to ashes. Shizuku also sort of forces you to drink her blood in order to save your life, and you unwittingly enter into a blood contract with her. With the blood contract, it seems you are no longer required to feed off of victims and you will no longer eventually become an insane monster. However, you are still sensitive to light. After a series of cutscenes, you eventually decide to head to your home base, MOGRA, where you are already a member of the Akiba Freedom Fighters.

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Once back at MOGRA, it is explained to you that Otaku (a Japanese slang term for people who are shut-ins, obsessed with computer technology, anime, video games, manga, or all of the above) are disappearing, and people around Akiba are being inflicted with a strange lethargy where they become almost comatose. It appears that the affliction is a direct result of the Synthister activity. You, and the other members of the Akiba Freedom Fighters, set out to put an end to the Synthisters.

After all of the cutscenes and various tutorials, you’re finally cut loose to explore sections of Akiba. The game world itself is not quite open world, but consists of various sections of the city that are small sandbox environments which have invisible barriers at the exits. Each exit is denoted by an icon resembling a crosswalk with a pink arrow, or a crosswalk with the word “Map” on it. To get to the various sections of the city, you can either move to the adjacent section by walking through an exit, or warp directly to a specific section by opening the map and fast-traveling. As you progress through the story, you’re allowed to go to new areas, and exits that had “Map” on the icon before will now have the the other icon, meaning the areas are now linked and accessible.

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In the different areas of Akiba, you’ll notice quite a few residents walking around. You can talk to all of the people you come across, but they usually don’t have anything of significance to say. Once in a while, a person will come up to you and want to fight, and from there, you will go into the battle mode. Moving in and out of battle mode is pretty seamless; once you initiate a battle, you and everyone in the fight will draw their weapons and start swinging.

Akiba’s Trip is an action RPG with a brawler/beat-em up battle system. The plot is complete satire with a super thin story line. There is a light combo system, but it’s not very complex and you’re mainly mashing buttons.

The most interesting and unique part of the battle system is the Strip Mechanic. Since the entire game revolves around fighting Synthisters, who are essentially vampires, your objective is to strip their clothes off down to their underpants so that they’re fully exposed to the sunlight. Once fully exposed, the Synthisters will fall down in agony and dissolve into a pile of black ashes.

If you happen to get into a fight with a normal human, once you win, they’ll sort of do a double-take, surprised that their clothes are gone, and run away in embarrassment. Sometimes after a fight, female enemies will walk up to you in their underwear and slap you in the face before running away. The male characters are kind of boring, they just kind of yell out and then run away as fast as possible.

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Each enemy you face in the game will need to have their clothes stripped off. They will all have at least a top and bottom pair of clothing while some will also have hats or other headgear (i.e., tiaras, headdresses, headphones, baseball caps, etc.).

The main controls of the game consist of three essential attacks. I reconfigured the controls to match the controls I’m used to, which is referred to as Control Type D and is accessible from the options menu (accessible via the Title screen and in the in-game menu).

I won’t go into all of the control types, but Control Type D uses the Triangle button to focus attacks on the head of your enemy, Square focuses on the upper body, and Circle focuses on the lower body. The left analog stick controls your character, and the right analog stick controls the camera. The L1 trigger is used to block, and the R1 trigger is used to draw and put away your weapon. A tap of the R1 will select the enemy closest to you (if you’re lucky), and if you hold it down, it will replenish your clothes’ durability.

The controls are generally good, but I had a tough time getting the targeting mode to work right. There were a few fights that I found myself getting very agitated because I could not target the enemy that I wanted to target. Many times, you’re surrounded by five enemies, and when you’re trying to whittle down their numbers, it’s frustrating when you can’t focus on just the one you want. I feel this game desperately needs some sort of a lock-on mechanism and another button to cycle through lock on.

I suppose this game does suffer the same control problems that I’ve experience with a lot of games that are both on the PS3 and PS Vita, which is that the Vita controls kind of become a limitation to the other versions of the game. Another frustrating issue that I had was with the camera: it doesn’t seem to stay behind your character while you’re targeting an enemy. The game does not seem to have a button that will re-center the camera behind you while you’re in battle, which make it very tough to manage. Lots of times, enemies would push me up into a corner and be off screen, and I’d need to move the camera round to see them.

All in all, these control issues aren’t show-stoppers for enjoying the game as no game is perfect. So once you’re used to the controls and aware of the limitations, it becomes less of an issue.

The objective of each fight is to wear out each of the three articles of clothes down to where they can be stripped off. As you focus attacks on your enemy, and once the area has taken enough damage, it will radiate a special color as if smoke is coming off of it. When worn down, the head, upper body, and lower body will emanate green, purple and red “smoke,” respectively. Once worn down, you must hold down on the correct button to lunge and grab hold of the clothing. If you try to take off clothing before the durability is low enough, you’ll be taken to a screen where you must hit the correct button rapidly to wear down the article of clothing. If you manage to get the meter all the way to zero, you will successfully strip it off.

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At the beginning, you have to take enemies down one-by-one, but a short way into the game, you learn how to do a Chain Strip attack. The Chain Strip maneuver allows you to take down several enemies at one time. As you and your fighting partner do damage to your enemies’ clothes, you can strip off one article of clothing. If any other enemy nearby has a certain amount of damage to their clothes, you’ll be prompted to hit the Square, Circle, or Triangle buttons as the icons flash on the screen. If you hit the correct button at the correct time, you’ll zip over to the next enemy and remove the clothing that corresponds to that button you’ve pressed. If you Chain Strip enough enemies in a row, you’ll get one last special Quick Time Event called a Strip Finisher, which will launch you into a devastating area-based attack that will strip bare all of your enemies’ underwear (their naughty bits are covered by bright lights). The enemies will either run away or be disintegrated, and their underwear will be yours for the taking (YES!).

Back at MOGRA, you’re able to team up with a member of the Freedom Fighters, and they’ll accompany you and fight by your side. The AI is pretty good, and they really do a great job of aiding you in battle. Once you get a few hours into the game, you are able to unlock your AI partner’s special attack gauge. As you strip off clothes or pull off Chain Strips, your partner’s gauge will fill up. Once the special attack gauge is full, you can target an enemy and press up on the D-pad; this will launch your AI partner into a special cutscene where you double-team an enemy and strip off all of their clothes. Any other enemies that are standing in the area of attack will be dazed, allowing you to start a Chain Strip regardless of how much damage you’ve done to their clothes.

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A short way through the game, you will gain access to a special app for your smart phone that allows you to take a picture of people to determine if they’re a Synthister or not (Synthisters look like normal people to the naked eye). If you take a photo of a group of people, Synthisters will appear slightly out of phase, and have a quivering black and white effect.

To initiate a fight, just run up to the person and hit the Square button do swipe at them. If they’re a Synthister, they’ll draw their weapon and the fight will begin. You’ll need to be careful about fighting in the street, because there are police walking around, and if they catch you, they’re a pain to take down.

When you’re just starting out, it’s best to avoid police. If you hear a whistle, it’s best to pack your weapon away and high-tail it out of there. I did manage to take a policewoman down in my beginning levels, but it took forever to whittle down her clothes’ durability. Also, if you’re sluggish in fighting the police, they’re able to arrest you, bringing the fight to a screeching halt. Once arrested, the police will take you back to the station and give you a fairly hefty fine, right there on the spot. I don’t know the exact percentage, but the more money you’re carrying, the bigger the fine.

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One really hilarious and cool aspect to the fights is that as you’re fighting in the street, if you happen to accidentally hit an innocent bystander, they’ll draw their weapons and enter into the fight. What’s great about these fights getting bigger and bigger is that sometimes the enemies will get in fights with each other. When the police arrive, they’ll begin to take out your enemies and try to arrest them. Several times all I had to do was sit back and watch my enemies fight with the police, then I’d swoop in and finish them off.

One thing to keep in mind though, if you’re on a special mission where you have to take a specific enemy down, the police can come by and arrest your target. If they do, you’ll fail the mission and have to either reload or leave and re-enter the area to try again (this can be a bit annoying at times, especially if the fight gets huge and a small battle turns into a twenty-person brawl).

Akiba’s Trip was just a joy to play. The developers did an awesome job of creating the mannerisms of the NPC characters when their clothes are stripped off. I think I laughed every single time when stripping the clothes off of my enemies, because the shocked look on their faces and how they react is just so hilarious. I can just imagine how someone would react to being stripped of their clothes in broad daylight on a public street, and this game nails it.

I also really liked the funny names that were assigned to the various NPCs, which include “Privileged Skank,” “Boys’ Love Fangirl,” “Gothic Lolita,” “Otaku,” and the developers even put themselves in the game. There’s a side mission where they send you on a side mission.

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As far as the RPG aspect of the game is concerned, instead of an HP gauge, you have three separate gauges for your clothes: one gauge for each of your head, shirt, and pants. You too are susceptible to being stripped, so you need to take care and watch these gauges. If they start to get low, you can get some distance between you and your enemies and hold down the R1 button to repair and straighten your clothes. Once an article of clothes is stripped off, you’ll have to fight without it for a period of time. If the battle ends, and you’ve lost an article of clothing, then it’s gone. If that happens, there’s a shop called 5Day’s where you can buy back your clothes for a thousand Yen. 5Day’s is also the store where you retrieve the free DLC that AQUIRE has made available on the PlayStation Store.

As you fight and strip off clothes, you’ll get better and better at stripping them off without damaging them. On the status screen there’s a meter that, once maxed out, will allow you to strip different articles of clothing and retain them after the battle. From there, you can sell stolen clothes or upgrade them and wear them yourself, including underpants (eww!).

Once you gain access to your sister Nana’s room back at MOGRA, you will go to her to upgrade your clothes and weapons. You can use spare articles of clothing and fuse them with your target clothing item, thereby making the original item stronger (upgrading weapons works the same way). Along with your own clothes, you are also able to upgrade female clothes for your AI partners. The better the clothes you put on your AI partner, the longer she’ll last in battle. Equipping her with better weapons makes her a formidable partner.

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There are many other aspects that I won’t go into but there are two minigames I feel should be mentioned: Akiba Squad Striprism and AdrenaRin. They’re okay, but I wish there were more minigames like fishing or some casino games. Akiba Squad Striprism is a Robotron-like single-screen shooter where waves of enemies will try to attack pillars in the center of the screen. As groups of enemies approach, you must shoot a bomb at them to destroy them. The controls are simple, just Cross and Circle for shooting a regular bomb and a super shot, respectively.

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AdrenaRin, features a popular teen idol in the game named Rin. The title is a play on words and a pun at the same time, combining Adrenalin and Rin, to form the word Adrenaline, but in ‘Engrish’, AdrenaRin. This minigame is a simple two-button side scrolling endless-runner game. As Rin, you run from left to right, slapping the clothes off of maids and jumping over crates. It gets pretty tricky, and I was only able to make it to stage five. Once you lose, you have to start all over again. I managed to complete Akiba Squad Striprism, and I got a special item. Unfortunately, I was not skilled enough to complete AdrenaRin.

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There are several optional side missions that will help you get unique or rare clothes and weapons. As you play, you’ll have a little icon in your smart phone that will indicate when a side mission is available. Once you initiate a side mission, you have a pretty long time to complete it. However, if you take too long, the requester will give up on you and you’ll fail the mission. Right before the side mission requester gives up, one of your team members will e-mail you about it and warn you, so be sure to carry out the side mission as you accept them.

The last aspect of the game that I’ll talk about is the Battle Coliseum. Aside from being used several times in the main story line, you can go into the Coliseum and battle for rank. Each battle consists of three waves of enemies, and you and your AI partner can take them on. These battles rank from F to S, and become exceedingly difficult as you progress. You can take your AI partner with you to help out, and you must pay particular attention to her clothes’ durability. You don’t have a gauge for her, but if you see her clothes radiating green, purple or red, you will need to hit right on the d-pad to have her stop fighting and come to you. Once she’s able to break away from the action, she’ll straighten out her clothes, and from there, you can hit left on the D-pad to have her fight.

This D-pad command system is also used in regular fighting, and is very useful for keeping your AI partner alive and effective in battle. If your AI partner gets stripped, she’ll run away for the duration of the battle, and you’ll need to go it alone until it’s over. The Coliseum is a great way to get unique and rare items, as well as cash (two-hundred thousand yen for completing it). I managed to complete it and also win the final one-on-one battle against the Coliseum owner. It was very tough, but well worth it, as I got some awesome clothes and weapons off the special enemies.

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Overall, the gameplay is fun and engaging. Several times, I was up until one or two in the morning playing since the time seemed to fly by so fast. Even with the tough camera controls and the lack of lock-on, Akiba’s Trip kept me entertained all the way up until the end. The PS3 and Vita versions are practically identical, but unfortunately, this game does not feature Cross-Save. Maybe it was too difficult to do, but the Cross-Save is really essential for this one in particular.

There were several times I went to the bar, or out and about, and wished I could have transferred my progress to the Vita. Since the game is not Cross-Save, I have no idea why the control schemes had to be the same on both the PS3 and Vita versions. I did do some digging, and the publisher is aware that people want the Cross-Save feature. I also read that XSEED did tell the developers that people really want this feature, so hopefully they’ll be able to add it to the PS4 version when it comes out this Fall or for sequels. If you’re interested in buying the game, I cannot recommend that you buy both versions, unless you really love the game and want to have two separate instances going at once.

Visuals:
The visuals of the PS3 and Vita versions are almost indistinguishable. The art is fantastic, and the cel-shading excellent with bright and cheery colors. As mentioned before, the animations of the character models are outstanding and hilarious.

On the downside, there is quite a bit of pop-in. Sometimes when initiating a side mission, I had to rotate the camera a few times to get the mission contact to show up on the screen. Also, when battles get enormous, the PS3 version’s frame-rate did slow down quite a bit, but it only happened to me once or twice. I’m really hoping that, along with the added content, the PS4 version (coming this fall) will have fixed these issues with the expanded memory.

I also had a an issue with the main map of the game, in that there is no way to zoom into a section. So, if you’re trying to find a specific shop or restaurant there is no way to zoom in to see where exactly it is. When you look at the ads, it shows a little dot on the map, but it doesn’t say exactly which section of the map it’s in.

I would have liked to have a mini-map display on the main games screen, because I wanted to be able to see if I was close to a particular shop or not. I suppose though, that since the areas are so small, it wouldn’t matter either way if you had a mini-map or not.

The Vita version comes with an AR mode, where you can put your favorite female characters into any setting that’s viewable by your Vita’s camera. There are AR cards that come with the physical copy of the Vita game or you can download a copy of the cards from the official website (for those of us who have the digital version of the game).

One thing to note about the PS3 version is that upon starting the game, you may have to resize your display. I have a 46-inch LCD HDTV, and the screen size was way too large. Luckily, the display settings are available on the title screen so I was able to fix it before I started. As you’re setting the display, you may also want to re-map the controls for what’s comfortable to you.

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I really like how the developers wove video into the game. Several portions have large video screens, like at MOGRA and on several of the streets, and it’s really cool to have a music video or a real life commercial playing on the screen within the game world.

Another cool addition is that Akiba’s Trip also features real ads for real life places in Akihabara that are displayed on the loading screens (you can turn these off from the options menu if you get tired of seeing them).

In every area of Akiba, you can also take flyers from NPCs which will give you an ad for a store or cafe in the game. You can view these from the pause menu, and it will show the real life flyer, plus the location of the store or cafe on the map.

The inclusion of the video, and the ads, gives the game a great sense of atmosphere. It was also kind of neat to see ads for other XSEED and ACQUIRE games as well as games from ATLUS and NIS within Akiba’s Trip, including Mind≓Zero, Conception II, and Disgaea.

Audio:
The audio in this game is very good. There isn’t quite the amount of street noise that is present in games like Yakuza, but it’s still pretty nice and gives you a sense of what it’s like to be in Akibahara.

As you walk around, you will hear music videos playing, people talking, and cars driving by. The use of surround sound is very good, and it makes use of the back speakers quite well. One thing to note, which isn’t a problem at all, is that the audio is slightly quieter than most games so I had to turn it up a bit on my receiver. The soundtrack is also good, with different J-pop songs, rap, and dance music.

The game has dual English and Japanese Audio as well as both English and Japanese subtitles that can be toggled at any time within the options menu.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is a single-player only.

Conclusion:
I played Akiba’s Trip on the hardest starting difficulty available, ‘Gamer’, including all side missions and the Coliseum mode, and my total play time was thirty-six hours to completion. I found the game to be a light-hearted satire of Otaku culture and just an all around blast to play. It has tons of replay value, with multiple endings, a New Game Plus mode (which unlocks the ability to play as other characters, plus lots more customization), a higher difficulty Otaku mode, and free DLC releasing now and in the coming weeks.

With all of this content, I highly recommend picking up the game as it’s definitely worth full price. I am so happy XSEED localized it since they did an outstanding job of localizing the text, and the English dub work was top-notch.

Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed has its faults, but none of them really affected my ability to play and enjoy the game. If you like action RPGs, brawlers, Japanese culture, bizarre game mechanics, and jiggle-physics, this is the game you’ve been waiting for.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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Written by Jason Honaker

Jason Honaker

A software developer for over 15 years, originally from St. Louis, MO and currently living in Seattle, WA. Started gaming in 1979 on the Atari 800 8-bit PC. I play all sorts of games, but am partial to RPGs and 3rd person brawlers and shooters.

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  • Sounds like a good game. I’m going to try it out on the Vita.

    • Jason Honaker

      That’s a good choice, since it’s coming to the PS4, you’ll be able to experience the better version on the console if you want to buy it.

      Also, this game should be playable with PlayStation TV, since there are no touch controls at all.

  • Jahonius

    Akiba’s Trip and Senran Kagura… As a man, I feel like I should not play these sort of games, but the devil in me is tempting me to get both every time I go to the store… I’m literally embarrassed to be in public with these sorta games…

    What should I do?

    • Jason Honaker

      If you have a sense of humor like I do, you’ll just find the satire hilarious. Don’t be embarrassed, it’s all in good fun. Plus, there’s a PS3 version ;^D If this kind of game appeals to you, then support the devs and publishers who make it happen 🙂

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