*The following review is rated M for Mature due to suggestive themes, sexual somethings, ensued animated violence, mild language and being kind of inappropriate overall*
Akiba’s Trip… Get it? “Akiba’ STRIP!” GET IT?! When you use such a play-on-words in the title of your game, you give yourself the responsibility of creating a whimsical or at least comical tale. While Akiba’s Trip does have a nice sense of humor, that humor doesn’t go too far and fails to redeem the game for its lackluster gameplay, flavorless story and monotonous characters. The biggest crime that this game commits is its portrayal of the popular Japanese locale of Akihabara. The busy and lively city is reduced to a barren and almost lifeless wasteland littered with repeats of the same five character designs.
In typical video game fashion, a random nobody off of the street quickly finds himself caught up in business he shouldn’t be apart of and get supernatural abilities. The protagonist in Akiba’s Trip gets turned into what is essentially a vampire who doesn’t need to feed off of people’s blood. The evil organization who is turning people into these “Synthisters” need to be stopped, and thanks to the efforts of the protagonist, his group of otaku friends and a mysterious young girl, they can be defeated. Expect that to be as deep as the story goes, because other than that, it is a standard affair to anyone who has ever played a video game that has come out of Japan. The characters in our little band of heroes are “one trick ponies” whose personalities have been used in many anime, manga and video games. Depending on who you spend your time with on missions and in combat, you’ll get a different ending. You have to commit to a character very early, because it doesn’t seem like you can change your mind towards the halfway point of the game because it doesn’t give you the option to do so. It hardly matters though; even depending on your preference of one of the female
hollows characters, the story doesn’t benefit from your pick.
And here comes the reason for this game’s existence. Combat comes down to defeating the various Synthisthers who come after you during the game. To beat them, you have to expose their skin to sunlight. How to do that you ask? Why, you have to strip them of their clothes of course! So yeah, that’s why this game is called Akiba’s Trip; it takes place in Akiba and you strip people of their clothes. Actual combat comes down to attacking an article of clothing on enemies upper and lower bodies and their heads. The triangle button attacks the head, circle controls mid-section attacks and the X button attacks the lower body. Oh yeah, and the square button controls your jump… which you’ll never use (This might be the first game to have a jump button that had no purpose. I’m not complaining really, it’s just… weird). There is no real combo system, so you just mash a button until enough damage is done, and then you rip off that piece of clothing by holding the button. The major problem is, the game throws against at least four enemies every encounter, and these guys take hits. I don’t know where these guys buy their clothes, but their clothes are more sturdy than the Iron wall of Briggs. Every battle can take minutes of mashing, and you have to be careful that they don’t strip you. Which is easy and difficult at the same time. Enemies do an absurd amount of damage compared to your attacks, but you can run to the edge of the street and heal yourself with a press of a button. You repeat this method until your foes are down to their undergarments, and they either run away in embarrassment or fizzle into nothingness because of the lack of cover from the sunlight. Honestly, going into this game I thought it would be over the top with its ridiculous premise, but it is actually calm. Yes, you are stripping males and females of their clothes, but it isn’t glorified in any way so it use seems oddly normal. The ratio between males and females are surprisingly equal, so you won’t feel a certain bias in Akiba’s Trip.
Travelling through a popular area in a video game isn’t new, but Akihabara, otherwise known as Akiba, isn’t visited in the virtual world too often. Sadly though, Akiba isn’t represented in a coherent way. The real life Akiba is basically the center of life for anime, manga and everything else Japanese nerd culture. Akihabara in this game however, has no life whatsoever to it. The main streets are basically empty, which shouldn’t be the case for such a popular city. In fact, the side streets and back alleys tended to have more people walking on them. The people walking by as you go on your next mission are carbon copies of the same “Otaku boy,” “fan girl,” “tourist,” and “photographer.” You’ll see them countless times and the clones even walk side by side on occasion. If it actually had one going, having so many clones would break the illusion of a life-like city. The buildings in Akiba are bright, and the streets are kind of loud, but you can’t really interact with anything. You can talk to clones on the street but they never have anything interesting to say, and buying things at stores comes down to a pop-up menu with items you already have or don’t need. All of this is plagued down even greater by the loading times to enter a new section of Akiba– and by new section, I mean every street. It breaks down the city into bits, and you’ll have to traverse several bits to get between missions, which means you’ll be seeing at least three loading screens every time you go on a mission.
Akiba’s Trip can thankfully be beaten in five hours if you don’t mess around with side missions, which are totally not needed. The repetitive nature of the game works against almost everything that the game tries to accomplish.
The game boils down to this:
- Walk through Akiba’s streets and loading screens to get to a mission.
- Fight a group of five vampires and strip off their clothes.
- Walk back to base by bypassing Akiba’s streets and loading screens again.
- Repeat twenty times and beat the final boss who is essentially a stronger version of the same people you’ve been fighting the entire game.
Some humors moments exist in the dialog, which is fully voice acted, but it is not enough to balance out the one-note characters and basic story. Akiba’s Trip wants to encourage several play-throughs, but you’d have to have the strength of an actual vampire to get through the game a second or third time around.
Overall: 3.25 out of 10