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Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed Review: Unbelievable adventures in Akihabara

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Title: Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed
Price: $39.99
System(s): Vita (Also on PS3)
Release Date: August 12, 2014
Publisher (Developer): XSEED (Acquire)
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for Sexual Themes, Strong Language, and Violence

I can’t believe Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed was localized. I wanted it to happen, but figured it would be impossible. You know, what with the whole “ripping clothing off of vampire-like creatures the sun can destroy them” thing, I figured no company would touch it. Thankfully, XSEED decided to take a chance, and we are all treated to one of the funniest, Japanese games ever to appear on the PS3 and Vita as a result.

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Sinister Synthisters

It’s funny what people will consent to, if it means fufilling their deepest desires. Nanashi, the hero of Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed, was willing to sacrifice his humanity and become the Magaimono Corporation’s guinea pig if it meant this ultimate otaku could get some rare, limited edition figures. This lead to his transformation into a Synthister, an abomination that wanders the streets of Akihabara and saps the energy from innocent citizens for the evil company.

Fortunately, Nanashi is rescued by a powerful woman named Shizuku. She busts into the building where he’s held on her mission to destroy all Synthisters, setting him free in the process. Despite Nanashi’s transformation, the sharing of her blood returns him to himself. The two then join with his friends and vow to rid Akihabara of these unorthodox entities.

Which means running around the city, hunting down these abominations and, when a group is found, removing their clothes so they’ll dissolve when exposed to sunlight. Oh, and also taking part in battle arena fights, playing video games, visiting maid cafes, shopping in over 100 stores that really exist in Japan, and perhaps even falling in love with one of the female characters.

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Unreal adventures in Akihabara

Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed is a comedic take on the open-world genre. It’s something Acquire is familiar with, given their work on the Way of the Samurai series. Here, a player is given free reign to expose and defeat the vampiric Synthisters via cloth-tearing brawls, with no repercussions. Oh sure, the police can come in or the hero could “die,” but laying low in another area of Akihabara for a while or a quick reload sets things right.

It’s a freeing experience, and incredibly entertaining. Battle has more depth than expected, since attacks can be aimed at the head, upper body, or lower body. Once an opponents’ defenses have been lowered enough, the clothing can be wrenched from the weakened body part. If you’re especially lucky, you can perform a special attack with your partner or even trigger a strip chain, where clothing can be ripped off of opponents one after another until all are entirely exposed.

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Though, on certain difficulty levels, said battles can get quite tedious. I actually backed out and restarted Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed on the Easy mode. With size and scope of the game, I feared things may get too tedious. Especially since one introductory quest involves going from the home base, to a nearby shopping area for about 5 minutes, then back to the bar base, then to a nearby arena in that same shopping area, then back to the base, then again to the shopping area. I wanted to the assurance that, once the somewhat tedious tutorial was done, I be free to enjoy virtual Akihabara with no limits. Choosing the Easy mode did exactly that, and now I feel I’ll be far more equipped to take on Gamer, or maybe even Otaku, mode during my second playthrough since accumulated content carries over into New Game+.

In fact, the real fun with Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed comes after someone beats the game. That’s when the Otaku difficulty level, new character models, outfits, and motion accessories are unlocked. Since there are five character routes, many sub-missions and multiple endings, people who pick it up will definitely play more than once. It’s a game that keeps giving.

Unfortunately, all that giving is a blessing and a curse. Due to the size and scope, there’s constant loading when moving between areas and locations. It’s frustrating. But, the dreaded clothing crash is a greater annoyance. Clothing and weapons can be purchased from stores or acquired from fallen enemies. However, if you hoard clothing, Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed “punishes” you. There’s currently a glitch in the game that will cause it to freeze if you perform a strip chain attack when you have too many clothes. Selling extraneous, unnecessary clothing solves the problem, but it’s quite a shock when it happens.

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The King of Akihabara

Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed is the kind of open-world experience every game library needs. Think of it as a Japanese equivalent of Saints Row. Akiba’s Trip gives players license to go wild in an open world and do whatever makes them happy. Follow the main story, and you’ll be delighted with a ridiculous tale of an otaku turned synthetic-vampire. Do your own thing, and explore the city, and you’ll be delighted by the assortment of real-world locations appearing within the game and a bounty of side-quests. Some technical issues and repetitive quests are trying, but Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed is perfect for any Japanophile gamer. The only possible reason I could see for passing it over now is because someone is waiting for the slightly improved PS4 version later this year.

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