Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed Review — Akihabara Is Insane

And I thought it was a rough neighborhood back when I visited it almost a decade ago.

  • Akiba’s Trip is a series of video games where you play as a nameless otaku roaming the streets of Akihabara in order to fight vampires that are trying to take over the world. Except in this universe, vampires are normal otaku who suck out people’s willpower rather than blood, and when stripped to their undies they end up melting in the sun. Yeah, it’s another one of those quirky games that sound utterly retarded on paper, but that won’t stop the Japanese from trying to make you take it seriously. Although I don’t really think this franchise has any aspirations other than to appeal to the otaku market given how loose in tone it is with its massive Akihabara knowledge.
  • The series isn’t exactly more than niche at the moment, but it’s already got a third game coming out this year along with an anime adaptation that I’m not sure whether to count as a sign of any sort of popularity given it’s being produced by Gonzo – and they’ll adapt any video game property these days. Plus the game made it to the states, so clearly it’s doing something right. Such was my curiosity regarding this cult series that I ended up buying the PS4 port of Undead & Undressed and spent an entire weekend trying to finish it. I should point out I only spent like two hours a day on the game and ended up completing it before Sunday morning was over, so if you ever feel curious about trying it yourself, know that there’s a low risk of cancelling any plans in order to see what this universe actually contains.
  • Undead & Undressed is a sort of spiritual sequel to the original PSP game, which I haven’t played because it was only released in Japan and came out on a system that nobody really acknowledges anymore. You play as a nameless otaku whose default name is literally Nanashi (for those who don’t know, that’s Japanese for no name) as he takes a contract job in order to pay for his figurines, only to be duped and turned into a synthister aka the otaku vampire I mentioned in the beginning of this review. However, you’re saved my a mysterious girl named Shizuku Tokikaze and forced to become her servant in order to stand a fighting chance of saving Akihabara from this new menace, as well as to just survive in the area in general given how all of its inhabitants possess universally inexplicable kung-fu skills that make the Yakuza games look realistic.

Apparently all otaku are well-versed in the minor martial arts

  • Of course, the two of you aren’t enough, but luckily your player character just happens to belong to a neighborhood watch consisting of busty girls who fit every anime checklist in the book (big-busted childhood friend, shut-in little sister, foreign cosplayer, etc.) and a few guys who you won’t really acknowledge considering they never fight alongside you. From then on, you basically go back and forth between various sections of Akihabara and the neighborhood watch hideout whilst completing missions and raising affection points with the females in order to get one of six endings.
  • There’s not really much of a plot in Undead & Undressed. Your avatar literally has nothing to him other than going to places, reacting to things through really lame dialogue choices or fighting token synthisters, and everyone else doesn’t carry their own weight because none of them really have arcs. I think whether or not a character gets personal focus depends on which girl you’re pursuing considering how I went with Shizuku, and the game made her grow from a reserved girl to someone who’s in love with this magical girl anime that I don’t remember the name of, but I don’t care enough to bother confirming that.
  • The antagonists are also really boring. I can’t remember their names and their motivations are so basic that they’re not worth giving attention. I’m fully aware that this game is supposed to be a satire of otaku trends and all that, but the way it accomplishes this is really shallow. Almost all the humor is just playing things straight and having the dialogue or characters roll their eyes or make a snarky remark at what’s being done. I can’t think of a single time playing Akiba’s Trip that I laughed, nor did I learn anything about otaku culture beyond “well that exists”.

I’m sure most straight males would love becoming a familiar to her

  • As for the game’s selling point aka the stripping mechanic, how it works is that you punch a character’s head, upper body, or lower body a certain amount of times in order to wear down their clothing HP, after which you strip the clothes off and expose their entire body to the world, causing them to either evaporate in sunlight or run off humiliated – which gets kind ridiculous when you’re fighting normal human females in their bras and panties who still want to beat you up with a keyboard because at least they have a headband on. You of course are under the same handicap, so make sure to buy a hat from one of the many stores in the district before going into combat because most fights have those motherfuckers hunting in packs, and you’re only allowed one female party member at a time (barring when they act as NPC fighters in a story mission).
  • Thing is though, the combat is kind of unintuitive. Nothing but a bunch of basic combos and the occasional block that I swear has a half-second delay every time I press a button to kick a woman in the crotch. And of course, all those combos won’t mean shit if you don’t hold the button down to strip the enemy’s clothing, which I’m pretty sure had a delay of a second every time I tried.
  • Also, you’d better bring a weapon with you at all times because your opponents will always be carrying a convenient bludgeoning tool whilst bringing five other friends who had the same idea. And since the combat system is very ill-suited for anything more than one-on-one, you’ll spend a lot of the fights running away and using the mystical protagonist power of “heal all clothing HP” by holding a certain button for two seconds. So basically, the combat somehow manages to be broken on both sides.
  • The stripping animation can be fun at times, but when you’re required to do it over and over again in order to end a fight, it gets really routine. You can equip dictionaries to change the style of the stripping like making your protagonist do some “drunken boxing”, but that’s about all the flavor you’ll get.

I wield the power of Neptunia and ain’t no one going to stop me

  • As for everything outside the combat, it’s your basic open-world Japanese sandbox with very strict restrictions regarding where you can actually travel and loads of tedious side-quests that you accomplish in order to get money and EXP. However, I never really saw a need for them because you get enough with story missions, and the game only marks what street a side-quest is at once you accept it without indicating where it actually takes place unless you get close to someone and see that their name caption is red. Also, said missions only consist of taking pictures, shopping, or fighting people, which isn’t exactly thrilling gameplay for a reward that doesn’t contribute much.
  • There’s also a battle arena for some reason. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a battle arena in a Japanese game, so I shouldn’t have to clarify it.
  • I think Undead & Undressed has a bit of a game mechanic overload problem, especially when you compare it to other Japanese games centered on otaku trends and making the bright city come to life like Tokyo Mirage Sessions or Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. There’s like fifteen things to do on the menu screen and I barely interacted with half of them. Out of the hundred or so sidequests to do, I only completed like ten. And every time something new would pop up, it would always feel kind of token without much development to make it stand out from other Japanese games.
  • It’s also very unnecessary because the game is just too easy. Even the most casual of gamers who’ve never played a Japanese game that’s not Nintendo in their lives can finish the thing in a few hours once they know how to auto-heal, and going for a certain girl’s route just requires you be nice to them whilst selecting bland choices when interacting with the others. There’s a mechanic where you can use a camera to see who’s a synthister and instigate a fight in order to gain EXP, but I never used it more than once and beat the final boss without him so much as stripping my cap.

Never encountered this in the game, but apparently Touko and Rin kiss in one of the routes. Yeah…

  • Undead & Undressed is just not a fun game. It only has one unique idea – the strip fighting – and said mechanic is very underutilized, especially when surrounded by all the token-ness you could say about any anime game ever. If the series intends to become more than niche in the near future, it needs to lean a lot harder on satirizing otaku culture or making its gameplay more fluid than this. Yeah the anime has given some attention to it, but I doubt it’ll be selling on the level of those Sword Art Online games with its current direction, and you can bet that most people don’t play Hollow Realization for its gameplay.
  • On a final note, the English dub for this game is really mediocre and ill-fitting with the character designs to the point that I had to switch to Japanese just to have a chance of taking things seriously. I took a look on Wikipedia in order to discover what amateurs they roped in to humiliate themselves this time and discovered that it consisted of voice-acting veterans who’ve done good jobs in the past like Michelle Ruff, Brina Palencia, Richard Epcar, and so on and so forth. Wow, what kind of directing were they given to phone it in so much? And this is what they’re doing now, as I haven’t heard from most of them in a while?

Minor Quips

  • Actually I heard the next game is going to be more a JRPG, which makes me curious regarding how the stripping will work there.
  • Okay there’s one moment where one of the guys fights alongside you, but you can’t pull off combos with him, so it doesn’t count.
  • It’s probably true to real life, but it’s very hard to appreciate the faithful depiction of Akihabara when you’re running into a bunch of nameless otaku clones on the streets.

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