Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed (PS Vita) Review

By Albert Lichi 18.08.2014 2

Review for Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed on PS Vita

A comical beat 'em up/semi-travelogue of Japan's electrics district and nerd culture hub, Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed is held back by technical issues and unresponsive combat. Vampires and nerds clash in a fight for the soul of Akihabara; the otaku mecca in an irreverent self-referential opus, courtesy of Xseed. Can humour measure more than the sum of its parts? Cubed3 bears it all in this Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed review.

Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed is an equal opportunist when it comes to humiliating characters. Male and female get equal representation in the combat. In a game where the core mechanic in the combat is stripping off the clothes of opponents, many people wrongfully accused Acquire of being a perverse and sexist team. Those who cried foul couldn't be more wrong about the tone of Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed - this is a game that has its tongue firmly in its cheek. The whole stripping concept is played for laughs and not for eroticism and there isn't anything that won't be seen in any teen-rated anime. This is a comedy game, that owes itself to the likes of Yakuza and Persona 4. Unlike those games, however, it lacks the polish and solid mechanics that made those games classics.

The story in Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed isn't really important, but the characters are. It feels like the story was an afterthought and was just window dressing to have these kinds of amusing characters interact and do some of the silly things that happen. The localisation to Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed is fantastic, excellent voice over work and strong performances really sell these characters and are quite memorable. This is the game's strongest point, added to the fact there are multiple paths based on the dialogue choices that can be made which can lead to various endings, so replay value is strong in this one.

Much like the Yakuza games, Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed is a beat 'em up that takes place in a district in Japan and in both games the player-character can freely explore, visit shops, take on side missions or get into scraps with the locals. Exploration in Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed is minimalistic to non-existent. The only reason to explore Akihabara is during certain points in the story that require the player to expand the map. Other than that, the best option is to just fast travel everywhere because then the constant load screens that divide each sector won't be an issue. Why the game couldn't be one seamless map is very peculiar because there have been games like Gravity Rush on the PS Vita that had very large and wide open spaces to explore. The only reason to really explore any of the areas is when the story or a side mission demands it; otherwise don't bother and just stick to fast traveling everywhere. One technical issue that was frustrating was when an area was loaded; all NPCs wouldn't load into the area for about 15-30 seconds. This can be very frustrating when trying to complete time sensitive quests and can lead to a few side missions ending in failure. It should be noted that if a side mission is failed, it couldn't be retried until New Game Plus.

Screenshot for Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed on PS Vita

The most important part to any beat 'em up is the combat and the systems that it is built upon. This is Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed's biggest problem. Unresponsive and clunky, the whole ordeal is more frustrating than anything as the auto targeting can betray the character's guidance randomly, getting the camera caught on level geometry, or if the player is too close to an exit, the camera will zoom far away to a fixed position making things very disorientating. Frame rate is highly unstable, with moments of it dropping to maybe five frames per second in some big brawls, and it constantly fluctuating just as the player explores. The combat itself is based on what weapon the player decides to use. Each has their advantages but for the most part it doesn't matter and becomes about which weapon is the strongest, since the crafting system in Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed can make it so the highest power can be transferred from weapon to weapon.

There are head, torso and leg based attacks for every weapon and engaging the enemy is a matter of wearing out the clothes that the enemy is wearing on their respective region. Wear out the clothes enough and then that article can be ripped off, and when the enemy is left in their underwear they are pretty much defeated. There are means to chain-stripping and with a big enough chain can lead to a big finisher that has an amusing cut-scene where the nude (censored) enemy is sent into a panicky humiliation. This is where the fun ends and the torture of getting stun-locked by large mobs begins. Too often there were moments where it felt like the AI was programed to always block combos just as attacks began to be initiated. On the hardest initial difficulty, victory rarely felt like it was earned by skill but rather by cheesing the game's systems and exploiting the AI because executing certain unblockable attacks wouldn't always work and when the attack is successfully pulled off, the enemy always knows when to attack just right to interrupt. Playing defensively is boring because too often there will be moments when characters are just having an ultimate standoff of just blocking and waiting to see who will attack first so the defender can try to pull off a counter attack.

There is a huge amount of character customisation in Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed. There are options to even select different pre-set animations for the main character's walk cycle or even stripping attacks which don't affect the gameplay but are fun to watch, and they do help to make the player's main character feel more unique and individual. In New Game Plus, the main character's level is reset, but all of the progress made with the stripping specialising (how effective the main character is at stripping certain clothes) remains the same and all of the collected items and upgrades are retained. New options to change the main character's character model to pretty much any existing character in the game becomes available and more unlock when certain endings are earned and when the extra difficulty is completed.

Screenshot for Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

There is so much potential that could have been in Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed. Fun characters and a creative concept for combat with an immense amount of character customisation are all undermined by the terribly executed and jerky unpolished gameplay. While it really is a very accurate depiction of Akihabara, it is a glaring oversight to have the location divided up into separate zones that have load screens separating them. Even if a player can get used to the dreadful combat, they will still have to deal with absurd frame rate drops. Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed can only be recommended to those who are die-hard otaku and Akihabara enthusiasts.

Developer

Acquire

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

From what I've seen over the years, niche Japanese games that go for an action-heavy combat system tend to fare much worse than others that use turn-based combat or various hybrids of it. It must be a combination of lacking expertise in the field and perhaps also budget. It's not like they have to be Platinum Games quality, either, because very few other studios come even close to their level of depth and polish. Senran Kagura also started out with a very low budget, but the combat was still good and worked. Now they get to polish and add to it in future games for what's looking to be a much more refined experience.

The concept of this game sounds hilarious, so it's a shame that the gameplay doesn't hold up. Good to hear that XSEED delivered with their localisation as usual, though.

not every game has to be Platinum Games tier, but it kills me that the very basics of character-action is so difficult for many developers.  the first devil may cry came out in 2000, you would think that after almost 15 years designers would have the basic formula right by now.

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