The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
You won’t find a stupider or more outlandish premise than the one in Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed. Evil vampire-like beings have invaded Akihabara (aka Akiba), Tokyo’s electronics district. To defeat then, you rip off their clothes – exposing their skin (and skimpy underwear) to the sunlight. The ridiculous set-up initially has a “so crazy it just might work” vibe, but that erodes with each passing hour. The idea of stripping your enemies down to their skivvies may be zany, but Akiba’s Trip doesn’t have the gameplay or the humor to make it entertaining.
The goofy premise is the biggest asset – all of the systems surrounding it feel like bare-minimum attempts to create a playable game. Combat has you performing low, medium, and high attacks to damage your opponents’ clothing to the point that it can be ripped off. Despite dodge and counter abilities, a depleting combo meter encourages you to dive into battle head-first and land hits as fast as possible. Mindlessly thrashing foes is occasionally fun, but the combat never grows or adds new wrinkles. Whether you’re going up against large groups or single foes, this simple approach makes battles too repetitive. You get desensitized to the fact that you’re tearing off your enemies’ clothing, and it starts to feel like any other generic action game.
The male/female vampire ratio seems pretty even, so at least you aren’t exclusively taking womens’ clothes off. However, the experience is far from tasteful. You unlock “strip portraits” that show prominent characters of both genders in compromising positions, which can then be set as the pause screen background. You also develop relationships with your female companions, but the dialogue and meaningless choices along the way don’t forge any real attachment to the characters. The narrative falls flat, too; it isn’t funny enough to support the ludicrous situations, and I never cared about what was happening or why.
Balancing is another issue. Synthesizing new armor and weapons can increase your effectiveness, but it’s easy to make yourself overpowered and plow through encounters, meaning that battles feel trivial in addition to being shallow. Some unlockable goodies (like new player skins and voices) try to entice you into additional playthroughs on higher difficulties, but once is more than enough.
The only part of the game that crests above average is the attention to detail in the environment. The focus on recreating Akihabara – complete with dozens of real stores and an accurate layout – is admirable. However, no matter how realistic it is, the technical shortcomings make it uninspiring to explore. The discrete areas are small, yet the character pop-in is atrocious. This is especially bad considering how few NPCs are onscreen at once; I’ve been to Akihabara a few times, and I’ve never seen it so barren.
Though it technically succeeds as a piece of functional software, Akiba’s Trip fails to be fun. Bland combat, unremarkable missions and sidequests (which are mainly fight/fetch requests), and an abundance of hollow cartoon characters in their underwear don’t deliver any thrills. Yes, you get some sense of what it would be like to wander around Akihabara, but a good tourist guide would be a far more sensible purchase if that’s what you’re after.
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