Akiba’s Trip is an interesting game. On one hand, it faithfully re-creates Japan’s most notorious Geek-culture haven, allowing Japanese and Western gamers alike to explore the city in a new way. On the other hand, we have a sub-par brawler that requires you to beat up everyone you see and take off all their clothes. This mishmash of well-created, open-world simulation with poor, shallow brawler ultimately falls flat when held to criticism. It is mostly seen as another suggestive, borderline inappropriate Japanese game that just didn’t do one thing well enough to rise above the pack. However, there is some good underneath the surface, and especially if you are nostalgic for Japan or Japanese culture, it may even be worth getting to the core of the game.
Let’s start with the story. Akiba’s Trip takes you through the streets of Akihabara as a vampire hunter of sorts. Vampires are all over the place and it is up to you to find them and expose them to direct sunlight. However, the vampires blend into the crowd since they look like everyone else. You’ll need to search them out, take off their close and banish them for good. Along the way you’ll encounter a number of side quests, Easter eggs and even find some real life locations from the actual Akihabara. The game is really meant to be an open world brawler allowing you to relive Akihabara at your own pace while following a loose, but rather funny story along the way.
While the concept of the game seems sound, there were a few issues that severely dampened the experience you could have had. The idea of a completely open and free moving Akihabara sounds great, especially for those that have been to the district before. As we mentioned before, many of the most famous stores are recreated in full detail. Unfortunately, there are a ton of loading zones found all the way throughout the game. You can very easily over run your target and end up in a loading zone wasting your time. There is a quick travel option, and that takes care of some of the frustrating loading screens, but the problem still exists and it makes getting around cumbersome.
The biggest problem with the game is the lack of a full, in-depth combat system. You start out with low, medium and high attacks and that is what you end up with at the end of the game. There are no new enemy types that will make you think or anything that pushes you outside of the initial tutorial. This feels like a missed opportunity with such a faithfully recreated Akihabara. With so many different shops, it would have been fun to search out certain shops to buy new moves like a River City Ransom. Instead, we have a monotonous fighting system that fails to engage the player past the first thirty minutes of the game.
Another major problem is the narrative itself and its relationship to the action that was thrown into the game. The story is very weak overall and you’ll rarely care about what you are doing or why you are doing it. You’ll have to traverse the map for one reason or another, but ultimately you won’t care. The one thing you will notice are some of the over-the-top situations you’ll find yourself in while playing the game. The two worlds seem to clash with one side not being engaging at all and the other being engaging but not have anything to do with the plot. In the end, it comes across as very distracting and hurts the game as a whole. In addition, the narrative is mostly told in a visual novel kind of way, so get ready for lots and lots of dialogue and very little cut scenes. This just contributes to the feeling of length without having a lot of substance.
Finally, the balancing on this title is off. Some of the armor and weapons are nicely balanced while others are way overpowered allowing you to plow through enemies with ease. Unfortunately, getting this powerful armor is easy to come by and that just contributes to making the game feel irrelevant even faster than it would have otherwise done on its own. With some minor adjustments to the gear and synthesize system, this game could be a much stronger game once the difficulty is kept consistent.
However, not everything is doom and gloom when it comes to Akiba’s Trip. The environment itself is painstakingly recreated and the attention to detail is impressive to play in. It is like playing on a real life map of Akihabara which has a certain charm all on its own. In addition to that, all of the voice overs are in English or in its original Japanese, whichever you prefer. If you’ve followed my reviews of imports, that is one of my pet peeves and it was refreshing to see a proper port to the Western audience. That is all on XSEED and for that I certainly commend them on a job well done.
In the end, Akiba’s Trip falls short of its mark. Its attention to detail in re-creating Akihabara, as well as the work XSEED put in to translate the spoken parts into English, stand as the best parts of the game. Unfortunately, the rest of the game fails to stand out among the sea of problems. While it is great that more Japanese games are translated and made available to Western audiences, this game just do enough to grab your attention especially since the game depends on the setting of a Japanese district to draw players in that many Westerners may never have been to before. No matter how you approach this game, whether from a gameplay or nostalgic perspective, you are better off taking a pass on this game.
This review is based on a review copy of Akiba’s Trip developed by Acquire published by XSEED
- English Voice Acting in a Japanese Game
- Faithful and Accurate Re-creation of Akihabara
- Monotonous Combat System
- Too Many Loading Zones
- Weapon Balance is Off, Too Easy to Become Overpowered