One of the peculiarities of next-generation libraries is how the current selection of software often feels like a subset of titles from the previous era of consoles. Beyond a strong emphasis on sequels to popular properties, the PlayStation 4 has received a host of remasters and definitive editions, offering upgraded version of notable titles like The Last of Us, Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, and Grand Theft Auto V. Contributing to that collection of upgrades is Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed, a reissue that adds a bit of visual enhancement and content to the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita iterations which were published last summer. While only the most obsessive otaku will want to double-dip, players who have yet to experience Akiba’s Trip fan-service fueled antics may want to give the quirky brawler a bit of consideration.
Narratively, the PS4 version makes no modification to the storyline, extending the same intriguing mix of satire and salaciousness. A concise prologue introduces players to a protagonist (whose name and gender can be customized) who stumbles upon a malevolent organization intent on kidnapping members of the local populace and turning them into vampire-like creatures called synthisters. After enduring the initial steps of the transformation and communicating with the group’s leader via a branching dialog tree, a young woman comes to the player’s aid, liberating the character. A brief brawler imparts the basics of combat, before the pair escape to a base of operation, where they meet the MOGRA Freedom Fighters- a group committed with eliminating the scourge of synthisters.
While the plotline follows the perspective of the protagonists, Akihabara is the true star of the game. Coming into prominence as the capital’s post-war hub for consumer electronics, “Electric Town” has more recently transformed into a must-visit mecca for otaku, offering a labyrinthine network of game, manga, and anime stores.
Akiba’s Trip nails both the architecture and overall layout of the municipal ward. Developer Acquire’s level of exactitude mean that anyone familiar with the area likely won’t have to open the in-game map to navigate their way around. Undoubtedly, the title conveys verisimilitude, with a purported roster of over 130 actual stores allowing their likeness and location to be used in the title. Fittingly, ads for SEGA, Taito, and Sofmap abound, while those unwilling to license their logos become targets for parody. But more than a mere façade, players can enter many of the storefronts, where they’ll find authentic J-pop melodies, popular sundries, as well as ladies in a variety of cosplay motifs.
While the original version of Undead & Undressed offered an unrivaled depiction of the legendary district, a few blemishes were noticeable, namely the emaciated crowds and traffic. Pleasingly, the PS4 version remedies this transgression, offering throngs of NPCs who mill about the area, bringing the simulation of the sector a bit closer to reality. Beyond an improved framerate and augmented draw distance, the PS4s’ capabilities are also tapped to deliver a bit more vibrancy to the district. As such, expect to see more instances of full motion video simulating the sensorial bombardment of J-pop idol advertisements.
Much like the Yakuza franchise, the real highlight of Undead & Undressed can be found its fisticuffs. But where the main draw of the SEGA series was the myriad of everyday items players could employ as weapons, here it’s supplemented by the lure of disrobing antagonists. But using the triangle, circle, and ’X’ button, the protagonist can target the head, torso, and lower body of foes. Dish out enough damage to one of these areas, and the region will flash red, indicating the possibility of a finisher. By holding down one of the corresponding buttons, players can then remove an article of clothing. If they’re pummeled other adjacent foes, then it’s possible that additional prompts will appear on screen, allowing gamers to string together wardrobe wrenching combos. The once real issue is Undead & Undressed’s targeting system, with the game’s camera focusing on the closest enemy. If there’s another foe you’re hoping to finish off, it can be difficult to get a fix on them.
Although the foundations of fighting are well implemented, a few of the game’s other nuances aren’t always realized. Although Undead & Undressed offers possibilities like Counters and Indefensible attacks, these optional strikes aren’t easy to pull off, with fussy timing leading to missed strikes and damage from foes. Likewise, blocking isn’t instantaneous, making it easier to temporarily retract from combat and hold the “L1” button to adjust your clothes. This way, it becomes harder for enemies to strip the player of his attire. Fortunately, you’re not alone in your endeavor, with Akiba’s Trip offering a choice of functional companions who can be given general orders via the directional pad.
While combat does reinforce button-mashing, the payoff of removing articles of clothing helps to detract from most of the game’s mechanical deficiencies. Interestingly, Undead & Undressed’s stripping isn’t regulated to the female synthisters, males get an equal opportunity to become disrobed during the game’s core campaign missions and side quests. It also helps that the game offers a myriad to offensive tools and outfits for the protagonist to wear, which each selection ushering in statistical as well as cosmetic changes.
Agreeably, the PS4 version gives gamers a number of attractive, if largely non-essential extras. Using your character’s in-game phone, players can tweak the Akiba’s Trip’s rendering, adjusting elements like coloring and the thickness of cell shading. Toybox mode starts players off with every weapon and article of clothing without the burden of unlocking every item. Nicely, every bit of downloadable content is also included in this version, raising the value proposition. With the PS4’s capability for game broadcasting, streamers might enjoy the game’s interactive elements, where viewers generate fights on the fly, call for assistance, or even produce a whirlwind of on-screen panties, ensuring at least several snickers.
As high-definition upgrades go, the PlayStation 4 version of Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed offers a handful of contenting amenities, none of which radically alter the game’s amusing hijinks. Although that might not be enough to entice players to re-buy the game, the improvements are certain to entice newcomers to taking an extended stay at the fantastic interpretation of Electric Town.
Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed was played on the PlayStation 4 with review code provided by the publisher.
Platform: PlayStation 4
Publisher: XSEED Games (NA), NIS America (EU)
Release date: November 25th, 2014
Language(s): English and Japanese voices/English text