Akihabara, or Akiba for short, has been the subject of a lot of anime, and games lately, often shaping the city into a sort of haven for the many nerdier subcultures of Japan. You can find it all in Akiba, it seems—videogames, anime Blu-rays, computer parts, gal-games, moe merchandise, doujinshi, cosplayers, Gothic Lolita girls, maid cafés, vampires, ancient living deities of the night, and a bunch of attractive gals.
Or at least that’s what Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed has communicated to me. Yes, the game can be a little… ridiculous.
You begin the game following an invitation to a job interview offering all the rare collectable figures you can carry. Unfortunately, as is often the case with things that are too good to be true, it turns out that the job was a scam to turn you, and a bunch of other nerds, into a Synthister. Think vampire-like creatures. Increased strength, weak to sunlight, feeds on desires, strips you of your humanity, so you can be a minion to some greater evil. I guess you really should read the fine print on those applications, huh?
(Geez… and here I thought I had it rough with Ishaan as my boss. At least he asked before he took my humanity).
Before all is lost, you’re saved by a mysterious beautiful girl. Then, you return the favor and save the girl back, and end up dying in the process. No worries, though—she brings you back to life by forming a blood pact. It seems she is a Nighteater. Think of them as sort of deity-like protectors of the people who have been fading away over the past thousands of years, but a few still live on. Now you are half Synthister, half Nighteater Familiar, and all hero. You eventually meet up with your old friends at your favorite game bar and base of operations: MOGRA, and together as The Akiba Freedom Fighters, fight off the Synthisters, and take back the city.
…by stripping them of their clothes, of course! After all, they’re weak to sunlight. Get them down to their skivvies, and the suckers fry.
Again, you should know what you’re getting into here. Undead & Undressed is pretty much a fanservice game with mechanics centered on getting people’s clothes off. Gameplay is simple enough, and is done through three buttons, primarily. Triangle attacks the head, Circle the torso, and X the legs. If you do enough damage to one of those areas by holding down the button, you can strip the corresponding clothes off. Strip all three areas and the person is now naked. If you do it well enough, and stream combos you’re rewarded with flashy animations of you running around, and people being embarrassed. It’s silly, it’s total fanservice, and… it’s actually a lot of fun.
I like Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed. I like it a lot. I’ve already beaten it, and started my next playthrough of it, in fact! The story is ridiculous, the gameplay is centered on the ridiculous premise of ripping everyone’s clothes right off, and the presentation is equally ridiculous, with a very nice and colorful appearance that’s just like an anime. The game always came off as knowing how ridiculous it was. Never once did I feel like it was a bad thing that I was just watching Anime Cliché #358, because it felt like Undead & Undressed puts up no pretenses, and is just trying to have fun.
As you continue along the game, lots of paths open up to you, and you are given tons of customization options. From the clothes you and your partner wear, to the strength of your character, to weapon customization and fusion. There are multiple girls to pursue romantically with their own endings, and unique story scenes to their paths as well. Just exploring the whole of the city, and taking in all the sights is tons of fun. Plus there are hundreds of side missions to see, a whole encyclopedia to read, a bunch of e-mails to sort through, and even a faux Twitter of sorts that can be occasionally amusing to read through. The game really feels like it’s all about letting you be who you want to be. It’s doesn’t judge. Just live out your fantasy, customize your character to your heart’s content, and have fun.
That’s Undead & Undressed’s greatest strength. It’s just a fun game that doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It’s silly—nay, ridiculous—but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sure, there are a few rough edges. Sometimes you can get frustrated when enemies gang up on you in the corner, the camera pans out at certain points and makes fights harder than they really should be. Additionally, the game is a bit simplistic, the load times a bit on the longer side, and the city layout at times somewhat confusing. But very few other games truly celebrate what they are, and feel as open and accepting as this one. It gives an honest and interesting look into nerd subcultures, and what they mean, and how they affect society at large. Deep down, I think we’re all nerds about something—it’s very easy to relate to, no matter who we are.
If there’s some thing I think you can take away from the game, it is its maniac energy, and openness to both what it is itself, and to you the player. Sometimes we don’t need pretenses. Sometimes, we just need guilty pleasures to keep us going. And that’s what Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed has become for me.
Food for Thought:
1. The game initially reminded me of a lot of fun arcade beat-em-ups I used to play on my Dreamcast. More, specifically it kind of made me think about Dynamite Cop again. Funny enough, the player’s clothes get ripped up and stripped down as they take damage in that game, too.
2. I played the PS3 version, and it came with a nice color manual. It was a bit on the shorter side, but still a nice treat to see in this age. There is also a PS Vita version available to play. XSeed has confirmed they will bring over the PS4 version in the near future as well.
3. The game takes about 7-10 hours to clear on the first play through, and it just gets better after you beat it. Clearing the game once allows you to change your character model from the protagonist to any of the girls who you finished the route of, and tons of other NPC characters in the game on top of that.
4. You can also carry over your weapons and clothes, as well as the final boss’s sword, which let’s you make mince meat of all the enemies real fast. There are also a few other perks such as an even harder “Otaku” difficulty, and the ability to see which answers will affect your standing with the girls in the game, making getting all the endings a lot less time consuming.
5. The new male stripping portraits XSeed added: They are amazing, they are gorgeous, they are fun and campy as all hell, and they are a blessing, especially if you like older men.
6. This is the only game I played where I could walk into a TV Store, sell them my used underpants, and leave.
7. The game is full of tons of advertisements that you would see in the real Akibahara. From SEGA, to Genshiken, to the Hyperdimension Neptunia anime Blu-Rays, to Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited, to The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Flash (Sen no Kiseki).
8. Yes, the game is dual audio. Yes, the Japanese track is there for those who wish to hear it. Yes, the English dub is really good, and funny. Let’s all be happy.