Also On: PS3
Medium: Digital/Vita Card/Blu-ray
When it comes to Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed, there's a freaking massive elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. Yes, it's the game where you run around Japan's Akihabara district and strip people down to their underwear. And yes, many of those people happen to be women who, in the spirit of seemingly every Japanese game, look barely pubescent (to put it mildly). If you feel like quibbling, you could get into the plot (more on that in a bit), but when you get down to the basics…yeah, it's the stripping game.
If you can get over that, however — and I admit, it's a pretty odd premise to have to get over — you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by the fact that it's actually a really fun game. Weird as heck, of course, but fun nonetheless.
It helps tremendously that the plot seldom comes off as creepy or as prurient as it sounds. The very first people you have to strip are evil henchmen (emphasis on "men"), the first secret vampire monsters you have to fight are male, and you're aided in your quest by women, a few of whom aren't dressed like Lolita dolls (and the one who is dressed like one is the one who saves you in the first place). I don't want to minimize the fact you're literally running up to random women and ripping their clothes off, since that obviously as some pretty disturbing connotations, but at the very least, this game is an equal opportunity offender in that respect. Men and women alike get stripped down to their skivvies, which seems like a pretty massive step forward, at least by the kinda screwed up sexual political standards of Japanese games.
It helps too that Akiba's Trip's writing is surprisingly hilarious. This isn't spoiling much, but you can bring about a Game Over screen within five minutes of starting the game just by choosing the funniest option every time (and I do mean legitimately funny, not just funny-by-game-standards). This game skewers targets that are ripe for skewering, and it's not afraid to get a little absurd at times. Case in point: there's a funny line about photosynthesis in here. When was the last time you even considered photosynthesis in a game, let alone had a chance to laugh about it?
Luckily, all this great writing is backed up by some pretty solid gameplay. The characters move really well, whether they're simply running around Akihabara or fighting those aforementioned vampires, and the combat, for the most part, is smooth and flowing. There are some issues with the camera during fights, but on the whole, Akiba's Trip plays really well.
There are some other minor issues, too. I said combat is smooth "for the most part" because I'm still not sure why the game allows you to jump. It's never a huge issue, but it is a little annoying. Also annoying: the load times between areas. It's less of an issue when you jump from place to place via map (the other option is to run block by block), but at times it does seem to take a little long.
All things considered, though, I can deal with a slightly wonky camera, pointless jumping and occasionally long load screens if they're the trade-off for an otherwise good game. And by any measure, Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed is a very good game. You might be expecting otherwise based solely on the premise, but if you can overlook that bit of weirdness, you'll end up being amply rewarded.