We’ve been so spoiled with decent localisations the last 12 months or so, that it’s been a long time since I imported any games from Japan. Last week I decided to take the plunge and go for a random import – like old times 🙂 – and picked out Akiba’s Trip 2 for PS Vita, a game I suspect, we won’t see in the West for some time.
For those of you not familiar with this series, the first game was released on the PSP – and was set in Akihabara. Apparently it’s a close approximation to the real place (having only been there twice before, I can’t really comment) but unlike the real place – the game’s central hook is not something I’d recommend you try.
You see, this word is populated by vampires – and it’s up to you to weed them out. No heart-staking, garlic-wafting, water sprinkling here – oh no – in Akihabara, you’re no vampire hunter unless you’ve smacked a schoolgirl in the chops, wrestled her to the ground and ripped off her skirt and shirt until she’s down to her bra and panties. Once shamefully exposed – it’s time for sunlight to do the rest and burn her up real nice.
It’s little wonder that the Vita version of the sequel was number one on my list of imports! 😉
So here I am with Akiba’s Trip 2 then.
The game kicks off with your character in a dark room strapped to a table. You’re surrounded by a bunch of strangers who tell you you’re now a vampire. In this world, there are two stages of vampirism – first your body is turned, then your mind – once both have changed you become a human-attacking blood-sucker.
In your case, while your body’s been vamped – your mind, or your soul, is still human. You’re still in control – but it’s only a matter of time before it all goes wrong for you.
After skipping thourgh a lot of dialogue, a pretty girl eventually comes to help you – you beat the crap out of the strangers, escape and fight your way across town, whereupon the girl takes you to a bar, which will serve as your base in Akihabara.
Inside the bar, you’ll – find some friends – two guys, three girls (more on them later) and an older guy who’s the barman.
The barman in this game basically gives you your missions. He’ll tell you where a group of vampires are for you to head out and kill them. The three girls (one of which rescued you in the beginning) are your vampire-killing companions – and you can chose which to take with you when you go out into the street.
In addition to the pretty one from the beginning, there’s a old school friend (who kinda reminds me of Chie from Persona 4) and a girl in a maid costume – who’s from… er… Finland. There seems to be some kind of friendship development thing going on here. Talk to one of the guys in the bar for example and he’ll tell you how much each of the girls like you – and often you’ll come across dialogue options with the girls – where I’m guessing the ‘right’ response will boost your affinity with each girl.
Soon after you arrive at the bar, you also meet your sister – she has a room behind the bar – and she will able able to make clothing and weapons for you. She’ll also give you some missions as well.
So far all the missions I’ve been involved in have revolved aound heading to a location to talk to specific people – or to find a gang of vampires to beat up.
Combat is not the most sophisticated I have to admit. The attack buttons are mapped to where you want to hit your opponent. Triangle will go for the head, circle will go for the legs and square the body. You also have stronger attacks accessible by holding the L-Trigger and down on the d-pad while attacking with the face buttons.
Your goal ultimately is to damage the vampire’s clothes. Once they’ve been damaged to a certain level – that part of their clothing will glow purple. Hold down the corresponding face button and you’ll rip that item of clothing off. If multiple enemies have glowing clothing parts, you can chain-rip lots of garments off in quick succession – which is strangely satisfying.
Your companions also fight alongside you – and as you fight, they have a meter which fills. If it maxes out – you can call upon her to team up with you for more devastating attacks.
There are some light rpg elemets at play here too – you can grow your defense and attack stats, for example. You also seem to grow in profciency at removing certain clothing-types the more you rip them off – although I’ll need to play for a few more hours to get a handle on the significance of this.
So that’s an overview of the fundamentals. In terms of my first impressions? I really like it – the gameworld itself is detailed, believable and nicely realised – and, as Acquire titles go – the presentation is really very, very nice. The character stills for example are excellent – and there’s a significant amount of voice work here.
Perhaps the biggest problem for me is that I feel like I’m missing out on 60-70% of the game. There’s loads and loads of dialogue in Akiba’s Trip 2. The story and characters are very clearly at the forefront of this game – presumably as, fun as the combat is, I have the nagging feeling that without the motivation of the story – it will get repetitive. Time will tell if the combat blossoms as more skills unlock – but I strongly suspect that it will be largely the same – but with the added feeling of growing power, or the thrill of going nuts with a new, more ridiculous weapon.
One thing I will say is that on more than one occasion, the combat had me laughing out loud. There’s nothing quite like ripping the trousers off someone as they come at you in mid air – or delivering a nasty-looking suplex to a girl about half your age. There will always be comedy value in that for me.
I’ve long been a bit of a (not-so) secret Acquire fan since Tenchu and I’ve enjoyed many of their more mediocre titles like Gladiator Begins of Shinobido – I will say that that Akiba’s Trip 2 is definitely a step up from them – particularly where attention to detail in presentation is concerned.
Whether or not this gets a western release it’s hard to say – I hope it does, I think it deserves it – but regardless, with the amount of dialogue and voice work in here, I’m betting it will take some time to get done.
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