Following on from the surprisingly well received Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed, and the not quite as good Akiba’s Beat, XSEED & Marvelous have finally decided to bring the first Akiba’s Trip game to western shores – almost a decade after the original PSP release. Is it a remake? A port? Does it hold up? Let’s find out.
As with Undead & Undressed – Supernatural creatures are stalking the streets & back alleys of Akihabara – with an attempt to help a friend in one of those back alleys leaving you for dead. Waking up to being tied to a chair, you’re given the simple choice of live or die. Help NIRO seek out these creatures or stay tied to the chair till sunrise comes. But what if you just wanna protect your fellow otaku friends? It’s up to you. Now you’ve been turned into one of them, you know their only weakness is sunlight, so take to the streets of Akihabara, knock their clothes off, and expose their skin to the sunlight before they can do it to you.
Spoiler alert for the rest of the review: The story is the highlight of the game, especially for fans of the previous Akiba’s Trip. Looking back the story of the sequel does follow a similar route to this original as the protagonist is unknowingly converted and helps a conglomerate clean up the streets. To be honest I’m not sure which cast of characters I prefer either, there’s definite similarities to the Undead & Undressed cast, and the same applies to the general story flow as well. Thankfully we still got the phone system to keep track of everything, albeit a little more limited here, so you always know who or where you need to go next.
Here is where things start to go sour for the game, tho it can hardly be attributed to the game itself, more the ‘HD Remake’ being banded about. Imagine running the original PSP version of this game through PPSSPP at 1080p with some kinda texture filter on and that is pretty much how the game looks. It’s not all bad, character sprites during dialogue and some of the in-game models can look good, but it really lacks any enhancements to textures etc. Outside of this the biggest indicator of its handheld legacy is how lifeless Akihabara feels. The streets were packed on the sequel, but here you’re lucky if even half a dozen people are walking around the area.
The only upside to it all really is that the performance is rock solid, I was playing via BC on PS5 tho – but I would be surprised if there was any drops in performance on the standard PS4 etc. One area of the presentation that escapes unscathed would be the audio. It surprisingly doesn’t sound as compressed as I expected, with a BGM reminiscent of its sequel, and there’s plenty of decent voice acting used throughout the game.
If you’ve played Undead & Undressed before then you can slip into this easy enough, but for those that haven’t then the series basically plays like a beat em up. Outside of fetch quests you’ll usually be spending your time throwing down with foes hidden in plain sight. Fights are directed by the need to remove an opponent’s clothing, by force or breaking, which means you have 3 areas of attack mapped to different buttons – head, upper body & lower body. The key here is to dish out damage to several parts if possible, especially up against a few foes at once, as you can chain together removals for big XP boosts that can turn the tide of skirmish when the odds stack up.
Your character can also be customised, skills can also be expanded at a trainer, depending on their loadout. Weapons for example can differ in attack speed & damage, with clothing offering different levels of durability and can change your look. You don’t always need to buy these either as enemies can drop items that you can use of. It sounds a lot like its sequel, but that’s where the similarities end. In truth this is a PSP port, complete with all the limitations and jank you would expect of a portable game from a decade or so ago, exacerbated when the fights go beyond one on one. What’s surprising is that nothing was integrated from the sequel, which plays more smoothly in comparison, in the same way no assets etc. were brought over from it either – so you end up with something that feels out of its depth running on a home console in 2021.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed is disappointing, not really any other way to put it. Whilst it is good to finally play a localised version of the original release in the series on our shores, it probably came several years too late. Expecting any of the gameplay & graphic improvements from the sequels to be rolled into this was probably expecting too much, as we ended up with something that looks & plays like an emulated version of the 2011 PSP original.
As a huge fan of Undead & Undressed I was a little more forgiving when playing, but you gotta at least be somewhat objective here, and in truth this is best avoided unless a big fan of the series.
A missed opportunity for the games 10th anniversary that feels disappointing more than anything.