In this review we will tell you about Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed, a mix between scrolling fighting game and RPG set in the most famous district of Tokyo for anime and manga lovers
Anyone who has gone to Japan at least once and is passionate about anime, manga and video games, will surely have made a leap to Akihabara, considered Tokyo district the Mecca for fans of Japanese pop culture. The whole district is populated by shops dedicated to the most disparate merchandising which are also joined by huge arcades and the peculiar maid cafes. Akihabara, also known as Akiba, is a world apart from the other Tokyo neighborhoods, and ten years ago, the developers of Acquire decided to pay homage to this area by creating a game dedicated to that world apart and to the niche. of people who frequent it with passion.
In 2011 it came out Akiba’s Trip title that debuted on PSP and that has never seen the light outside the land of the Rising Sun. Its sequels, on the other hand, have also made themselves known in the West, even if they have never been very successful games but more niche games also considering the topics covered. Now Acquire together with the publisher Marvelous, also publishes in Europe the remastered version of the first chapter called Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed which comes out today, the July 20, for PC, PS4 and Nintendo Switch (the version we tested). In this review, we tell you what it’s like to play Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed remastered ten years after its original release.
Japanese vampires and fetishes
The story of Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed opens with our protagonist, called Nanashi (fully customizable, although the first game you won’t have many elements to do it), who goes to one of the alleys of the Akiba neighborhood to rescue a friend in need. Here he is faced with what apparently looks like a simple criminal, who reduces our protagonist to death. To our rescue comes the sister of this individual who will save Nanashi by giving him her blood. The young man wakes up bound in some sort of secret base, and discovers that he is no longer human, but has become a Shadow Soul, a kind of vampire who sucks people’s energy and is very weak in the sunlight.
Nanashi is then hired by the secret government agency called Niro to use his new strength from Shadow Soul to fight his fellow villains. Shadow Souls, who normally mingle with humans, they are in fact attacking the most talented young people in the country making them become hikikomori (ie inmates abandoned by society). This is due to the transformation into this sort of vampire, so that the victims can no longer live a life by exposing themselves too much to sunlight. Each of the unfortunates, often promising young people considered the future leaders of the country, come then replaced by members of the Shadow Soul race so as to gradually conquer the whole country.
Nanashi will therefore have to become a kind of vampire hunter within Akiba to thwart the fearsome plan of these evil beings. Mind you, why history never takes itself seriously and plays a lot with the typical stereotypes of Akihabara, such as inveterate otaku, idol lovers and so on, putting in between characters and absurd and funny dialogues. There will also be different endings in the game depending on the choices made during the dialogues, but be careful: always save the game before a speech, because sometimes a wrong choice in the dialogues can lead you directly to the dialogue screen. Game Over.
For example during the opening scene, in which the protagonist is tied in the base of the Niro, you can insistently ask for the measures of your future boss, but this will convince the woman that you are useless and then leave you to pulverize in the sun. Said this don’t expect a memorable storyline. Although the funny moments are not lacking, the title does not present who knows what superlative story. Surely it is able to elicit a few laughs, especially from those who know well the otaku culture and the Akihabara district, which here is quite faithfully reconstructed, but neither the characters, however absurd, nor the stories narrated will remain impressed by their quality. .
The Secret Art of Tearing Clothes – Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed Review
Il gameplay di Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed è a mix between a Japanese JRPG and a scrolling beat’em up. Our main purpose will be to go around the various areas of Akihabara to find and defeat the Shadow Souls. To do this you can use a camera whose photos do not show Shadow Souls. Once we have found the target we will be able to approach it and face it in combat.
The battle takes place very similar to that of an old-school scrolling fighting game, but translated into 3D. We’ll have three attack buttons to hit low, medium or high and a key to parry. As we progress with the game we will learn new skills, which will add a few extra attacks or maneuvers, but nothing that changes the variety of battles too much. The purpose of the fight will not be so much to KO the opponent, but hit his clothes to weaken them and then take them off the unfortunate opponent by holding down the attack button. If the enemy is a human he will flee, otherwise he will pulverize in the sun. We will also be able to create “undressing” chains pressing the right button at the right time so as to earn even more points.
But the fight really turns out too clumsy and imprecise. There is no possibility of targeting an enemy when there will be more than one and it will often happen to hit empty for no reason, especially in the most excited situations. Sometimes it will happen by chance to attract the ire of random passers-by who will attack us en masse forcing us to flee in order not to succumb to the overwhelming numerical inferiority. To make matters worse, the camera it often fails to follow the action efficiently and is rather annoying. Even the mechanics of undressing the enemies, basically focuses a lot on fanservice, but in the long run you will find yourself always doing the same actions until the end of the game, which makes the fight little varied in general.
Vestirsi alla moda – Review Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed
The battles are backed by a rather simple progression system, run in a similar way to an RPG. Our character, fight after fight, will level up, also increasing his stats, in addition to this though will also be able to equip various weapons and clothing, which somewhat represent his armor. There will be hundreds of different weapons and clothes. In fact, you can wear classic T-shirts and jeans, superhero or astronaut clothes and even a bear costume. Even the weapons are very varied and sometimes crazy, we will be able to use many common objects as a tool of offense, for example umbrellas, rather bulky books, golf clubs and even wooden swords.
You can therefore customize your character as you wish, but always taking into account the damage value of weapons and clothing defense, so as to avoid being naked in battle resulting in game over. Finishing Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed won’t take you too long: in making this review we finished the main story in about 8 hours. The game also has several side quests, however, very basic in the development, as it will simply be a matter of beating enemies or finding a certain number of objects to be delivered to our interlocutor. In the end, aside from finishing the story to see the various endings present, the only thing that might push you to keep playing is collecting of the many objects present in the game.
Un giro ad Akihabara – Review Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed
Technically speaking we are dealing with a title based on a game born on PSP, and from which we cannot expect miracles as this is a remastered that does not upset the essence of the original released 10 years ago. The remastered, however, does nothing more than clean up the graphics and character models a little without renewing the slightest problems that, after 10 years, become even more evident. The animations of the characters are always very poorly maintained, both during exploration and, above all, during fights, and the environments still have several texture problems.
Only plus is the careful creation of the Akihabara neighborhood, if you have been there live in the past, you will recognize many places that really exist. Going around a well-reconstructed neighborhood is not enough to overlook the technical problems that the title brings with it. The soundtrack it is made up of music without infamy and without praise, with sounds ranging from classic pop idol songs to some rap pieces. The title is only in English as regards the subtitles, while there is both English and Japanese dubbing.
Having reached the conclusion of the review of Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed, it is therefore time to draw conclusions. The title is basically a kind of humorous RPG with scrolling fighting style fights. In this particular case we are faced with a remastered of a game released only in Japan 10 years ago on PSP which then gave life to a saga that has also become quite popular. The 10 years and the origin as a game for a handheld console are all felt though, and the gameplay structure is rather outdated for modern times. The fight is cumbersome and with an unresponsive camera, the story can get some laughs, but it’s nothing memorable and technically it is still far behind, despite the development team’s work to rejuvenate it.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed can be fun the first two hours of the game, but soon it will prove to be a very repetitive and linear title, and the secondary quests and the collecting of the various objects present in Akihabara will certainly not push you to extend your visit in the virtually rebuilt neighborhood. Although the stock is selling for 40 euros, the price is still too high for the experience it offers, given its various flaws. If you are a big fan of anime and manga and all-round Japanese pop culture, and you are convinced that every otaku must visit the Akihabara neighborhood at least once in their life, then you might as well have fun with this game, but we still recommend that you try it before purchasing with your eyes closed.
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A crazy trip to Akihabara
Points in favor
- Crazy and funny story …
- The Akihabara neighborhood is well reconstructed