By David Fernandes / November 12th, 2014
While fun, addicting, and simple to get into, fights start to become quite dull after a while and the repetitious nature starts to weigh in. What really hurts the game’s combat is not so much stiff controls, but its clunky hit detection and spotty auto-targeting. At times it seems no matter what, even with a high priority and wide range attacks from certain weapons with reach, I’d miss no matter what, even when enemies weren’t dodging or the attacks looked like they were clipping through them, especially when it came to head gear and leg wear. Some pretty poor frames were going on since the AI never seems to have that issue in aiming for either area- no matter the difficulty.
Instead of utilizing a hard lock-on and simple switching with the flick of the shoulder buttons or left stick, they decided to use an auto-targeting system that instead only soft locks-on an enemy you’re facing in the given direction. Many times I had to get the AI to chase me in circles so I could obtain the target I wanted and didn’t destroy clothing so I could get a strip chain going. This made some fights frustrating and made it annoying to get a specific clothing set after wearing enemies down, which was bad enough already when a large group of enemies have got you in a stun lock loop.
The game isn’t particularly long. Even with its linear narrative going for a short divergent path at the last hour, it took me 20 hours to do a majority of the quests, power up my equipment a great deal and beat the arena while achieving an ending on normal setting. But to achieve all endings and fill up the encyclopedia it will take you around 50 hours at most. Then of course it wouldn’t be complete without a New Game+ option: you lose the levels accumulated through exp., but it allows you to change your character model with a multitude of options depending on how much progress you’ve made to unlock them; gives you the option to help you ascertain which dialogue choice gives which girl affinity with you to help you get the true ends a lot easier; let’s you carry over all the items you obtained; and more.
Like its predecessor, Acquire was once again able to capture Akihabara’s authentic feel by rendering most of the district all within small maps, not only with the over 100 real shops that litter the streets, but from its loading screens, flyers maids give out advertising, and even advertisements on monitors scrawled all throughout the city. Ads in games are a bit of dangerous territory/shaky ground. Some even consider them intrusive. But for this setting, they were able to articulate them through normal conventions we see in games and blend them in so well I was instantly enamored of it all and was sucked into the experience even more so because of them. Though, hearing the snippet of trailers for Mind Zero, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited, and The Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki got a bit annoying after a while since they tend to be repeated quite often.
The game’s aesthetics are mildly impressive and it does look good for a Vita title, especially with the character models and character portraits being well drawn, minus some low-res textures of the environment. For the console, I only noticed a bit of enhancement with upresed textures to fit the resolution of a TV compared to the smaller one for a handheld. Not only that, like its handheld counterpart, the PlayStation 3 version has its fair share of technical issues. Since the areas are separated by maps, be prepared to see that loading screen quite often. Sometimes it only lasts a couple of seconds, but usually loading a cutscene takes a bit longer.
The game suffers from some terrible framerate drops and hiccups when the action gets heated with more than 4 enemies on screen, which will happen often mind you, and can make combat feel a little less enjoyable from input lag. Sadly, the problems don’t end there. The PS3 version, for me at least, suffered a really terrible bug where entering shops would freeze the game. At first this didn’t occur, but it became more frequent and got progressively worse the more I played – especially in New Game+. It got so bad that I couldn’t even enter shops anymore, making it impossible to get the rewards for beating routes on my fourth playthrough. It would occasionally freeze up in story missions or in cutscenes.
Being that this was supposed to be XSEED’s biggest dub project to date, it was pretty lukewarm. Some like Tohka were fine, but then you have others who might match the characters fine but with mediocre performance. And that doesn’t begin to describe the sheer awfulness that was Nana’s voice performance. I don’t even know what to say frankly. Was it intentional? Was this part of the joke, giving a character who’s in middle school what sounds like a middle-aged 30-year-old’s deep voice? It’s so jarring, and as I said, even if you get past the ridiculousness of it, it was awful and some of the worst voice acting I heard in a while. Since the Japanese voices had such A-list actors and the setting itself was smack dab in the middle of Japan, I felt it matched better with the original voices, so I primarily used them and I thought they were fantastic. All in all, I wasn’t too impressed with dub work, so I’m particularly glad XSEED gave us dual audio for such a game.
In conclusion, I had a fun time with Akiba’s Trip. Acquire really knows how to put fans like me to work with trying to 100% their games and their collect-a-thons. It did give me some satisfaction once I obtained every article of clothing, weapon, and title, and I got good a good number of hours out of it. XSEED did a good job with its localization. I got a ton of laughs out of Pitter, the game’s satirical equivalent to twitter/2ch/4chan social media and image boards. I just wished there were more of them. However, the game does lack depth, being more or less a brawler with a gimmick, so it’s simply not for everyone given its technical issues and very anime story and cast of characters. With the maps being so compressed there’s not much to explore, which is a shame given how well they were able to render it all with a shoestring budget. I won’t write this off as a poor man’s Way of the Samurai clone with a new coat of paint, but the game could have used some ironing out and a patch. It may fare better on the Vita on the technical front, but as for the PlayStation 3 version, I recommend the game for Aqcuire fans or ones looking for something more kinky. For others, I say wait for the eventual price drop and sales.
Review copy provided by publisher
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