The magic of video games is that they allow for experiences that just might not come up in ordinary life! You can explore fantasy worlds, see the galaxy, battle others without any lasting damage aside from your ego…it’s great. Sometimes games even allow for somewhat more specific experiences. Like, y’know, running around Japan beating up vampires and stripping them.
That’s right: we’re talking about Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound and Debriefed, a remastered version of the original Akiba’s Trip released back in 2011 for Sony’s PSP that’s finally made its way to Western audiences.
After a rough night searching for a missing friend, you wake up in a bad way. That’s how plenty of stories start, huh? Hell, I’m pretty sure most of my weekends start like that, maybe with more tequila and less missing friends. On the other hand, I don’t typically wake up with an aversion to sunlight – well, not a killer version to sunlight, at least – and a thirst for human blood. Yup, you’ve been turned into a vampire! Thankfully, the Japanese government is here to help you battle the Shadow Souls that lurk throughout Akihabara. You’re a vampiric vampire hunter now, and there’s one great way to deal with the undead.
Yeah, so in this game, you’re going to run around Akihabara looking for vampires and defeating them by stripping them. Yup. Because the vampires are vulnerable to sunlight, you see. You learn a martial art based around tearing off your foes’ clothing and by Jove that’s what you’re going to do. Naturally, you can’t just yank someone’s threads off, so giving them a good beating with fists, weapons and so on first is probably going to help, and you’ll also want to make sure that you keep your defense up so your own garb remains firmly attached.
Naturally, you’re in Akihabara, which means plenty of shopping, maid cafe visits and so on as well. Unfortunately, this wonderland isn’t quite as fleshed out as one might hope. If you come in expecting something like Yakuza, with its masses of mini-games and optional content, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Still, there’s side quests to check out, clothing to buy and NPCs to look for. Given said NPCs spawn randomly, you’re probably going to spend quite a bit of time looking for them, so that’s a little less than great.
Really, it’s basically the same idea as the original Akiba’s Trip, which was actually the sequel to this game – again, this release is the first time we’ve seen Hellbound in the West. If you’re thinking that playing the original game after the sequel might be a little disappointing because it’ll be a less refined experience, you’d be absolutely right! Neither game is a classic (outside of the very crowded vampire-stripping genre) but the 2011 release definitely has an edge on this one.
Likewise, despite this being a remaster, Hellbound’s not going to blow your mind with graphical fidelity. You probably shouldn’t expect it to, really – this was a PSP game! That’s not to say Hellbound’s hideous or anything, but for a game that’s all about exploring one of the most interesting cities on the planet, it’s a little unfortunate that said city isn’t given the kind of graphical attention it deserves. Despite all that, though, it absolutely struggles on the Switch, which is a little baffling. Surely the Switch can handle a PSP game! Stick to other platforms if you plan on playing this one.
Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound and Debriefed isn’t a bad game by any means, but like a vampire, it pales in comparison to its successor. It’s great to have another long-lost title localized for the West, but we’ve got two issues here. The first is that a superior entry in this series has already been available for quite some time. The second is that, well, otaku-culture fans have a multitude of Yakuza games to feed their need at this point, and it’s hard to say whether anyone was really hurting for another Akiba’s Trip game. This is a perfectly playable brawler and hardcore otaku should check it out, but everyone else might be best suited waiting for a sale.