AKIBA'S TRIP is one of the more interesting games I've tried on the PSP.
The game is made by ACQUIRE whom are probably best known for their WAY OF THE SAMURAI series.
As the title implies the game is set in Japan's #1 geek central Akihabara. You play as one of the probably many, many college rejects that lurk the streets of Akiba's electronics district. But unlike the rest of the other unlucky losers, your goalless life as a geek actually takes a turn for the interesting.
A secret goverment agency called NIRO suddenly kidnaps you, forces you into their ranks, and lets you on a big secret : The world is being threaten by... vampires.... Yes, vampires, and of the broad daylight walking type no less.
Apparently there's this vampire organization called the Kageyashi which has infiltrated Akiba in more ways than one. And since your character was doing nothing but goofing around there every day, you were the perfect los.. I mean, valuable and experienced asset to expose these evil blood suckers.
The Akiba recreation is decent, although it's a bit devoid of pedestrians.
Just like WAY OF THE SAMURAI, AKIBA'S TRIP is a free-roaming "open-world" type action adventure game. Of course the "world" in this case is relegated to Akihabara's electronics district only, so the overall map isn't very big.
Just to give you a better idea of how the game feels like, think of it as an ultra geek version of SEGA's RYU GA GOTOKU series.
And just like Kazuma Kiryu walks the streets of Kamurocho like some sort of pimp god, beating up punks stupid enough to challenge a bad-ass looking yakuza. Your charact0r (who hilariously is a closet cos-player) walks the streets of Akiba's electronic distric beating up vampires dressed up as maids and school girls.
The game is like in a "Day of the Living Geeks" mode.
The problem is that the Kageyashi don't look any different from regular people. Hell, for all you know that girl dressed in maid outfit handing out pamphlets in the corner can be a f****d up monster waiting to suck you dry at the first opportunity!
Now, crucifixes and wooden stakes are way out of fashion. Technology is the Japanese way. By using this camera app of your smart phone you can detect the Kageyashi wherever they might hide so you can give them some righteous ass-kicking, Akiba-$tyle.
The combat system in AKIBA'S TRIP should give a familar vibe to anyone who's played WAY OF THE SAMURAI 3. However there's a bigger emphasis in battling multiple enemies this time around, so the fighting can get a bit too chaotic, making it hard for you to hit the enemies.
To actually defeat a vampire you must strip them of their clothing and expose their pale skin to the sunlight. This will dissolve their unholy asses into nothingness and make Akiba a safer place.
In order to do this you must perform a "Strip Action" which flows like this :
A normal-looking school girl? Not in Akiba! Prepare yourself, fool!
Goddammit! Hand over those clothes already, sucker!
Profit ! ! ! Who's yo daddy now, b*tch !
Serves you right, monster ! You don't belong in this world !
AKIBA'S STRIP received mostly positive ratings from the Japanese media. Famitsu gave the game a 8/7/7/7 (29) rating. They praised the game's surprisingly decent story but criticized its poor graphics, uneven (at times) fighting mechanics and the often inconsistent production values.
Personally, I think that AKIBA'S TRIP is the type of game that (ironically) will be easier to appreciate by those not living in Japan (the game is far from being import friendly though, specially for novices).
I mean, for most Japanese gamers, and specially those living in Tokyo, the stuff being showcased here is probably just the same stuff they get to see and deal with most every other day, and I guess many could find it mundane even. Therefore it's easy to understand why they would choose to care more about the game's technical values than anything else.
However, for about nearly everyone else living overseas, I think the fictional recreation of Akihabara alone is worth the price of admission. The whole game is so Japanese-centric and full of geek-power that it's admittedly very easy to look past its many flaws.
Oh yeah, give me some of that baby!
On the positive side, there's 250 costumes (not including DLC) for you to dress up your closet cos-player character just like you want. There's also tons, and I mean tons of real and fake product advertisement to see and many stores (including real ones)to visit. Some amusing weapons to use (including PS3 and Xbox 360 system mock ups from what I've read), Multiple paths, endings etc.
The game's anime $tyle also reminds me of the one used in PERSONA 3, although I'm no anime expert, so maybe its actually different.
Overall, considering the type of action adventure games I've seen on the PSP, I have to say that AKIBA'S TRIP rates up rather well. I'ved tried games like MONSTER HUNTER and GODS EATER : BURST which do look and play a lot better, but honestly, for portable games I found them so incredibly slow to get going that I was already bored with them by the time I finished their tutorial levels.
Depending of your understading of the Japanese language, AKIBA'S TRIP might require you to stay glued to the Japanese Wikia or any other walkthrough while playing it, but the experience is worth it for anyone even remotely interested in otaku culture.
Defintely an import to keep in mind.