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- Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed
When I first heard about a "spiritual successor" to Akiba's Trip, the first thought in my head was "How naked are they going to show these people?" That may sound odd, but if you know the first thing about Akiba's Trip (you can read our review of it here, quite fun) is that the whole point is to expose as much of an opponent's skin to sunlight as possible, which means ripping off business suits and sundresses and the like. Vampires, yo. They're scary and need to be… nude.
At E3 this year I did ask the director of Akiba's Beat, Kota Takano, whether or not I should expect such stripping to occur in a "spiritual successor." He assured me this time there is no stripping. I did that just for you, fans of Kota Takano.
In a Japanese otaku's vision of "Groundhog Day," the main band of special young'uns must relive the same Sunday over and over again with the intent to stop the anomalies filling Akihabara, caused by an unknown "contractor." These anomalies take over entire buildings and everyone within them, turning them into dungeons filled with monsters inspired by the building itself. The two I was able to see were a maid cafe and a home electronics store, filled with the likes of air conditioner and vacuum monsters, while the maid cafe had monsters that walked the careful line of cute and creepy (or to stretch my limited Japanese, between kawaii and kowai).
The world of Japan's most popular neon district is open to exploration, similar to Akiba's Trip, though unfortunately this time the shops aren't actually the same as the real Akihabara district; possibly because the cost of copyrights was too high, developers settled on a fictionalized version of the location. No more Sega arcade buildings, no more flyers from real electronics shops and cafés—it's all been made to fit a fictionalized account. It's a shame since it would have fit with real locales being taken over by the anomalies that made them monstrous, but it's not a big enough strike against it, since the world still looks basically the same.
Fighting is a real-time action-RPG affair, with battle instigation reminiscent of Persona 3 and Persona 4 where an attack before the battle starts will reap the benefit of some pre-fight damage to your opponents, though being surprised/attacked from behind will cause the same effect in the opposite direction. Where battles really stand out is in "Immersion Mode," a powered-up attack mode where headphones go on and your character (either individually or in a group) has increased capabilities, including special moves only available when in that mode. In a very direct way, the idea is to dial into the music and simply wreck on autopilot, even powering up further throughout the chorus of the song.
Story-wise, the information is slim but the customization options are robust. Each character can increase the attributes of their given weapon, even if they can't swap it out for a different one, and change into a variety of different outfits to fit a player's preference. There are seven players available, with four on the screen at any given time for battles, which can be hot-swapped between the chosen four within the battle itself. Each character even has their own preferred music (which the player can change) for their "Immersion Mode," so as they have different lengths of time until they reach the chorus, they each can play to different strengths and preferences.
I didn't get any hands-on—it was a "watch this awesome sauce" kind of presentation—so we'll have to see how the final product shapes up when it's released in the US in the window of 2016/17 (or play the Japanese version this coming Fall) on PS4 and PS Vita.