With combat based around stripping clothing off your opponents back, AQUIRE’s 3D brawler Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed may sound almost too gimmicky for its own good, but can a crazy concept be turned into a good game?

The story begins with your character, an everyday otaku, being tricked by an evil corporation and turned into a vampire like creature called a synthister. Right before they brainwash you into becoming evil, a mysterious girl named Shizuku helps you escape their lair and from then on it’s up to you and your friends to find out about the synthister’s plans and help save your hometown of Akiba from destruction.

While the plot sounds like any other anime show, U&U balances the clichés of its main story with a great sense of humour that can be found throughout the game. Thankfully U&U doesn’t take itself seriously too often and occasionally the main plot can take a backseat just to satirize otaku culture which is usually more entertaining than the main plot itself. Relationships are also available if the right dialogue options are chosen but what’s great about U&U is that whatever character you pine after will have a larger part in the climax of the story. This means there’s a total of 4 possible endings altogether which adds to the replay value.

As the enemies you’re fighting are part-vampires, the only way to defeat them is by damaging their clothing using Triangle to attack headgear, Circle for tops and X for bottoms which can all be ripped off when damaged enough by holding down the corresponding button. Your clothing also has health bars and can be ripped off if you’re not careful. Blocking and countering are also part of your arsenal that help add depth to the combat system, as well as a special attack you learn as the game progresses which is useful for stunning enemies and giving you some breathing room.

The fun of combat in U&U isn’t about defeating a tough group of enemies, but to defeat them quickly and efficiently. You have the ability to regenerate all your health back at anytime with no penalty other than losing your combo, but the higher your combo the more damage you do which cements the idea that this game isn’t about difficulty but rather about obtaining the highest combo.
Ripping clothing off of enemies had the potential to be a terrible idea, but the animations that play when removing clothing are so over-the-top and goofy that it’s almost strange how un-sexualised the whole thing feels.
By far the best thing about combat is the ability to chain strip, which means if you have damaged multiple pieces of clothing you can remove one after another by pressing correct button prompts which allows you to takedown multiple foes at once while simultaneously watching your character bust out in a montage of crazy stripping animations. All of that along with the energetic synth soundtrack that accompanies battles is enough to keep aiming for high combos.

Combat isn’t without its faults though. Occasionally the game throws too many enemies at you at once which can cause you to be stuck getting hit with no way to block out of it. Another small annoyance dragging combat down is that since side-missions usually take place in the hub-world, fighting near entrances to other areas of the map can cause the camera to be put in weird angles and the strip animations not to play properly.

Based on the real life location of Yodobashi Akiba in Tokyo Japan, the hub-world of Akiba feels like a genuine sprawling metropolis.
NPC’s stroll the streets and even begin to recognise you and call you nicknames you’ve unlocked as the story progresses. The ambience noise that plays in the background of each area sounds like it’s been lifted straight from a busy Japanese market. AQUIRE even went so far as to gather 100+ leaflets from shops in the real life Akiba district and put them in U&U where they appear on billboards, display TV’s and even the games loading screens which adds a real sense of authenticity to the game while also being pretty to look at.
The only downside is that Akiba is split into 14 different areas which are all relatively small, meaning load screens come up far too often when moving around. NPC’s can also take a while to load in when entering a new area and it can be annoying waiting for a quest-giver to just appear on the map.

Customizability is a huge deal in U&U with hundreds of different clothing and weapon options present. The best customizable feature has to be your weapon though, as U&U has some of the craziest I’ve seen in a while. Expect to be fighting with roombas, giant kebab sticks and kitten mittens to name a few. Each weapon belongs to one of four types, which means some weapons are better suited to large crowds while others are better 1 v 1. Weapons and clothing can also be upgraded which is nice as it allows you to keep favourite items without them becoming obsolete to items dropped by tougher enemies.

Items can also be purchased in shops with are littered throughout the hub-world of Akiba although it usually ends up costing more to purchase a high-damage weapon rather than upgrading to one. However, easily the best thing about the shops is the rap music that blares in the background while in the shop menu that feels so out of place yet it works in a bizarre way.
Even with the massive amounts of customizability from clothing right down to how your character walks, being able to change your characters face and hair is only do-able after completing the game which seems like an oversight given the crazy amount of options for everything else.

In conclusion, developer AQUIRE takes the zany idea of combat stripping and has fun with it, mixing in a fun portrayal of Otaku culture with a satisfying combat system that helps make Undead & Undressed a unique and fun game.