Destructoid Trading Card courtesy of StriderHoang!
Well, what is there to say about me? I'm kinda like your average gamer: I like to play games, I like to talk about games, and I hope to work in the video game industry one day. I also hope to write a couple of visual novels (I'm writing out the story as a novel at the moment, but I'll probably get down to it one of these days) but I should probably get my life together first.
I do tend to enjoy videogames more than the average gamer would though: videogames have been my life for as long as I remember so it's as much a part of me as my personality. I can't imagine giving this up.
I have a wide variety of taste when it comes to games as I try to keep an open mind about everything that comes out: just because I play mainstream games Halo and Call of Duty doesn't mean I can't enjoy the underrated ones like Anarchy Reigns, Fire Emblem, and the like. I'm willing to give anything a fair shot... provided that I actually get a chance to play it.
If you want to know more about me, you can check out my contribution to the "10 things about ourselves" blog, that Mr. Andy Dixon asked us all to write as well as any other personal blogs here:
I am also writing blogs about videogame themed doujinshi (yes, really). I'm just starting, so there aren't many written yet, but the few that are written can be seen here. If you enjoy these, feel free to message me on any recommendations, suggestions, or if one of the images I've chosen is too naughty. :P
For as long as I can remember, I've always dreamed about going to Tokyo, Japan, specifically the Akihabara district: as the cultural center of all things otaku, which is probably the closest thing I could be described as (if not a deranged sexual deviant: have you seen my hard drive?)... it's only natural to want to check out the sights for myself instead of looking up pictures on my laptop. However, while I have entertained the idea of going there, even dreaming about it during the day when I feel like escaping the humdrum of life, one thing I've always wondered was: what did I really want to do once I finally step foot into the city? Sure, I could chow down on the cuisine and pack on the pounds, explore what the place has to offer such as the ever so popular maid cafes, or even access an adult store to buy a box full of porn to take back with me to the States (because you know I will!)... but none of these things were something that would've really made the trip special, and I think I know why: I realized that, I didn't really want to go to Japan per se... but rather, I wanted to have an adventure, kind of like what you would see happen in anime and videogames.
When I first heard about the original Akiba's Trip for the PSP, I thought it was so interesting that I had to import it and try it out for myself: set in the one and only Electric Town Akihabara, you play as a character who goes on an adventure to rid this fine city of these vampire-like creatures not just by punching them in the face and swinging them in the guts... but by exposing their skin to the sun by stripping their stylish clothes off their backs! I was so in love with the presentation and premise of the game that I would desperately wish that it would be localized for North America... but that wish might as well be in vain because, during that time, the PSP wasn't getting the support in the United States as it was in Japan (anyone remember Final Fantasy Type-0?), so it was a pipe dream to sleep on. However, when I first heard that this game is getting a sequel, I was pretty excited... but imagine my surprise that, not only was this game going to be localized overseas, but it was even going to feature an English dub!
I was literally drooling at the thought of playing this: like a sponge, I wanted to absorb as much information as I could (without spoiling the game, of course) by watching videos of its combat system, and with each passing day counting down to the release date, I felt like a rocket ready to take off. The very first day it came out in North America, I went to Gamestop to buy it, and I cleared out my day in advance just so I could play it without interruptions... and I immediately fell in love with it. I thought about writing a review, but then I realized something: a review isn't going accurately portray how much I love this game (because, if I'm honest, it sure as hell isn't not perfect)... so instead, I opted to dedicate this entire blog telling you why I love this game so very much.
The City of (otaku) Dreams
Catches your eye, doesn't it? Certainly gets my attention...
They really sold the district here. As you can tell from these comparison photos featured in Kotaku, while it might not be a 1:1 picture-perfect representation of the city, and the game features not completely deserted, but still eerily empty streets, it can get pretty damn close: when you walk around, you can see some places that, while you unforunately can't enter, are still pretty notable like the Gundam Cafe, Go!Go!Curry, and a spoof of the AKB48 Cafe... which is only a spoof because, despite having many actual locations in the game, they couldn't get the licensing. However, there's still a sizable amount of stores replicated in the game, and as though to prove it, the people on the streets hand out flyers that not only advertises stores that actually exist in real life, but even where they could be found... assuming the in-game map is as accurate as it is to the actual Akihabara: I might never ever get the chance to find out for myself, but I'm just going to assume that they are. Speaking of advertising, one nice touch that they implemented to soften the blow of the overwhelming amount of loading screens are actual ads for stores, animes, and videogames.
Because of that, I actually don't mind the loading screens: they may be abundant, but they're really rather short, and by the time I recognize what anime or videogame they're showing me, I was already too preoccupied to be bothered. And I tell you, the feeling of walking through the city and seeing posters of the videogame Mind Zero plastered everywhere, and even a bus painted with characters from Ragnarok Odyssey Ace driving by, is pretty cool... but it's even better to actually watch them while you're out exploring: whenever you see a plasma screen television, you can look up and watch a short trailer of videogames such as the aforementioned Mind Zero and Ragnarok Odyssey Ace, as well as Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited, Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars, and even that one Super Sonico game where you dress her up and take pictures of her (as though this game didn't have enough boobs already!). As a fan of both anime and videogames, though more the latter than the former, I love that this adventure takes place in Akihabara because it really does represent the otaku culture, and anyone who is up to date with it will get a kick out seeing things they recognize.
A Place Where I Can Be Myself
Well, that's not my character, but he looks close enough.
I love videogames where I can play as my own character because, while some games allows you to dictate the actions of the hero you're playing as, like Ludger in the recently released Tales of Xillia 2... playing as someone whose clothes, weapons, and even personality are all decided by the player, is something that really allows me to get immersed into the game. After only playing for an hour or so, I already found the clothes that I knew that I would wear for the rest of the game because they were as close to representing me in real life as possible: it's nothing special, especially when the items are called "Ordinary Jeans" and "Cheap Windbreaker"... but I'm not special, and that's what my character is going to be too, damn it! Now, with names like that, you might be right in assuming this is some low-level gear that's going to cripple me for later encounters... but with a simple, yet very appreciated "synthesis" system this game offers, I can rest assured that I'm able to keep the clothes I like and yet still have stats to scrape with the best of them: the same also applies to weapons! I applaud this underappreciated mechanic because I always hate in RPGs when everyone has to have this uber set of armor and weapons to survive an onslaught of vicious monsters... when I just want to look cool!
While I mostly stuck with the same type of clothing for the majority of my time with this game, there are a bunch of other clothes to "unlock", ranging from anime T-shirts and fine-looking suits, to goofy outfits like a bear costume and a butler uniform: you can even eventually unlock the ability to crossdress, complete with (hopefully) fake boobs! In addition to all that, you can also unlock different "walking styles", which not only changes the way your character moves about, but even some of his idle animations: one style has you walking while flicking the screen of your cellphone like the average New Yorker, while another has you pretending to be a mime who pretends he's getting pulled by the hand when he runs around and acts like he's trapped within a box when he's standing still! It's all very silly, but it's kind of fun to make this game as wacky as possible... which gets even more so when you can also unlock different ways to strip girls! Do you want to act like a perverted Master of the Drunken Fist technique... or are you more of the martial arts expert by using the Encyclopedia of Real Fighting method? There's even one that allows you to use telekinesis to shed them of their clothes, made awkward with oddly sexual moaning!
"With great power comes great responsibility." Yeah, "great responsibility" isn't what came out of me when I used my powers...
One of the best thing about the customization in this game is that, not only can I customize my character but you can eventually unlock the ability can customize your partner's clothes! Do you not like their default attire? Want to roll with someone who's as sharply dressed as you? Or maybe you're just really curious to see what she looks like in a Chinese dress, short skirts, perhaps even a maid's outfit... whatever you want, she will wear it! While I'm slightly disappointed that there's no wacky costumes like a ripoff of the Power Rangers (Super Sentai, if you're that guy) series, I definitely appreciate that you can really tailor a good chunk of your game to your liking, and with supposefully around 400 different articles of clothing, you can play dress up as much as your horny self desires: it's like one giant Barbie set! You can even change the character's character model, so if you want every character to look like another character and pretend they're all clones, you can do that to! You can even unlock the ability to turn them into chibis or giants if you so desire (major boobage), and there's an outfit called the "King's" clothes which is just a pair of invisible shirts and pants... meaning, when worn, would have the person roaming around in their underwear! I hope to give one to all my female friends and pretend that I get all the bitches because I'm cool like that!
Speaking of being cool (...shut it, hecklers!), one of my favorite part of this game is also being able to choose my own dialogue choices. Sure, the majority of them have absolutely no real bearing on the story, with the few that do only dictating whose character "route" you'll play the last part of the game with... but the choices typically range from being the melodramatic lines suitable for animes this game mocks to lines that had me laughing my ass off. Seriously, this game had me busting a gut since even the beginning: after a sexy, yet somewhat suspicious, character walks away and your partner is asking you for your thoughts about her, you can be cheeky and respond by saying "I think she likes me", prompting your partner to look at you and go "...that's not what I meant"; another example would be, after being told that you are unable to absorb sunlight, you can get snarky to a serious situation by saying "you mean I can't photosynthesize anymore!?" I love that my character can be funny because, I guess since I'm so shy and really reserved in real life, in here I can pretend to have sharp wit and snappy remarks, allowing me to further immerse myself in this fantasy... kind of like how Spider-Man makes a quick quip every now and then.
Oh, and by the way, she was so totally likes me.
"I am the Freedom Fighter"
I'm stripping his clothes for great justice, I swear!
Speaking of Spider-Man, one of my favorite fantasies that stemmed from my childhood and yet still manages to exist within me today (aside from straight shota, which I will probably never get over...) is being a vigilante. I'll admit that I may have something of a hero's complex: I like the idea of being hailed as someone who is a savior, someone would help those in need, someone that protects the people instead of needing to be protected... and this game's story is allows me to feel like I'm saving the city. See, my character Decker is part of a small, tight-knit group who calls themselves the "Akiba Freedom Fighters", who might have start out as a glorified Neighborhood Watch Committee since they only "patrol" the streets looking for any suspicious activity to report... but after learning about the vampire-like enemies known as the Synthisters, they all rise up to the challenge, determined to stop them from ruining the city that they love by taking matters into their own hands (since the police sure as hell aren't going to believe them). It may not be the most riveting tale to be told as there's nothing that happens that would make one cling to the edge of their seats in anticipation, but it suits the setting rather well.
While the narrative makes it appear that the "Akiba Freedom Fighters" are unsung heroes since no one knows what they're truly doing to save Akihabara from behind the scenes, that doesn't mean that you can't earn a little recognition for yourself: while it's not as well done as it was in Watch Dogs, in which the game constantly generates crime that you can stop... in Akiba's Trip, there are "side-quests" that you can complete that, not only rewards money, experience points, and any unique item drops you might've picked up, but also makes the people more aware of who you are. See, you can select a "title" or a "nickname" for people to call you, and the more side-quests you do, the more people will call you by it, and I even did a little role-playing with it: when I first started the game, I used the title "Rookie Freedom Fighter" because I was what I was... however, as I helped out more people on the streets and they started recognizing me wherever I go, I eventually changed it to "Veteran Freedom Fighter", and even "Defender of Akiba" when it was clear that I was completely deserving of it. I can't tell you the feeling I felt when I walked through a crowd and every one of them praised me .
Well, almost everyone... jerk. You know who you were.
Strike them and Strip them!
"Handle the guys: I'll be stripping this lovely lady in the meantime."
While some side-quests do boil down to fetch quests such as going here, picking up this, and bringing it back or to another person, there are times when you're going to need to get down and dirty: lots of these requests involves getting into scrapes, and you're going to need to put your fists up to fight... or whatever you happen to be holding at the time. Like how there are a vast amount of clothing to wear in the game, there are tons of weapons to equip yourself with: sure, there are really only four weapon types, and each weapon has only a minimal amount of unique moves and characteristics... but the idea that I could punch people in the face with boxing gloves, smack them silly with an aluminum bat, or even trip them with a giant kebab is really kooky! With so many different items ranging from practical weapons to just being plain funny to fight with, there's something for everyone: personally, I found these replicas of pistols that I absolutely love because handguns are my favorite type of guns, and even if these aren't able to shoot projectiles, I'm pretending to live out my gun-fu fighting fantasies. I'm disappointed that there's not much more wacky items such as a giant plasma screen television set (which was actually usable in the first game, if I recall correctly) or a stop sign that I would get all punny with...
But I guess the weapons don't need to be all that silly because, as I said earlier, the only way to defeat them completely is to strip them of their clothing so you can expose their skin to sunlight! This means that, since fights can break out in public, in broad daylight, with other pedestrians wandering the streets, you're giving everyone a free peep show! Now, I don't know for sure if anyone actually whipped out their phones, because I sure as hell would if a girl was getting stripped down to her bra straps... but still: getting into a brawl in the middle of a city is something that I love doing in open-world games like Grand Theft Auto V and Sleeping Dogs... and hey, any game that lets you pull off their pants and reveal their pink panties underneath is an awesome one! Plus, this way of ending battles means that there's really no harm in it: unlike other games where you either have to knock them out, break their bones, or send them six feet under... in this game, all you really have to do is rip off their clothes; if they're human, then they'll get embarassed and run off. Now, you might be wondering what happens when they aren't human and they're screaming as the sun boils them alive... but you can rest easy: the game writes it of as 'purifying" them back to humans, giving you another reason to strip as many Synthisters as you can!
Why So Serious?
Needs more plot. Lots more.
Okay, so "purifying" the enemy might sound like a cop-out to a more serious solution to the problem... but it fits the tone of this game: the narrative, if you haven't realized it by the examples of the dialogue I wrote earlier, is actually rather light-hearted, even to the point that the characters themselves mock the cliche's. Seriously, without spoiling anything, after a revelation is revealed to the cast of characters, one of them reacts by saying that he totally called it and regrets not having said it out loud! Now, even though there's a bit of danger at the end of the game, I'm going to guess that a lot of you don't like the idea that this isn't some grand adventure of epic proportions... but not only am I okay with it, but if I'm to be honest, I find that I'm able to become even more immersed by it. I mean, a videogame like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (have ya heard of it?) is a popular choice for people who wish they could travel to a place like that, but I could never live in such a world: there's danger around every corner, there's dark deities that can be summoned on a whim, and at any given moment, either a dragon can swoop down and gobble you up... or an angry Dragonborn asshole can Fus-Ro-Da you in the face when breath mints haven't been invented yet.
In Akiba's Trip, not only does it take place in modern times where cellphones, videogames, the internet, and all the other things that makes life so comfortable exist, meaning I wouldn't have to give anything up if I were to live to that world (especially porn and indoor plumbing)... but, since there's no real sense of danger, it's not hard to imagine that a guy like me can tussle with a few Synthisters: sure, the actual combat might involve me having taking a keyboard to the back of the head, but it doesn't seem like anyone ever gets knocked out or anything, so the worst I'll lose is my clothing... and even then, once you see me in my underwear, everyone's going to win anyway! Besides, I also really enjoy hanging with the cast of characters, who seem really laid back and chill: while they aren't anything more than character archetypes like the childhood friend tomboy Tohko, the prissy and snarky tsundere Rin, the romantic love interest Shizuki, the foreigner Kati, or the delicious MILF Shion Kasugai... each character have a distinct personality that makes them likable, and they also have their own share of jokes to spew that steals your spotlight.
Nana - My Adorable Little Sister
My little sister can't be this cute!
But my absolute favorite character in this game... besides myself, of course... isn't the lovely Ms. Kasugai... but rather, the little sister character Nana! As much as I love a good MILF, especially one over the age of 25... if you recall from my blog of my "Top 10 Fetishes", they are number four on my list, with "sisters" being at the top: I can't even tell you how wide of a smile I had on my face when a character questions if Nana is related to me... and she confirms our relationship with "no, we're definitelyblood siblings". However, just because she's related by blood doesn't automatically make her number one in my heart; it's also because not only is she adorable, but she's also a lot like me in real life: she's unique, she's a shut-in, she's an otaku, and she's always wearing a hoodie (well, a parka... but close enough)! She also has a unique manner of speaking, as shown in the very first conversation you have with her in which she tells you that, for making her worry for three whole days, she proposes a way for you to apologize: "The present situation is thus: there is approximately one little sister standing before you, desiring of a character tee which that shop over there just got in. Your mission: purchase shirt for adorable sister."
How could I say "no"!?
I also can't say "no" to hanging out with her because, as I've said before, I've always wanted a sister to pal around out with! While the "mini-game" for deciding what to do is mostly random, there are a bunch of scenes exclusive to her: she can pat you on the head for a job well done, she will let you use her lap as a pillow, we can strike poses, we can both take a nap together on the same bed, and we can even wash ourselves in the same bathtub (guess which one I like best?)! If you're also inclined, you can select her as a fighting companion when you go Synthister hunting, which I like to do often because it makes me fight better knowing that I also have to watch my sister's back. My favorite part of bringing her to combat though is her Unison Strip, which is essentially a tag-team attack: I hold the enemy from behind and signal my sister to attack, which she does... but her swings are so wide and so powerful that they smack me across the face, and she does it multiple times before tripping over her own feet, prompting me to strip the enemy by myself so I can make my way over to Nana and pick her up off the ground. If that isn't cute enough, once she's fully on her feet, you both smile and nod at each other before turning your heads back towards the remaining enemies, which was so adorable that I had to use it as my avatar.
Oh, steamy... I like where this going.
I said that I wanted to go to Akihabara because I wanted to have an adventure, and that's what I got with this game: it really has made my fantasies into a playable reality, and it's as close to a perfect game that I'm probably ever going to get... outside of creating my own, at least. If you recall earlier, I played the first game after importing it from Japan, but I didn't get any further than an hour due to me not knowing the language (which, in hindsight, is something I really should've expected). That being said, I was so in love with the premise and presentation that I already knew that I was going to love Undead and Undressed before even playing it... so when I finally did play it, it not only reaches my expectations, but it also actually manages to blow it away: the amount of things to customize is very expansive when you unlock more of the options, allowing one to craft their own adventures, and the localization is clearly top-notch, with an English dub cast that really injects personality into each of the characters, Cindy Robinson's Nana especially! In less than the week I bought it, I've already beaten the game twice on Tohko's and Shion's route, and I plan to run through the game two more times for Rin's and Shizuki's route: I might even get my first Platinum trophy!
I really hope they make a sequel to this game. Before I finished it, I felt the same way we all felt when we're about to complete a game that we didn't want to see end: we try to put off the inevitable by screwing around, hoping that there's something else to do besides the story in the meantime if it means staying in this world for just a bit longer... like trying to catch a few extras minutes of sleep to continue the dream we're having. I knew I was getting close to the end, and it was giving me a strange sense of melancholy, like accepting that I will have to wake up soon. However, once I was on the final paces of the game and stuff starts to go down and people started to get hurt, I had to put aside my selfish desire to keep the story going by heading to the final boss to put a stop to his nefarious evildoings: in essence, I felt like a true hero for making such a sacrifice... and being a hero is what would I want to be if I ever had a chance to have an adventure in Akihabara, so what more could I possibly ask for?
Actually, guess what: remember when I told you you can change a character's clothes? Well, you can also unlock the ability to change their underwear: this means I can switch my sister's pink pre-teen panties to frilly little lingerie, if not pink pasties that just barely covers her butt!