Review – Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed

Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed might possibly be one of the most bewildering games I have ever reviewed in this website. I kinda knew what to expect from it, and by that I mean to expect something that would make me question the sanity of those who developed this game (fun fact: the same people behind Octopath Traveler). But man, I just wasn’t ready for the sheer weirdness that oozes from all of its pores. I will admit that I thought it would be a more “disgusting” experience, considering its premise, but by no means did I find this game good. Or even mediocre, for that matter.

Akiba's Trip Blue Man

Howard Lincoln would have a fit if he was still working at Nintendo of America nowadays…

For starters, Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed isn’t a new game on the somewhat fruitful Akiba’s Trip franchise. This is both a remaster of the first game, originally released in 2011 for the beloved PSP, and also the first time the game has been released in the West, as this 2011 version was Japanese-exclusive. I guess Acquire and Marvelous, the developer and publisher behind this exquisite piece of software, thought the West wasn’t ready for this game’s setting and gameplay loop back in the day. Ten years later, I still don’t think we are.

In this game, you control a character called Nanashi, your typical Japanese teenager who loves to hang out in the otaku paradise that is Akihabara, Tokyo. They can be either a girl or a boy, but for the sake of this review, and considering my playthrough, let’s stick it to a “he”. In this reality, Akihabara is a placed infested with a race of vampirical creatures called Shadow Souls, who love to feed on the blood of promising young talents and turn them into antisocial shut-ins. Akihabara has supposedly turned into a very dangerous place, even though it’s still infested with kids and tourists no matter where you visit.

Akiba's Trip Combat

The combat reminded me a lot of Shenmue. That is never a good thing.

The game begins with Nanashi and his friend being attacked by one of these Shadow Souls, only for him to be saved by a Shadow Soul girl after she gives him some of her blood by cutting her lip and kissing him. That results in Nanashi becoming a Shadow Soul himself, with improved strength and durability. However, he now also sharing these vampires’ main (and oddly specific) weakness: being exposed to sunlight with no clothes on. After being recruited by a secret police organization, Nanashi is tasked with helping clear Akihabara of this vampirical threat by doing exactly what you’re thinking you’re supposed to do: stripping vampires and letting them burn under the sun.

The most (in)famous aspect of Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed, as well as the entirety of the franchise, is the fact that you defeat enemies by removing their clothing with sheer… indelicacy, to say the least. That, by itself, would be enough to make the game be reviled in various online communities. I will be honest, it is downright stupid and unnecessary, but something about it being in a game like this didn’t trigger me like the perverted depravity that was Uppers. It was probably the combination of the somewhat decent plot, which is way more earnest than I could have expect. Plus the fact that Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed just doesn’t look good or play well enough, so there was always something else bothering more than the fact I can literally remove the clothing from anyone in the streets of Akihabara.

Akiba's Trip Themes

Way to generalize every otaku in the world, guys…

The combat system is simply not good. For some reason, I was expecting a turn-based combat system similar to Persona or The Caligula Effect, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed featured a pseudo beat ’em up combat system with RPG elements, not unlike the Yakuza games. The problem is that these combat mechanics are glitchy, shallow, and incredibly slow. I was constantly being reminded of Shenmue‘s combat system, and oh boy, that’s not a good thing. Battles would usually revolve around mindlessly bashing one of the three main attack buttons (one dedicated to a part of the enemy’s body) and then hold down said button whenever the game told me so, in order to remove a piece of my foe’s clothing. No strategy involved, no finesse required: punch people like crazy and then leave them naked.

The main reason I ended up bothering way less about this game’s risqué premise than expected was due to the fact that it’s hideous to look at. I get it, the original Akiba’s Trip was released for the PSP. That portable, while very impressive for its time, wasn’t a graphical powerhouse. It had the power to play games in between the quality of the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation 2. With that being said, the original Akiba’s Trip was ugly even for that system’s standards. And this remaster looks pretty much identical to that 2011 release.


What worries me the most is that I wouldn’t be shocked to find out some shady bookstore in Akihabara actually sells a stripping manual like this.

The character models are the same as before, which that means that they look like a subpar low-poly character from a Nintendo 64 game. The texture quality is occasionally decent, but more often than not they’re shockingly bad, with lots of blurry textures “decorating” the streets of Akihabara. The aspect ratio hasn’t been changed, since the PSP featured a 16:9 resolution way back in 2004. Finally, the framerate, the one thing I was expecting for this game to nail with ease, is unbelievably unstable. It ranges from 60fps to the mid-teens, usually depending on the amount of characters onscreen. How was this so poorly optimized? I get that the Switch isn’t a powerhouse of a system, but this was just baffling to see.

I also cannot believe I’m going to say this, but there are good things in Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed. It’s honestly competent in some aspects, such as the aforementioned earnest plot, with some well-developed characters and lines of dialogue (kudos to the localization team at XSEED). The sound design impressed me, as not only did the game feature some catchy bangers in its soundtrack, but the vast majority of its voice acting ended up being a lot more competent than one could have expected from such a lackluster experience. There’s also a LOT of voice acting in here, way more than any other mid-range JRPG I can think of, both in Japanese and English.


Man… these are some really odd dialogue choices…

Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed will be reviled by many people for its dumb premise, but its perverted combat system isn’t even what’s most egregious about it. It’s an underwhelming remaster of a PSP game that doesn’t look nor perform much better than its 2011 counterpart, which was already an underwhelming technical achievement at the time. This is truly disappointing, because even though its core gameplay is a baffling combination of being clunky and unnecessary, the game does feature a nice story and some impressive voice acting. It’s not as irritating as Senran Kagura or Uppers when it comes to its themes, but it’s more disappointing as a game than these two duds. This makes it one of the most underwhelming remasters of the past few years.


Graphics: 3.5

It barely looks any different from the PSP original. Texture quality is really poor, character models feel incredibly simplistic (considering the game’s pervy premise, that’s almost a plus), and the framerate still manages to be wonky as all hell.

Gameplay: 4.0

This game’s combat system reminded me of the one from Shenmue. This is not a good combat system to be compared to…

Sound: 8.5

While most of Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed isn’t exactly good or polished, the same cannot be said about its sound design. Voice acting is shockingly excellent and some of the songs included in here are ridiculously catchy.

Fun Factor: 4.5

Weirdly enough, the overall “stripping combat” aspect isn’t even what annoyed me the most in Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed. Its sluggish controls and unpolished nature were way more irritating. Surprisingly enough, the story itself wasn’t even that bad, but that led to me feeling even more disappointed about the game as a whole.

Final Verdict: 4.5

Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed is available now on PS4, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed was provided by the publisher.