Yo dawg we heard you were a huge weaboo etc.
In which I try to impress my mostly imaginary readers by casually working in a reference to the Perry Bible Fellowship strip the original ‘weaboo’ wordfilter came from and fail spectacularly, eventually resorting to an awkward and gimmicky first paragraph.
Then decide to keep the trainwreck rolling end-over-end down the track by observing I share this weird need to prove that I (,Oglaf) am the biggest anime nerd in all the land with the game’s initial primary antagonist. It’s just that instead of running a really cool blog he intends to make his point by turning hapless nerds into synthetic vampires. His reasoning being that instead of all these low tier nerdlings running around Akiba shoveling down their preferred garbage it would be more fitting for his crew of synthisters to drain them of their life force so that he may use it to pursue his immaculately tasteful otaku interests.
Basically if you have ever wanted to choke a Naruto fan or wished for the ability to dropkick someone over TCP/IP because they have intolerable taste in video games you’ll get where this dude is coming from. And the wonderful symmetry of it is that if you are an Anime Expert too you’ll probably hate the good guys just as much as he does seeing as they’re such a threadbare crew of walking cliches. Their lack of charm is downright bizarre in a game with a premise this insane and a localization which otherwise bends over backwards to work at least fourteen puns into every line of text that shows up on screen. You spend a lot of time hanging out with these dudes too, if you’re plowing through story missions with some urgency it becomes kind of hilarious how none of the members of the Akiba Freedom Fighters ever seem to do anything but patrol and regroup to discuss their next patrol (at length). School’s out forever in the city that never sleeps, apparently.
Fuck I went three paragraphs without explaining the game’s basic premise: okay your boy the spiky haired protagonist is an otaku lured into getting turned into one of these synthetic vampires with promises of rare anime swag. He is however saved from this dire (the subtext is these guys sacrificed their humanity for the pursuit of material goods) fate by a vampire girl who of course has to turn him to save his life because vampires, and who never seems to need to feed or do anything vampiric like that which could’ve made her an interesting character. Both actual vampires and synthisters can walk around in daylight no biggie** BUT will melt into puddles of goo/revert to human (depending on what the plot requires) when stripped down to their underwear. This sounds like Battle Raper or someshit but it’s all fairly innocuous and you end up stripping as many dudes as ladies. Like, I’m not being a big gross Gamer here, I actually went in worried it might be too creepy but it’s about as wholesome as a game about punching people until their clothes explode could possibly be.
The game improves dramatically when you’re out and about. While the draw of an (apparently) highly detailed Akiba to roam around is undermined somewhat by lengthy loading breaks on every corner and a map which doesn’t tell you where anything is it’s still a bright and interesting place to be. More importantly, the fighting system is full of wonky video game magic. There’s an EDF-ish flow to it where taking care of a single enemy is trivial and sort of boring but as soon as you add a couple more the system suddenly explodes into an orgy of variables fucking with variables and your previously unassuming range of combat options turn out to be as versatile as the twelve tones in a chromatic scale. Instead of waiting around Dynasty Warrior style groups of enemies are very aggressive and can mess you up in a hurry even on Normal so it’s as much a frantic time management game as it is a beat’m’up and the camera and framerate are (on the Vita at least) terrible enough to make simply keeping track of where you are a challenge. Even your healing system is time-based, you simply run away and go through an achingly slow animation which you can do an unlimited number of times, the catch being you have to work very hard to carve out enough time and space to do this without being interrupted.
All in all, I would’ve liked to keep playing this because I feel I hit the deadline just when it was getting good and probably will pick it back up at some point. Next week I’m playing Armored Core V: Verdict Day!
* Your Akiba Freedom Fighters: Chie, Self-cancelling Rei/Senjougahara hybrid, Bitchy Idol, Some Dudes and last but not least we’ve got an Indomitably Bubbly Girl. Rarely seen on the mean streets of Akiba but constantly around the HQ are Pops and your admittedly fairly original weirdo shut-in little sister who gets all the best lines but is attached to a disturbing little sister romance minigame where the reward seems to be only partially ironic pats on your head.
** it’s permanently daytime. Not as in ‘you never get to play at night it just shows you getting into bed’, as in ‘nighttime is never even alluded to and I’m just guessing this isn’t actually supposed to be a series of ultra short adventures playing out in real time’