After an entertaining anime sequence, it was immediately apparent that the (s)trip in Akiba’s Trip Hellbound and Debriefed from Acquire and Marvelous was, in fact, the removal of clothes and not the Akihabara strand, street or stretch. It’s a game about moral sharking (pfft!) as you strip down the people of Akihabara, Japan, as they’ve been naughty. It’s not a sexual thing, honest.

Your character and his pal have been left for dead in a dark alley in Akiba. The assailant’s sister gives you life, and before you know it, you’re hired to hunt them down, known as Shadow Souls. As an agent of NIRO, you must seek out your attacker, Yu, as well as the sister who saved you, Rui, and decide where your allegiances lie in this multiple-ending action-adventure.

There are three factions in the game; NIRO, the Shadow Souls and the people of Akihabara, with a smaller group you join, known as the Freedom Fighters. NIRO are your leading source for the story, but you can take on side missions to earn money and improve your standing with each faction. The more you attack one, the less they think of you. Duh.

The Shadow Souls are modern-day vampires and feed upon the youngsters in Akiba, and NIRO wants to stop that. However, there are separatists within the ranks of the Shadow Souls that want their people to co-exist with humans, hold hands, and do all manner of crafts together. It’s up to you on what path you take, so you jump from mission to mission, beating the target to ash.

Akiba's Trip Hellbound and Debriefed Review - Maid in pursuit
Maid in pursuit. Source: PR

Though vampires, the Shadow Souls can walk around in the daytime, pending they are fully clothed. If their clothes are removed, they’ll die. Cue your role in ripping off their clothes. There are three levels: head, upper and lower wear, and a corresponding attack button for each part to strip them, but bear in mind that this can happen to you too and results in a game over. Despite the stripping and talking of being naked, everyone still wears underwear, so don’t order any marigolds and Kleenex just yet.

There isn’t anything special about clothing other than cosmetics, but you can upgrade the durability with synthetic fiber and tungsten for weapons, boosting their level to +99. These parts can be purchased at a junk shop and applied to the item, pending it’s equipped. As for the weapons, these range from bare fists, one-handed and two-handed weapons from anything like knuckle dusters to katanas, laptops to stuffed animals.

You can learn new fighting moves and combos by purchasing books in stores. Akiba’s Trip Hellbound and Debriefed is nothing like Shenmue’s move learning: you hold a direction and bash. Other moves can be learned unrelated to weapons, and these are your stripping techniques to remove clothing from different NPCs and possibly wear them. New story related strips are taught by the ominous Master.

The Master is a sexual predator who has a penchant for one of the agents of NIRO and even has you complete a… lubrication and rope mission for her. Yeah… Anyway, the moves you learn here mean an NPC will be unlocked, and through battle, you’ll now be able to remove their clothing, such as lolitas, schoolgirls and cosplayers. Speaking of schoolgirls, you can ‘unlock’ your sister in a hub of creepy talk about how sexy she looks in uniform, giving you some perks and intel on gear – all at a price. 

Akiba's Trip Hellbound and Debriefed Review - Arcadia
She’s rubbish at fighting games. Source: PR

Akiba’s Trip Hellbound and Debriefed is unsurprisingly modelled on Akihabara and is an accurate depiction from 2011. That being the last time I visited there, I remember some spots – notably the entrance, but ignoring how exact the layout is, it’s nothing like the Yakuza series and the visuals are somewhat dated. Still, you can play a UFO game and visit a maid cafe, if that’s your thing.

I will say that this is a very janky experience with NPCs running into you, repeated assets and endless respawning enemies. Due to licensing, many shops are blurred, so there isn’t enough detail to see or interact with either. You end up doing the same thing of visiting a shop then battling in one random encounter after another. 

The upside here is the grind and the option to level your character, each level improving attack power or durability. Also, enemies will attack one another, so you can strategically hang back while they rip each other’s clothes off, quite literally. Just make sure you don’t stand anywhere near the edge of the screen as the number of times you exit an area in error, mid-battle, is pretty high.

The NPCs in Akiba’s Trip Hellbound and Debriefed remind me of Jet Set Radio. They get in the way and a little samey until you unlock more variations, but there’s something unexplainable that makes this feel fun and lived-in, if you don’t mind the repetition. Despite its monotony, I was pretty invested, and the game took precedence over everything else these past few days.

Akiba's Trip Hellbound and Debriefed Review - Take it off
Take it off! Source: PR

Akiba’s Trip Hellbound and Debriefed is not a game where you’ll be getting the platinum anytime soon, as some of the challenges include finding 200 pieces of unique clothing to sell at a local store and performing combos such as a 12 strip sequence. No matter how hard I tried, even when fighting 30 characters in a park, the best I could get to was 11 as it kept getting interrupted by another character.

Not your typical hentai experience, despite the blatant stripping of schoolgirls and lolitas in broad daylight, crossdressing, maid culture and anime-obsessed otaku who know all there is to know about superhero IT witches. Akiba’s Trip Hellbound and Debriefed is janky, repetitive, relatively linear, but for all these flaws, it’s been an enjoyable grind with some satisfying challenges.