Bradcat’s Japanese Game Focus… Akiba’s Trip

There are plenty of Japanese games which fall into the stereotype of the “bizarre Japanese” realm. I’ve seen them all; button bashers to make a squid explode, fighting games involving school girl ninjas obsessed with their underwear, and life simulators which involve entering another dimension via a TV. Akiba’s Trip falls straight into the same category as all of these.

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Players assume the role of a young man who is lured into applying for a new job (the payment being rare figurines, as in every otaku’s fantasy) with a company which turns out to be ran by evil vampires AKA “Synthisters”. The player is then turned into a Synthister but saved by drinking the blood of a Synthister hunter named Shizuku, turning the player into a strange hybrid with the intent of saving Japan’s electric town of Akihabara. The player is then informed that these monsters can be defeated by stripping them of their clothes, exposing their bare skin to daylight, vanquishing them forever.

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Players are able to wander the streets of Akihabara, and partake in all the activities one might indulge themselves in, including; visiting maid cafés, buying figurines, trying on new clothes, eating in various restaurants, and loads more. The game has painstakingly recreated Akihabara on a street to street level. While some names of companies have changed for legal reasons, the logos remain the same and feel true to life. I felt incredibly nostalgic going to different areas I’ve been to in the real Akihabara…

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Left; Me in front of Akihabara station, Right; Nanashi stood in the same spot

Akiba’s Trip is by no means a perfect game. Many game review websites have criticised it for being a tasteless brawler. But you have to take the game with a pinch of salt. This is by no means a hardcore RPG with immersive battles, it’s a quick, fun, adventure game which offers a huge fan service for people that love the wacky side of Japanese culture. The combat feels very fluid (there’s the occasional annoying camera positioning) and over the top, with the ability to chain “strip combos” allowing the player to strip multiple enemies in quick succession. Players can customise their avatar in a range of outfits and accessories, and can upgrade them back at their secret base, giving the game a bit of variety.

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The audio is great as the passive sounds of Akihabara are captured brilliantly. The hustle and bustle of shoppers, and shop keepers shouting “いらっしゃいませ!” feels authentic. There are video billboards which display adverts for various products, shows and artists, one of which I actually watched in Akihabara known as the “Alice Project” which is a nice touch.

If you’re a fan of silliness, modern Japanese culture and want a bit of over the top fun, then this game is perfect for you. Just make sure no one is watching over your shoulder when you have it on, or they might wonder what the hell it is you’re playing…

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Bradcat’s Japanese Game Focus… Janken & Issei No Sei!

Normally I reserve “Game Focus” for the latest video game, however today I’m going a little old school… Very old school in fact. Today we’ll take a look at the most simplistic and one of the most popular games in Japan (and the rest of the world)… Janken! (じゃん拳)

In the West, we know “Janken” as “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and you must’ve been living under a rock if you don’t know how to play Rock, Paper, Scissors. Players make the shape of one of these three objects with their hand on the count of 3, with Rock beating Scissors, Scissors beating Paper, and Paper beating Rock.

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However in Japan, it’s slightly different. The hand gestures remain the same, but obviously the names change. Rock is called “Guu” (ぐう). Scissors is called “Choki” (ちょき). Paper is called “Paa” (ぱあ).

Games typically begin with the chant of “Saisho guu… Janken pon!” (最初はぐう… じゃん拳ぽん) with players revealing their chosen object on “Pon!”

If it is a draw, then players instantly chant “Aiko sho!” (あいこでしょ) and try again, this time revealing their hand on “Sho!”

Sometimes you’ll have a joker who will pull out a random hand gesture such as “Fire” (Palm faced upwards with waving fingers) insistent that it trumps all other gestures.

Or sometimes players will have their own “unique” rules on this traditional format such as “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock”

Another popular game is “Issei no sei” (いっせい の せい ) however this game is a little more difficult.

“issei no sei” broken down, translates roughly to “いっせい”  issei = together and “せい” sei = voice

A group of people put their hands out with clenched fists next to each other. As a player calls “issei no sei…” they follow this up quickly with a random number between 1 and however many maximum thumbs are in play. For example, if three people are playing, the number called must be between 1 and 6.

As the number is called, players must raise however many thumbs they like (or keep them held down). If the person whom called the number guesses the correct number of thumbs up, then he/she is allowed to remove a single hand from play. The person to remove both their hands from play, wins.

Sounds complicated, but once you see it in action (or play for yourself) all becomes clear…

I hope you enjoy playing “janken” and “issei no sei” with your friends, or even playing it to help settle those age old arguments, such as “who gets the last chocolate in the box?”