What is Akiba's Beat?
Akiba's Beat is a Japanese role playing game set in the nerdy paradise of Tokyo's Akihabara district. The game tells the tale of Asahi, a proud NEET (or, someone who's not in employment, education or training) who finds himself in the middle of a world gone crazy. Caught in a groundhog day style loop, in a world warped by delusions, Asahi teams up with a girl named Saki, to hunt down and take out Delusionscapes - a range of equal parts wonderful and bizarre dungeons that have been conjured into existence by the repressed desires of certain residents of Akihabara.
How do you play Akiba's Beat?
As a role playing game, Akiba's Beat is a game that's heavy on the story. With an authentically recreated Akihabara to explore, you'll spend your time going from area to area to track down the "delusers" causing each Delusionscape, taking in conversations between characters, and heading into dungeons to deal with the delusions that are taking over Akihabara.
When you enter one of the game's dungeons, the gameplay markedly changes tack. With each dungeon swarming with enemies, colliding with one of the enemies will trigger a battle, where it's then up to you to attack, use skills, and dodge your opponent's blows with the help of your team mates. Outside of the dungeons, there's still plenty to do in Akihabara, with side quests to complete that let you learn more about each character's back story, a range of collectable cards to acquire, and plenty of interesting sights to take in. With a great cast of likeable characters, a catchy soundtrack, and a story that's full of twists, turns and mystery, this is a game that'll keep you playing until the very end.
How easy is Akiba's Beat to pick up and play?
In terms of accessibility, Akiba's Beat is reasonably easy to grasp in terms of basic concepts, but it doesn't make everything easy for you. In battles, you have a limited number of moves you can perform at any one time, after which you'll need to wait for your move counter to reset. While it doesn't take too long for your move counter to reset, it can sometimes cause a few hair raising moments, should you run out of moves just when you need to dodge. Similarly, actually finding your way around Akihabara requires some decent navigational skills, as there are no markers on screen telling you where to head next - instead, you'll need to bring up the map, and then try to make sure you're heading off in the right direction, which is sometimes easier said than done!
Still, with a choice of four difficulty levels, at least the battles shouldn't give you too many problems. So long as you fight most of the enemies you come across, the game's learning curve is just about right, without too much need to go back and "grind" weaker enemies to earn experience. While early on you may find your team mates often run out of skill points, meaning they won't be able to heal you when you need it the most, before too long, a character will join your team who'll periodically replenish everyone's SP - and from thereon in, you've got a much smoother ride.
While most of the game's plot has voice acting, there is the odd section (mostly tutorials) that's delivered through text only, and as such, a reading ability is required. As a game so heavily based around Japan and Japanese culture, a working knowledge of Japanese-centric terms would also be helpful - understanding what terms and phrases like idol, otaku, and gravure mean will make the game much easier going.
Sample sentences include:
- Press the designated button to open the menu, allowing you to use items, set up skills or tactics, or (if you're a wuss) retreat.
- While guarding, you can strafe around the enemy by pushing the left stick in any direction. Show off that fancy footwork!
While there's little in the way of violence in Akiba's Beat, the game does contain some mild swearing and occasional innuendo. While characters will engage in battle with swords and magic spells, there's nothing in the way of blood shown mid battle - just one scene in the game has a blood splatter on screen. In terms of bad language, "piss", "ass" and "b*stard" all make appearances, and while the innuendo doesn't get much worse than a girl's reference to "our fooling around! Our nights too numerous and torrid to speak of here!", and "It's more that he's…trying to touch them against their wishes, there is a group of characters who seem desperate to meet, touch, and/or marry a 14 year old idol, although it all remains purely platonic.