"Akiba's Beat feels like bog standard RPG fare with an unabashed emphasis on otaku culture. "
If you like RPGs, Akihabara and maids, you will like Akiba's Beat. While the game is part of the divisive Akiba series, it promises a much more traditional JRPG experience than Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed. Although the game was shown to us in an unfinished build, it was obvious that it had a unique flare and would settle nicely into its own niche.
The story's protagonist, Asahi Tachibana, is a "textbook NEET" (No Experience, Education or Training) and he indulges in his lazy life by spending days in Japan's geek mecca, Akihabara. His seemingly idyllic life is soon disrupted when he realizes that he has been living the same Sunday over and over again. Everyone has been living a "delusion," but Tachibana is able to see the truth. In order to save his beloved Akiba and return things to the way they should be, he and a group of six other party members are tasked with entering "Delusionscapes," which are eroding the world, and defeating the evil monsters aptly named "deluseons."
The Delusionscapes are manifestations of the people of Akiba's true desires. They are all unique and themed around different aspects of Akihabara fandom. In our demo, we were shown a maid cafe dungeon, an idol dungeon and one themed around retro electronics. In these dungeons, you'll run into similarly themed monsters which will initiate a four-member, real-time battle. Similar to a Tales game, you can control any one character at a time and slash away at enemies, perform skills and guard against attacks.
The key feature of the battle system revolves around an "Imagine" meter which fills as you land hits. Activating a single node of this meter will put your character in Imagine mode, where you deal extra damage and perform special skills. Activating a fully charged meter will send your entire party into Imagine Field mode which plays a special song and buffs your party. All your characters are powered up, and you can perform a deadly finishing move. The percentage of overall damage you do increases during this mode and the benefits peak with the music; as the song hits its stride and enters the chorus, you'll be dealing some heavy damage.
Aside from battling in dungeons, you will spend the rest of your time with Akiba's Beat running around a faithful reconstruction of Akihabara and doing silly side-quests for NPCs. Walk past the "Dundam Cafe" on your way to the PC parts store, where you can buy augments to upgrade your party's weapons.
Akiba's Beat feels like bog standard RPG fare with an unabashed emphasis on otaku culture. Yes, there are tons of maids, but there are also the makings of a solid RPG with an engaging battle system. It may not set the world on fire, but Akiba's Beat should remain on RPG fan's radar this winter.