XSEED is all for equal-opportunity ogling in Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed

When it comes to changes made or not made in game localizations, the most topical issue that comes to mind is Nintendo’s recent refusal to add the ability for Mii’s to have same-sex relationships in its upcoming release, Tomodachi Life. While Nintendo originally said there was no intent to make “social commentary” with the game (as if that somehow exempts it from social commentary), they later amended that statement, saying they were sorry for alienating their gay and lesbian fans but could not add the option this close to the game’s release and would strongly consider it for future titles. 
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The issue of same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life and how Nintendo has handled responding to fans isn’t what I’d like to focus on today, however (please read this great piece by Christian Nutt if you want to know more!). Instead, I’d like to highlight a company that went above and beyond to make a game inclusive during the localization process. In contrast to the inability/unwillingness of Nintendo to address the wants and needs of its western audience, XSEED Games has announced that they have been working with developer Acquire to make the experience in the vampire-stripping open world brawler Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed more appealing for those who’d like to see some male eye candy. The official statement is as follows: 

“An additional feature being newly added for the North American release – set for summer 2014 – is the inclusion of illustrated ‘strip portraits’ for all prominent male side characters, providing equivalent gender balance alongside the game’s existing female portraits. Once these have been viewed during normal gameplay, players may also use them as wallpapers for their in-game smartphones.” 

What amazes me about this reveal is that XSEED is going to the effort to get the developer to add new content to their game so that everyone, male and female, gay and straight, will feel included in the game’s (presumably abundant) fanservice. Not only that, but they took their own initiative to do so without being persuaded by a large number of fan requests, as far as I’m aware. Considering the relatively large backlash the breast-laden Senran Kagura Burst had leading up to and past its release, perhaps they wanted to make a conscious effort to not look like a company that only caters toward a specific audience?

Akiba's Trip promotional art showing high school girl in Tokyo holding cell phone and skirt

Honestly, whatever the reason, XSEED’s decision to add additional “manservice” to Akiba’s Trip has increased my interest in the game tenfold. While the media surrounding the Japanese release of the game was most definitely aimed at a heterosexual male audience, making it seem like the content of the game itself was skewed that way, it’s extremely refreshing to see a western publisher take the initiative to make a game more inclusive. Even though XSEED is a niche publisher and Akiba’s Trip an even more niche release,* gaming giant Nintendo could learn a thing or two about inclusion and localization from the fine folks at XSEED.

Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed is a localization of Akiba’s Trip 2, and will be released on PS3 and PS Vita this summer.

*I understand that the inclusion of the male strip portraits along with the fact that XSEED is also recording English voiceovers for the game is an attempt to have it appeal to a wide audience, but I have a hard time viewing Akiba’s Trip as anything more than a niche otaku game. I hope they prove me wrong!

About Anne Lee

Also known as apricotsushi. Anne can be written with the kanji for apricot (杏), and sushi was the most quintessentially Japanese thing I could think of when I was 13, resulting in my goofy, albeit memorable, nickname.