Akiba’s Beat may not be as goofy or sexy as it’s beat ’em up predecessors, but it makes up for it with tons of secrets, challenging bosses, and a plethora of characters to get to know. Heading into the game without a clue can cause missed opportunities and unexpected deaths, so we’ve set up this handy-dandy Beginner’s Guide just for you! Ain’t we sweet?
First thing you’ll need to know is that combat is more complicated than it appears at first glance. Like many Japanese action-rpg’s, Akiba’s Beat locks your team in an arena with your enemies, and you attack them with melee and skill attacks. If you stop at that, however, you’ll get your butt whooped midway through the game when the boss fights begin to spike up in difficulty.
Action Points and Beat (Imagine) Mode
If you just mash attack buttons while in battle, you’ll notice that your character stops doing anything for a few seconds after a chain of strikes. This is because you’ve exhausted your “Action Points,” which are indicated as a number above your character’s health bar. Make sure you know what you want to do with those points, because blocking, side-stepping, and attacking all use them. Attack blindly, and you’re sure to get hit when you run out of points and your enemy doesn’t.
Not long into the game, you’ll unlock the music themed “Imagine Mode” or “Beat Mode,” which is usable when you’ve attacked enough to build up the Beat Gauge. During Beat Mode, the background goes dark, and a song of your choosing plays. This mode grants you damage bonuses when you strike to the beat, and gives you unlimited Action Points as long as the mode lasts (it gradually depletes automatically until drained.)
Make sure you’ve let the gauge build up before heading into a boss fight, as you’ll want as much extra damage bonuses as possible to wear down their massive health bars.
Melee attacks are accomplished by pressing the square button and a direction on the L-Stick. The direction pressed dictates whether your character strikes high, medium, or low, and you can chain together different height attacks by playing around button combinations.
Why’s this important? Because some enemies will have a “Weakness” or “Guard” response to certain height attacks, as indicated above the damage number that appears when they’re struck. Finding attacks that an enemy has a weakness against and avoiding those they guard against will amount to you attaining victory much faster, and raking in those sweet experience points.
Like melee strikes, some enemies have weakness or guard responses to different skill attacks. You’ll unlock many skill attacks for each character as you level them up through combat, and you can assign them to different X-button and L or R-Stick button combinations. Using skills depletes your skills bar (which sits beside your health bar), and the bar replenishes with time, and also with attacks.
Trying each new skill you unlock is critical, as some have benefits such as knocking opponents down or launching them into the air, both of which leave them unable to attack for a time. Launching enemies into the air is extra useful, as you can then juggle them with melee strikes and with additional skills (such as dash or projectile skills). Make sure you set your favorite skills to easy-to-pull-off button combos, as anything requiring you to use the R-Stick and X-button at the same time is going to be tough to use on the fly.
Character Choice and Behaviors
While in combat, you can use the D-Pad to change which character you control. This is helpful in finding what each character’s strengths are, and finding which has a fighting style you prefer. If you find that one character is more to your liking that the others, assign that character as the “Leader” when you’re outside of combat; this makes them the avatar you move around with, but also makes them the default character you start controlling when battle happens, which ensures you waste no time in wasting enemies.
When you aren’t in control of a character, that character battles based on the behavior you’ve set for them in their options menu. Playing as each character will help you decide who is best suited for strict support (such as healers, or characters who cast various stat buffs for the team), who is best suited for head on attacks (your real power-hitters), and who is best suited as a combination of those styles (Saki is a good example of this, as she’s got fast attacks, but also healing skills.) If you have behaviors chosen that don’t fit a character’s strengths, you’ll run around trying to heal characters and attack all by yourself, and waste a lot of time.
collect those cards
After a few hours of gameplay, you’ll unlock Trading Cards. These are equip-able items that act as elemental attack bonuses and stat buffs. Every trading card has two effects, and each character can equip two cards at a time. Each equipped card has one of it’s two effects activated, and that effect is combined with an effect of the other equipped card’s through the selection of various symbols (“+”, “.”, etc.) in the equip screen. Each symbol changes how the two card’s effects are combined, so experiment to find combos you like; it sounds complicated at first, but equip some and head into battle, and you’ll catch on fast.
The elemental bonuses are critical, as many enemies and bosses are weak towards some (weakness), and strong against others (guard). It’s wise to have multiples of each card that gives elemental bonuses on hand, so when you find that a tough boss is weak against fire (or ice, etc.), you can equip each of your characters with that elemental bonus.
Buy the right items and equipment
The items in the game are basically health potions and skill point potions, which some others (like combat avoidance potions) thrown into the mix. Health and skill potions come in various strengths, and once you’re a few hours in the game, only the strongest are worth purchasing, as your health and skill bars will likely far exceed the low level potions’ effects. It’s wise to have a stash of these strong potions at all times (they’re soft drink cans in Akiba’s Beat, rather than actual potions), in case you come across a particularly tough boss.
Two other items are wise to purchase: Tablets and Escape Keys. Tablets are basically Phoenix Downs, and revive fallen characters with a third of their health and skill points restored. Escape Keys allow your team to exit a dungeon, and are especially useful when you’ve beaten a boss, and don’t want to backtrack to the exit.
Equipment, like items, can be purchased on the Akiba strip, as well as found in dungeons. These are either computer parts, which enhance your weapons, or clothing items, which act as armor with occasional stat buffs. It’s a bad idea to count on finding these in-dungeon only, as they’re rare to come by. Better to buy the best, and check between each Delusionscape (dungeon) for new gear; you’ll have plenty of money, provided you don’t blow it all on trading card packs!
look for sub-quests
Lastly, character sub-quests crop up without warning every now and then, and are visible on your map as small yellow question-mark boxes. Check for these every time you reenter Akiba, as well as in special locations such as cafe’s that you’ll later have access to. These are easy to miss, because you won’t be notified when they become available.
Completing sub-quests, most of which are visual novel character-building plots, grants you items, but more importantly, you’ll need to do them to unlock special gameplay components (such as a secret dungeon and extra playable characters!)
Now you’re all set to hit the streets of Electric Town, and smash any Grand Phantasm that has the misfortune of getting in your way. Gear up, make sure you locked down that sub-quest, and beat your way to victory!