So, it's come to this. An earnest review of The Maid Clothes and Machine Gun.
Let's just outline it right away- despite the totally ridiculous premise, it's an OK game.
Now, if you're quite done laughing, let's begin.
Number 105 in the ridiculous Simple 2000 series (so-called because they're cheaply-made budget games that sell for 2000 Yen), The Maid Clothes and Machine Gun (seriously, stop laughing) is apparently the work of Rideon, who are something of a mystery. Many of their games listed on their site, like the Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! series and the PS2 Gunslinger Girl games are credited to other developers (Acquire and Dimps respectively) but Rideon say they were responsible for 'main program development'. Basically, they grin and sneer, 'Oh, yeah, those games? We totally worked on that, but don't tell anyone'. For this game, they're listed as 'Plan development', and combing through the credits comes up with nothing to suggest this isn't a full-on Rideon job (although the credits give 'special thanks' to what I think is a porno company). Unlike some of the other developers who got on the Simple 2000 bandwagon, they didn't let themselves get sucked into D3 Publisher's sinsiter cartel to pump out wave after wave of bizarre and crap gamse. They only made two games on the label; this one and an Assault Suits Valken rip-off for the DS. So, y'know, hats off to Rideon for resisting the temptation to pump out absolute drivel for a quick buck, and settling for dignified obscurity.
Even so, with a title like The Maid Clothes and Machine Gun, and the reputation that the Simple 2000 series carries (Earth Defence Force notwithstanding), you're expecting this one to be an absolute pile, and exploitative in the extreme to boot. You're wrong on both counts, sir- it's merely average, and doesn't pander to the Dead or Alive crowd (it's practically chaste, in fact). I couldn't tell you what the plot is, but at a guess (and in my mind) it's essentially a Japanese take on Terminator 2: Judgment Day, where two people are sent back in time to find someone- one wants to protect them, the other wants to kill them. Replacing Arnold Schwarzneggar as the protector (and player character) is... Yuki, a pig-tailed, machine gun-toting maid, who may or may not be a robot and who is certainly not ripped off from anywhere, no sir, not a jot . Replacing Robert Patrick as the antagonist is... Laura, a different, blonde-haired maid who's also armed to the teeth. Replacing Edward Furlong/John Connor is... Masaki, who doesn't really do much aside from that one stage where you have to protect him from enemies. Not sure where the creepy po-faced dolls that litter every stage come into this Terminator 2 comparison, nor can I explain the pig-tailed robots that attack you with their hair, but they're your main enemy throughout.
It's a basic 3D action game- emphasis on the word 'basic' there. Yuki must make her way through eight stages, most of which adhere to the standard 'walk into an area, kill everything that lives, then move on and destroy the next wave until you fight a boss' formula you've been seeing since the beginning of time, albeit with no platforming elements at all. It's fairly standard stuff, with competently executed (albeit basic) combat mechanics and a bit of variety in the enemies (including flying beehives, sniper women and giant yellow robots) and although simple, it means that the game goes at a very quick pace. The game also has a few neat ideas, but the execution is spotty. To start with the good stuff, Yuki's arsenal is for the most part pretty standard (machine gun with limited ammo, katana for up-close attacks, and the A.M. rifle for meter-draining explosives) but the most important are the pistols. They can only be used when Yuki's hit by an enemy- tap the evade button then shoot and she'll use her pistols on the nearest enemy. Keep alternating between the two and you can rack up a ten-hit combo that ends with the A.M. rifle going off in an enemy's face. It's an interesting system that rewards the player's skills (the timing of the dodge requires a bit of practice and is easy to fluff up), offers an effective way to avoid attacks (no hiding behind cover here) and encourages the player to get stuck in, so it works pretty well. As for the controls, they're solid enough, but like many Simple 2000 games, there's a few issues here and there- you have to stand still to use the katana/A.M. rifle, the game won't automatically lock on to another target when you kill something, and the evasive roll is flimsy. They're the sort of mis-steps inherent to a cheapo game such as this, but I'd rather have slightly 'off' controls than totally broken ones (hey there, Altered Beast!).
The other additions are a bit more superfluous and don't work as well- they're clearly shoehorned in with little thought. After clearing a stage, you're given a rank from C to S in four areas (including the bizarre 'Maid Style' category which rewards you for taunting enemies) and these ranks can unlock new machine guns, pistols and A.M. rifles that differ in certain areas, primarily weight (Yuki can only carry so much with her). While I have no issues with the rank system itself, the equipment is a standard action game staple that isn't executed well- it boils down to taking one ultra-powerful weapon and two weaker ones with you, and doesn't add much to the game aside from giving you further incentive to get an S Rank on each stage to unlock them. To be fair, the costumes (which you unlock in other ways) do offer noticeable changes, like the Laura costume which will get you killed twice as fast. The stage ranks also give you points you can use to upgrade your machine guns, but the balance between the points you get and the price of the upgrades is way off- you can ace a level with four S Ranks and you still won't have enough to reduce the weight on even your starting machine gun. Aside from the weight reduction, it's not very useful, so it's only here to pad the game's list of features out. Fortunately, this doesn't affect the action itself much- it's just unnecessary padding.
So the mechanics are average- solid and workman-like, but nothing overly special, much like the graphics and music, which are adequate, but hardly eye/ear-popping (at the very least, the character designs are cute and quite silly, especially the enemy dolls). As for stages themselves, they're of a fair length (just long enough to satisfy, not long enough to get repetitive), the game mixes things up here and there (Stage 3 is a Silent Scope-esque sniper mission where you have to protect the mansion, and Stage 6 is an on-rails crosshair shooter) and they keep the action going without stalling you too much, but my main problem is that they're too easy. The enemies aren't aggressive enough early in the game, and even once you reach enemies that are willing to put up a fight, they don't really tear into your massive health bar (except for the bosses). The fact that getting the timing wrong for a dodge still negates all damage doesn't exactly help. However, this problem is alleviated by a few things. First, going for an S Rank on a stage requires a very different approach- you must get through each stage without being hit and without using your machine gun- that might actually prove difficult. Second, although toothless in the challenge department, the 'normal' game is entertaining enough to play through- it's not long enough to get boring or repetitive, and the solid controls and speedy mechanics keep things running at a quick pace and keep things entertaining. Finally, there's the 3D action game standard of an unlockable difficulty setting, EX Game, which ups the enemy count, their aggressiveness, and the amount of damage they do. It's actually quite a spike in difficulty- I would complain that they hid it behind the normal game, but since it's so short you can beat it in an afternoon, there'd be little point bitching about it. Still not a huge challenge, but better than the normal game.
The fact of the matter is, The Maid Clothes and Machine Gun isn't offensively bad. It's average, yes, and not even close to a four-star game, but it isn't broken. The best comparison on the PS2 is Altered Beast, as it basically avoids making most of the same mistakes that train-wreck made. It doesn't have a shitty camera, wretched controls or frustrating game mechanics. It doesn't pad the game's length beyond its natural life (except perhaps for the mini boss-rush on Stage 7), and only a few of its features are worthless. It's fairly pleasant to play through and kill a half-hour or so, even if it is too easy the first time around, and the fact that it does it competently is enough to keep it from being a two-star disaster. It's a bit like Robocod in that respect- it does what it does well enough, it's just been done better elsewhere... Although these other, better 3D action games don't have the spectacle of a maid taking on a comically-over-sized helicopter. Yes, the cheesiness of the entire concept- a (possibly robotic) maid armed to the teeth chopping little dolls into pieces- is probably the most noteworthy thing about it, and I'm willing to bet most people can decide on whether they want to get this game just by looking at the title, regardless of its quality. That's what I'm here for- to assure you, dear reader, that the game isn't hysterically awful (which, to be honest, is what I was expecting) nor is it some kind of hidden gem of the Simple 2000 series that the likes of Earth/Global Defence Force and Zombie Vs. Ambulance clearly are.
It's just an OK game to play, alright?
For being charmingly inoffensive, The Maid Clothes and Machine Gun is awarded...
In a sentence, The Maid Clothes and Machine Gun is... Surprisingly average.
And now, it's that time, folks!
It's time for some paddingunnecessary bullshitsweet extras, in the form of one (1) song, some scans, and artwork.