Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: Burst Forth!! Choro-gon☆ Breath Review: Cleaning Up a Virtual World
As someone that doesn’t watch much anime or read any manga, I didn’t decide to review Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: Burst Forth!! Choro-gon☆ Breath out of any sense of fandom. More than anything, I was curious how they would translate what is apparently a very popular series about dragon girls into a Shmup game. To my great surprise, overall, I felt like this game was pretty successful in that endeavor. Keep reading my Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: Burst Forth!! Choro-gon☆ Breath review to see why this is a game any fan of the genre can appreciate, even if they’re not familiar with Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. Oh, and just for my own sanity, from here on out, I’m gonna simplify the title of this game to MKDM: Burst Forth!!. The entire thing is a hell of a title to remember, and harder to keep typing. With that out of the way, let’s talk about what fans can expect from this crazy adventure.
Dragon Maid Adventures
Like any good Shmup, there’s not much plot in MKDM: Burst Forth!! It mostly revolves around the dragon maids and Miss Kobayashi getting sucked into a cursed PC, and having to fight their way out. To do so, they’ll have to beat several games loaded on the PC, showcasing a range of different genres from Gothic to Sci-Fi. The genre differences mostly affect the types of foes you’ll face, they don’t actually change how the game itself plays. Luckily, the core gameplay works quite well and does some fun things to differentiate itself from other Shumps.
For one, there are three different ‘ships’ you can control, and each is one of the titular dragon maids. There’s loyal Tohru, who has a concentrated laser beam that has horrible reach, but devastating power; serious Elma has a weaker but much more wide-ranging wave shot; and cute little Kanna has what appears to be the weakest shot, but which has built-in homing. Better yet, Kanna can also deflect enemy bullets at set intervals, which is a lifesaver. Each of the girls has secondary shots as well, but those are default just like the standard shot, and you can’t power them up. What you do need to keep in mind is your health meter.
Each of the dragon maids has their own health bar, and when it reaches zero, they’re out of the fight until you start a new game. The good news is, you can swap them out whenever you want, and they’ll slowly recover health while sidelined. This is a completely vital strategy, and helps when the game gets overwhelming. To help keep you alive, you also have access to a few other techniques. As you destroy foes, you’ll slowly fill a meter up to 3 bars. Once any amount of bars is full, you can have your dragon maid transform into a massive dragon, and destroy everything on screen with their Choro-gon☆ Breath attack.
You can also do a Backstep that helps you avoid damage for a short period, but by moving to the bottom of the screen, which isn’t always helpful. Lastly, there’s something called Striking Blow, which is rather unique. By pressing the button, your maid will rush at the closest enemy and do a physical attack, dealing more damage if you charge it first. This might seem risky, and it is, but it can also do massive damage to foes.
There’s one more gameplay mechanic in the game, but it’s one I was never able to actually experience firsthand. You can basically fill up a secondary Dragon Eye meter by defeating foes, and supposedly once full, your maids do extra damage. Maybe this requires more Shmup skills than I have, but I beat the entire game once and never had it filled up, whereas I had my Choro-gon☆ Breath attack filled up repeatedly as I played.
Reasons to Keep Shooting Them Up
Besides all this, there are 5 primary stages and accompanying bosses to shoot through. That might sound like a small number, but unlike most games in this genre, there’s actually a shocking amount of replay value in MKDM: Burst Forth!! That’s thanks in large part to a vast amount of collectibles you can acquire in each stage. They’re split into four buckets – Treasure, Gallery art, Character info, and something called Memoria Pieces. The latter are basically jigsaw pieces you collect to create a beautiful picture. That’s not all. There are also several modes in the game. Besides the Story, there’s also a Boss Rush, free play Stage Exploration and one I have yet to unlock. And then, there are also online ranking modes if you want to test yourself against the worldwide competition. Meaning there are a ton of reasons to keep playing, despite the relatively short length of the adventure.
I actually really like the base gameplay in MKDM: Burst Forth!! It’s challenging but not overwhelming, at least if you haven’t turned up the difficulty or risk rate too high. The reason you’ll want to turn the risk rate up is it’ll increase your chances for finding collectible items in stages, though it does dramatically increase how much damage you take from enemy shots. My only issue is that once you start turning the difficulty and rate up, the game does get much harder, so much so I had a hard time beating stages I’d previously had no issue with. Which is my long-winded way of saying I’ve only beaten the game once, which was enough to show there’s a better ending I have yet to earn.
Visually, the game is attractive with bright colors and good contrast. You can always clearly see enemy bullets and never have to wonder about where your maid is on screen. It’s not going to change anyone’s opinion about the Shmup genre, but it’s also easy on the eyes. That goes double for the cutscenes, full of witty and silly banter. While I did get a little irritated by how much dialogue there is in the game, you can always skip it or turn it off entirely from the settings. Musically the game is fine, but not that memorable. That said, I really have no serious complaints about the game for the most part, other than the curiosity that Lucoa is not apparently playable. Because even knowing as little about the series as I do, I know Lucoa is a very popular character in the series. In fact, until I played the game, I thought she was the only dragon maid.
Blaze Forth, Mighty Dragon Maids!
Honestly, even though I wasn’t really familiar with Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid before playing Burst Forth!!, I might be a fan now. This is a solid Shmup with good graphics, compelling gameplay, and a shocking amount of replayability. If you enjoy the series or the genre, I’d say this is well worth the price of admission. In the meantime, I might start looking into this quirky little anime.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4; Publisher: Aksys Games, Bushiroad; Developer: Kaminari Games; Players: 1; Released: August 25, 2022; ESRB: T for Teen – Fantasy Violence, Partial Nudity; MSRP: $39.99
Editor’s note: The publisher provided a review copy to Hey Poor Player.