Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Burst Forth!! Choro-gon Breath
I've recently discussed how close-knit the relationship is between Anime and Video Games during my review of the Netflix series, Tekken Bloodline. Usually, anime based on video games and games based on anime have seen equal parts of releases as of late. Then there are incredibly versatile anime IPs you can see utilized in an unexpected genre and go "Okay this doesn't make sense, but it does make sense?" The ones that seemingly come from out of nowhere yet are a complete if small package. Lastly, titles that make you go "If they didn't get the licensing for this anime, how would the game end up?" Enter Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid Burst Forth!! Choro-gon Breath!
As this is an incredibly long name for a title, I'll name the game by the anime it's based on, Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid. Alternatively, Kobayashi-San as per its original Japanese title. While not as popular as mainstays such as Demon Slayer, Kobayashi-san became popular enough to have its own dedicated fanbase, two anime seasons, and an ongoing manga serialization. Despite Kobayashi-san going on for almost a decade, there hasn't been a video game based on anime. It has been a part of the Weiss Schwarz TCG, in which the physical copies include an exclusive card based on the game.
So why is Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid and a shmup a weird combination to begin with? The series is generally a comedic "slice-of-life" genre showing the day by day of each dragon girl that Miss Kobayashi takes care of. Seeing a comedy as a shoot-em-up initially made as much sense as using a slice-of-life anime as a Puzzle Bobble spinoff. Considering that this actually happened with Azumanga Daioh back in 2002, the sky's the limit. It is those very same skies that the dragon girl trio will take as they fight to escape a vengeful computer program.
The game begins with a brief tutorial on how to play the game, yet those who are familiar with vertical shmups will understand the controls immediately. There is a shoot button and there is also an "evade" button. The evade button thrusts the dragon girl to the back of the screen, making it a quick way to avoid bullets. There's also a button that will do the opposite, allowing the player to engage with an enemy by closing the gap. Both tactics aren't fully immune to enemy bullets, so it's best to know when to find gaps in pattern to utilize these skills. The "choro-gon breath" button acts like a bomb in regular shoot-em-ups. The dragon girls transform into their dragon forms and fire a blast, killing all enemies surrounding them.
There are three dragon girls to control at any given time, each with their strengths and weaknesses. Tohru, being the central character, is the easiest to control as she fires a straight green beam and has the highest health. Kanna has the lowest health among the trio yet her homing missiles make it so that the player can focus on evading than aiming. Finally, Elma is in the middle of the group, using a wide range of bullets to attack enemies in bursts. There are no lives or continues in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, instead, each dragon girl has their own heath bar.
When taking damage, a brief flash of an image showing their damaged clothing appears, signaling how low their health is. When one of the girls isn't being used, they recover health albeit very slowly. Health does not recover between each stage, meaning that strategy in knowing when to use a specific dragon girl is important. If your favorite dragon is at low health, it's best to use the other ones in reserves.
Occasionally, treasure and other bonuses will appear and it's up to the player to decide if it's worth going through the bullet hell to retrieve it. These treasures unlock gallery images that are on the verge of fan-servicey as the anime it's based on. It's nothing that a player wouldn't see in something like Gal Gun or Senran Kagura.
With five stages, the first three done in any order, Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid Burst Forth!! Choro-gon Breath follows the same principle as other shmups. It's a game that fans of the series can enjoy with enough difficulty options for shmup veterans to have their fill of fun. It's based on replayability in terms of getting on the leaderboards and finding all the bonus stuff, but overall it's a solid shmup experience.
Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid Burst Forth!! Choro-gon Breath is available on the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. The game releases worldwide on August 25th, 2022.