Simple 2000 Series Vol. 105: The Maid Fuku to Kikanjuu
During the height of the original PlayStation's launch, it was becoming more cost-efficient to develop and publish smaller "budget titles" than to invest in large-scale projects to go "all-in" on. While titans including Square, Namco, and Sega were releasing hit titles, smaller publishers like D3 were content with cost-efficiency, best known for their 'Simple' "budget" series of games. The Maid Uniform & Machinegun was an example of a one-off title published by D3 Publisher that never received an English translation until now.
On November 5th, 2022, Hilltop released a surprise English localization for Simple 2000 Series Vol. 105: The Maid Fuku to Kikanjuu, translated to "The Maid Uniform & Machinegun." Serving as a collaborative effort between Cargodin and Hilltop, I looked at a previous localization of Hilltop's earlier this year. Since the release of the "cute-em-up" Harmful Park, the pair is also currently working on an English translation for B.L.U.E Legend of Water, a sea exploration game for the PS1.
The Maid Uniform & Machinegun centers around Doctor Masaki, who is being targeted by a mysterious man named Gerald and his accomplice, Laura. With the power of "wibbly wobbly timey whimey" things, the pair decides to go back in time to kidnap a younger version of Masaki. Why? Because apparently in doing so it would alter time to have the pair...control the world? With time? I replayed this game twice and I still didn't fully understand the plot.
This all leads to Yuki, a robot maid tasked by the Doctor to go back in time and save his younger self. Not just for the sake of the world, but for the sake of Yuki and Masaki themselves as time paradoxes would "put them in several pickles." Yuki eventually makes it back in time to a child version of Masaki but she's too late as robot maids and drones have already attempted to kidnap the boy. Armed with several guns and a katana, Yuki makes her move to protect the young master.
On the surface, The Maid Uniform & Machinegun is deceptively simple on the surface. Her main weapon is a rifle that she can use to tear through robot maids, flying drones, large robots, and the occasional spy. In melee range, Yuki can use her katana to dispatch enemies while conserving ammo. Her "A.M Rifle" (Yes, her anti-materiel rifle that soldiers use to destroy armored targets) serves as a way to clear out enemies much like similar attacks in other "beat-em-ups." Lastly, she has a firearm that she can only use in certain conditions. More on that soon.
As to be expected, the general plot makes very little sense and the game is short enough to come across as a two-part episode for some children's anime. I could definitely see the events of The Maid Uniform & Machinegun play out as a Saturday morning cartoon, censored by 4Kids in the 2000s. There is an official website, that's still active surprisingly, that provides insight into the antagonist's ulterior motive.
It's not explained anywhere in the game but according to the website, Laura was originally a human who gave herself cybernetic parts to be on even footing with Yuki. It's hinted she goes through extremes because she's in love with her caretaker Gerald, much like it's hinted for Yuki with Masaki. By the end of the game, it has your typical "The day is saved!" ending so I didn't think much of it, and for good reason. The Maid Uniform & Machinegun is very short.
There are 8 stages, four of which are normal "defeat all enemies to advance to the end" stages. The other three stages attempt to break the monotony by adding a sniping stage similar to Silent Scope, an escort mission protecting young Masaki, and an on-rails shooting stage on the highway that plays very similar to the Yakuza titles. The final stage, as one can expect, is the final boss that's split into three parts.
Every single stage was easy to complete as the sheer power of Yuki trumps everything thrown at her, something Laura states in actual dialogue. Even the final boss wasn't difficult as with every boss in the game, they would randomly freeze in place allowing easy attacks. With the default loadout, players won't have much trouble clearing The Maid Uniform & Machinegun in a little less than an hour. The real difficulty lies in getting a good score to unlock everything.
At the end of each level, you're graded from C being the worst and S being near-perfect in four different categories, Bullet, Combo, Damage, and Maid Style. Receiving three of the four criteria with the same grade will give the player an overall grade, so three A's means you're overall getting an A, etc. The problem is that it's unclear, at first, the criteria for each category. Once the player realizes the criteria, The Maid Uniform & Machinegun starts to become a drag, hence the earlier "deception."
Let's begin with the Bullet category as it is quite possibly the most ironic one of the four. With a name like Maid Uniform & Machinegun, you'd expect to go in guns blazing tearing everything apart. Going from room to room, clearing out dozens of dolls as the sounds of bullets piercing through metal fills the hallways. It's all fun until you see a giant "C" on the results screen. What gives? Well, as it turns out, the less bullets you use, the higher your ranking will be.
Imagine having criteria where you're punished the more you use a game's main mechanic. That's like playing Call of Duty and only expecting to score knife kills instead of using your guns. That's exactly what the game wants you to do by using your katana and your AM Rifle. Since both can only be used while stationary, you have to play a game of cat and mouse with the enemies. It's very awkward at first but once you get the hang of it you can use your machine gun for bigger targets instead, like bosses.
The Combo category was the most confusing one as in literally any other game, one would be forgiven to think it'd mean how many attacks you score in succession without getting hit. You can be untouchable and still earn a C rating so what's the trick for this one? Well, Yuki has the ability to dodge attacks with varying success. If Yuki dodges too late, she will often stumble and take minimum damage yet not as much as she would from a direct hit. Dodging at the right time allows Yuki to twirl toward her opponent instantly (Even if she dodges a ranged attack, which is on some Dragon Ball Z instant-transmission stuff).
Pressing the shoot button immediately after the dodge will result in Yuki taking out her firearm and counterattacking the enemy in close range using her sub-weapon. This is followed by a number counter on the top left corner of the screen. Pull this off enough times and you should get a high ranking in Combo, but it's best done on bosses that attack Yuki occasionally. On regular enemies, due to how glitchy their attacks can be, it's more trouble than it's worth.
The Damage category is the easiest to follow as the less damage you receive, the higher the grade will be. Maid Style is probably the most confusing category to explain as I'm still trying to figure it out myself. Pressing R3 will cause Yuki to pose and yell "MAAAAAAAAAIDO SUTAAAAAAAAAAAAIRU" followed by the words "Maid Style" and a ranking from C to S. Do this enough times with a high enough Maid Style ranking will increase your overall stage score. The problem is I'm not sure what causes the ranking to increase. I learned doing it around enemies will yield a better rating than not being around enemies. Regardless, it's there and it counts toward the score.
Getting A's and S's are important to unlocking powerful weapons and getting high scores transitions into points. Obviously, the more points you have, the more you're able to upgrade your weapon but weapon upgrades are very expensive. I'm not gonna lie, I cheated. Yes, I used Cheat Engine to give myself a lot of points to spend on upgrades but not even that is enough because Maid Uniform & Machinegun added weight for some reason.
By default, Yuki has one outfit with a maximum weight capacity of 90. One of the earlier weapons the player will unlock will go above her weight limit. This can be mitigated by upgrading the weight of the rifles to lower the weight cost, but the player only has three upgrade slots. If the player invests all of their points into weight, they can't invest points into magazines and damage. You're always going to be compromised if you wish to use better weapons,
There is one outfit that negates this and that's Laura's maid outfit. I'll also admit to not knowing the criteria for unlocking the outfit as at this point I had used complete save data (Thank you GameFAQs) after beating the game to see the unlockable items. Laura's dress may have the lowest defense but it more than trumps all other outfits by having infinite weight. It's the only way to not only equip all the powerful guns but also never worry about investing in weight reduction.
At this point in the game, you've basically done enough to gleefully destroy the opposition (maybe even do a speedrun or two who knows). Getting to this point requires a climb to the summit that may or may not be worth it. This is the biggest con I can give Maid Uniform & Machinegun as it is an incredibly short game stretched incredibly thin by absurd win conditions. The only thing that prevents it from getting a 2 is the superb English translation and the amount of fleeting fun it provides.
D3 Publisher would later turn other 'Simple' titles into full franchises, more famously the Oneechanbara and Earth Defense Force games. I personally feel that The Maid Uniform & Machinegun would thrive if D3 decided to revive the IP. There are maids with guns everywhere these days a modernization would sell really well. I recommend everyone who is a fan of quirky yet short titles to play this, but I do not recommend this title to 100% completion.
The Maid Uniform & Machinegun is available in English thanks to Hilltop and Cargodin, which can be downloaded on Hilltop's Patreon here.