Guild01 isn't like Professor Layton, Dragon Quest IX or any other of Level-5's recent big-named titles. Rather it's a budget anthology title sporting not one but four different -- and completely unrelated -- games by three famous developers (and one comedian). But despite that selling point, Guild01 has completely failed to capture the interest of the Japanese market, selling a mere 20,000 copies in its opening month.
But does that accurately reflect the quality of the title or is Guild01 an enjoyable collection that just somehow missed connecting with the popular audience? Let's break the collection down game by game to find out.
Liberation Girl is a 3D shooter much like Nintendo's Kid Icarus: Uprising. Written and directed by Suda51 (Lollipop Chainsaw, No More Heroes), Liberation Girl follows the president of Japan as she (in her mech suit) attempts to single-handedly defeat the monsters invading Japan.
The Good There is a lot to like about Liberation Girl. It's got great music, fun voice acting, and the anime cutscenes are top notch. The best thing about it, though, is the gameplay. Armed with only two weapons -- missiles and a beam cannon -- the game is fun and flashy despite its relatively simple controls. Most of the strategy in the game comes from the fact that your weapons use the same energy as your shields, so you must time your attacks correctly or risk dying in a single hit.
The Bad While the controls are simple, they are also awkward. The 3DS must be held solely in the left hand -- while the thumbstick controls movement and the left bumper, strafing. This quickly leads to hand cramps for anyone who doesn't have Kid Icarus' special stand. The only other negative is the shortness of the game -- it can be beaten in under an hour. However, there is a fair amount of replay value and each of the game's five stages have hidden sub-missions for anyone willing to seek them out.
From Yoot Saito, the creator of Seaman and SimTower, comes Aero Porter. This is a classic style puzzle game where you take control of an airport's baggage system, trying to put the correct baggage on the correct flights.
The Good Aero Porter is quite simple to pick up and play but is exceptionally difficult to master. You only use two buttons in the game, one to redirect all the conveyer belts to the next level down and one to redirect them all to the next level up. The goal is simply to get the correct bags on the correct conveyer belt layer and load them onto the plane. It's fun and more than a little addictive.
The Bad Sadly, that's really all there is to the game. It just gets more and more complex by adding conveyer belt levels. The only other thing that's a bit annoying is how perfect your timing has to be if you are trying to separate bags that are close together. One mistake and you have to wait a good 10 seconds for the conveyer belt to make another revolution before you can try to fix it.
Crimson Shroud is the newest title by RPG legend Yasumi Matsuno (Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story). The game itself is set up as a group of friends playing a tabletop RPG (eg, Dungeons & Dragons).
The Good The tabletop RPG framing device is a clever way of delivering an interesting story. The other players talk as you play while the game master serves as the narrator. The characters you see on screen even look like the kind of miniatures you use when playing these types of games. The battle system is a highpoint as well. It is far more complex than most other turn-based RPGs and lets each character perform both main and sub actions during his or her turn.
The Bad Crimson Shroud is all tell, no show. The graphics are, at most, static pictures of the character miniatures in the dungeon environment. Most of the time, even these pictures are obscured by a wall of text coming from either the game master or one of the other players. While it is true that in tabletop RPGs you have to use your imagination to experience the adventure, the strength of video games is that they can actually show that adventure to you. Ignoring this strength of the video game medium is definitely the low point of the game.
Omasse's Rental Weapon Shop
Ever wonder what happened to all those shop owners you encountered over your RPG travels? Well thanks to Omasse's Rental Weapon Shop you need to wonder no longer. You take over the role of a young black smith in this comedy/rhythm-based RPG and cater to everything from knights to Samurai as they pass through on their adventures.
The Good When you hire a comedian -- in this case America Manzai's Yoshiyuki Hirai -- to make your game, the final product better bring the funny. And for the most part, Omasse's Rental Weapon Shop does. After you sell the adventurers their weapons, you are able to watch their (mis)adventures through your crystal ball. And let me say, nothing is quite as satisfying as watching Grandma get ambushed by the Big Bad Wolf only to see her whoop out the +1 Naginata I made for her and finish him right there.
The actual weapon-making process is done in the form of a rhythm minigame where you must hit the iron in the right place with the beat of the music -- while keeping the temperature up at the same time. It's generally enjoyable, as far as minigames go.
The Bad Unfortunately, as often as you'll be making weapons, it's a shame there aren't more songs to pound away to. None of the tracks are bad, but they do get old rather quickly. The only other annoying bit about the game is waiting for the heroes to return from their adventures -- or wait for new ones to come in, as the case may be. You can kill time by just forging for the hell of it, but once you have one of every weapon and have repaired those the adventurers have used, there's nothing to do but wait and watch the crystal ball.
Guild01 is a game aimed at gamers: gamers who know who these game creators are and are excited to see their newest projects. I suspect the everyday public had no idea what to make of Guild01 as in one commercial it appeared to be a 3D shooter and in the next it was an RPG. But even if you could care less about who the creators of Guild01 are, it is still a solid little collection of games that is well worth its budget price (if you have a Japanese 3DS). The games inside are all very unique and each is enjoyable in its own way. So if you like shooters, RPGs, or puzzle games, there is something for you in Guild01.
Guild01 was released on May 31, 2012, in Japan for the Nintendo 3DS. There is currently no word on a Western release.