Saturday, May 11, 2013

Liberation Maiden (3DSWare) Review

A weekend review? Hell, a weekend post?! Yes, we've gone absolutely crazy here at SuperPhillip Central. Perhaps it's spring fever. Perhaps not. Regardless, we have a new review to share with you all. It's Grasshopper Manufacture's Liberation Maiden, originally part of the Guild01 game collection. The game, we believe, is also available on sale in North America for $4.99. After you read this review, you can decide for yourself whether or not the price is worth it.

A Game Maiden Japan

Are you familiar at all with Guild01? It was a Japanese release last year that featured four unique games developed by four different veteran developers. While these games were part of a retail package in Japan, in the West Level-5 decided to split them up (well, three of the four games) and put them on the Nintendo eShop. One of these games is Goichi Suda's (aka Suda 51) Liberation Maiden. Is this maiden voyage a success or does it suffer the fate of the Titanic?

Those who have played Suda 51's games in the past know that they usually feature a wild and wacky premise, a story that is purposefully messed up, and outlandish characters. However, in Liberation Maiden the tone is far more serious and not at all crazy. Though, to be fair, a corporation's newly elected madame president Shoko Ozora wanting to restore New Japan to its former beautiful glory by piloting one really bad-ass mech is somewhat of an off-the-wall premise all the same. An enemy county has invaded New Japan, and it's up to Ms. Ozora and her powerful flying mech suit to save her homeland.

President Shoko Ozora is all business.
There are five missions total for Liberation Maiden, and the majority of them have the main objective of destroy three targets known as Lesser Spikes. Once all three have been eliminated, the shield to the Greater Spike vanishes, allowing Shoko and her mech to "mecha" mess out of the Greater Spike, the boss of each mission. In order to finish off each boss and mission, you must use an attack that requires you as the player to frantically swipe the stylus in a circle motion so the mech smashes through the boss's core.

Light New Japan up with all of these explosions.
It's not so easy of a task to take down the trio of Lesser Spikes when you constantly have missiles, lasers, and bombs being shot in your general direction. That said, Shoko and her massive mech are not sitting ducks. By holding the stylus on the touch screen to select targets and then lifting up the stylus once a target or group of targets has been selected, Shoko's mech fires off a round of missiles. The catch here is that Shoko's mech uses nodes, the same nodes that serve as her defense. While these regenerate over time, using them all to attack a foe can leave Shoko mighty vulnerable. In the normal and hard difficulties (not so much easy mode), it's paramount to strategically know when and when not to utilize all of your nodes for offense.

Hey, I think I see my destroyed house from here.
Additionally, you have the ability to strafe around targets via holding the left shoulder button. Since I have piano player's fingers (as I've been politely told), I didn't suffer anything in the way of cramps, but I'm sure one with larger fingers will have them cramp up occasionally while playing Liberation Maiden. However, the biggest problem with the game is its unfortunate control scheme. It's nothing horrible for right handed players, but for lefties, the game is nigh impossible to enjoy. Just be wary of that if you have an interest in Suda 51's latest.

From boats to tanks, there is an admirable 
amount of variety in the enemy design.
With Liberation Maiden only possessing five missions, the campaign is over quite quickly. Perhaps taking an hour or less to complete. However, there are a series of achievement-like challenges to accomplish that unlock artwork of the game. These tasks include things like completing normal and hard mode 10 times each, purifying a level 100%, taking out a specific number of enemies, and so forth. Thus, there is some replay value to be had.

Liberation Maiden is really technologically impressive for a downloadable 3DS title. While the models aren't the most stunning the 3DS has ever seen, there are a lot of polygons on screen at the same time. The most awesome thing about this is that there is minimal slowdown to be found. In addition to the beauty of the gameplay, Liberation Maiden's missions are bookended by gorgeous anime cutscenes. The audio in the way of well done voice overs and suitable-for-combat music (some of which is vocal, albeit in Japanese) also delights and brings even more pizzazz to the overall presentation.

An example of one of the Greater Spikes.
It is nice to see Suda 51 and his team at Grasshopper branch out with Liberation Maiden. While the game is far from perfect, Liberation Maiden is a technical marvel, fast-paced, and features a decent amount of replay value. I would have personally liked to have seen more in the way of missions to beef up the campaign's length and had the developers make considerations for lefties, but all-in-all Liberation Maiden is a welcome addition to the increasingly competent eShop on the Nintendo 3DS.

[SPC Says: 7.0/10]

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