Published on November 1st, 2012 | by Cliff Bakehorn III, Contributor0
Liberation Maiden Review
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Platform: Nintendo 3DS eShop
Release Date: October 25, 2012
Review Notes: A review code was provided for review purposes.
Liberation Maiden launched in the North American eShop last week. This Level-5/Grasshopper Manufacture collaboration is a fast-paced mech shooter with some of the flashiest graphics and best use of 3D to date, as far as downloadable titles go. As the first part of the “Guild01″ series, Maiden was developed by Suda51, the same guy responsible for stylish titles such as Killer 7, No More Heroes, and most recently, Lollipop Chainsaw.
Again, this eShop game boasts some of the flashiest visuals and greatest use of 3D to date for any downloadable title. With plenty of 3D, anime-style cut-scenes and full voice acting to boot, Liberation Maiden impresses with its stylish aesthetics and production values from start to finish.
It’s just too bad that the “start to finish” time–is so short. If there’s any kind of deal-breaker to consider, it’s the length of the story mode: it took me all of 77 minutes to complete the five levels on my first play-through, and while I unlocked all of them for play in “Stage Attack” mode, I was absolutely crushed when I realized the game was over.
To say that it would benefit from future DLC is an understatement; it’s such a great game that it absolutely deserves more stages & added replay value.
Back to Story Mode, here’s how it all works: you play as the President of New Japan, President Shoko. Your mission is to purify the land and drive away all of the overbearing technological forces that have infested the nation. To do this, the President flies above each area and attacks the numerous targets by locking-on to them and firing missiles.
There are plenty of air- and ground-based forces to attack, but also a lot of anti-air missiles to avoid and shoot down. In case she takes damage, Shoko will need to allow her shields to charge by ceasing the firing of missiles.
This is where it gets a little tricky: in Liberation Maiden, your shields and missiles share the same energy supply. Basically, firing an entire load of missiles depletes your energy shield, leaving you vulnerable to attack. The game quickly becomes a challenge of balancing your volleys and charging your shields, particularly when you run into combat with the “lesser spike” mini-bosses and the “greater spike” boss battles. Encounters with the tower-like lesser spikes requires you to expose a weak point by attacking different spots on the spike; meanwhile the “greater spikes” are a bit more varied and serve as the primary boss fights in the game. These confrontations test your skill with the missile/shield recovery mechanic, as well as your ability to evade attacks.
Each stage boils down to a process of hunting down these lesser spikes and blasting away the energy shields protecting the greater spike that serves as the major boss for each mission. The combat against the mini-bosses gets pretty repetitive, even before the end of this terribly short Story Mode – but the battles against the greater spikes are usually pretty interesting, and end with a satisfying attack called the “Sacrifice Drive”, where you must take the stylus and spin frantically in circles to “drill” into the core of each boss character.
As mentioned before, it might take longer to have a pizza delivered during Sunday Night Football than it takes to finish the Story Mode in Liberation Maiden, but it’s hard to call this issue a deal-breaker.
As you play through the game, you unlock each stage in “Stage Attack” mode, which lets you challenge your own high scores on each difficulty setting. It’s too bad that you can’t upload these to an online leaderboard, but it serves as a nice way to challenge yourself and play the game a bit more. There are unlockable “achievements” that reveal more of the background story & details about the characters. Again, it’s a shame that these details weren’t included into the game automatically, but unlocking them is nonetheless a decent way to extend the replay value.
Liberation Maiden was one of the most entertaining eShop games I’ve played through in 2012, but here’s the catch: recommending the download is pretty difficult, considering its price and lack of content.
I would be lying if I told you that it’s not worth playing the game, but seeing as the only way to do so is investing $7.99 for the full download, you really don’t have another option.
If you plan to check out the other two Guild01 games that are scheduled to launch by the end of the year, I would recommend purchasing Liberation Maiden and looking forward to the other installments. Also, if you enjoyed games like Zone of the Enders and Robotech I would recommend checking it out; it’s definitely a lot of fun to play…just such a shame that it all ends so soon.
+ Slick graphics, voice-over, and production values.
+ Tight and responsive controls, fast-paced action.
+ Stage Attack encourages speed-runs and high scores.
+ It’s an intriguing concept…
– …but it’s just not long enough.
– No online leaderboards or multiplayer modes.
– Almost demands future DLC just to expand on gameplay.