Grasshopper Manufacture is known for creating some of the most unique and off the wall video game experiences available today. Games such Shadows of the Damned and Lollipop Chainsaw proved that the studio’s head, Goichi Suda (better known as Suda51), is passionate about his vision for a game. So much so that it sometimes comes at the possible cost of alienating some potential gamers. Liberation Maiden is no exception to his “madness” and delivers one of the most unique experiences on the 3DS eShop.
Liberation Maiden was originally part of a compilation of games released in Japan under the title Guild01. In the game players assume the role of the president of New Japan Shoko Ozora. She’s not just your typical President however. Shoko is a teenage high school girl who becomes President only after her fathers assassination. (This is a Suda51 game of course) To liberate her country from an invasion Shoko pilots her mech, Kaihoki, and destruction and mayhem ensues.
The story is presented through gorgeous anime movies between missions and the 3D effect looks great! Trees and objects in the foreground really pop and some careful work went into making sure the scenes looked great. Helping Shoko along throughout each mission is a commander who is constantly popping up in the corner of the screen to fill you in on the details about the current battle. I couldn’t help but think of the original Star Fox as I played. His endless chiming in did seem to get a bit much after a while as it really broke up the in-game action.
Liberation Maiden is a third-person flight shooting game. Players control their mech with the circle pad and have the ability to strafe by holding the (L) button. Placing the stylus on the bottom screen shoots and aims the mechs weapons. Overall the games controls work but would be better suited with a dual analog setup. Shoko’s mech has multiple offensive abilities and each are balanced by the mech’s shields. Firing weapons actually lowers your shields for a brief moment so players must juggle their offensive and defensive actions in the game.
The game consists of five stages and it scores you based on how well you completed each mission. Your score is also based off of how well you chained together attacks and if you completed any of the side missions contained in the stage. Replayability is present for completionists who want to try and score the highest on each level. Players are given the opportunity to replay completed levels in the Stage Attack mode after completing them in the Story mode.
The game contains multiple enemy types each of which must defeated in certain ways. Some just require you to shoot directly at them to take them down. Others such as the games bosses require you to play defense and wait for them to open themselves up to attack. A lot of the boss battles boiled down to trial and error before I realized what I needed to do. After recognizing attack patterns I was able to efficiently take out enemies and progress through the game.
One of the major problems with the game comes directly from the foundation it’s built upon. As fun as it is to fly this mech around and blow things up, I can’t help but get lost in the mayhem and sometimes have no clue as to what is happening on screen. Some of the boss battles get very chaotic and managing what’s happening on screen and the 3DS’s controls just don’t sync sometimes. I must admit that I was turned off a bit from the game because of this even though I really wanted to be a part of the action. It seems like this game is almost striving to be more than what it is on the 3DS and that only takes away from the experience.
With that said, Liberation Maiden is only $7.99 on the eShop. Its gorgeous anime visuals coupled with its insane onscreen action makes it worthy of most 3DS owners. I will caution gamers to be sure they know what they are getting into when they purchase it. It is not Star Fox or even Kid Icarus: Uprising for that matter. This is something completely different and only for hardcore gamers at heart. Suda51 has delivered another memorable gaming experience and as always leaves us wondering just what in the world he’s going to create next.