By Jeff Neuenschwander / November 2nd, 2012
|Title: Liberation Maiden
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Console: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: May 31,2012 (JP);
Oct. 4, 2012 (EU); Oct. 25, 2012 (NA)
Rating: T for Teen
Suda51 is by far one of the most bizarre creators in the video game industry today. In recent years, he has shown us an otaku’s perspective in a city of assassins, a cheerleader in a zombie killing family who must save her school, and a demon hunter who travels to Hell to save his girlfriend. Now, he takes us to New Japan, where Shoko Ōzora, a high school girl who became President after her father’s assassination, leads the fight to free her country in her mech, named Kaihoki Kamui (translation: Liberation Maiden).
Bizarre? Yes. But we love him for it.
Liberation Maiden is part of the Guild01 compilation of games developed by different creators and published by Level-5. Originally released in physical form in Japan, three of the four games have been announced for localization in the West through the Nintendo eShop. The simulation Aero Porter and the adventure RPG Crimson Shroud are to release before the year is out. But for now, we have the Suda51 shooter.
So, is it worth the hype that’s been following it? Perhaps. We won’t fully know until the other two are released but Liberation Maiden does show the compilation’s potential.
Let’s start where the game starts: an animated cut-scene. These scenes, animated by Studio BONES, sort of act as the bookends of the game, introducing Shoko in the beginning and showing her final victory in the end. There were only two of them but they were a delight to watch.
Speaking of which, the graphics were well done in this game. The scenery was beautiful and the 3D effect looked pretty good. However, I must say that I had some physical issues (in that it gave me a headache). If this is the case for you, don’t be afraid to turn the 3D effect off. The game looks fine without it.
Gameplay is impressive, though a bit difficult to master (particularly if you’re left-handed like me). You use the circle pad to move and hold the L button to move left to right. Everything else is done on the touch screen (locking onto enemies, switching weapons, finishing move, etc.).
However, they designed it in a way where you don’t have to take your eyes off the top screen. When you touch the bottom screen, a reticule shows up on the top, allowing you to look at where you are targeting. And all of your weapons are in convenient spots on the touch screen so you can easily flip/use without having to look down.
The music for this game is pretty much J-Pop. Nothing wrong with it; it’s just a point of fact. And given the setting and design of the game, it is rather appropriate, as well as well done.
One minor point, one major. Also, an ending spoiler below is marked.
The game has an achievement gallery where you can unlock certain things like information on enemies, in-game history, and the animated scenes. However, it seems like a lot of them went by real quick. I played through the game three times and I have four out of 30 achievements left to open: play for four hours (which will happen on my next play-through), destroy 50 supply trains (which will happen soon enough), and beat the game 10 times each on Normal and Hard modes. For an achievement board that requires you to play at least 20 times to complete, there are a large number of them that are very easy to get. Perhaps if they had either added a few more difficult to achieve ones or spaced out the achievements so you couldn’t get them in mass so easily on your first play-through, it would have been a worthwhile endeavor.
*Spoiler alert- if you don’t want to read the ‘ending’ spoiler, skip the next two paragraphs:
The major problem I have is quite puzzling. The final boss is a monster that feels like a continuation of Stage 4, the final level where you face off against the enemy country. However, after the battle is over, it shows an animated scene where the enemy appears, forcing Shoko to run. However, before she leaves the area, she turns around and decides to face the enemy one last time to not allow them to ruin her country again.
And then it ends.
I have played through the game a number of times, seen a number of Let’s Plays on places like YouTube, and looked at other gaming websites to find out if it is possible to fight the enemy country once more. So far, I have found nothing that says you can, even after a perfect run on Hard, which is a shame.
You can argue that Suda likes to inject his feelings about certain subjects into his games. In the No More Heroes games, you could say that he addressed the state of the games industry at two different points in time. In Lollipop Chainsaw, you could talk about objectification. In Liberation Maiden, I’d say it’s talking of purposely leaving things open for sequels, even if they don’t happen (which is something you can say for more than just video games).
I do like this game and feel that one last battle with the enemy would be sweet. So, if that is possible, let me know.
Ending aside, Liberation Maiden is a well done game. The experience is short lived but you can say that for a number of games on the eShop (VVVVVV, anyone?). The production value is top notch and gameplay is well designed. It deserves a spot on your 3DS.
Liberation Maiden was developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by Level-5. It is available now in the eShop.
The review copy of Liberation Maiden was purchased by reviewer.
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