Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Level 5
Platform: 3DS eShop
Release Date: Out Now
ESRB: T for Teen
If thereâ€™s one thing that Grasshopper Manufacture is known for, itâ€™s games with crazy premises. Responsible for games such as Killer 7 and Lollipop Chainsaw, thereâ€™s good reason to expect the wildest. Surprisingly, Liberation Maiden serves up a more grounded premise. Rather than some insane, supernatural romp, Maiden is a shoot-â€™em-up where you pilot a robot suit and fight for your country. Despite the simple premise, Grasshopperâ€™s made a solid game, even if it doesnâ€™t quite feel like itâ€™s theirs.
Set 100 years in the future, the story concerns the rebellion of New Japan, led by President Shoko Ozora, against the world-conquering super nation Dominion. Piloting a state of the art mech, the Liberator â€œKamui,â€ Shoko sets off the free New Japan from Dominion by purifying the land and reclaiming their resources. Although moderately interesting, it's a simple premise and it doesnâ€™t develop much between missions. Unfortunately, it ends prematurely and leaves the plot hanging.
The gameplay is simple as far as the genre goes with little precision required in both shooting and movement. Basic movement is handled with the circle pad while the L button is used for strafing and can be configured to be toggled or held. The rest of the controls are left to the touch screen. Kamuiâ€™s basic missiles are fired by sweeping across targets to lock on, scratching to charge, and then releasing to fire. The laser weapon simply fires based on where you touch. Tapping an icon in the top right of the screen switches your weapon and an icon in the top left launches a bomb after chaining enough kills.
Whatâ€™s challenging is knowing when to attack and when to dodge. Kamuiâ€™s attacks use Deflector Nodes, which also comprise the suitâ€™s shield when inactive. This means that attacking for too long leaves you open to damage. Although the controls are technically solid, they arenâ€™t without issues. The biggest issue is that thereâ€™s no option to switch handedness. The touchscreen movements required arenâ€™t very precise, but left handed players should be aware that no concessions are made for them.
Itâ€™s worth noting that your liberation of Japan will probably take under two hours. The replayability comes from meeting the conditions to unlock gallery items, replaying again at higher difficulties, and score attacks of the stages. There is no online leaderboard for this mode, though, so youâ€™re left with trying to improve your personal best instead of competing with others.
Accompanying the fast paced action, Liberation Maidenâ€™s soundtrack delivers an impressive collection of songs that fit the thrill of combat. Itâ€™s disappointing that there isnâ€™t a sound test mode included with the unlockables. The voice acting in the game is also very well done, even though the cast is comprised of a couple of actors. Visually, the animated cutscenes are well done and the in-game graphics are solid, though lacking in detail. The 3D effect is also average. Terrain and key buildings popping up nicely, but most of the cities remain fairly flat and uninteresting.
Ultimately, Liberation Maiden fits how I feel about most of Grasshopper Manufactureâ€™s games: nothing special but definitely fun to play. Itâ€™s not a game that will last you long unless you love self-improvement, but itâ€™s a fun concept that is executed well and leaves you wanting more.
+ Fun and simple gameplay
+ Great soundtrack and voice acting
+ Involved multi-stage boss fights
- Anticlimactic ending
- Low replayability
- No left-handed control scheme
Overall Score: 7 (Out of 10)
It doesnâ€™t last long, but Liberation Maiden is still a lot of fun despite the tiny package.