Liberation Maiden Review

Liberation Maiden is a striking action-packed shoot-'em-up that's up there with the best in the genre.

by

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In New Japan, being president isn't all diplomatic lunches, trade meetings, and the odd cigar-based mishap; for Shoko, it's a far greater challenge. The fate of the world rests on her shoulders and those of her sleek, hyper-fast, fully loaded mech. And together, they're out to save the planet, one action-packed shootout at a time. But knowing that certainly isn't a requisite for getting the most out of Liberation Maiden, even if it's told via some striking anime. Nor does it matter that her enemies--hulking Conduit Spikes that dwarf her tiny mech--are tearing the planet apart from the inside out. No, what really matters is the action. And, boy, does Liberation Maiden have some of the best and most exciting action on the 3DS.

This is classic bullet-hell shooting, done with an attention to detail and finesse that make it a joy to play from start to finish. And it's done without totally relying on classic shoot-'em-up tropes either. For starters, you're not on rails; the third-person viewpoint and tight controls allow you to explore each of the game's levels with ease. The circle pad controls your movement, holding down the left trigger allows you to strafe, and poking the touch screen with the stylus targets enemies and unleashes attacks.

It's a simple setup that works brilliantly throughout each of the game's five stages--particularly as those stages are so well designed to begin with. Small islands covered with skyscrapers and concrete buildings float in a large expanse of blue water, encouraging you to fly between them and explore. There's not much to see, however, except for a lot of things to blow up. Each island is filled with all manner of enemies. Some fire easily dodged lasers at you. Others fire streams of pink energy blobs that require deft reflexes to escape. And there are those--like submarines and warships--that fire homing missiles at you, filling the screen with dozens of tiny rockets all intent on blowing you to smithereens.

It's in those moments, when everything turns into absolute chaos, that Liberation Maiden comes into its own. Your mech is armed with a regenerating energy beam and shield, and the two are intrinsically linked. Each of your shots depletes one bar from your shield, and if you get hit, you lose a shot. It's this mechanic that forces you to think about each and every action as you fight. You can target enemies easily by swiping around the touch screen and unleashing gloriously colourful laser attacks, but do so too much, and you leave yourself open to attack. This system results in some frantic and wholly compelling action as you dodge and fire and studiously analyse all of your movements.

And there are other things to consider too. High-score chasers will want to link together as many shots as possible for chain combos that increase the score multiplier. These combos also add more shots and shield bars to your arsenal, which gives you more opportunities to strike and defend. If you want to generate the biggest bang possible, holding down the stylus on the touch screen charges up your weapon, allowing you to unleash huge energy bolts that tear through the opposition in one shot, albeit at the cost of your shields.

There's a structure to the destruction, though, with missions being relayed to you via radio commands from headquarters. Most of the time you're asked to chase down Conduit Spikes. Lesser Spikes are found on certain islands in each level and are usually surrounded by masses of heavily armed enemies. They're not easy to beat, thanks to multiple weak points that all need to be destroyed, but the challenge is a welcome one. Strafing around them, avoiding enemy fire, launching shots of your own, and figuring out what to target first--the surrounding enemies or the Spike--is wonderfully compelling, and a testament to how tightly integrated the controls and level design are.

There are smaller side missions to take on too, such as having to blow up a set of bridges within 30 seconds or hunt around for a secret enemy weapon. But the biggest challenge comes from the Greater Spikes, the boss battles of the game. There the viewpoint changes, and your movements are limited to strafing around the Spike and dodging up and down. Each boss has a different attack to avoid: one throws rocks and other debris your way, another fires lasers, and the meanest of the lot throws up shields, unleashes a giant robot, and burns through the environment with huge energy beams that tear through your tiny mech with ease.

The bosses are certainly a challenge, and you might not make it past them on the first go, particularly if you're too gung ho and don't analyse their attack patterns. But they are a lot of fun, and a satisfying conclusion to each level. It's a shame, then, that there are only five levels to play through, and you can easily whizz through them in one very enjoyable sitting. Of course, you can go back and reply each stage for high-score bragging rights via the Stage Attack mode, but without online leaderboards, the victory is a hollow one.

Still, Liberation Maiden isn't a full-priced release either, and its thoroughly entertaining content makes its Nintendo eShop download price a bargain--this is easily one of the best downloadable games for the 3DS. While it's certainly a tad short, in every other respect Liberation Maiden feels like a premium game thanks to its sharp, colourful visuals and its supremely compelling gameplay.

'
The Good
Precise controls make it easy to lay waste to multiple enemies
Game mechanics that encourage you to think, as well as shoot
Sharp, colourful visuals
Fun and challenging boss battles
The Bad
Over all too quickly
8.5
Great
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Caseytappy
Caseytappy

Nice game but how is this classic bullet hell shooting?


Rod90
Rod90

Long live SUDA 51.

beny_pimpster
beny_pimpster

nintendo please please put it at nintendo club rewards

hitman047m4
hitman047m4

Got the game a couple days ago, and I love it.

 

The only negative aspect I found on it was that it was extremely short game, and kind of left me wanting more.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

Was owed money and chose to have it repaid with a deposit on my 3DS. Just watch video on the eShop, downloading now.....

beny_pimpster
beny_pimpster

im happy 3ds has got some nice e-shop support from 3rd party companies

TRAVISTOUCHD0WN
TRAVISTOUCHD0WN

best game i have played on the 3ds since ocarina and mkz and it was only 8$ a shame you got all of these titles coming out for 40$ and are not even as half as good as this game ... great job SUDA 51

Zacek
Zacek

Does anybody knows who sings in the trailer?

Business_Fun
Business_Fun

Interesting. I've been playing LM for a little while now and having a blast but I'm not sure I would rate it quite so highly. It looks nice, has a great soundtrack and shooting the f*ck out of things is great fun, but the experience is over in a flash (as the review notes) and hamstrung by a lack of variety (which I suppose might turn its brevity into more of a positive attribute :))

Still, always good to see more of Suda51's work out there and here's hoping there's more to come.

Zen_Light
Zen_Light

It's only $7.99, so complaints about it being too short are invalid.

 

I'm guessing it will get a full retailed sequel in the future if this sells well enough.

j04353
j04353

Wait so how much will it cost?

ryogapower
ryogapower

a ridiculously high score. if it was on vita he would have given it 4.0.

prismtech
prismtech

is it strike witches? xx i am confused

Wensea10
Wensea10

I like the review here; though its hecka actiony I really do not know if I will purchase this yet.

Mushushu
Mushushu

Love shmups!  Getting this ASAP.

Jadedfever
Jadedfever

Yes this is a very good review,all most everything in this Review is truth.

pcty
pcty

Looks interesting I wish I had a 3ds

Gxgear
Gxgear

Definitely not a classic bullet hell shooter. Know why I know? Because Gamespot finished it.

Angry3DSNerd
Angry3DSNerd

Wow! Gamespot gave the best score for this game according metascore O__0 I dont believe it!

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

It does look fun but considering how short it is I really would prefer to wait for the inevitable discount price.

ggregd
ggregd

 @j04353 £7.19 in the UK, I'm guessing $10 in the US, where it's out today (10/25)  I might get it.

Ka3DX
Ka3DX

 @Gxgear The classics are pretty fucking intense.

ggregd
ggregd

 @kavadias1981 It's an e-shop download, from my experience they don't often drop the price on those.

TRAVISTOUCHD0WN
TRAVISTOUCHD0WN

 @HonorOfGod fanboy? i was saying that suda 51 makes some great unique japanese games that always do great in the usa so honor of god honor SUDA 51

Sahle123
Sahle123

 @Gelugon_baat  @Zen_Light Gelugon_baat, I see you on nearly every page where you may leave a comment. You're going to make a lot of enemies if you're constantly correcting people and/or berating them for their flawed logic. Nobody likes a Smart Alec.

Ka3DX
Ka3DX

 @Gelugon_baat  @Angry3DSNerd Can I ask, why do you do it. Even if you might be right sometimes, replying and trying to bring down ever single comment disagreeing with a review (and this one was more disbelief than disagreement) isn't going to change anyones views on how shoddy or misinformed some reviews can be. I might be a hypocrite by asking, but honestly seeing your stupid little display pic on every single review I look at here (don't take that offensively) is just messing with my head

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

 @ggregd Have they not been doing that in the American eShop? They do it now and again in the UK one. It was 25% off the price of Potzol's Puzzles last week (which is why I bought it. It's a very good game). 

Ka3DX
Ka3DX

 @Gelugon_baat Last I checked, they were reviews, not opinion pieces/articles. A fair review should take into consideration a lot more than just the writers opinion.

Ka3DX
Ka3DX

 @Gelugon_baat Well that problem arises because I refuse to believe there are actually people sad enough to white knight every single negative comment on a website. You're just wasting your time though, I mean if you really believe that gamespot reviewers are allowed to think what they like, so should the people who comment on their reviews.

Ka3DX
Ka3DX

 @i_noseworthy Well, he's suggesting Gelugon_baat is sucking up to gamespot by defending themon every single review anyone has ever read, ever.

polterdice
polterdice

 @i_noseworthy I believe Ugly_Geezer was referring to Gelugon_baat's propensity to defend every Gamespot reviewer from critical comments.

 

While this particular reply may not be the best example, I agree with Ugly_Geezer that Gelugon_baat often posts for seemingly sycophantic purposes.

Epictacosam
Epictacosam

@Gelugon_baat @Ugly_Geezer man you are everywhere

i_noseworthy
i_noseworthy

Ummm... what's sycophantic about this reply?

 

Answer: Nothing.

 

Methinks you should pull out a dictionary before attempting to use big words...

 

Back to the topic... game looks great! Another small reason I would like to own a 3DS!

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

 @kavadias1981  @ggregd 

I'm hoping the Nintendo Network premium we're getting with the Wii U Deluxe bundle works for 3DS eShop titles also :D

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

 @ggregd Oh. Yes, that's true. I would appreciate it if discounts were more frequent though; as they are on the PS store.

ggregd
ggregd

 @kavadias1981 Sorry, yes, they do have occasional sale prices here.  I just meant you don't see the predictable drops in price like you do with full priced boxed releases.

Liberation Maiden More Info

  • Released
    • 3DS
    • iPhone/iPod
    Liberation Maiden is a full-scale 3D sci-fi shooter created by critically acclaimed developer Goichi Suda.
    7.7
    Average User RatingOut of 30 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Liberation Maiden
    Developed by:
    Grasshopper Manufacture
    Published by:
    Level 5
    Genres:
    2D, Action, Shooter
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Suggestive Themes, Violence