The Average Gamer

Liberation Maiden Review (3DS)

Imagine you lived in a world where opposing countries used giant mecha structures to steal energy in an act of dual insanity and warmongering. Now imagine that your president, a teenage girl recently elected to the position, decided to deal with the threat personally using a specialist battlesuit equipped with all the weaponry you could ever need.

This is the premise of Grasshopper Manufacture and Level-5’s latest addition to the Nintendo eShop. With a long history of games behind them including several Gundam games Level-5 certainly knows how to pull off a Mecha based title but throw in the eccentricity of Suda51 and it could be a recipe for genius.

To start with Liberation Maiden is entrancingly beautiful. From the introductory cutscenes to the menu artwork itself, the game is slathered with anime panache. The animated scenes themselves come from the hands of anime veteran studio BONES. With titles such as Full Metal Alchemist and Wolfs Rain to their name, the quality of art speaks for itself.

Surprisingly for an eShop title Liberation Maiden is fully voiced, albeit with rather cheesy American voices. Even the playable sections are impressive to behold. The battlesuit you control is detailed and full of life, evolving and changing as you equip and use new weaponry. The environments you fly through vary from level to level and you’ll traverse through everything from open expanses of oceans with naval bases scattered around to closed-in mountains with hidden enemies during the story mode.

Each stage has one main objective. Find and take out the enemy conduits – giant structures designed/created/dreamt up in hell – which have invaded in an attempt to drain the energy from neo-Japan. To do so you’ll need to hunt down other, lesser Conduits in order to take down the Greater Conduit’s shields. You’ll also complete sub-objectives to earn more points, all the while fighting off a seemingly endless army of offensive mechs, rocket ships and more.

It’s an idea that makes me wonder how super powerful future Japan even let itself get into such a bad position in the first place. I suppose that doesn’t matter. What does matter is cutting down hordes of enemies with style.

At your disposal you have, at a basic level, lock-on lasers activated by running the stylus over enemies and a flipping big laser sword that you can fire at enemies for a bigger blast. The more enemies you kill with the locked on attacks the more laser beams you can fire at once. Your badass fighting suit is equipped with shields to prevent incoming attacks however, firing weaponry also uses energy from your shields. Go to crazy with attacks and you will leave yourself open to losing health. This mechanic adds a deeper level of tactical need to the otherwise all out arcade shooter that is Liberation Maiden.

One of the few complaints I have is the length of the campaign. With me scoring only 45 minutes on my first playthrough it certainly isn’t one to be digging into for weeks to come. That is, unless you’re an unlockable obsessionist like me, Liberation Maiden comes with a big list of art unlocks to earn by completing set challenges such as defeating all enemies in a level for that 100% purification award. The three difficulty levels to run through should keep anyone satisfied for a while.

Of course being a 3DS title, it would be rude not to talk about the 3D. For once I actually enjoyed playing a game in 3D. Your mech looks cooler, your enemies look cooler and the short playtime actually means less headaches. A win-win situation in my eyes.

At £7.19 Liberation Maiden could be seen as a little pricey for what is a few hours worth of playtime but the amount of love poured into this title makes it impossible not to recommend. From BONES’ anime stylings to Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka’s wonderful music there is enough here to keep you all entertained.

Throw in an beautiful story that boils down to the fighting back of nature against industrial corruption and it’s well worth letting yourself sink into the world of Liberation Maiden. Step into Ozaka’s shoes, equip your fight suit and take the fight to the skies.

Liberation Maiden is out now on the Nintendo eShop.

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