October 28, 2012

Review – Liberation Maiden

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 12:53 am

Review Liberation Maiden
Grasshopper’s dip into 3D shooters offers a crash course in Japanese politics – primarily that in times of peril the President will seek approval to defend New Japan by personally waging war in a flying armored mech.

Originally one of four games found in Level-5’s Japanese release, Guild01, Liberation Maiden is the first of three titles from that collection chosen by Level-5 to hit the North American eShop. Shoko Ozora takes to her Liberator, named Kamui, across five stages that players won’t be long for reaching the cliffhanger ending of.

As short as the ride proves to be, it’s difficult to complain about the quantity given the quality. A few precious seconds of Liberation Maiden offers more to digest than some larger digital releases, made shinier with animation sequences from Japanese studio Bones.

Frankly, Grasshopper offers a barrage of ideas here that hits my refresh rate like an Itano Circus.

Across five areas of Japan, invading forces heavily defend large conduit spikes drawing energy to shield inevitable boss encounters. The first four stages work with a repeating pattern of locating and destroying three of these conduits in order to confront the boss, with the final stage serving solely as an extended boss fight. Each of these spikes is defended by enemy ground forces and buildings as well as naval forces wherever water is available.

Players can lock-on to targets while moving around these spaces using the touchpad of the 3DS – stab and/or drag the stylus to lock-on to targets, with the Liberator firing when the stylus is removed from contact with the screen. The Liberator’s weapon system begs one to consider the consequences of an all out assault however.

Powered by recharging energy pellets that act as both offensive fire and defensive shielding, each shot fired temporally leaves players with one less to absorb incoming attacks – so getting trigger happy in the midst of chaotic battle is ill-advised.

Movement of the Liberator is handled by the circle pad for changing direction, and holding down the L-Button allows players to strafe. Each pocket battlefield encountered encouraged me to clutch the L-Button in order to dodge incoming attacks. And while this control design raises the finger crippling specter of Kid Icarus: Uprising, the short nature of stages and the overall game saw me survive with only mild pinky finger pains.

Whether wisely or not, I gladly suffered them, for while the controls do seem capable of reminding me of more ancient and awkward control schemes from gaming’s past, the on-screen effect was smooth and capable of dodging a great deal of the incoming threats – watch out for the constant streams of missiles between regular enemy fire that will chase you down like a hungry dog.

When boss encounters shift the perspective slightly and put an even greater emphasis on quick maneuvers to dodge projectiles while returning fire at an enemy’s core, the controls prove spot on capable for navigating the challenge. But, like I mentioned, a full play through of this short game still makes the digits ache some for the trip. When a boss is nearly defeated, players execute a suicide dive, drawing frantic circles on the touchscreen to cause the Liberator to spin and drill through the boss’ core in order to finish the fight.

The primary weapon allows players to lock on to several targets at once, or focus more fire at a single target by holding the stylus over the unit in question. Stabbing at the screen will almost always manage to fetch a target as well, since the game is never short on enemy forces. Chaining attacks via this weapon system is an additional challenge. Interestingly, destroying a conduit spike will return an area to its former naturally beauty while also destroying remaining forces in the area, and there’s a bit of a game within a game there as well that will add up to some larger chains.

At the start of the second stage, players are also offered the option to switch to another primary weapon on the fly by tapping the upper corner of the touchscreen, giving access to a laser beam that will fire until the player’s energy is depleted or the stylus is removed from contact with the screen.

In a pinch, players will also gain access to a regenerating attack option whereby tapping the sword icon when it appears causes the Liberator to draw said sword and issue a wider and more destructive attack that comes in handy for clearing out nests of enemies. Helping stages pass swiftly, conduit spikes will often be found by clearing out objectives issued by your chief of staff, with a helpful arrow often pointing players in the right direction.

Grasshopper takes the sound and simple design of the play and proceeds to lavish layers of details on the game that should find other developers taking notes. From the small aesthetic touches such as a squawking bird icon warning of incoming transmissions, messages from the general population expressing concern or approval while the war rages, to the consideration of the President’s approval rating as she fights this war, there are plenty of ideas here that leave the imagination open to possibilities for a larger game.

There’s room for disappointment on that note, because the short length of the campaign will leave many wanting more than the ability to challenge the unlocked stages when the ride is over. And yet, I hope few would prefer that Grasshopper had simply repeated the formula to double up the amount of stages in an attempt to pacify the probability of that complaint.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been left dreaming of a larger game expanding the play of ideas here, but there’s no question that compressing the content into a smaller release adds up to the first shooter on the eShop worth your attention, with production values that immensely raise the bar for others.

Let me just get it out there – weighing all the individual elements that weave together to form a final polished release, Liberation Maiden is one very sexy game.

Grasshopper Manufacture

Level-5 International America

Nintendo 3DS (3DSWare)


Release Date
October 25, 2012


*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review


  1. Got the game on Thursday. Great animated sequences, fun Sin and Punishment/Panzer Dragoon style gameplay. Wouldn’t mind a sequel.

    Comment by EdEN — October 28, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

  2. saw a trailer of this thanks to EdEN and i am suitably impressed.

    Comment by thewolfkin — October 28, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

  3. Hey Wolfy! Where ya been?

    Comment by Jamie Love — October 28, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

  4. not too good actually. I’ll be MIA for a little bit longer. I’m still kicking though.


    Comment by thewolfkin — October 28, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  5. Sorry to hear that. Definitely glad you’re still kicking though. Keep kicking.

    Comment by Jamie Love — October 28, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

  6.  thanks things went bad to worse so I’ll be MIA for a bit.

    Comment by thewolfkin — October 29, 2012 @ 8:53 am

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