Liberation Maiden is a futuristic shooter that is part of Level 5’s Guild series, which is made up of a number of downloadable 3DS games. The title has since been ported over to the Apple App Store were it presently retails for a bargain two pounds. Players take control of teenager Shoko Ozora who has been elected Japan’s president after the death of her father. I for one commend the Japanese on their democratic choices. Given the option, I’d gladly follow an Asian beauty with a nice posterior any day over corrupt politicians like the European Union’s Jose Manuel Barroso.
Forget balancing the national budget or improving public services. For her first order of business Shoko climbs atop a flying mech and sets off to defeat the invaders who have conquered Japan. I think Greenpeace would approve of her measures as destroying the enemy fortifications causes trees to randomly sprout up from underground. Yep this plot doesn’t make a lick of sense but that is to be expected, as the game is the brainchild of Goichi Suda (aka Suda 51.) His previous offerings include a third person brawler featuring a cheerleader who hacks away at zombies with a chainsaw. Nuff said.
Gameplay wise Liberation Maiden reminds me of Konami’s excellent Zone of the Enders. Levels consist of piloting your aerial Transformer reject through missions that involve sneaking past radar outposts, destroying enemy bases and sinking a fleet of hostile battleships (don’t worry it’s way more fun than the awful Rihanna movie.) Movement is achieved by swiping your finger over a virtual joystick. The iPad’s touchscreen controls are perfectively functional although I suspect that the 3DS original handles better, as a virtual controller can never replicate the tactile feel of an actual analogue stick.
In terms of offense Shoko’s bot comes complete with an energy-based weapon. Pressing the icon situated above the joystick allows you to toggle on “strafe mode” which is invaluable as it permits you to lock onto a target whilst at the same time sidestepping incoming enemy fire. Firing the laser is a doddle; just tap on a foe and your faithful robot will blast it. Don’t get too trigger happy though as discharging the main gun temporarily depletes the mecha’s plasma shield. No one wants to see Shoko get penetrated by a missile whenever she is not using protection. Um that sounded dirtier than I intended.
My final rating for Liberation Maiden is a three out of five. It’s a lot of fun to play and boasts some impressive production values for what is a relatively niche mobile download. The in-game graphics are sharp and complimented by anime quality cut scenes animated by Studio Bones (makers of cartoons such as Full Metal Alchemist.) The soundtrack sung by Marina Nakamura (whose vocal talents are featured in Angel Beats) is swell and I was impressed to hear that the game is voiced in English. Good job on the localization guys because to be honest I was expecting to make do with Japanese dialogue and translated subtitles.
I would have given the game a higher score were it not so short (as I once said when judging a dwarf beauty contest.) Liberation Maiden sadly ends too quickly with the story only being four levels long plus an additional fifth stage, which is just a fight against the final boss. When the end credits roll it feels like you have finished a demo rather than a complete game (a fact that is further compounded by its cliffhanger finale.) On the plus side there is some replay value to be had courtesy of unlockable content and different difficulty settings to challenge. Given the low asking price it is easy to forgive the title’s duration. President Shoko gets my vote.