A title released recently for 3DS on eShop, Liberation Maiden is a combined effort from Suda51 (No More Heroes, Killer 7) and Level 5 (Professor Layton series) and is a surprise release for over here. Part of the four games released as Guild01, it's a sci-fi action shooter that players like a slightly more complicated version of Star Fox.
The game sees you playing as the young, female second President of New Japan (set about 100 years in the future) as she battles her way through enemies and the Spikes that litter the landscape.
The game plays fluidly, feeling akin to Star Fox Command, the Circle Pad is used to maneouver whilst holding the L-Trigger allows you to move without changing direction. To shoot, you aim with the touch screen, lock-on to foes, and release your touch to fire. Suda51's typical style of unusual game play is not present here, and the game feels a little like a standard shooter more then a serious effort. Similarly, the normally dark humor associated with Suda is absent. To players of other Suda51 games this will feel like either a welcome break or an unwelcome entry to the genre.
Level 5's influence, on the other hand, can be seen quite clearly. Lovingly animated cut-scenes play at the beginning an the end of the game's main story, and you'll find yourself wondering if Luke or Layton are going to pop up. Such is not the case however as the game's style tries to lean towards the Halo and Star Wars side of the fence. There's no swearing and no blood, which is something I find rather refreshing in this day and age. The voice acting is done well and is actually a credit to the game's atmosphere.
Unfortunately the game is not without it's flaws, there are only 5 stages in the whole game and each contains about a half an hour's game-play at most. Even if you go out of your way to destroy every available target, you won't find yourself clocking more then an hour of game-play per level. Similarly the missions are very narrow-minded; the only thing to do in this game is shoot more things. The variation comes in what it is you're shooting and how much of it is there is. The Boss fights range from fun to frustratingly annoying. You circle around the Boss and must avoid lasers, boulders and anything else the target launches to deter your efforts. It mixes up the action so you're shooting something on the same level, rather then beneath you on the ground.
The missiles that launch are another nuisance. You can take them out with relative ease but despite the opening cut-scene you can't outrun them and make them crash into stuff, taking some of the strategy away. Speaking of which, the game does have some element of strategy. The little objects floating around your craft are used for both offence and defence, firing them uses them up briefly but depletes your shield at the same time. Not an astoundingly brilliant feature but certainly one that makes things less monotonous.
Overall the game is a short, but fun-filled burst of action. You'll find yourself drawn in only for the action to be cut short as the game ends. But whilst it lasts you'll enjoy it. It's a polished gem that is probably doomed to fade into obscurity - which I hope isn't the case. I sincerely hope this game gets a polished sequel, say, for the Wii U.
Listening to: Boss Fight 1