After the initial cutscene and a tutorial that takes approximately half of the total game’s time to complete, players may feel as if they have no idea what is going on. In truth, it isn’t until destroying the first greater spike that even a general idea of what you’ve been shooting at starts to sink in. What is immediately apparent is that players take the role of Shoko Azora, a high school student who after her father’s assassination saw his position as President of New Japan thrust upon her. Fortunately, we here at Gaming Illustrated only rate for realism when judging graphics.
The President’s current mission is to take back New Japan from invaders of unknown origin who are draining the country’s energy. While your enemies have battleships and missile launch platforms, neither come close to standing up to Kamui, the President’s Liberator, which is basically a mech on steroids. If this description didn’t send the message clearly enough: This game is fun. However, the major drawback that likely carries over from its origin as a compilation piece is that it is extremely short. A playthrough on Easy can take players as little as 1.5 hours.
GameplayEven after flying through Story Mode though, players can master each stage individually in Stage Mode or move up and take on a higher difficulty. Stage Mode is truly a lifesaver if you want to share the game with a friend as this title could be improved with the option of multiple saves, though you can compete with friends via Gamecenter. Across all modes the controls are universal: the popular two thumb system with various icons to change guns and alter movement. What’s really ingenious is the trigger to alternate movement between standard forward/backward and turn to forward/backward and strafe. This tool allows for quick switches between traveling across the map and entering into an intense dogfight; definitely something a few other shooters could stand to utilize.
GraphicsWhile the graphics in the actual gameplay are nothing to scoff at, the real treat lies in the scarce cutscenes: only one at the very beginning of Story Mode and one at the end. Hardcore enamel fans will immediately recognize the are stile of Bones, the studio behind Wolf’s Rain, Eureka Seven and Fullmetal Alchemist. Even considering as short as the cutscenes are, fans of the studio will want to pick up this title which also includes a gallery which has more and more screenshots unlocked the more you play.
Like the cutscenes, the soundtrack is short which makes sense considering the length of the game. Nevertheless, the game’s theme, Day of Liberation by Marina, is upbeat and won’t wear on you by the end of Story Mode. The sound effects are also well done: Enough to be heard, but not too much as to break you out of “the zone.”
Liberation Maiden isn’t a bad game. If Story Mode was ten stages long and there was a multiplayer option it’d be fantastic. Nevertheless, priced at $5.99 consumers should expect a little more bang for their buck. If you have a 3DS import the compilation from Japan; if the other titles are half as good as this one (it includes a contribution by Yasumi Matsuno, the designer behind Final Fantasy XII) it’s a worthwhile investment.
A copy of this game was provided to Gaming Illustrated for the purpose of this review.