Seller: Level-5, Inc.
Requirements: iOS 5.0 or later
Compatibility: iPhone 3GS/4/4S/5, iPod touch (3rd through 5th generation) and iPad
File Size: 173MB
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Age Rating: Rated 9+ for infrequent/mild cartoon or fantasy violence, infrequent/mild mature/suggestive themes
Shoko Ozora has just been elected President of New Japan. She’s in high school. She has great hair and tight pants. Her father, the previous president, has been assassinated. Her country has been taken over by “fierce invaders with advanced weaponry.” Her first duty as President (like, the moment after she’s elected) is to head out alone in this kind of robot flight suit thing to single-handedly repel the invasion.
It all somehow makes more sense than the current state of U.S. politics.
Liberation Maiden is a new shooter from publisher Level-5 and famed developer Suda 51 at Grasshopper Manufacture. It’s new to iOS, anyway, as the game was originally released for Nintendo 3DS in October of 2012. The drop from 3D to 2D didn’t scare me, but when games get ported from consoles or handhelds to a touchscreen device, a lot can get lost. Thankfully, the developers created a pretty slick system for controlling Shoko and Kamui (the “liberator” she pilots), making for an intense but brief gaming experience.
Not quite a “bullet-hell” game, Liberation Maiden requires constant movement and some strategy to stay alive. Flight control is handled with a virtual control stick on the bottom left, which surprisingly responsive. Flight can be disorienting at times, but you’re given the option to lock onto a target and strafe around it, which helps during the larger boss battles. The only problem there is that the button to engage strafing is quite small and easily missed.
You can flip between the weapons you acquire by tapping them on the right, but firing is handled by tapping directly on the object you want to hit. This is great for accuracy, but there are so many targets scattered about that you’ll constantly be shifting how you hold the iDevice in order to hit your targets quickly. As a result, I couldn’t figure out on which device I wanted to play it. The iPhone provided greater thumb range, but the targets were tiny. The targets are larger on the iPad, but harder to reach. Thankfully, as a universal app, you can buy it once and figure that out on your own.
The levels themselves all feel pretty much the same, despite some variations in landscape. You destroy the ground forces around these energy spikes so you’re clear to destroy the spikes themselves, which then creates access to greater conduit spikes that are your main target. The ground targets change, as do the defenses of the greater spikes, so you’ll need to adapt your strategies.
Unfortunately, the levels don’t last that long, and there aren’t a lot of them. You can finish the entire game in well under an hour. There are achievements to reach and leaderboard positions to obtain, but most gamers will be left wondering whether $4.99 was worth such a short game.
I say it is, as the experience of playing Liberation Maiden is wildly entertaining while it lasts. Grasshopper Manufacture packs outstanding graphics, excellent gameplay, high-quality animation and great music into Liberation Maiden, making it a game you’ll want to play through multiple times and hand over to friends. Consider your $5.00 payment their reward for giving us Liberation Maiden (and for not forcing ridiculous in-app purchases on us), and incentive for Grasshopper and Level-5 to continue embracing iOS gaming.