Released in Japan as one quarter of Level-5’s Guild01 compilation and now on the European 3DS eShop, Suda 51’s Liberation Maiden has a fittingly eccentric narrative setup, sending the young, female president of a futuristic Japan out to do battle in a flying mech suit. What follows, however, is surprisingly restrained: it’s a relatively straightforward airborne thirdperson shooter that carries strong echoes of Q-Games’ Star Fox Command. Suda’s familiar brand of dark, knowing humour is conspicuous by its absence.
Each stage takes place high above a Japanese city, the objective being to ‘purify’ the environment by destroying a series of conduit spikes, which rise to the surface once the surrounding obstacles have been removed. Accomplish that and you’ll lower the barrier to a final, much larger spike that essentially represents that stage’s boss battle. The objectives vary only in terms of what needs destroying, with even optional sub-missions involving little more than locking onto a target with the stylus and releasing it to unleash a barrage of projectiles.
There are plenty headed in your direction, too. Missiles constantly buzz around angrily, and evasive manoeuvres do little to deter their persistence. Shooting removes your energy barrier, leaving you briefly exposed until you remove the stylus to recharge, and thus you have a choice of launching risky all-out offensives, or taking your time, dancing in and out of danger.
It’s a smart idea in an enjoyably brisk score-attack game that sadly feels a little undernourished thanks to the brevity of its campaign and its repetitive play rhythms. Much to admire, yet with plenty of room for improvement: perhaps Liberation Maiden isn’t such an atypical Suda game after all.