It’s safe to say that exploration in the App Store can be a less-than-wonderful experience. Outside of the “featured” titles, finding those little gems sitting out there can be tough. Unless you read a review or get a tip from a friend, there’s far too many games you’ll miss.
But every now and then, Apple’s curators help you dig a little deeper, which is how I found Liberation Maiden tucked away in the “Arcade” games collection. Better yet, it was a shmup shooter that didn’t cost north of $5 to try, which is more than I can say for many shooters in the list.
After doing a little research, I found that Liberation Maiden is not a new game at all. It came to iOS back in the summer of 2013 but was first released as a 3DS game back in 2012. I guess it is hard to keep a good game down, and Liberation Maiden is just that – good. Not great but far from poor.
At first glance, Liberation Maiden looks like any given PS/PS2 game I played back in college…lots of polygons, some choppy action, tons of colors and a good helping of anime influence. To be honest, it was quite refreshing to see. Most action games these days seem to fall in that pixel-retro style or the ultra-smooth 3D treatment. I for one am happy to reach a point where the PS2-era games are now “retro”.
Liberation Maiden isn’t a 2D shooter like your standard shmup, it’s 3D but has a very rail shooter vibe to it, despite not being on rails at all. You control a girl in a flying robot suit that has the chore of liberating the world of giant alien spikes that are sucking all of the energy out of the planet. Sure…whatever…world in peril…great, lets get shooting.
Swipe and kill
By far the biggest differentiator in Liberation Maiden are the controls. Maiden doesn’t follow the typical dodge-n-shoot formula. Not unlike the remake of Yar’s Revenge on XBLA, you kill the baddies by chaining together your shots, and here that means swiping your finger through several enemies and releasing to unload a barrage of lasers and bombs.
The control scheme won’t click right away, it took me a bit to feel like I was doing anything more than just flying around in circles. The way it’s setup, you can hold the tablet (or phone) with your left hand, thumb on the direction controls. Then you use your right finger to point/swipe the screen. It sounds a little clunky (and it is) but it turns out to be a great mechanic. The action on the screen isn’t so fast that you can’t keep up, it’s a good balance.
Like any shmup, you can blow through the game relatively quickly…if your goal is just getting to the end. But as you would expect, Liberation Maiden is full of challenges and achievements that you can work to unlock. The rewards for achievements is not only Game Center awards but also photos and videos within the game. Overall, I think it’s kind of lame but at least there is a tangible reward for going back and reaching goals.
And lets not forget that the ultimate goal of any shooter is a high score, and Liberation Maiden is no different. What’s great is that the challenges help guide your understanding of secondary scoring techniques, like chaining and blowing up other targets and buildings. I’m on my second play through and I’m finding it more enjoyable…partly because I know really understand the controls but also because I know what it takes to be “good” at the game, rather than just blindly shooting everything in sight until I get to the end.
Liberation Maiden is a game I like. Sure, it could look better but it doesn’t make the game any less enjoyable. I’m just happy that someone took the effort to port the game over to iOS rather than it being stuck in time on the 3DS. Not to mention that playing Maiden on the smaller Nintendo screen would have been crazy difficult…but the 3D would have been pretty cool.