Every so often the games industry throws up an auteur – a true artist whose games are not necessarily understood, let alone liked. Like foreign films though, these auteurs find small, committed fan bases of people who appreciate what they are trying to do, even if they occasionally miss the mark in terms of providing an entertaining game.
Goichi Suda is most definitely an auteur. At a time where the Japanese games industry is criticised of lacking creativity, Suda is out there pushing every boundary he could find. And now his development team at Grasshopper Manufacture have popped up and developed a game for the Nintendo 3DS. Liberation Maiden pushes far fewer creative boundaries than anyone who has played a No More Heroes game or Lollipop Chainsaw might expect, but it’s a breathtaking ride nonetheless.
Madame president is in command of a giant flying robot (yep, this game is made in Japan), and so the game largely plays out in the sky. Each level plays out around a similar theme; fly from area to area wiping out the masses of enemies that stand in your way, and in many ways this game feels like it wants to be a bullet-hell shooter but was stuck into an awkward camera angle to try and take advantage of that 3D screen. Suda is very familiar with the bullet hell genre, but you can tell his team struggled with making 3D work here. The camera is almost always pointing at an angle that looks down at the ground. This makes some sense since a lot of the enemies are land-based. It also makes looking around painfully difficult at time, and so visibility is never quite what it needs to be when it comes to the airborne threats for a game that can be punishing on the lowest difficulty level.
But like many Suda games, the actual gameplay is almost pointless to the experience. Liberation Maiden is a game of excessive energy and as a piece of pure entertainment, it’s hard to think of anything better currently on the 3DS.
– Matt S