Despite the gaming riches now available to me in this modern era, last week I spent a couple hours playing through the Sega Genesis version of Aladdin in its entirety and then for essentially no reason at all other than I felt funny in my brains, I popped in Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and played two cases in a row. Why do I do this shit? Well, first of all, it is no secret that I love small, short games. I even wrote a treatise to that effect, entitled, appropriately, "Gimme them smalls." And second of all, I am human garbage.

Anyway, as though the title of this article is not enough, let me tell you why I am Getting Behind Liberation Maiden, and I do not mean literally, because that is filthy. Here's your first hint: it's smalls, and it was gimmed to me. Here's your second hint: I am human garbage, Ha ha ha! No but actually the game is awesome, straight talk. I will tell you why you should buy it, even though there is nothing in it for me at all.

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The first thing that really got me grinnin' is the completely absurd yet totally awesome premise: your father, the president of "New Japan," has been assassinated by invaders, and so it is totally natural that you as his hot-blooded 18-year-old daughter with skintight plug-suit looking thing ascend to office, and decide that instead of playing it cool politically and trying to negotiate, you're going to hop aboard your experimental LIBERATOR MECH named Kamui, and just go totally fuck up all the bases these invaders have set up in Japan. Your advisers all call you Madame President, and you are like "aw yeah."

When it was first announced I kind of thought the game was going to be a shoot-'em-up, but it's really not like that at all. As I mentioned in my title, this game actually has way more in common with Rez than anything else. Essentially, you move freely with the circle pad or hold L to strafe in any direction. You use the touch screen to point at stuff with the cursor, and when you're over an enemy it locks. Once you let go your locked shots fire, which means it has that same sort of addictive Rez-like quality where you try to lock on to as much stuff as you can and keep shooting while also making sure to take out any missiles that might be headed your way. You actually fly just over the surface of Japan, destroying enemy sites that are on the ground, en route to larger encampments called "energy spikes" which are multi-tiered and are more difficult to take out. Each of the game's stages (you go from Tokyo to Osaka to Hokkaido and other real locations in Japan) finishes with a really big BOSS SPIKE that you circle-strafe around automatically and have to destroy in phases.

The "gimmick" of all this is that the shots you fire are directly tied to how much armor you've got, in the form of these little pods that surround you. Shoot a lot, constantly, and you'll be way more vulnerable to a stray hit. But space it out and if you take a shot it'll only chip away at your armor pods, which can be regenerated just from shooting more dudes. There's also a constant chain counter that encourages you to keep things going.

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Honestly, that is Pretty Much It. At one point you get a constantly-firing laser, which is badass, and also a screen-destroying BLADE SPEAR that charges up after you blow enough invader shit up.

Liberation Maiden draws some of its thematic inspiration from another critical darling, Okami. The structures that the invaders have constructed are poisoning the land and destroying them purifies the area by restoring it to "beautiful Japan." It's not hard to see this game as exactly what designer Suda51 suggested it was: a sort of statement about the ineffectual political policies and inaction that currently plague Japan and sap the youth of any real enthusiasm. In a way it seems cliched that we have yet another girl-in-giant-mech type thing going on here, but the scenario places it into a weird upper tier that I cannot help just falling dorkily in love with.

It's a simple game, and really short! I am talking like, thirty or forty minutes to run through it once on a single difficulty level. But it just feels fun to play. With a nice pair of headphones on the explosions from blowing up shit on the ground are booming and awesome. Somehow the game is also fully voice-acted, which is absolutely ridiculous. The 3D is immersive and great. There are a couple fully animated scenes from those guys BONES. The production values are pretty wild for such a compact little game. As you do different stuff you unlock squares which let you read more about the history and world of the setting, which I totally love.

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I could see how some people might balk at paying Oh No Eight Dollars for a game that takes under an hour to run through. And I won't even use the fact that there are three difficulties and an extra single-stage rush mode to justify it by saying "no it's longer if you 100% it!!" You know what, I like that it's short and delicious and takes its leave before it gets stale. I think it's worth eight bucks even just for a playthrough, because this is exactly what long-time gamers with fond memories of the PS1 era seem to often be clamoring for: a Japanese game, with a unique and awesome Japanese setting, a couple cool vocalized rock/J-Pop songs while you're blowing shit up, a pretty girl with long hair and a visor, a big old transforming mech with a special skill called Sacrifice Drive, some cool animation, satisfyingly crunchy gameplay, and a thick sheen of polish.