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Mini-Reviews: Liberation Maiden & Fallblox

19:2413/01/2013Posted by Charles Etheridge-NunnNo Comments

In the latest of our mini-reviews, we take a look at Liberation Maiden (from the mind of cult-favourite Suda 51) and Fallblox – fiendish follow-up
to 2012 Pullblox, both of which are available now from the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

Read on to find out how they stack up…

Liberation Maiden (Nintendo 3DS, £7.19, eShop)

Liberation Maiden is the latest Suda 51 concept, so that’s probably got a lot of you drooling. Then you hear that it features the teenage girl president of New-Japan fighting an army in the ruins of old Japan in a mech? Yeah, that’s a buy, right there. The animations at the start are slick and like any good anime. The idea’s crazy enough to be awesome, but after that… it falls down.

The enemies are not as weird, as… well… Suda 51’s usual enemies, or as berserk as the concept was. They’re normally small vehicles and big screw-like robots. There’s nothing really defined about them, and aside from the elevator pitch opening, there’s nothing more to the story.

The game itself controls in an interesting way. You control an airborne mech on the top screen, flying over the islands of Old Japan with the Circle Pad, holding the L button down to strafe. You then use the touch screen to ‘paint’ over enemies with the top screen’s reticule. You release and missiles launch out. If you destroy any buildings in the process, grass and plants appear instead. The President flies from island to island, taking down smaller enemies until she can de-shield and kill the level’s boss. There are a few little side-missions which can be entered while you go, and only a few levels. It’s a compulsive little game for a while, but the charm wears off due to repetition. In addition, there’s no ‘left-handed’ mode, which makes things harder for southpaws.

If you’re a Suda-51 enthusiast or if it’s on sale, then it’ll be worth it, but other than that, it’s a tiny distraction that provides a little entertainment, closer to an app game than something you’d play on a proper console, even a handheld one.

Fallblox (aka Crashmo) (Nintendo 3DS, £7.19, eShop)

Pullblox (aka Pushmo) was a platforming puzzle game with the simple premise of pulling blocks out from a picture to make steps going up to a goal at the top of the level. It was the first 3DSware game to use the 3D in an effective way, had user-made content which was accessible through QR codes and the camera. Out of the initial run of 3DSware games, it was easily the best. Now it has a sequel with Fallblox, something which takes the original formula and makes it new again with some simple tweaks.

This time, Malo the fat sumo, has stomped along to impress his wizened old mentor’s daughter and scared away her hot air balloon made of birds. Yes, this is a thing. Malo proved he wasn’t to be trusted looking after children in the first one, and now it’s the same with birds. Each of them has perched on top of a puzzle and he has to reach them.

To solve each of 100 pre-made puzzles and any number of downloaded ones, Malo must pull and push blocks to reach the pesky birds. So far, so similar, but this time Malo’s friend and enemy is gravity. Oh gravity, my old nemesis. In the first game every block could slide out three spaces to make your steps to the goal. Now you’re in three dimensions, able to rotate the camera around the puzzle, and every block you slide out of place drops onto the next ledge, or onto the floor, ruining everything. This makes puzzles harder, but more interesting. You can mess up your puzzle easier than you could in Pullblox, you can pace around the puzzle, flipping the perspective around, pushing, pulling until you get your desired result.

Much like Portal or Professor Layton, there’s a real sense of success, of beating the damn puzzle, even if it took you twenty goes to hit that success. The game rightfully holds your hand for the first ten puzzles while you figure out how the physics work. Then you’re on your own until it adds another mechanic and another. Cloud blocks stay in place rather than fall, hatches and doors allow you to move from block to block. Each time a new mechanic is introduced, you can add it to your own user-made puzzles. As well as scanning QR codes with the camera, Fallblox allows you to find them with the 3DS’ browser.

I was surprised there would be a sequel to Pullblox, given the versatility of the game, but this one manages to be just as fun and different enough to be equally worthy of a purchase. I still play Pullblox a year after release and expect to do the same with Fallblox too.

D+PAD reviewed Fallblox and Liberation Maiden on the Nintendo 3DS. Games purchased by D+PAD.

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