Maiden & Spell – Review
Follow Genre: Fighting game, bullet hell
Developer: mino_dev
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software
Platform: Switch, PC
Tested on: Switch

Maiden & Spell – Review

Site Score
Good: Unique genre-blending gameplay
Bad: Light on single player content
User Score
(2 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Indie developer mino_dev’s Maiden & Spell debuted in February of 2020 on Steam, but the game flew under the radar of the mainstream audience. Maiden & Spell’s recent release on Switch now gives the magical girl battler a second lease on life. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to engage in aerial fights with a cast of adorable but deadly maidens, then this might just be it. Is Maiden & Spell a magical experience or does it fail to enchant?


Although Maiden & Spell has a Story Mode, it doesn’t really offer an engaging narrative. Instead, the game’s Story Mode harkens back to old-school fighting games and is little more than a thinly disguised boss rush mode. The “story” isn’t anything to write home about, and the main draw in playing through it is to familiarize yourself with each of the different characters, and seeing the pre-fight dialogue. The interactions between the cast are well-written and infused with humor. They’re best experienced for yourself, so we won’t be spoiling them, but rest assured, each and every one of them is well worth your time.


We imagine the character art will be one of the main driving factors behind Maiden & Spell’s success. The illustrations embody the “ligne claire” but put an anime twist on this drawing style. This makes the illustrations seem deceptively simple in their elegance. It’s a bit of a shame that these designs lose some of their luster when they are chibified during the actual fights. The fights themselves, however, are no less elegant than the character drawings. Make no mistake: the battles between these girls are action-packed affairs, but the game strikes the right balance between on-screen carnage and minimalism, resulting in battles that are equally beautiful to look at as they are intense to actually play. The fact that the game doesn’t rely on flashy visual effects does wonders for the frame rate as well, and Maiden & Spell runs smooth as butter as a result, which can be critical for a game like this.


Maiden & Spell’s OST is the perfect companion for its art style. Battles are underlined by action-packed themes that aid in getting you invested in the action, and dialogues are accompanied by atmospheric tunes that drive home the humoristic nature of the scenes playing out. Sadly, there is no voice acting -something we really would’ve loved here- and sound effects are limited, but the music more than makes up for this.


With Maiden & Spell, developer mino_dev takes two genres that don’t seem compatible at first glance, namely fighting games and bullet hell shooters, and mashes them together. The result is a surprisingly engaging title, which mino_dev describes as a one-on-one magical girl aerial projectile battler. Players choose one of the game’s heroines to duke it out against other girls in one of the game’s modes. The game features eight distinct fighters, and although that number may seem a little on the low side, there is enough gameplay variety present to keep you occupied for quite some time. Each girl has her own unique move-set, and battles typically involve launching missile attacks at opponents from a floating sphere while dodging incoming fire from the girl you’re facing off against. Despite the seeming complexity of the battles, the game is surprisingly simple to get into. This accessibility is the direct result of the game’s dedication to sticking to the basics. There are no elaborate combos to memorize here, and the game also eschews typical fighting game moves such as blocking or grabbing your opponent. That’s not to say that Maiden & Spell is a mindless button masher either, as there is a delicate balance at play between swiftly moving around and dishing out damage. The game is a perfect example of a title that is easy to learn but hard to master.

You have a selection of moves at your disposal: precise attacks that have to be aimed directly at your opponent, spread attacks that are more difficult to avoid, and, of course, an offensive special and defensive special. Although each girl puts her own twist on these, the basic control scheme remains the same throughout the game, meaning that once everything clicks, you’ll be able to effortlessly take control of each fighter at a basic level, with the game’s story mode serving as a way to get familiar with each girl’s finer points. Despite utilising the same control scheme, the girls aren’t carbon copies of one another. Take the green-haired Dreadwyrm Heir and compare her to Lich of Flowers, for example: the latter feels like a more defensive fighter, and is able to soak up more damage before losing a heart, but the former zooms across the screen, dishing out massive damage and is somewhat of a glass cannon.

The game offers up different modes, including local and online multiplayer, and ensures replayability by rewarding you with concept art, meaning you actually have a reason to replay the story mode with each of the girls. The meat of the experience is in the multiplayer modes though. Whether you’re playing online or against an opponent locally, the unique fighting system that allows you to dodge attacks in mid-air and the broad accessibility make this game perfect for pick-up-and-play sessions, even against newcomers. Still, the game does feel light on content. It’s a title we can see ourselves returning to once and again, but this is a title that doesn’t really offer enough to justify paying its current full price if you’re only interested in its single-player experience.


With gorgeous art direction, engaging gameplay and a great soundtrack, Maiden & Spell seems poised for success, provided it finds its audience this time. The price of entry seems a little steep for the amount of single-player content you’re getting here, but let’s face it: the endgame here is multiplayer anyway. The unique blending of genres and high level of accessibility make for a fighting game that delivers a one-of-a-kind experience that has the potential to become a hit with those that are looking for the next game night staple.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
Maiden & Spell - Review, 7.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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