Maximo: Ghosts to Glory
We've blabbed about how Maximo is old-school this and classic that, but greenhorn gamers may wonder what the hoopla's about. So for all you PlayStation-generation whippersnappers, let's count the ways this game shows its old-school roots. Veterans can sit back and nod sagely....
Maximo keeps you on your toes: Like the best old-timey side-scrollers, every enemy, platform and power-up here is placed to keep you thinkin' and movin'. Only a well-timed double jump'll get you to that ledge in the distance, but you better kill the zombie up there first. Fun? You betcha. But that also means...
Maximo is tough: Sudden-death pits abound in later levels, and you will utter salty language. Especially because...
There ain't no free rides in Maximo: Unlike modern games that let you save every 10 footsteps, Maximo makes you earn your continues (by nabbing spirits) and game saves (by spending money). Want unlimited continues? Then you'll have to work for them. But it's worth it 'cause...
Maximo's a big game: You get five hub worlds with five stages each--and plenty of secrets. Still, it all comes down to one move...
Maximo can do a double jump: 'Nuff said.
It's the unofficial sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins. It's resurrecting classic gameplay in 3D. Its characters were designed by a famous Japanese artist. Blah, blah, blah--all that's nice. But the only thing you really need to know about Maximo is it's one helluva fun game. Enemies gang up and--smash!--you shatter three at once with a spin attack. Jump, double jump and--whew!--you barely stick your landing on a chip of rock above a toxic bog. Bosses thrice your size-gulp!--snatch a few lives before you figure 'em out. No huge go-anywhere worlds or collect-'em-up crap here; Maximo just dishes out a good of time. And the slick power-up system (see below) takes the old-school fun a step further, giving you loads of tinkering opportunities. Some abilities build on others for added technique, which--along with enemies that have specific weaknesses--makes for combat that doesn't become ho-hum after the umpteenth fight. And the game's undead world comes alive with sharp visuals, funny animation and tunes that harken back to the good ol' G'nG music. Things do drag a bit in the middle, with a series of swamp levels that seem a tad too similar. I wish camera control was tighter, too: Swinging the view behind Maximo requires that you bring him to halt--the last thing you wanna do with goons in pursuit. But these gripes won't deter you from slashing through the 29 levels--then playing it all again to open that secret stage....
I like the name Maximo, but I think a more appropriate title for this game would be Polished. There's just no other word for it. Gameplay? Polished to a shine. A killer set of moves, truly unique and valuable power-ups, awesome use of offense and defense for combat, and laser-precision controls that leave only yourself to blame. (Not to mention the best continue and save system I've seen in a long time). Level Design? Buffed 'til it gleams. Intricately designed stages, with meticulously placed secrets, enemies, traps and rewards. And the graphics? Razor-sharp. The only dull spots are the sometimes naughty camera and repetitive skeleton enemies.
It's rare to see a 2D-to-3D conversion that isn't a pathetic hack-job these days, so I was busting out of my heart-patterned boxers for Maximo. True, it doesn't have that can't-put-it-down quality of a GTA3 or MGS2 (Maximo's levels are too formulaic), but you can't help but get a little buzzed on the simple but elegant gameplay. I don't know what kind of smack the graphics are on, but they just pop out of the screen at an almost unbearable intensity; it's a very cool effect. Best of all, the creative enemies and bosses are more than tough enough to keep you in your place. I was hastily reminded how much I can suck, and it actually felt kinda good.
Download Maximo: Ghosts to Glory
Back in the 16-bit days of video gaming, 2D side-scrolling-action-adventure games dominated the console software scene more than any other genre. The predominant storyline of the era went something like this: roam the countryside, collect power-ups, kill the bad guys, and restore the kingdom to normalcy, or save the damsel in distress...or both. No question, by today's standards, the graphical and game-play design of those games was rather simplistic. But hey, they were challenging and they sure were a helluva lot of fun!
Through the years, the gradual increase in console horsepower from one generation to the next, has simultaneously led to a global sophistication of software. With the added processing muscle of today's consoles, developers have indeed taken gaming to new levels of graphical prowess and game-play complexity. And it doesn't take a genius to recognize that all of our favorite franchises representing sports games, fighting games, RPGs, and flight-sims have all been the benefactors of this evolution in technology. At the same time, 2D platformers have gone the way of the dinosaur. Instead, they've been replaced with games incorporating huge polygonally-generated 3D worlds and intricate storylines. And while we as gamers may not all agree on whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, nonetheless, it is a fact...and we as gamers must deal with it!
However, in an effort to return to the good ol' days of classic video-gaming, our friends over at Capcom offer a compromise of sorts with their recently released, Maximo: Ghosts to Glory 'a one-player action-adventure game for the PS2. Sporting the latest in 3D technology, Maximo: Ghosts to Glory takes a trip down memory lane, with a storyline based loosely upon their Ghost N' Goblins/Ghouls and Ghosts series. The game places you in the role of a young knight who has returned from war only to find his kingdom in shambles. Achille, your once trusted advisor, has wrought evil on the land, imprisoned four beautiful sorceresses and kidnapped your girlfriend, Sophia, with intentions of forcing her hand in marriage. Battle hoards of undead, collect power-ups, defeat the evil Achille, save your sweetheart, and restore the kingdom. Sound familiar? It should. So, grab your shield and sword...it's time to swing into action!
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Make no mistake about it; despite its conversion over to 3D, this is a platfomer through and through. Unlike a lot of other similar games in the genre, this is not a go-anywhere, do-anything type of game. The game consists of five main levels, with each level broken up into smaller sections. Complete each section in succession by jumping and slashing your way through hoards of enemies and collecting power-ups. With each hit from the enemy, Maximo will lose a part of his armor until he's down to his boxer shorts. A couple of hits after that, and Maximo pays a visit to Mr. Death himself'the Grim Reaper. You may convince the Grim Reaper to let you continue, but it's gonna cost ya "death tokens!"
Within each level, you'll find an assortment of items hidden inside headstones, treasure chests, and statutes, that'll aid you in your quest. Among them are "koins," which can be used to buy other items and save games, red hearts that give you an extra life, iron keys, which are used to open locked chests and gates located throughout each level, and gold keys, which can be used to unlock special doors. As you traverse each level, you'll come across other special items. These include Magic Pools that allow Maximo to save his progress and travel back and forth between lands you've already conquered, and Trigger Stones, which are small statues that when destroyed, will give you access to previously unreachable areas, and the Wheel-O-Prizes that's full of surprises. If that's not enough, be on the lookout for spirit objects that contain good spirits. A whack of your sword will free them from their resting places. Hurry and collect them all. For every fifty spirits you collect, you're rewarded with a death token.
The game's control mechanism is tight and responsive. There's a decent variety of moves at your disposal, including the basic sword slash, overhead slash, block, jump, and double jump. There are also some more advanced moves, such as the downward strike and the spinning 360 attack. If you have a shield (which is not always the case), you can hurl it at your enemy, which is great for inflicting damage from a distance. Of course, all sorts of sword and shield power-ups are available, that is, if you can find them.
Game play is fairly straight forward, but a word of warning: it's not easy. Like most every other platformer, excellent eye-hand coordination and fast reflexes is what'll get you through the game. A little (no, maybe a lot of) memorization can't hurt either, as the more you play each level, the more you'll become familiar with item locations and enemy attack patterns. Even so, it'll take patience and perseverance to see it to completion. Thankfully, there are check-points throughout each area'without them, this game would be next to impossible. I can still remember playing Ghouls and Ghosts on the Genesis, and how it would sometimes take me hours to complete a level'frustrating for sure, but rewarding nonetheless. You get the same feeling when playing Maximo: Ghosts to Glory. The game constantly begs you to try just one more time. Soon, one more try becomes ten, then a hundred, then...well, you get the idea.
I imagine it was no easy task for the developers to convert the look and feel from their 2D predecessors to such a wonderful 3D world, but somehow they've manage to do just that. The graphics, in all of its 3D glory, are a thing of beauty. Character models, as well as environmental effects, are clean and colorful, and the animations are as smooth as glass. The game lights up the PS2, with a steady stream of earthquakes, explosions, and other such pyrotechnics flashing around every corner. There's a decent variety of enemies to dispose of, however, after a while, as you progress from one level to the next, they can get to be somewhat repetitive. FMV sequences, interspersed throughout the game, are equally impressive, without bogging the game down.
If I had to nit-pick, the one area that could've used some help is in regard camera tracking. The default camera follows Maximo from behind (there is a first-person view, but I wouldn't suggest it) and for the most part, nearby platforms and enemies are clearly visible. However, once in a while, the camera will lag behind, especially when you're quickly turning around. This will occasionally result in missing a crucial jump or taking several hits from an enemy that, as of yet, is nowhere on screen. Considering that this is a platformer, where quick reflexes are needed to survive, this can be a source of frustration. However, with repeated play, you can minimize this effect.
Capcom's 2D forebearers to Maximo: Ghosts to Glory were considered classics in their own right for several reasons. Those games not only delivered great graphics and addictive game play, but they also featured an audio package that simply sweetened the pot. On many levels, the same can be said for this game, and then some. Combined with a mesmerizing musical score, the game offers eerily provocative sound effects, which provide the appropriate atmosphere to the task at hand. The moans and groans of attacking enemies, the cling and clang of your sword, along with the boom and bang of environmental effects, such as earthquakes and various explosions, bring the game to life.
Maximo: Ghosts to Glory offers up a great mix of cutting audio/visual splendor with tried and true platforming game play. If your heart craves a next-generation platformer with a slant towards the nostalgic, I wouldn't hesitate to buy it'this game is a dream come true. On the other hand, if platformers were never your thing, chances are, this game will do little to convince you to depart with your hard-earned cash. Nonetheless, even if you do fall into the latter category, I strongly urge you to give it a rent. It's one piece of entertaining software, that'll give ya a heck of a ride...for at least a couple of days, anyway!
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