Game Review: Maximo: Ghosts to Glory

Geek Specs:
Title: Maximo: Ghosts to Glory
Platform: Playstation 2
Genre: Action/Platform
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release: February 13, 2002

Introduction: Platform games of today are attempting a rebirth of the old and simple, original style of side-scrolling gameplay. A 'renaissance' of the genre, if you will. Many have tried and many have failed. A more recent example is the revamped engine for Pac-Man. The little, heroic cheese roll is now hopping platforms in a 3D world. Frogger is in 3D as well and unfortunately for him, so are the cars whose drivers wish to add vehicular homocide to their police record. Finally, though, one game stands above the rest while Atari gasps in awe. It is Maximo: Ghosts to Glory, a remake of the classic Ghosts n' Goblins/Ghouls n' Ghosts series. The original series was a side-scroller and being flat, it follows the same steps as Atari did to revive Pac-Man. This reincarnation has the appearance of a Platform and Capcom has pulled it off in style.

Review: In this game, you take the role of Maximo, a knight in shining armor (pardon the reference) who longs to rescue his love, Sophia, from the evil Achilles. Maximo is off fighting in a foreign land and when he returns he finds the King dead and Sophia kidnapped by Achilles. Maximo is struck down by Achilles, as illustrated in a cut-scene, and sent to hell. Upon his arrival, he his met by the infamous Death who gives him a second chance at life if he will pursue the wizard and defeat him. That is the kind of simple, old-school plot that never fails. If you remember Ghosts n' Goblins you might be surprised to be playing with Maximo as he was not the character from the original. Sorry Capcom fans, no King Arthur in this one. You will immediately feel the nostalgia of Ghosts n' Goblins. The classic gameplay elements and instantaneous fun are a big part of the game in this one too. Not to mention, the double-jump which hasn't been seen in any game in recent memory.

The gameplay is very smooth and the controls are a cinch to master. Unlike the original, your character can now do spin attacks and diving sword stabs. Fighting skeletons and demons becomes second nature after mastering your blade. Maximo carries only his shield and double-edged sabre around to destroy the slew of 'undead' that stand in his path. Luckily, you can pick up gems that are used to buy power-ups and armor along the way. Special power-ups offer new abilities to Maximo that can be combined in a unique way. Be careful though, because upon dying you will lose every ability except the ones saved on your belt. The belt has space for three abilities to begin with, but can hold up to seven as the game progresses. The A.I. is fairly difficult, but also fun to fight. You will face skeletons (which are the most prominent), ghosts, zombies, crows, man-eating plants, and even undead pirates. Each skeleton is equipped with a shield and either a sword, spear, or some sort of spinning disc. Some are rather easy to take down, but others can be tricky. Keep in mind, that this is no easy platformer. There is much hopping to be done, but enemies lay everywhere in the process.

There are five overworlds, each with several levels (totaling 30) and a boss to be defeated before continuing the quest. Locales range from graveyards, to swamps and frozen wastelands. The simple fact that you can choose the order in which you tackle levels in each world gives the game more depth. However, it does remain a linear game despite this freedom. The atmosphere is somewhat spooky, but comical as well. The expression on a skeleton's face when your blade is inches away from slicing its skull in two is priceless. Graphically, the worlds of Ghosts to Glory are stunningly crisp. The graveyard overworld is complete with detailed tombstones, grass, rusty gates, and the standard fog. Not to mention, the evil glare of the moon staring you in the face the entire time. The animation is also beautiful and is most obvious when approaching a grave. When in close proximity, a coffin will shoot-up out of the dirt very smoothly and a walking corpse emerges ready to engage you. When surrounded by several enemies, a spinning slash from your sword sends bones flying and you can literally see each one crumble to dust and fade away. Not only does the graphical bliss bring life to the levels, but so does the creepy music. It is very soft at times, but when many enemies are afoot it will speed up accordingly. The sound effects are wonderful too. You can really hear the rusty slice of your blade scathing a metal gate or shield, and the crunch of bones from a skeleton enemy.

Like I said, the gameplay is flawless. It is classic platform action in every aspect. In additon to hopping platforms, you also have the standard pick-ups; steel and wooden chests, keys, armor, and magics that enhance your sword and shield are all there. The controls itself are simple, but the camera angles can make battle more difficult. The camera is fixed most of the time, but will rotate when Maximo makes a sharp turn at a certain angle. I think Capcom did this to add a horror effect to the game. When inching your way to the edge of a cliff behind the camera, you will have to hit L1 (which will rotate it) to see what the hell you are doing. That doesn't sound too bad until you consider that Maximo must be at a complete stop when performing this action. You can't tap L1 on the run from an enemy. This restricts the gameplay and, consequently, causes the player to focus on individual combat. To be discreet, take your time in defeating each enemy instead of just running blindly through the game. If you pace yourself you can easily find hidden areas, chests (that become visible when performing a jump or slash when close), and other goodies.

Conclusion: This game is, without a doubt, very difficult. The toughest Platform game I have ever played. I've heard many complain about this, but I rather enjoy it. Its good to see a company (Capcom) that expects more from a gamer than just a few hours of their time. Let me tell you right now, Maximo: Ghosts to Glory is not for the lazy gamer. If an honest effort is made to complete this game with 100% mastery, you will find yourself on the edge of your seat until the very last battle.

Ratings: (scale of 0.0 - 5.0)

Gameplay: 4.0 Graphics: 4.0
The gameplay is as old-school as it gets. Jump to the top of the enemy infested hill while gathering pick-ups and discovering hidden areas. It's as simple as that. Capcom did an excellent job at transforming this series into a 23rd century polygonal world. Every level is filled with crisp environments and lush back-drops that really enhance the gameplay. Its comical appearance was done intentionally, but this game still doesn't have what it takes for full points. The cut-scenes are nice too (and funny).

Sound: 4.5 Overall: 4.0
The sound effects couldn't be better. Everything is realistic sounding. When Maximo swings his sword at a tree, a loud thunk from carving into the wood can be heard. Even the creak of rusty gates or the cry of a crow can add to the spookiness. The music is entrancing as well. It and the fog from the graveyard are my favorite horrific additions. The music can be slow and calm to reflect Maximo's nonchalant attitude, but also speed up when attacked by several enemies. This game is just as enthralling as the original. Maybe more so. It is difficult, but also alot of fun. That's what video games are all about right, fun? In an age of gaming when we are constantly looking for the next zombie kill-fest or military espionage game, Maximo relies on classic gameplay to tell its old-school style plot. However, it does have bone-splitting action that accounts for its 'Teen' rating.

Written by Magus


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