Filling the void of challenging platformers on the PlayStation 2, Capcom has come up with this ’remake’ of the classic Ghosts ’N Goblins series. Maximo: Ghosts To Glory follows the story of Maximo, a King who has just returned from a war campaign. He founds his kingdom in disarray, as his trusted advisor, Archille has usurped his throne and imprisoned the four witches who were his allies. If that’s not enough, Archille has even taken his Queen, Sophia as his own. Maximo fights back, but finds out that Archille’s powers are too great.
It seems that he’s not the only one who holds a grunge against Archille. Archille has been constucting mamoth drills in the earth, freeing souls and using them to raise his own army of undeads. This pisses the Grim Reaper off to no end, and so he strikes a deal with Maximo. In exchange for returning Maximo to the mortal plane, he must destroy Archille and his undead army.
In other platformers, you collect power-ups and items, beat down all enemies, and find the key to the door to progress to the next level. While this holds true for Maximo, it does it with more flair and style. On each leevl there are tons of things to collect. The levels are littered with gold coins, which will prove invaluable in your journey. These ’Koins’ function as a currency of sorts, where you can trade for power-ups, extra life potions, or save 100 of them to save the game. Yes, you heard that right. You need to collect 100 Koins in order to save the game. While this may frustrate newbies or casual gamers, but I find it to be more rewarding and challenging.
As for moves, you have quite an assortment of attacks. There’s your basic slash, a more powerful forward slash and the damaging downward sword stab. The last is executed by doing a double jump and pressing the triagle button. You’ll use this attack more often that the others, as certain enemies can only be defeated while they’re lying on the ground. Performing the sword stab at checkpoints will result in Maximo sticking his sword to the ground, so as to make his progress. Nice.
You start the game with basic armor and sword. Later on, you collect more add-ons, such as a full suit steel armor, complete with Gladiator-style helmet, more powerful shield and sword power-ups. These are essential in getting you through the levels. In addition to the coins that I mentioned earlier, there are also spirits to collect, which are hidden inside certain glowing tombstones. There are seven spirits inside each tombstone. To get them all, do the sword stab. Collect 50 of these spirits, and you’ll receive a Death Coin, which translates into additional continues for Maximo.
Maximo is littered with very impressive touches. If you get hit by enemies, you loose the armor. Get hit again and you’re left with your boxer shorts with red heart on it. Open up a chest, and you might find either gold bags, items or unexpected surprises. The ground also shakes when it shifts, and when the infamous Bone Tower emerges to attack you.
The controls are also spot on, which is essential for a title like Maximo. Very often you have to time you jump perfectly, to get across that huge gap onto that tiny piece of land in the middle. If there’s any complaints in this deparment, it would be the rotatable camera. Most of the time, the camera follows you arround, but once in a while, they’re placed in an awkward angle, making that important jump impossible to judge. It would be nice if the map the right analogue stick to rotate the camera at will, instead of using the slower sholder button.
Graphically, the game looks great. Maximo himself is reasonably smooth and detailed. The enemies, which are mostly skeletons also looks realistic, with the facial expressions and comical movement. Skeletons spring from coffins, translucent ghosts apprear from nowhere and hundreds of tiny bony hands grab your feet as you walk. These are the things that make Maximo such a joy to play.
The environment is also varied - there’s alot of detail that goes into the levels. Pity that you don’t have the time to appreciate it all as you’re frequently have to move through the level fast, due to the geographical shifts. You see, the levels are not static. At certain time, very often unexpectedly, the land shifts, revealing fiery chasms and secret areas. You need to jump across the gap, while avoiding enemy attacks and fire from below.
Special effects are also nice. If you get the fire powerup for your sword, it will have the fiery glow, which also lights up the area. More impressive is the ice power-up, which imprisons your enemy in a block of ice when you hit them. Hit them again and they shatter like glass.
Maximo also excels in the sound department. Background music is not too dissimilar to those of the classic. At least not all are as annoying as the graveyard theme. Sound effects on the other hand are spot on. The rumble when the ground shifts, the sound when coffins spring from the earth and when swords clash is very realistic, and adds to the overall experience.
While Maximo is undoubtedly fun to play, it is also quite frustrating. The first few levels require multiple tries, and the overall high difficulty level of the game might put newbies off. But if you stick with it, you’ll find that there’s a lot of things to do on each level. The game does a good thing holding your interest for extented periods, but I feel that only those patient enough will get all that the title can offer.
Maximo is a polished platformer that continue the tradition of excellence of the Ghosts ’N Goblins series. The beautifully detailed environment, huge assortment of weapons powerups and the nice subtle touches make this one a keeper. If you’re looking for a fun game to play, then look no further than Maximo. Highly recommended.
Former owner and editor in chief of Darkstation.com