For nostalgic reasons, we all
maintain an internal list of games wed love to see revisited. I know I have my own
list: Bionic Commando, Ninja Gaiden, and Ghosts & Goblins. And with these lists comes
rumor-mongering of the worst kind. We latch onto each tidbit of news from the game
developers whove been with us since the old school. So, when news of Maximo: Ghosts
to Glory started to speckle the websites and magazines, and eventually Capcoms site,
I couldnt help but pick the damn thing up and give it the once over, a kick of the
tires so to speak.
I imagine the meeting rooms, the flurries of late-night emails, phone calls,
conference calls, the works, when it comes to taking another look at a formerly by-gone
legacy; however, Capcom has done an excellent job with its return by bringing the same
feel and environment that Ghosts & Goblins and Ghouls & Ghosts had without really
catering to the older games. A complete overhaul has been doneand, let me tell you,
there was no skimming. Its all here: the feel, the look, and the steep increase in
difficulty as you blow through the levels.
returns from war to find his kingdom beneath the hand of his trusted advisor, Achilles
whom maintains an undead grip on the people. This isnt the worst of Maximos
problems; Achilles has also abducted the lovely Sophia and imprisoned the four
sorceressesone for each level Maximo must conquer. Death is also a friend you make
in the game. Hell visit you on occasion.
possesses the basic skill-set youd imagine in a knight: sword, shield, and power-ups
for both. And, like his predecessor, Maximo can be reduced to battling it out in his
boxers, which themselves are upgradeable, if you take too much damage. I wouldnt
recommend fighting in the partial nude as armor can be scarce on some stages. As you move
through the levels youre able to retain more power-ups. These can range from
granting you the ability to spin-attack to giving your sword or shield a special ability,
i.e. freeze your enemies, fire upon them from a distance, or dispel mist. Overall I found
the combat fluid and easy to get in tune with. No menus, nothing to hinder you.
come from every direction, so its important to get used to forcing your camera to
jump in behind you so you can see whats ahead. Most of the time the camera AI can
keep you from dying, but occasionally it tweaks out, leaving you exposed. Each level has
its own set of baddies, while some stay with you through most of the game. The range goes
from the very undead, zombies, skeletons, ghosts, to snow monsters and hammer wielding
pigs (well, these guys inhabit the undead world, so I guess theyre dead, too). Each
can be beat in a variety of ways. The best attack I found was to stun them with a downward
strike and then jump in for the attack when theyre knocked to the ground. Shields
also become handy in this game. Depending upon the power-up you get, you can retrieve
treasure, force the shield to hover and wipe out multiple enemies, or zip in for a
long-range attack -- handy when youre almost dead at the end of a stage.
stage you encounter check-points, but the only save points are in the limbo select area,
and theyre not free. Each save will cost you 100 coins, so be aware of this when you
enter a new level. Mostly it works out nicely, forcing you to pick and choose what you
purchase in the game. Purchasable items include upgrades to your boxers, shield, armor,
health, etc. At times I found you need to make that sacrifice, especially at the higher
levels, to regain some life if you want to make it through the level.
Once all of
your lives have been lost, Death will visit you and ask for a sum of Death Coins to
continue. If you lack sufficient funds: game over. Now, this may sound harsh, but
its pretty easy to get these coins during gameplay. All levels have statues
scattered throughout which contain trapped spirits. By demolishing these statues, you
release the spirits. Once youve collected fifty of them you get a Death Coin. But be
careful -- the more often you continue the higher the asking price goes: one coin, two
coins, three coins, you get the point.
One must also
make mention of the tremendous amount of work that went into this games design. The
FMVs are wonderful, very much a cartoon and on par with the best FMVs Ive seen on
the PS2. Additionally, Capcom didnt lose much by approaching the level design in a
pretty traditional way. In fact a majority of this game borrows from the traditional
elements youd find in the old school side-scrolling adventures. Each level has a
limbo area where you can run around and select the next stage you want to play. By
completing all of the stages you unlock the tower in which the sorceress is guarded by a
boss character; however, Capcom hasnt left this area enemy free. Nope, you have the
undead running around trying to knock you out before you make it to the next stage marker.
One of the
more surprising features of the game, which isnt necessarily a downer, is that
its relatively easier to beat the boss characters than make it through some of the
stages. Maximo keeps you challenged throughout the game. At the end youve again
become a master at precise and timed jumps, thoughtful attacks, because sometimes you just
cant go in there swinging.
From the music
down to the gameplay, Maximo stands out in my mind as one of the finest games this year on
the PS2. The game is both nostalgic and new at the same time, catering to neither in
particular. A fine mesh, and one which you need to experience for yourself. Out of any of
the series Capcom should continue this should be one of themoh and when they have
time Bionic Commando. This game is great for people who enjoy a good-ol adventure.