Does anyone else feel a draft in here?
Dark shades, tight spandex, and some absurdly large weapons are all part of the
standard hero gear, but when it comes to accessories, simple underwear is often
overlooked. If you think about it, video game characters spend more time in their
skivvies than any of us would expect. Remember Taito’s Gladiator,
where bits of armor would come flying off to reveal fancy Roman panties? Or Leisure
Suit Larry, where” well, I guess it was on the floor, but it was in there!
Even Raiden of Metal Gear Solid 2 fame joins
in on the action and ends up bearing his briefs to gamers.
But the king of the boxers has to be the knight from Capcom’s classic Ghosts
‘n Goblins. Who else could fight zombies and save the princess while running
around half-naked? Besides me, of course.
Well today, a descendant of that hero has emerged. Welcome Capcom’s Maximo
to the Playstation 2. He’s a little shy, but give him a pair of little red heart
boxers and he’ll take care of all of your undead problems.
The story starts off with Maximo (who is apparently a king) leaving
his land to fight some unknown war. Upon his return, our hero finds out that
his once trusted advisor, Achille, had kidnapped the queen, imprisoned the sorceress
council, and released the undead minions of hell throughout the land. Then to
top it all off, Achille kills Maximo. Not the most triumphant return.
Fortunately, the Grim Reaper has something else in store for him. With no
dead people to deal with, Grim is staring down the wrong end of a pink slip,
so he sends Maximo back to the land of the living in order to set things
Maximo: Ghosts to Glory is your basic hack ‘n slash action game with
a few platformer bits thrown in. It’s got some classic old school appeal, but
not a whole lot of depth for the long haul.
The first positive thing you’ll notice is Maximo‘s look. With fairly
clean graphics all around and some very good particle effects, this game has
obviously come a long way from its 1985 forefather. A smooth framerate and fun,
cartoony character design make for some great eye candy.
I’m also happy to report that Maximo doesn’t fall into the button-mashing
trap like many of its brethren. With a bunch of special items and offensive
and defensive power-ups, there’s more to do than pound your poor attack button.
Grab the ice power-up and a single stroke of the sword will turn your enemies
into cool cubes. Or you could find the lightning shield and let enemies blast
themselves as they hammer away at you. You can even gain new moves like a double
sword swipe, super spin move, or even a projectile blast from your elemental
The problem is that even with all of these power-ups, the game will occasionally
feel a bit repetitive. For the most part, dying comes easy. Like Ghosts ‘n
Goblins, it only takes a few hits to knock our hero down to his unmentionables,
which often leads to replaying the part you just did. That in itself wouldn’t
be so bad, but checkpoints on some levels are so spread out, you’ll often get
stuck in a tough situation minus all of the power-ups that saw you there in
the first place. It’s not impossible to overcome, but it can get a little annoying.
I should also mention that Maximo‘s interesting purchase system requires
you to ‘buy’ saves at the nearest wishing well. Yup, it’ll cost you 100 gold
coins and a trip to the well in order to save your games. Some people may find
this annoying, but I actually think it makes for a better challenge.
But despite these bits of frustration, the enemies are pretty cool. Sure,
they’re mostly undead, but I don’t think I’ve seen so many interesting types
in a single game. Besides the basic skeleton and zombified enemies, you’ll also
come across mad bombers, dark knights, and the ever-popular crazed wizards who
can magically transform our hero into a baby or an old man.
Furthermore, you won’t be able to just hack your way through these hordes.
Some enemies require specific attacks. One example is the bomb throwing maniac,
who is best destroyed by chopping his legs off. There are a bunch of others,
but I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you.
Even the bosses are wacky, and it’s fun finding out the perfect method of
destruction for beating them down. Someone definitely gets a gold star for character
But when all is said and done, Maximo just doesn’t provide any staying
power. If you’ve got all four special kisses (you’ll have to find out about
that for yourself) and pass the game, you’ll unlock the art gallery. But since
when has art ever been a highlight? There’s also a Mastery mode if you complete
the game 100% (find all secrets, gain all treasure, kill all monsters), but
there’s a good chance you won’t feel the need do it all over again.
So while it lasts, Maximo: Ghosts to Glory is a great next-gen trip
down memory lane. It looks good and had some fun enemies to trounce. But if
you’re not from the old school, make sure you rent before running outside in
your best pair of boxers. Who knows what the neighbors will say?