Developer(s) – Capcom Digital Studios
Publisher(s) – Capcom
Designer(s) – David Stiller, Scott Rodgers & William Anderson
Producer(s) – Mark Rodgers
ELSPA – 11+
Originally intended for release on the Nintendo 64 and eventually ported to the PlayStation 2 back in 2002, Maximo was released to huge critical acclaim, received well by not only the current generation at the time, but also by many old school gamers, as what the developers intended. Drawing inspiration from the Ghosts ‘N Goblins franchise, the aim was to bring the classic style of challenging gameplay to the sixth generation and provide players with a much more stern challenge than what they would’ve been used to at the time. Personally, though I have a few gripes with the game, especially as I don’t think it’s aged as well as other games on the system, I say as a prerequisite that I spent a lot of time playing this game when it was released and for good reason. Overall, it’s one of those Capcom franchises that has sadly been neglected in recent generations along with Breath of Fire and Viewtiful Joe.
Graphics – 7/10
The game takes place in a world partly inspired by Ghosts ‘N Goblins, but the inclusion of other more varied landscapes such as marshes, ice worlds, and even hell itself, makes it do well to stand out from its spiritual predecessor, as well as from many other games of the time. The biggest issue I have with it, however, is as the game was intended originally for release on fifth-generation hardware, it is quite evident that that was the case. Some of the textures in the game are inconsistent with what players would’ve been used to even at this relatively early period within the sixth generation, and it makes the game look even more outdated today as a result. The cutscenes throughout do relatively well to try and supplement that, however, and there were other games released on the PlayStation 2, later on, that looked even more outdated than this, including Malice.
Gameplay – 8/10
The aspect in which this game truly stands out, however, is in the gameplay. A linear 3D action-adventure platformer, it plays out very much like a 3D version of Ghosts ‘N Goblins with players having to rely on quick wits, revision of enemy attack patterns, and conservation of resources in order to stay alive and grow stronger over time. There is a multitude of abilities to acquire throughout the game as well as power-ups providing perks such as invisibility and elemental sword augmentations. For a game that emphasizes challenge so much, however, it’s remarkable how easy the boss fights are overall. The only exception to that being the game’s end boss, which can feel incredibly tense throughout.
Controls – 10/10
Mercifully, there are no issues with the controls in a game which relies on precise platforming and we’ll-timed attacks to get by. It’s actually quite impressive how well-handled they are for a game that perpetuated such a new idea at the time as if the developers understood what it meant to include the best of the sixth generation as well as the sense of challenge that came with the best games of the kind during the third and fourth generations.
Lifespan – 6/10
As a linear game, Maximo can be made to last about 5 hours, which is okay, but not great, even for a game of the time. In a generation where twenty-plus-hour platformers were being developed on the PlayStation 2 like Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank, this game pales in comparison in terms of lifespan. Though you can appreciate the developers were in a time crunch to get it out as soon as possible since It had been in development hell to an extent, I couldn’t help but think what kind of a game it would’ve been given more time spent on it.
Storyline – 7/10
The story of the game is quite basic, with a few distinct elements thrown in for good measure. It involves a knight named Maximo who resolves to free his love interest, Sophia, from the evil King Achille. At the start, Achille kills Maximo, who is in turn revived by the Grim Reaper, who delegates him the task of stopping Achille from raising the dead to build his army. The Grim Reaper is easily the best character in the game, as he provides the most personality out of any other character by a country mile; similar to how the Genie is the best character in Aladdin. There is a nice twist at the end, which will throw players for a loop, as it did to me, but the developers definitely put more stock in the gameplay, as developers should always do in my opinion.
Originality – 7/10
This game was like a breath of fresh air for many gamers at the time, old and new. It provides a stern challenge for third and fourth-generation veterans alike and still provides a stern challenge for the most part to this day. It’s certainly a must-have for fans of games made on the same ilk in recent years like Dark Souls, Cuphead, and others, but it provides a very different kind of challenge in another respect which, as at the time of its release, can be appreciated by gamers of all different generations.
In summation, Maximo: Ghosts to Glory is a gaming experience that, whilst may not hold up in terms of visual quality, definitely holds up in terms of gameplay. I recommend it to any player who may be looking for a new kind of challenge that whilst stern, is still not entirely inaccessible.