"While the majority of platformers are based mostly on exploration, platform-jumping and mini-games, Maximo is probably 50% fighting, 50% platforming. It concentrates a lot more on battle than other games of it's genre, which is partly what makes the game so different and fun."
Maximo takes several quality elements of a solid 3D platformer, and combines them all to make a very enjoyable game. Being very reminiscent of old 2D platformers, particularly its prime inspiration, Ghosts 'n Goblins, Maximo features simple yet challenging and rewarding gameplay. However, with all the great, big-name games now out for the PS2, such as Final Fantasy X and Grand Theft Auto III, is there really room for another 3D platformer? And, more specifically, does Maximo beat out its prime competition, Jak and Daxter?
As Maximo, the brave-hearted warrior, you have to restore the land to its original state. You see, an evil ruler has cast a spell on all the dead, allowing them to roam freely across the land--and they're not too friendly! Maximo will have to battle his way through a long series of areas and levels, using his sword, shield and armor to protect and defend himself. Of course, that's not all... There are several added goodies to richen the gaming experience.
Maximo plays like you'd expect any 3D platformer to, for the most part. You can jump, double jump, block, and perform a variety of sword slashes. All this is easy to pick up and simple to perform. However, this game manages to also blend in a handful of other RPG-like elements which make the adventure all the more interesting. While most platformers are primarily based on exploration, platform-jumping and mini-games, Maximo is probably 50% fighting, 50% platforming. It concentrates a lot more on battle than other games of its genre, which is partly what makes the game so different and fun.
Instead of just being able to slash enemies with your sword, you can perform and overhead slash, a 360 degrees spinning slice, or jump up in the air and charge down on them, performing a devastating stab. You can also enhance your weapons with special effects, such as fire and ice. Another added bonus is Maximo's ability to learn new abilities by finding them throughout the game. You can ''lock'' up to 3 abilities at a time, which basically means that they become incorporated into your control scheme. Cool abilities include doomsday, shield-throw and added strike.
Not only can you upgrade your sword, but also your armor and shield. As for armor, Maximo starts out with full armor and a shield. He looks ready to kick some undead ass. But, you'll realize soon enough that as Maximo takes hits, he'll slowly lose all his armor until he's left in just his boxers. This is a creative way of indicating how much health he has left, but because you can't tell exactly just by looking at him, there is also a standard health-meter in the upper left-hand corner. The shield upgrades are basic, and essentially just allow Maximo's shield to be able to withstand more damage. You can replenish your armor by collecting green armor upgrades, which are dispersed throughout the game. If you collect extra armor, you'll obtain a helmet, and if you obtain extra after that, you'll gain temporary invulnerability! You can replenish your health by ''buying'' health at special points in the game. Which brings up another sub-topic.
Unlike most platform games, Maximo has a currency system. As you travel on your journey, beating up baddies, slicing open coffins, tombstones, etc., you'll collect four different items. The most common is the koin. Koins are easy to come across, but ultimately useful. They are used to buy items at wheel-o-prizes, which are usually accompanied by a checkpoint. Common items include armor and full health. You also use koins at save points to save your game. This buy-a-save system is not unlike the ink-ribbon system in RE, in the sense that you can't just save all you want; you'll have to work for your saved games. So for those of you who take free-saving for granted, prepare to be conservative in Maximo. You can get some truly cool items and power-ups with your collected koins, so don't be afraid to go out of your way for those extra few.
The other three items you'll collect are death coins, spirits and keys. Keys basically just unlock chests and gates in the game. Usually, keys are located in slightly hard-to-find places, just so you have to work a little to get the cooler things. Death coins are ultimately the most important thing in the game, because, when you run out of lives, you'll have to use one of these in order to try again, so, they're just a creative way of expressing credits. The manner of obtaining death coins is by collecting spirits, which will be found around levels in rocks which you can crack open with your sword. When you collect 50, you'll get one death coin.
Saving is performed in special pools found in boss towers. Boss towers are large, central areas where you can teleport yourself to previous areas, as well as entering new ones. After you complete all the levels in a boss tower, you will be granted access to the boss for that world.
The only real complaint I have with Maximo's layout is the fact that often, levels feel a bit too limited and straightforward. Don't get me wrong, there are secrets and hidden areas, but I prefer the more free-roaming gaming-style of platformers such as Jak and Daxter. It's not that the levels aren't large enough, it's just that, most of the time, they whole level is basically just running in a somewhat-straight line, jumping on platforms, killing baddies and collecting items along the way. Sure, it's fun, but it gets repetitive. Capcom could've used a little aid when they designed the levels in Maximo. That about wraps up the general concept. Sure, it may look simple at first glance, but there is a whole lot more going on here than meets the eye.
It won't take long to notice that Capcom's 3D-platformer features a detailed and imaginative 3D world. Everything has a nice, Cartoony look to it which gives the game a somewhat friendly feel, regardless of how challenging it is. The character design is really great--which will be very obvious when you first set eyes on the main character. Maximo is a short guy with an out-of-proportion body. His muscles are huge, just like his head, and he's almost as wide as he is tall. Not fat-like, just strangely proportioned. All the other characters and enemies sport this same distinct look, which I really go for. And, luckily, they were animated as well as they were designed. All of the polygons, particularly Maximo himself, run very smoothly, and even as they travel through many different worlds, with tons of onscreen enemies, the framerate remains smooth and solid.
Another area which deserves credit is the lighting. Maximo's different levels all feature some terrific lighting which adds that much more to the experience. Particularly in the lava-areas, this game will leave your eyes glued to the screen. I suppose the only complaint I have about the in-game graphics is the obvious fact that the game was going to be N64. The environments are nice and crisp, but lack detail, and do only look a step up from Nintendo 64 graphics. As for the FMV, it isn't bad either, but it doesn't occur much in the game, so it doesn't really matter. I think you'll be more intrigued by the in-game graphics.
Right from the opening cutscene, Maximo's voice actors show their talent. The acting is kind of bad in a good way. It sounds cartoony, goofy and fantasy-like. Directly after the opening cutscene, when you're thrown into the world of the undead, you'll probably be quite entertained by the quirky music. It's kind of cheery, considering the setting of the game, but it wasn't meant to be scary. It's gothic in a sort of cooky, goofy way which really makes things interesting.
Not only does Maximo have to save the land by returning it to it's original state, but he also has to rescue his girlfriend, Sophia, from the evil Achille. Achille is also the one responsible for the transformation of Maximo's land, naturally. There isn't a whole lot of story going on here, but the small amount that is entertains quite well, and blends in nicely with all the other components of the game.
Thanks to Maximo's percentage-meter, you'll be able to tell exactly how much of the game you've completed. Chances are, when you beat it for the first time, you'll only be 60-75 percent of the way through, which leaves a good deal of the game to head back and explore. After this, there isn't really much to do, but it will take you a while to get 100% complete. And if you do get 100%, you may get a little added bonus, which diehard gamers are sure to go for. Judging by how long it takes per level; 10-20 minutes, with 28 levels, Maximo will probably take the average gamer 7-8 hours to finish, game time. Did I mention that the game is also considerably challenging? You're sure to die many times along the way, which will make the game seem even longer. Maximo has a decent amount of replay value, especially for a platform game.
You'll realize after playing for a mere 10 minutes that, despite it's cartoony and somewhat cutesy appearance Maximo: isn't for kiddies. Capcom really doesn't give you many second chances in this game. All of the 6 worlds are split up into several levels, and each level has a few checkpoints. If you die, you can return to this checkpoint, until you run out of lives. If you run out of lives, you can use a death coins to return to the boss tower, but if you don't have any death coins, it's back to your last saved game. This pretty much just means that you can only die about three times on each level, and considering how incredibly easy it is to meet your doom, this is quite harsh. And if that wasn't bad enough, the price for tokens goes up each time you use one.
I'm not sure which part of the game is harder; the platform-jumping or the fighting. Both are equally challenging, but the fighting is probably a bit more fun. Maximo isn't a wuss, but most enemies take 2 or more hits to kill. Thanks to that fact that there are some little clipping glitches in the game, you may be trying to hit an enemy nearby, but your sword will bounce off of the nearest object instead (rock, tombstone, wall), rendering you quite vulnerable for a good second, which could lead to your demise. You will also find yourself being swarmed by multiple enemies at a time, and they're almost all good fighters. They'll block your attacks, throw projectiles at you, and one will even turn you into a baby for a period of time.
As for the platforming, it's even worse. Distances are hard to judge, and platforms are small. The slightest mistake will lead to you falling in the lava or down the cliff to your death. And because the game is laced with so many of these platforming areas, you may be very near to a checkpoint, but because of the tricky jumps involved in getting there, you'll deplete all your lives in the process of crossing the gap. When it comes down to it, this game just sin't for those looking for a really easy game. Everything comes at a price--even saving. If you make one mistake, it could ultimately lead to your failure, which leads to intense frustration. Of course, all this challenge has one major pro, and that is, you'll feel a great sense of accomplishment after beating a world, level, or even after just reaching a checkpoint. Maximo's challenge can be overwhelming, but it all pays off if you're persistent.
I was impressed by how well Capcom did in handling all of Maximo's different actions. With over a dozen different things to do with your character, they were all incorporated quite well into the Playstation 2's controller. Unlike in many games, I never found myself forgetting which buttons did what, which is particularly important in the heat of battle. I must admit, Maximo's annoying platforming areas can be awkward and difficult to judge and control, but over time, one grows used to them. Thanks to a very handy-feature which allows you to quickly flip-the camera to directly behind Maximo, you shouldn't have any problems seeing the world around you with ease.
Capcom deserves a round of applause for their great game. What I thought was going to be a simple, no-frills platformer actually turned out to be a very unique, well-made game. Instead of just going all-out platforming, Capcom mixed things up and tossed in some RPG and adventure elements for good measure. Variety adds a lot to the game. Maximo running around in his boxers, goofy enemies wandering about, power-ups and items dispersed throughout the game's vast levels... All of it just makes this title incredibly fun to play. The platforming sections can get a bit tedious and frustrating, but the expertly-done fighting mechanics and control-scheme more than make up for that. Live life to the Maximo!
Staff review by James Gordon (Date unavailable)
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