I was spending the day out of town when I came across a gamestop that I have never been in before. Being a frugal shopper, I decided to take a gander into their bargain bin. Hovering over the countless array of Madden and Grand Theft Auto titles I carefully perused the selection until my eyes picked apart every spine and price tag. As I was getting up to leave I noticed a familiar name and lettering on one of the cases. Pulling the game out I realized my eyes were not fooling me, and I was holding a copy of Maximo: Ghosts to Glory for a mere $2.99.
A spiritual successor to the Ghost n’ Goblins and Ghouls n’ Ghosts titles of the early 90′s, Maximo is a 3D action-adventure following the title character as he sets out on a quest to win his love back from the evil Achille. The game starts out at the end (more or less) as Maximo bursts into Achille’s chamber and attempts to free his love, Sophia. His plans are foiled as Achille kills Maximo and sends him to the underworld. However, Grim (Death) has decided that he tires of Achille plunging his grubby paws into his underworld and he enlists the aid of Maximo. He promises to let Maximo live (as long as he holds a bronze coin) and will free him once he defeats Achille. Thus, the adventure begins.
Maximo uses the age old action-adventure genre to near perfection. The jump and slash mechanics are simple and refined, the levels are challenging and engaging, and the boss battles (most of them) will make you want to chuck your controller. Each level is your basic platformer with obstacles and enemies trying to keep you from reaching the exit. There is a focus on combat and Maximo can gather different power-ups and abilities throughout his journey, but there are also plenty of chests, doors, and koins to collect. The game focuses strictly on perfecting the third person action-adventure, and while the camera can be a big bother, the game ultimately succeeds. I never had more fun dieing in a game until I picked this up.
I remember playing Ghosts n’ Goblins a long time ago when I was tyke. What I didn’t remember is how amazingly difficult the game was. Since Maximo is born from the same breed as the aforementioned torture chamber, it exhibits a large difficulty curve. By no means is the game as hard as the older titles, but it’s amazingly fun to play, and I think the difficulty has something to do with that. The game doesn’t bend to the ability of the player, they must rise up to the difficulty of the game. Pits will open up as you walk over them, enemies will be placed just on the edge of cliffs, and there are instant death water holes and lava pits a plenty. But, with the advent of saving, difficult games have become a matter of patience and not pure skill or memorization. Maximo took its difficulty to a whole new level, not with intelligent level and enemy design, but by making players pay 100 koins for each save they make. This means that saving is a choice that affects the gameplay (koins can be spent on health, armor and other goodies).
I hope that some of you will be willing to give this gem a shot, even if it means pulling out a few hairs. It doesn’t offer anything when it comes to plot or graphical prowess, but if you are willing to look past its shoddy camera work and above average difficulty, Maximo: Ghosts to Glory has some of the best, and most rewarding, gameplay on the PS2. If you are able to conquer it, make sure to check out its sequel Maximo vs the Army of Zin. Both of these titles hearken back to the old days of simplistic design and challenging gameplay, and both of them are cheap.
You can find Maximo: Ghosts to Glory now on these sites: