hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Bargain Bin Laden #18: Maximo

8:39 PM on 07.08.2007 // Aaron Linde

You guys smell that? Oh yes, it smells like violent death. That's right, kids, welcome the newest inductee into the "So Bloody Hard It's Awesome" club of BBL selections: Maximo: Ghosts to Glory!

Now, bear in mind that when I say this game is brutal, I don't mean to assign it the level of guts-hungry goat-slaying brutality that are the hallmark of previous BBL selections Contra: Shattered Soldier, Gunvalkyrie or God Hand. It's not all that bad, but it does have a sort of comic, cartoonish veneer that belies its nature, one which becomes clear when explored via Maximo's infernal ancestry: if you weren't already aware, this title serves as the spiritual successor to one of the greatest ass-poundings in gaming history, Ghosts 'n Goblins. Petrified yet? You should be!

To Capcom's credit, though, they did a fine job bringing the series into the third dimension without mucking up the formula, and even took the edge off of its predecessor's unforgiving controls and "congratulations on your win now beat it again jerk lol" design flaws. Still a difficult game, but in that way that serves for a hell of a good time -- the Brutal But Not Unfair™ set that BBL has been pimping since day one. Hit the jump for more!

Maximo: Ghosts to Glory (PS2)
Developed by: Capcom Studio 8, a US R&D studio
Released: February 12, 2003
Bargain Binned: $4.99 at GameStop, 100 Goozex points.

We've been through this before, you and I, but for anybody unfamiliar with BBL, I'm happy to restate it: I'm a sucker for a really hard game. There's a fine line, though, between a well-designed game that is also ridiculously difficult and a game built so poorly that it virtually ensures defeat by the hands of some hideous design flaw. It's hard to gauge where Capcom's NES classic Ghosts 'n Goblins fits on that scale, but it's probably a few inches north of truly evil. But only a few inches. What sets these games apart from most impossible journeys is the fact that victory is within the realm of possibility, and only through refinement of your technique and keeping at it will you succeed. When you beat games like these, you're officially like unto a god -- they've probably got a fancy registry for champions like you where your names are etched into the skulls of the conquered, that kind of thing.

Goblins had the benefit of an era in which most games were ridiculously difficult, and distinguished itself by being somehow even more unmerciful than most. Maximo is aimed at reviving the spirit of its forefather, a representative of a time in which games didn't hold your hand, but instead tore your arm off and beat you to death with it.

Alas, in this revamp of the classic series, bearded badass Arthur is nowhere to be found. In his stead is the dashing Maximo, a warrior who returns home to find his trusted advisor, Achilles, has taken up the throne in his absence and stolen his girlfriend. Jerk. Achilles makes short work of Maximo in the effort to extract his revenge, and as the hero descends towards the great beyond, Death arrives to strike a deal with the warrior: if he stops Achilles from sucking the souls of the damned out of Hell to do his bidding, ol' Bones will let him live. Maximo seizes the opportunity, is dropped back on the mortal plane, and goes to work slaying the legions of undead between him and his ultimate goal: Achilles.

When you first set out on your quest, the first thing you'll notice is the simplistic controls. At his disposal Maximo has a fairly limited array of moves and attacks that you'll be relying on for the bulk of the game, including a horizontal slash (which can be combo'd up), a vertical slash (stronger, and used in powerful jumping strikes), a double-jump and a Link-esque whirlwind attack. The circle button hurls Maximo's shield at the nearest enemy, Rygar-style. Camera control is fixed to the shoulder buttons, and key among all is R2, which allows Maximo to block -- you'll be using a lot of that. The controls feel at once a hair too loose while being a smidge too stiff -- it's difficult to nail precise jumps or turn on a dime -- but once you get used to the flow of things you won't have any problems. Trouble is, those first few levels while you're getting the hang of the controls can be right brutal bastards, but don't let it put you off. 

In addition to the good ol' hack-and-slash, Maximo can allocate a number of sword and shield upgrades to "lock spots" -- circles located in the lower-left segment of your HUD. As you collect upgrades (flaming swords, gold shields, etc), you can choose to activate them at your discretion, making power-up management as key a skill as, y'know, dodging and shit. Knowing what works well in what situations will go a long way in keeping your ass alive.

The game throws a lot at you, too. On top of navigating the levels' deadly terrain in which one of every three surfaces will crumble beneath your feet, explode into boiling magma or become parted by the ravenous arms of the freshly buried, there's no shortage of enemies in your path that will most certainly tear you to pieces. Both of these elements of play, the combat as well as platforming, are equally challenging and require very precise timing and accuracy to ensure you don't kill yourself quicker than the computer can do it for you. Combat is a blast, though, particularly in moments that require rapid and wide clearing of the bloodthirsty dead. Dying, on the other hand, isn't always fun. 

Maximo takes a page or two from "hub-world" games in shaping its web of torment: at the game's start you'll take control of the knight in the Boneyard, the first of five level themes, from which you can reach any one of the game's first five levels in any order. Once you've got those settled, the boss level opens, which in turn paves the way for the next hub world up until the end game. It's a nice touch, particularly when one level is driving you towards thoughts of suicide and you want to start hammering away at something else. It's a small degree of freedom, but works well in the grand scheme of the game.

Saving and continuing are two areas from which most of Maximo's controller-chucking fury originates. Here's how it works: you can save your game in the hub level, but it costs you a bit of money, so that's something you'll have to keep in the back of your head while you're emptying your coin-purse on some armor or a health refill -- fortunately, coins are scattered throughout the world fairly liberally. Death Coins, on the other hand, are a little bit harder to come by.

See, the Reaper needs payment to keep your ass alive, and the only currency he'll accept is a Death Coin. Once you lose all your lives, Grim swoops in to drag your ass to hell, unless of course you've got enough to buy another shot. Every time you pay off Death, the price rises a little bit, making it harder to keep out of his icy grasp and providing a sense of dire urgency in the player to keep your benefactor at arm's length. Collecting spirits throughout the levels -- usually hidden in destroyable tombstones -- will net you more Death Coins, but too many visits from the man in black will result in a price way, way too high to pay.

Maximo may look like a Saturday morning cartoon but it plays like Predator, make no mistake about it. Should you persevere and make it to the credits, it'll be one of the most satisfying endings you'll ever see -- it'll take some practice, but with a little luck and a lot of precision gameplay, conquering this beast can certainly be done. Plus, Christ, it's only five bucks -- that's around four hours of play per Washington, son. Can't argue against that, right? Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and buy this game!

Aaron Linde,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

VeryImportantQuestion avatarVeryImportantQuestion
Just read that SquareEnix have applied some weird mutation of crowdfunding mechanics to the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided preorder. I know the last blog I wrote mentioned how big publishers try to pervert these systems, but to think it's already this far gone.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
First in line to grab MGS V tomorrow. Close to my house, so it looks like I can eat and sleep comfortably. No one else seems to be waiting at my mailbox. Neighbors are getting suspicious.
The Travisionist avatarThe Travisionist
[img][/img] Sometimes, life is good as a ghost.
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
You know what, I'm just gonna come out and say it. I hope MGSV fails. It won't train wreck by any means, but I hope it's a huge financial failure. Nothing against Kojima, but #fuckonami
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
MGS V unlocks for me tomorrow at noon.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Since my blog using this is basically useless, I still wanted to share it. [img][/img] CAN YOU DIG IT!?
Manchild avatarManchild
I don't think you should be able to say #Fuckonami if you are deciding to support their product anyways. I don't often agree with boycotting and am not condoning that, but get your story straight and show a little consistency.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
When the band began to play the stars were shining bright. Now the milkman's on his way and it's too late to say good night. So, Good Morning! Good Morning!
IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
I'm guessing all rock bands in the world must have stopped making music videos this year, since I read fall out boy's "Uma Thurman" won for rock video of the year. I can only assume there were no other nominees.that's the only rational explanation.
RatCasket avatarRatCasket
dtoid discussion has been awfully bitchy these past couple of days. knock it off. its just video games.
StripyTrousers avatarStripyTrousers
Just posted my first Dtoid Community blog. Hello all!
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Good Morning Good Morning We've talked the whole night through Good Morning Good Morning to you Good Morning Good Morning It's great to stay up late Good Morning Good Morning to you
Daniel Lingen avatarDaniel Lingen
Agent9 avatarAgent9
gonna help my mom move and pack some things. what it means is I'm gonna sit and get yelled at whether I do or do not do something. I can't be the only one with a picky parent that expects nothing less than clairvoyance (-_-)
WryGuy avatarWryGuy
If some weren't aware, Phil/Mike Martin needs some help right now but can't access traditional donation avenues like Paypal on his own. I'm offering to be a middle man. I'm also offering to match 50% moving forward right now. [email protected]
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
At first I thought it would be fun. Then more ideas came, so I kept adding. More! More! But soon it just became stubbornness. Now, as I stare at 10000 words of meandering loon about a subject I'd almost rather be porn, I must question all my life choices.
Fenriff avatarFenriff
Someone on Gamefaqs asking the real questions. How mad would you be if halfway through the Mad Max game he stumbles upon a tribe of kids and the rest of the game is a lighthearted romp?
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
I think, for my first try, I drew a pretty damn good Ryu, if I do say so myself [img][/img]
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Really sad that Wes Craven has passed away. He made really fun films.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
R.I.P. Wes Craven. I'll always remember you for A Nightmare On Elm Street, Scream and Red Eye. I'll try not to remember you for Music of the Heart.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -