Maximo: Ghosts to Glory is a PS2 game that’s something of a spiritual sequel to the Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins series (complete with a GG subtitle). Considering that Capcom hasn’t shied away from branding new games with their old IPs no matter how little these new titles resemble their forefathers (e.g., Bionic Commando), it’s a little surprising this wasn’t an official sequel.
Regardless, here are the bits:
- The Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins influence is found throughout: the hero loses his armour as he gets hit (to the point where he’s wearing nothing but heart-patterned boxers), the starting location is a graveyard, and earthquakes dynamically alter the topography of the level.
- The title screen menu has Maximo standing in a circle of tombstones. Each one represents a different option, and the circle can be rotated around Maximo. Selecting one of the tombstones plays an animation where Maximo leaps up and cleaves it in two.
- Lots of breakable walls and destructible objects populate the maps. This gives the player a constant reason to swing his sword while creating the sensation of being able to affect the environment. Unfortunately, the sword can often get stuck — an animation delay that the player has to endure — which can be especially frustrating in cramped areas that are filled with enemies.
- The ground below the player’s feet is rarely even. Not only is there a plethora of hills and different elevation levels, but since the level are often depicted as ruinous, the entire field can be titled to one side. Even in clean, straight areas the camera has a tendency to pivot and display the scene at non 90 degree angles.
- Spinning gears, swinging gates, floating platforms, etc., help to add movement and life to the scenery.
- Enemies often have a unique way of entering the playing field. For example, flying enemies swoop in from above, coffins rise up from the ground and release skeletons, and malicious wizards pop out from the occasional chest. These are often accompanied by warning signs such as a beam of light emanating from the ground right before an enemy pops through it.
- Chest-wizards can morph you into a baby or an old man, which severely diminishes your movement and fighting abilities. This mechanic is later used by a witch doctor boss who can shrink you down and then crush you under his foot.
- Hitting skeletons plays an animation where their heads pop off, spin vertically 360 degrees, and then fall back down and reattach to the body. Stone golems encountered towards the end of the game have a similar animation, except their heads spin horizontally.
- Checkpoints require a double-jump stab to activate, which is a bit of a hassle, but it’s also a fairly satisfying maneuver. This familiarization also proves important as the move is later used to finish off some of the enemies.
- Stepping on bone-textured ground results in skeleton arms reaching up to grab Maximo. There’s a short delay before this happens, though, effectively allowing the traversal of such areas by repeatedly jumping forward.
- Certain enemies can steal the player’s hard-earned coins, which is particularly infuriating as Maximo relies on various currencies to purchase powerups, continues, saves, etc. Once this money is snatched, the player still has a chance to get it back, but hectically chasing down enemies rarely turns out to be a good idea.
- Throughout his quest, the player can also rescue fearies/souls that are encased in different containers in each zone, e.g., tombstones, snowmen, glowing orbs, etc.
- The different zones also contain nice little touches like unique door/gateway animations. For example, Maximo will pull up a portcullis or twist a plate (that rotates other interconnected plates) in a clockwork barrier that will spew out steam as it slides into the ground.
- The final battle takes place at the top of a castle with no lightsources other than the occasional lightning flash that illuminates the room through the windows. It’s quite an intense scene, especially since the lizard-like boss moves very fast and has no problem tracking you down in pitch darkness.
- The end credits show a 2D, side-scrolling window where a deformed and pixelated Maximo goes off on a search for his fair maiden, another nod to the Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins series.