Thursday, 16 June 2016

#10: Maximo

Yes, I finally beat this thing.

Maximo is a 3D platformer in the same franchise as Ghosts 'n Goblins. Here's a list of things it keeps from that venerable series.
  • Your armour explodes as you take damage (though you do have more health)
  • You wear boxers with hearts on (or other patterns, not sure they do anything...)
  • It's very easy to jump off platforms into lava/water/etc.
  • It's hard
It's not the hardest game I've played, but it wasn't satisfying enough for its level of difficulty. The camera was often a major culprit, forcing me to make leaps of faith when it got stuck behind something. Also, combat is rather finicky, with a long lag time after several swing animations. Of course, this is part of the intended difficulty; this isn't a mash-happy action RPG, oh no, you have to place your sword with accuracy.

The game proceeds through five worlds, in typical era-fashion. Graveyard, Swamp, Snow, Hell, Castle. Though the fourth is literally in hell, the third one made me feel like I was. At the very least, Maximo can actually affect his velocity mid-air, mainly through the use of the double jump, but sliding floor is never fun. Most of my deaths were in the Snow and Hell areas. Oh, and about death...

You have a normal lives system, but there are also these special blocks you can destroy which release fairies. When you get 50 fairies, you lose them and gain a special coin. What's this coin for? When you run out of lives, you have to pay Death to revive you, even though you are explicitly on a mission for him. At first, you pay one coin, but if you keep running out of lives, the price goes up. That's not annoying at all. By the time I had finished (I continued twice in the last world, because there are no save points), my revival price was four coins.

Where the game becomes interesting is in its power up system. Chests and enemies randomly drop from a pool of abilities; quite a variety here, like letting you throw your shield, or shoot your sword with power. You can pick up a lot of these at once... I think I managed 12 at one point. You have several 'lock points' on your ability bar, and are free to swap the order of abilities around. When you die (just a life, not a continue), you lose all the non-locked abilities. You start with three, and gain one per world beaten. This wouldn't be so bad, but I was going for an extra challenge where you keep four essentially useless abilities through the game, so I never did get any use out of those extra slots.

The music is just remixes of that one theme from Ghosts 'n Goblins. You know the one.

Each world is topped off with a boss encounter (of course), which are all simple pattern-based things with one weak point. Work it out and they become trivial. After the fight, you get to choose between a save, suit of armour or the useless ability I mentioned before. Yes, you can't save freely; you have to pay 100 gold coins at specific points in the world hubs.

Final thoughts? OK. Not great. Frustrating, but only people who like frustration are going to buy it. Not sad it's over. Not sad I spent £2 on it.

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