Sunday, June 28, 2009

TEAL: Maximo - Ghosts (and Glory) of Gaming Past

I've been unintentionally "old school" in my game selection, whether that be in terms of gameplay or style. Nthing has made that more apparent though than my current stint with Maximo: Ghost to Glory. Difficulty-wise, I wouldn't say that it's anywhere near the unforgiving challenge of some of the Ghosts 'n' Goblins games, but it's definitely a lot harder and intriguing than some of the more recent platformers I've played, for a few of reasons:
  • Temporary power-ups: One of the things I hated then loved about Maximo is the fleeting nature of the skills and pick-ups you come across. Elemental swords lose their charge after twenty hits (less if you fire off Magic Bolts or Doomstrikes), and abilities vanish when you die if you haven't "locked" them in. It was hard to get over losing my fiery sword and breaking my shield in the middle of a heated battle, but it did forced me to rework my play-style to take a more strategic route, as oppose to the beat-'em-up style I'd been employing.
  • Limiting continues: The escalating price of continues seemed like a raw deal, and it definitely raised the stakes of the game once I got later in the story. Granted, this limitation is neglect-able with a recent save, but it can be a consideration if you only save after bosses (instead of spending coin). Playing through a world is usually less fun the second time around.
  • Guess-and-check bosses: It's been a while since I've had to find the right technique to use in order to defeat a boss. These encounters aren't the power-through-and-you-can-eventually-win affair, but the hit-this-here-at-this-time-or-die type. The thing is, after a few one-sided shouting matches with the TV, I started enjoying engaging in the simple choreography of the battle. It kind of makes me want to go back and play Zelda.
Despite its short length (I completed it in a week) and some frustrating deaths ("I can't believe that hit me!"), I've had a fun play-through, especially when I found a workable set of skills to lock in. I'm intrigued to see how Army of Zin expands/improves/ruins what Maximo had going for it.

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