Maximo: Ghosts to Glory is a revival of the Ghosts 'n Goblins (1985) series which included Ghouls 'n Ghosts (1988), and Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts (1991).
The illiustrations in Maximo: Ghosts to Glory were created by renowned Japanese artist, Susumu Matsushita, who has been one of Japan's leading artists for decades. He is best known for his American comic-influenced designs.
Japanese illustrator - Susumu Matsushita [Image Source: taishu.jp]
Possibly One of the Most Difficult Gaming Series Ever?
In my opinion, the programmers of Ghosts 'n Goblins were a bit sadistic in that they enjoyed watching the average gamer struggle to clear the first level, let alone the game. Keep in mind that these were arcade classics from the 80's, and most arcade classics had every intention of taking every quarter at your disposal. Perhaps the difficulty in these games came as a result of being developed during the peak of the arcade era.
But here comes the sadistic part. If you were one of the lucky ones who managed to clear one of these classic games, the game "conveniently" loops the player back to the first stage. The player is expected to clear the game not once, but twice, in order to get the true ending! Keep in mind that the projectiles and enemies run at a faster speed during the second playthrough. Yeah, good luck with that...
Some gamers have even gone as far as to suggest that this game isn't fully completed until you clear it three times or more in one sitting!
I actually randomly found out that the game looped when I cleared Super Ghouls n' Ghosts a few years back. There I was at the final level, exhausted and ready to submit from the frustration. After nearly 5 hours straight of gruelling gameplay, I finally cleared the game and I was celebrating ferociously, as any champion should. Only to be looped back to the first level again. Wait... whaaaatt?!? I tapped out immediately.
Maximo: Ghosts To Glory (2001)
[Image Source: Prima's Official Strategy Guide]
The franchise gets revitalized in 2001, exclusively on the Playstation 2. It was originally intended for the Nintendo 64, but after countless delays, the game eventually landed on the PS2 shortly after the console was released. Maybe that is why some of the levels felt a lot like something out of Mario 64?
Realm of Spirits [Image Source: Prima's Official Strategy Guide]
The old sadistic, difficult gameplay spirit is revived in Maximo: Ghosts to Glory as well. Funnily enough, Mark Rogers, the senior producer of the project, stated that the "play difficulty was reduced during the last six months of production". I can honestly say that I appreciate that decision.
The main character from the previous games, Arthur, has now been replaced with Maximo and this time it's in a 3D world. It features the defensive armor upgrades like the old classics, a shield the player can utilize to block enemy attacks, and has several upgradable attack mechanics that the player can find throughout the game.
Maximo features 28 levels, in five different hub worlds, with each hub featuring a final stage boss battle. Luckily, each hub level has a large octagonal pool of holy water where the player can save their progress by spending 100 Koins. The Koins and treasure chest keys are essential in this game.
Is the "Foot Cheese" worth the money?
Mr. Okamoto, who was Capcom's managing director during the development of the game, was also with Capcom during the development of the first two games in the series. Mr. Okamoto spent many hours reviewing the product and offering suggestions. Perhaps he was the one who suggested keeping the famous original GnG musical riff from the original classics which was utilized in the first level!
Playing through the game once again brought back so many great memories. I'm proud to say I've reached the final hub world and I'm closing in on the final stages. It's now been over 20 years from the first time I played this game, and I can finally smell victory.
Luckily, there is no loop back to the beginning in this title, but there is a hidden art gallery mode that can be unlocked which features concept artwork from the project. However, unlocking the gallery mode is ridiculously difficult. I'll probably just watch an online video playthrough instead.