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 Post subject: Maximo VS Army of Zin - Text - Campion
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:09 am 
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This is one of my favorite games, but it was generally overlooked. Here's a video to give a general gist of what I'm talking about:
Spoiler:

Review: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10JH ... sp=sharing

Quote:
Maximo VS the Army of Zin is one of the best hack and slashers that you have (likely) never played. It was released in 2003 for Sony's Playstation 2, and despite being a sequel to the smash hit Maximo: Ghosts to Glory (Which itself was inspired off Ghosts and Goblins, obviously) and gaining critical praise, it didn't do very well in sales. Unfortunately due to this fact, plans for a third Maximo were scrapped and the team responsible were let go by Capcom.

The core component that's kept me coming back to this game after all these years is it's combat. Maximo's moves and combos are extensive and flexible, allowing you to mix and match each attack midcombo. As you progress you'll start with a sword and eventually find a hammer, both of which have their own unique moves that set them apart. You'll be able to knock enemies up in the air (or on their butt) with an uppercut, smash them while they're flat on the floor, bombard them a "100 cut" special, do a spinning attack, or stun enemies by throwing your shield (which will ricochet between them repeatedly later in the game) and so on. Whatever you'd expect from a good hack and slash, it's here. To add, there's the ability to turn into the Grim Reaper and kill everything in god mode, if you're a baby.

However the element that really gives Maximo VS the Army of Zin its edge is it's challenge. Having the benefit of all these moves from the start means that the game doesn't slack off from overwhelming you with a bunch of baddies, and it only adds more and more as it goes. They hit hard and can take a lot of punishment, but they have long enough wind up periods that the player can react accordingly, and it's reacting to all of the enemies at once is where the skill comes in. A skilled player could get completely surrounded and come out without a scratch and a high combo. It never gets old.

The way that they handled health in this game and Maximo Ghosts to Glory is rather ingenious and a great nod to the original Ghosts and Goblins. Rather than just have a single life bar, it's broken down into four sections which is cleverly represented on Maximo himself by visually adding more layers of armor right down to being in nothing but boxers if you have none. It isn't just for show either, as seeing your armor break away and hearing Maximo's "Hey!" lends a sense of danger when you're getting your *** kicked in a fight. To heal yourself you need to find tankards (which are pretty much healthkits in this game) and armor to add more to your health bar, but this game sure ain't fuckin' generous about it. You can go for long stretches in your boxers without armor in sight and the game won't have any apologies to give for it.

The primary bad guys are known as "Zin" which in the game are represented as robots that are powered by souls... Or something. They're all varied in type, from smaller and weaker robots that attack fast and fly to big lumbering ones that do tons of damage, they all serve to keep you on your toes. Not all of the dudes are robots though and the game will have a fair amount of ghouls or monsters that fit their environment. Then there's the "bosses," which range from memorable to unremarkable. I put "boss" in quotations for some of them because some stages will just stick you in a room and have you duke it out with a bunch of regular enemies. Some great moments include fighting a giant chicken robot whose comically stuck in a house, then fighting a big cyclops type boss, to an unappealing fight with some guy followed by a mission where you're forced to escort him through crowds of goons. For the most part it's pretty good across the board and it closes out with a great boss battle.

Not everyone is out to kill you in this game though as it introduces NPCs to the mix. A rather nice thing about this is that they aren't intrusive to your progression and are strictly voluntary to save, but at the same time saving them will reward you with extra powerups or keys for hidden chests. It's a good way to shake up the gameplay, particularly when you need to juggle between two npcs who need help. There are also the addition of merchants who will sell you numerous power ups that add more abilities to your moveset, extend your power and grimbar, and even buy new underwear that grant different effects. Money isn't as important as it was in Ghosts To Glory, but you're going to want to search every nook and cranny for gold you can get because their wares aren't cheap.

On the presentation side of things, Maximo VS the Army of Zin holds it strong thanks to some inspired art direction and imaginative sound effects. The music works enough to immerse and push the player along but I'm not sure I'd say it works on it's own and you're not gonna be humming these tracks in between breaks. The gameplay itself plays at a rock solid 60 frames per second which is vital in an fast paced action game like this. The design of each Zin and the other monsters communicate how they act and attack very well, a favorite of mine being evil little killer rabbits. The level design for the game stands out too, which feature some challenging platforming and many secrets to uncover. A trait I enjoy very much about the game is that it will often place important stuff like lives or armor above a pit just taunting you to risk getting it. One particular zone that's set in the "Forest of fear" has you fighting saberclaw robots, jackolantern scarecrow men, a bunch of killer bunnies and spiders among others interspersed between some tricky platforming sections. The dark and gloomy atmosphere and baddies used here really fit the Ghosts and Goblins name well.

Considered on it's own as a sequel, Maximo VS the Army of Zin is in many ways superior to Ghosts to Glory, but it's strengths can also be considered weaknesses if we make direct comparisons. See, Ghosts to Glory was a game that would rip Dark Souls to fucking shreds in terms of difficulty, and that's because of its roots to Ghosts and Goblins. Levels were numerous and torturous, frequently forcing you to make uncomfortable jumps and only a few hits would kill you. If you died, you'd lose all the cool powerups you got. On top of this, saving required you to spend ton of precious money which you also need to buy armor and powerups. The game would have you access levels in a small hub which still had enemies that could kill you. Your shield could also easily break, leaving you defenseless. Maximo 2 removed a lot of this in exchange for tighter controls and shifted its focus more on combat. Now these things aren't inherently bad and it doesn't mean Maximo 2 can't be difficult, it still retains a lot of hallmarks of the series that makes it infamous, but it does lack the sort of unapologetic blistered knuckle appeal that the original had.

Honestly I would say that both Maximo Ghosts to Glory and Army of Zin are a product of sorts from the "golden age of gaming" when games didn't concern themselves with cinematic storytelling and instead practiced very deliberate steps to engrossing a player into the gameplay. Fortunately they're both available for easy online purchase on Sony's Playstation Network for the Playstation 3 if you don't own a PS2 (Although it may require a UK registered account, which isn't too hard to do by changing region in settings), and they go for pretty cheap on Amazon too. However you choose to go about, Maximo VS Army of Zin is a quintessential purchase for any Playstation owner.


Special thanks to:
Overpoweredginger, Someoddguy, Hania, SweetLikeSugar, Sexbad

For general advice and spellchecking. Also a shout out to Scott Rogers for making this game in first place and inspiring me to finally do this on twitter.


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 Post subject: Re: Maximo VS Army of Zin - Text - Campion
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:48 am 
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Interesting. I think the original game was the one I mentioned in our chat on steam where it's very short, but you lose a fuckton of **** if you die. I didn't realise there was two games in the series at the time, but this does make sense. I'll check and see if it's in the PS3 store, and will probably purchase it if it's cheap.

I'm wondering, just how much help did all those people give you with the review. I figured you wouldn't need their help. I'd be too proud to seek much help on that sort of thing, personally, but that's just me.



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 Post subject: Re: Maximo VS Army of Zin - Text - Campion
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:58 am 
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I share it with certain friends at different periods of writing to get different perspectives. It's true that I wouldn't need their help but sharing it around while writing makes the process more fun.


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 Post subject: Re: Maximo VS Army of Zin - Text - Campion
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:57 pm 
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I purchased the game from the PS3 store, and I'm now downloading it.



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 Post subject: Re: Maximo VS Army of Zin - Text - Campion
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:15 pm 
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I guarantee you'll like it.


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 Post subject: Re: Maximo VS Army of Zin - Text - Campion
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:28 pm 
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I played the first two levels. It's enjoyable. The Combat is fluid and satisfying. The platforming seems to be handled well too, unlike in a lot of other games in the genre. The NPCs that show up, is something unique to the genre too. The game also featured "mimics" before Dark Souls. They're nowhere near as threatening though. The game so far isn't that hard. I assume that will change later. I only have one tangible problem so far. It's the inverted x- axis camera controls. There's no option to change it either. It really frustrates me when games do that.



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 Post subject: Re: Maximo VS Army of Zin - Text - Campion
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 8:31 pm 
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Yes, that's a legitimate flaw with the game. Like I said, it isn't a HARD game but it can be challenging, particularly later on. I recommend you do hard mode if you want to get the most out of the game, but it does the job just fine on normal too.


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 Post subject: Re: Maximo VS Army of Zin - Text - Campion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:03 pm 
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I'm surprised by how much the artsyle of this game reminds me of that of Medievil's, on the PS1. I mean that in a good way. The game shares a number of similarities with it as a whole, in fact.

Honestly though, I'm not too impressed by it. It's a perfectly solid game, but nothing has amazed me about it. The combat is good, but it's not on par with that in the likes of Ninja Gaiden or Bayonetta. There is no dodge Attack move, which I'm often left longing for. It's annoying how you can't switch weapons on the fly too. I'd probably have enjoyed the game a lot more, if I played it when it was released. As things stand, it's mostly just making me want to go back and finish my playthrough of Bayonetta 2 on the hard difficulty, which I started sometime back.



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 Post subject: Re: Maximo VS Army of Zin - Text - Campion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:09 pm 
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It sounds like you've been spoiled by those games. I haven't played Ninja Gaiden yet (I plan to in the future) but after giving Beyonetta 1 and 2 a go for a while I personally didn't find myself gravitating anywhere near as much toward it's combat over Maximo's. It just didn't have the oomph Maximo did and there feels like there's more urgency if you get hit. Plus I mean you're basically playing as a fucking demigod (And not the Kratos kind either) and cutscenes make it seem like you're unstoppable. You can't dodge roll but you can try double jumping away and either doing a ground slam or holding block when you land to roll (during which you are invulnerable). Having to stop in place to change a weapon always annoyed me too, but on the flip side I guess that means you're forced to go with one or the other during a fight. I would say that held up a lot of recent games Maximo 2 is perfectly serviceable.

This conversation reminded me that I definitely need to pick up Ninja Gaiden black here in the near future. Local game store has it for 8 dollars, which is a steal.


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 Post subject: Re: Maximo VS Army of Zin - Text - Campion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2015 7:34 pm 
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Yeah I have. It used to be one of my favourite genres, but I'm pretty worn on it by now. There hasn't been many changes in it. The cutscenes do make you look unstoppable. That's even more the case in DMC. But it's definitely not the case during gameplay, regardless of whether you're a demigod or not. Playing Bayonetta 2 on the hard difficulty, and going head to head with the Lumen Sage, is a very tense and thrilling experience. I know you can double jump, but it just isn't as fluid. I do like the ground slam though. The game is definitely serviceable too, and it's better than God of War. At least in terms of raw mechanics.

Yes it is. I've been meaning to revisit it too. But I also need to play more of Godhand.



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