Maximo vs. the Army of Zin

Maximo returns with action styled platformer goodness...


The Lowdown

Pros: Stylish combos, a new twist on being a hero (saving people), overall lots of fun

Cons: Camera problems, a short game if you don't go for 100% completion, lack of graphical variety and washed out graphics

Purchase at Play-Asia
Maximo vs. the Army of Zin isn't a sequel that is a rehash of the same game. Instead it improves on everything that made the first game a good game, which makes this game even better. That's not to say that everything has changed. Maximo vs. the Army of Zin is built on the same engine as its predecessor and the gameplay is rather similar. However, Maximo vs. The Army of Zin has enough additions to keep the game fresh.

If you haven't played the first Maximo this part is for you. Maximo is a platformer that is built with Ghost and Goblins in mind. You play as Maximo, a warrior that fights the forces of evil because that's what good guys do. To face off against the endless amounts of enemies you have your trusty sword. You can engage into a combo by mashing the attack button. If you get hit you lose life, of course, lose one bar of life and your armor drops one level until you're literally in your underwear. At this point if you lose this last life bar you're history. You can collect up to four levels of armor, which means four life bars to do battle in.

Maximo vs. the Army of Zin does a lot to improve on this formula. First of all the combo system is much more fluid, it's comparable to Devil May Cry. There's even a meter that tells you the number of hits your combo is, also akin to Devil May Cry. You can slash at one enemy, turn around and attack another and your combo value keeps going up. Maximo has a lot of moves to choose from. You can throw your shield like Captain America, do a spinning slash like Link's whirlwind attack, and even do Dante's rapid poking combo. On top of that you have the uncanny ability to transform into the Grim Reaper by pressing L1 and R1 at the same time. While you're the Grim Reaper, you're faster, have longer reach and give more damage. This transformation is relatively short at the beginning of the game, but you can purchase an item to increase the time you remain as the Grim Reaper.

To power Maximo up you collect gold coins from defeated enemies to purchase items. Gold coins can also be procured by saving the endless amount of citizens that are under attack. This one of the cooler features of Maximo vs. the Army of Zin. Similar to House of the Dead or any other light gun game the enemies attack random civilians that you can choose to save. If you don't save them they we'll die no harm done to you. If you do save them they can give you valuable items like gold coins, armor or even sell you items. While it is optional to save anyone the game presents situations that make you want save the hapless citizens. You'll see the townsfolk run for their lives from enemies right in front of you. All of this creates an atmosphere of necessity, which drives the game from one location to the next.

While Maximo is fun, it isn't without its problems. First of all the camera is rather troublesome. The camera shoots from an over the shoulder perspective, but it can be freely rotated. The problem with the camera is that when you're surrounded by enemies, which happens often, you won't be able to see behind you or to your side. There is no option to zoom in our out, which would be really helpful for some of the chaotic fights. Another problem with the camera is if you're pushed into a corner by a couple of enemies the camera moves out of focus trying sometimes inside an enemy or completely away from the action. These cuts become problematic in such a fast paced game. The camera problem is magnified even more when trying to jump from one platform to the next. You don't seem to be able to get a clear sense of depth due to the camera and graphical style. This leads to frustration when you're trying to jump over one of the many bottomless pits in the game. Another problem is the lack of variety in the enemies. Capcom made some funny enemies like the treasure chest that attacks you and the rabbit that turns into a raving beast. However, the majority of the game is spent battling it out with the same robots over and over. These enemies all have the same attack pattern too, which makes them easy to beat after the first time. The boss battles are pretty simple too. Like the standard enemies the bosses have a basic pattern that they switch once mid battle.

The graphics in the game are similar to Maximo, but they're clearer. Maximo isn't a colorful game, its not meant to be. The setting is in the middle ages, which had drab colors and little light. Maximo follows this style well, but at the same time makes the game look washed out. The characters are clearly influenced by cartoons. To match this style Maximo has a lot of animations and facial expressions. The only other problem with the graphics is they're repetitive. You save the same townspeople over and over again. The only difference is a different colored outfit. A little more variety would go along way. The graphics are pretty clean, even though they do appear to be washed out. The sound isn't bad either. The music sounds like its orchestrated music that sounds like if it was pulled from a cartoon. The sound effects are done pretty well too. The sword hits have a sharp "clang" sound and the fire roars. The voice acting isn't half bad either. During the intro Maximo has a chat with the Grim Reaper and while the dialogue isn't going to win any awards the characters sound like who they're supposed to be. Maximo sounds like a rugged warrior and the Grim Reaper has a raspy voice.

What Maximo vs. the Army of Zin lacks in the dated presentation of the game, it makes up in fun gameplay. Maximo remains entertaining since there are bountiful chances to be a hero with instant rewards. As a platformer there is a lot to do if you choose to save all the townspeople and find all of the secrets. If you choose to forgo the extra challenges the game may be a little short, but its a fun filled all the way to the end.

Import Friendly?

The controls are fairly easy to understand and get a hold of and there is English voiceovers inside the game. This combination make the game highly import friendly.

US Bound?

Maximo vs. the Army of Zin is slated for a release on January 20, 2004.

Overall

Maximo vs. The Army of Zin is a game that a lot of people will enjoy. Fans of the first game and platform gamers will obviously enjoy it. The game offers a little more than the standard platformer like a good combo system and a sense of urgency. If you can ignore the camera problems, this game, while short, will be a fun ride.