Maximo: Ghosts to Glory saw release in early 2002. Originally conceived as Ghouls and Ghosts 64, an update to Capcom's classic franchise, Maximo retained most of the series' charm and difficulty, while adding in elements of its own. It was a big success in all three major gaming regions. Maximo wasn't perfect, however, as many fans complained that it was so difficult that it was essentially taking the piss. The story of Maximo wasn't over yet either, so now we join Maximo on his continued journey in Maximo vs. the Army of Zin.
The story for Maximo vs. the Army of Zin begins some 500 years before Ghosts to Glory. Lord Hawkmoor and his army of loyal subjects are fending off an offensive from the army of Zin, a force of powerful robotic soldiers. Unfortunately for Hawkmoor, the Zin troops' power comes from compressed souls, which allow them to regenerate. In a bid to save the world from the Zin, Hawkmoor instructs his force to trap them inside a massive vault. Hawkmoor sacrifices his own life to ensure the Zin are sealed away, offering his troops one final instruction - never open the vault.
After unsuccessfully searching for his girlfriend for the last eight months, Maximo is frustrated. He receives word from his friend Grim that no new spirits have entered the other world - for quite some time. The duo decides to launch an investigation into Sophia's fate, and the location of these missing souls.
Maximo vs. the Army of Zin takes the game away from the themes of the undead, but still manages to capture a lot of the classic feel that made a lot of people enjoy the original. Capcom have taken the original game back to the drawing board and eliminated a majority of the things that made the first game frustrating. The levels are now longer and more varied, there are less inane platforming sections, the combat has been improved upon and the difficulty has been toned down somewhat to ensure the game is more accessible.
There are also a load of new features in the game. Maximo can now summon Grim to help him with a press of the R1 button. As Grim, you have absolutely no trouble slashing your way through the hordes of Zin. NPCs now fill the various levels - save them, and you will be rewarded. Some of these NPCs are merchants, which hold a variety of different upgrades and items for Maximo to purchase with the Koins he gets throughout the game. These include new pairs of boxer shorts, each with different powers, as well as a variety of special moves. Finally, Maximo has access to different types of weaponry. While there are only two distinct weapons in the game (a sword and a hammer), there are variations of each with different powers.
Maximo vs. the Army of Zin is a much more balanced game than its predecessor. You won't be stuck on levels for hours at a time, but you can rest assured that you won't be storming through the game in a few sittings. Expect about 10-15 hours for the main game, and a little while longer after that if you wish to master each level (which requires defeating every enemy, getting every bit of treasure, finding every secret and saving every NPC).
Maximo vs. the Army of Zin retains a similar graphical style to the original game. While the comic book style aesthetics have returned largely unchanged, the new enemies breathe a bit of extra life into what could have been a really dull experience. Maximo vs. the Army of Zin is not a technically impressive title, but the art is satisfying enough to overlook certain lower quality textures and simple models. The game does feature better models, more lighting effects, better shadows and impressive particle effects, though. The camera can be somewhat of a hazard at the best of times, so you'll find that you will be doing a lot of camera adjusting. Fans of the good PAL conversions will be happy to know that Maximo vs. the Army of Zin includes a 60 Hz mode, something that was missing from the original (despite the fact it had a lot better 50 Hz conversion than most Capcom titles).
The soundtrack in Maximo vs. the Army of Zin is a medley of familiar 8 and 16-bit tracks from the earlier Ghouls and Ghosts games, which should satisfy fans looking for a little nostalgia. Unfortunately, the voice acting comes off as being too cheesy to be effective, thanks to overacting on behalf of the voice actors and low quality dialog on behalf of the writers. One could say that the acting is of a poor standard on purpose, considering the tone of the game, but that doesn't make it any more tolerable. Maximo vs. the Army of Zin doesn't support any form of surround sound.
Maximo vs. the Army of Zin is a big improvement over the original game. The story is a little less clichÃ©, the game is much more balanced, and there are a variety of new additions that make the game easier to enjoy, even if you've never played the original game. There are still a few hiccups, such as the camera or sound, but nothing that should stop gamers having an enjoyable and much more forgiving experience this time around.