One of my favorite styles of games when I was a kid was the platform. This is the game type that Mario made king and eventually spawned such icons as Sonic the Hedgehog and Crash Bandicoot. On the Nintendo 64 Super Mario 64 took the platform game to the next level by putting the Mario into a 3D world. From there the flood gates opened to countless others that either copied or expanded on Mario’s domain. Some good, some not so good, some named Jak and Dexter that took away hours of my life.
The Maw brings back the fun I use to have playing all these games from the original Nintendo up to the PS1. You play as Frank, for most of the game at least, a friendly little critter who finds himself stranded with Maw on a strange planet after the ship he is on crashes. Maw is blob for the most part that has the power to eat small creatures to help him eventually grow in size and on occasion take on his “foods” powers. Frank obtains a little laser that allows him to walk Maw along like a dog and the fun begins. Most of the game is spent moving from point to point and getting Maw big enough to reach the next level. A lot of the fun comes from Maw being able to take the powers of other creatures he eats. Maw gets the ability to fly, shoot lasers out of his eyes and breathe fire along the way and all this aids in reaching your next check point.
The visuals and sound of the game are great. To me the graphics almost remind me of what a Halo Saturday morning cartoon would look like. The soundtrack fits perfectly into the different environments Frank and Maw find themselves in and the sound effects themselves are minimal but enjoyable.
My only real complaints about this game are that it doesn’t have too much depth to it and is a bit short. But we are also talking about an Xbox Live Arcade game here and you’re paying about ten bucks for the download so that should be taken into consideration. You can view your stats for each level but there isn’t much incentive to find and eat all the creatures before moving onto the next area. The controls are pretty straight forward but Maw can be a little tough to maneuver around from time to time. I especially found it to be a bit aggravating when he had the ability to breathe fire and kept stopping to burn each plant when I was trying to get to a checkpoint.
For an Xbox Live Arcade game, think The Maw is really a great buy. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve found a platform game that has something original and different to bring to the table. It reminds me a lot of fun I had playing the original Oddworld and Jak and Dexter. Anyone who’s a fan of those or platform games in general should give this one a try.