Well, its out, I think The Maw has been out for going on 4 days internationally on XBLA now. I bet some people are wondering exactly why, me, 'PS3-centric' Cajun Chicken is doing reviewing a XBLA game.
I'll tell you why, because it's bloody fantastic. I've recently had a blog submitted about my love of the platform game and how it shouldn't be included in the 'casual' umbrella. This isn't about that. This is about a truely fantastic game on XBLA I've noticed, which has never really got any hype what-so-ever since it's trailer announcement about last Summer.
You can say Braid is a work of genius all you want, yeah, I know its an indie game by one guy, but I just found it just trying to be too clever for its own good, trying to be metaphorical about life while just basically using a disguised Mario brothers looking watercolour painted world as a skin using nostalgia at it's selling point. The game mechanics were great, I just don't think they were executed in the correct manner with the 'spirit' of the game.
The Maw is the real deal.
Basically, to sum up the maw, its Banjo Kazooie meets Ratchet and Clank, meets Kirby...isn't that a winning combination?
There's only 8 levels, but boy, this is quality plaforming with some really fantastic game mechanics included, not really innovative seperatly, but the way they are put together certainly is.
Much like the idea of Braid, half the fun of The Maw is the celebration of solving each puzzle with only minor clues, although the solution to some of the puzzles to progress turn out to be simple, its the FINDING of the solution which is where The Maw as a game shines.
Did I mention that this looks like a game that could be sold at retail for a XBOX, PS2 or even Wii game? Maybe not as great looking as the PS3's downloadable Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty, but the animation and visuals in The Maw are nothing short of amazing for the first original IP from a developer and a XBLA game. What Twisted Pixel managed to squeeze into The Maw with XBLA's cap is nothing sort of amazing to boot throughout the game, you get rewards like gamer pictures and a theme.
Bear in mind, I am still only talking about an small EIGHT leveled game, which has NO HEALTH and NO LIVES system.
-MINOR GAME EXPERIENCE RUINING SPOILERS NOW, I SUGGEST NOT TO READ UNLESS YOU HAVE AT LEAST PLAYED THE DEMO IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THIS GAME-
Your warning is over, I will now continue. Anyway, The Maw has a real 'buddy game' vibe to it, similar to a few past platform games of last gen, simply about an alien called Frank and a creature called The Maw, they have both been imprisoned on a spaceship and all of a sudden, said spaceship crashes in a ball of flames. The Maw who usually eats everything in its path becomes friends with Frank due to telepathy and you as Frank on the crash site wobbles along dazed, limping and confused to find a gadget which creates an yellow/orange electrical link like a dog leash from Frank's arm to the leash around the Maw's neck. X allows you to connect to the Maw, If you don't have the Maw near you, Frank ends up calling the Maw in a cute as heck voice and the Maw tries to find you and automatically connects to your electrical leash.
First of all, you wonder why exactly you are dragging along The Maw as he really does nothing but eat pink creatures that seem to have no effect, then you find out you have to kill creatures or knock them out to 'steal' said eaten creatures ability much like in the Kirby series of platformers, main difference is, you control Frank and NOT the Maw, when using the leash Frank can't jump, because in his natural form the Maw can't jump. So sometimes you have to split from the Maw and get to higher ground to feed the Maw with your leash by throwing the small pink creatures to him. Then something amazing happens, the Maw gets larger. Not only can you throw food down to the Maw, you can pick up mines and sonic grenades from the floor with your gadget, which then works a little like 'The Rig' in the PSone game Wild9 that by pressing A, you can hit objects side to side on the floor and you can also drag along certain rocks to different positions with B.
Bit by bit throughout the game you discover other creatures from the crashed ship caught by the bounty hunters that caught you (Frank)and the Maw and these creatures have made this planet you have crashed upon their new natural habitat. You have to carefully study how some of the creatures work by interracting with them which sometimes will hurt Frank or The Maw which will knock you back. The idea is, SOMEHOW, Frank needs to help and outsmart these creatures so the Maw gets to consume these creatures and steal their abilities to help Frank get further on and complete the level and to get the Maw to a certain size to gain access to the end of the level.
To do so isn't plain simple as the bounty hunters are trying to recapture you and the Maw with forcefields, gun turrets and dispatched troops. Its basically figuring out HOW to destroy forcefield generators, grabbing the turrets with Frank's electronic leash and hurling them onto the ground by tapping A. You can dodge projectiles and creatures by pressing A and the game goes in slow motion until the projectile has either missed Frank or hit him.
The game generally gets more and more chaotic the bigger the Maw gets and the abilities he temporarily steals until eating another creature with a different ablility or completing the level, level by level. The last level is hillariously epic and completely a surprise, you have to play it to understand.
Anyway, The Maw. A 3D platform game on XBLA, you MUST play. The graphics are great, the animation is top notch, the game mechanics are solid and the soundtrack is excellent again, this should be a retail game. Don't be ignoring this one, or Twisted Pixel for this matter. Because I am fairly sure we will see more of Twisted Pixel soon, perhaps exclusively on 360 or not, but they do have another unannounced game on the way and when they do announce a new game, I WILL BE THERE. If you are a platformer fan, you can't ignore The Maw, whatever system you have. The 3D platformer clearly still lives in all its glory.
This is indeed a step in the right direction for Microsoft and the 360.
Also, interestingly theres a link to DLC on the main menu to XBLM, so maybe there may be more Maw soon...