Recent Articles

I discuss the canceled Maximo 3 with the lead artist, Jonathan Casco


After we published an article about the cancelled Maximo 3, we were so eager to know more about the game. In order to learn more we went ahead and contacted Jonathan Casco, the lead artist on the previous Maximo games. Johnathan Casco was open to talking to us and we were delighted to have the opportunity to talk with one of the most talented artists in gaming history. He truly doesn't get the attention or adulation he deserves. In addition to providing answers to our questions, Jonathan sent us a handy little PDF file about the game.

The beginning:

Before Maximo was even brought to life, the team (Capcom Digital Studios) had potentially planned to make a revamp of one Capcom's classic games. Among these classics, Ghosts 'n Goblins was eventually picked. However, Capcom of Japan didn't allow the team to take the first step in making it possible due to legal matters. Casco explained to us the circumstances behind Maximo's creation.

''Siller, like many gamers, enjoyed Capcom’s awesome line of arcade games like Commando, Forgotten Worlds, Strider, and of course Ghosts n’ Goblins. I myself was excited to potentially work on creating a current revamp of one of those arcade classics. GnG was ultimately picked but we also looked at other obscure titles from Capcom such as Black Tiger, Magic Sword, and Trojan for inspiration. In the end, our team was not allowed to develop a straight remake of GnG due to legal matters so Maximo was created.''
It would have been great to witness a remake of Ghosts 'n Goblins back then on the PS2. After all, we know how Capcom Japan's iron fist is so protective when it comes to its IPs. We could spend an entire day lamenting over what could have been.

Capcom Japan was detached from Capcom America:

Capcom Digital Studios were ambitious with Maximo. Their plan was to make a fun 3D game that borrows elements from other previous Capcom titles and bring old school gaming to life. Just when they thought they could surprise Capcom Japan, the latter shocked them with Devil May Cry's reveal. Nevertheless, this didn't discourage Capcom Digital Studios from continuing with Maximo: Ghosts to Glory. The positive feedback they received from fans after showing the game at E3 pushed them to finish the game. Maximo was an ambitious attempt to impress Capcom with a free roaming 3D game, as Capcom's only 3D game at the time was the behind the back view Mega Man: Legends, and possibly inspire them to make more such games. Jonathan Casco had this to say about that.

''Maximo was a game that was supposed to be a fun 3D action game with roots tapping those earlier arcade titles. It was also the kind of game we thought that Capcom Japan wasn’t making. Capcom Japan did not have many games featuring real-time 3D environments. The closest thing they had at the time to our knowledge was Mega Man Legends which featured a true 3rd person perspective with a follow cam. And then they surprised us with Devil May Cry which they claimed accidentally happened during a bug they found in RES Evil development. The reason why I mention this is to show how detached our studio was from our ‘parent company’ during the production of Maximo. We didn’t share resources and we were left to make our own decisions which allowed for the success our team achieved in delivering Maximo.''

Despite Capcom Japan's detachment from Capcom America, Capcom  Japan's iron fist was still in control of everything. Jonathan Casco said the following about the situation.

'' After the release, there were rumblings of a power struggle in Capcom Japan which trickled down to our studio. It began to feel like the US vs Japan and it didn’t just affect our studio. Angel Studios in Carlsbad, CA at the time were secretly developing a game (Red Dead) for Capcom and they too seemed frustrated with Capcom Japan’s decision-making. So studio directors on both sides ended up getting pushed out including David Siller at CDS and Yoshiki Okamoto at Capcom Japan. This basically leads to CDS once again controlled by Capcom Japan’s iron-fist. Once again some of the key members who helped create Maximo left the team or were forced out and Capcom Digital Studios was rebranded to Production Studio 8.''
I was eagerly interested in knowing more about the cancelled Maximo 3, so I went ahead and asked Jonathan a few direct questions about the game. What follows are my questions and Johnathan's answers, I hope you enjoy this insight into the canceled Maximo 3.

Image courtesy of Unseen64

Freecky Cake: I read that Maximo 3 was going to focus on exploration. Does that mean it was set to be an open world, or open enough just for exploration?


Jonathan Casco: The world for Maximo 3 was indeed going to be different than the first two games such that the levels weren't going to 'feel' as linear. However, Maximo's game engine was not designed to 'load in' sections on the fly featured in games like Jak and Daxter or Soul Reaver which used clever tricks like walking through a long tunnel allowing time for level loading without pause.

This level loading feature made levels feel more wide-ranging but our coders would've needed more time to develop something similar. So the 'city' of Mashhad featured in the prototype was more of a walled section or hub that had points the player could 'enter' to reveal new sections such as the sewers.

If I remember we introduced a new camera system similar to Devil May Cry for some sections designated for combat or story-progression events along with the traditional follow-cam. The Maximo games all ran at 60fps so finding the right balance between level-size, enemy/NPC population, and misc items, was a challenge!

Freecky Cake: According to what I have read on the internet, Maximo 3's plot was about a group of religious fanatics who were trying to cause havoc in the city of Mashhad and use its innocent citizens as a sacrifice. My question is, was the story meant to bring players close to Sophia?

Jonathan Casco: Ya, the main antagonist was the Cult of Chut. Honestly, I had to look that up myself! The story and all events leading up to what's been posted online hadn't been fully fleshed out since it was a pitch and hadn't entered the pre-production phase. But yes, Sophia was involved and Maximo with the help of Grim needed to save her from this cult who are using her as a spiritual entity of some sort.

Freecky Cake:  The abilities from the prequel were over the top enjoyable and interesting. Maximo's sword could absorb different elements' powers such as fire, thunder, and magic. In addition, Maximo could transform into a full-fledged skeleton form when he collects all of the armours including the golden one. This, in particular, granted him the ability to be invincible against any kind of attack for a short period of time. I was fond of those abilities, and I think they set the game apart from other games back in the era. My question is, was Maximo 3 planned to bring some of the previous abilities from GTG?

Jonathan Casco: I'm really not sure if those abilities from GTG were planned to make a return in Maximo3. Good question! For the pitch, we really wanted to showcase new tools and weaponry as well as new default abilities such as the wall climbing a la Strider/Prince of Persia. I mentioned the shotgun before which in my opinion seemed out of character for Maximo but the decision was made and thus implemented.

Freecky Cake: The moment I read that Grim was going to act as a sidekick similar to Daxter in Jak games, my jaw dropped. Players summoned Grim when they were in the brink of death, but with Maximo 3, it would've been a different thing. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Jonathan Casco: I was excited about how we were going to use Grim in this game. Previously he was used sort of as a super move/smart bomb when the player was in a pinch during combat. But for the third sequel, we were thinking of using him to help Maximo traverse sections of the level. I can't offer any more details since that wasn't entirely fleshed out. I would like to mention that Scott Rogers, Maximo's lead designer, got the inspiration for Grim from the film 'The Frighteners' which featured a scythe-wielding reaper.''

Freecky Cake: Many who have finished both Ghosts 'n Goblins and Maximo games wondered if there's a potential chance of Maximo meeting with Arthur sometime in the upcoming games. Did the team ever think of making Arthur encounter Maximo later in the franchise?

Jonathan Casco:  You know I don't recall plans for Arthur making a cameo in Maximo but that would've been great! Anything to do with Ghost's n' Goblins or Ghouls and Ghosts was pretty much hands-off at the time. I was told then that Fujiwara, the creator of GnG, was no longer employed by Capcom. Plus Capcom Japan are very protective of their IP and so getting art approval was always going to be a massive challenge.

I would like to end this article by thanking Jonathan Casco for this opportunity, and we hope that you have enjoyed reading. You can check the PDF from here.

Comments

  1. great interview! Never heard nor played this game, but its so cool to see ex-devs so passionate about their past projects. capcom in the other hand was always complicating things.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you!
    Hopefully, Capcom sees this intereview and calls the old team back to revive this one!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment