Inspired by the successful Polly Pocket line, Mighty Max toys were brought to the United States by Mattel in the early 90’s, and received a welcome response from consumers. The idea behind the series (small, portable playsets that opened up) proved popular and the toys sold well, resulting in an abundance of Max-related items by 1993. McDonald’s even ran a Mighty Max Happy Meal promotion for a while. The series was eventually given its own animated show that year, which featured the adventures of Max and a few new characters made for the cartoon, which ran for two seasons and a total of 40 episodes.
Max’s antics created by his “Cosmic Cap” were even considered worthy of a Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis release in 1994, as Ocean Software launched “The Adventures of Mighty Max”, based primarily on the cartoon series. Unfortunately for fans at the time, the game was simply not very good and was met with poor reception. While it does boast some nice animation and graphics, that’s about all that can be said for Max’s lone video game entry.
The concept of a Mighty Max game should work well in theory, with Max being able to battle any number of horrible monsters across practically any background imaginable, but Ocean’s effort didn’t quite nail the feel of the show or put much of a game together. The controls are awkward, with Max bounding some 20 feet into the air with every jump. Levels are uninspired, large and unclear as far as which direction to go, or what to do, and the music is highly repetitive and mediocre. There are a few positives to mention, however, as the player can choose from a number of characters to play as, the game offers co-op play, and there are a few levels to pick from at the beginning. Other than that though, this was not one of my favorite games to play around with.
Adventures of Mighty Max might be one of the biggest examples of a cash-in title from the time period, as it was probably a game that didn’t really need to be made. Most kids could probably have spent the money on the toys and had an even better time than with the cartridge. But as with many franchises of the day, a toy line just wasn’t complete without their own cartoon and video game to go along with it. Thankfully I never owned this game as a child, but instead was able to enjoy a few different Mighty Max playsets that I did have. I liked playing with Micro Machines and similar small toys, and having small-scale adventures was definitely appealing.
I always enjoyed the idea of portable, miniature playsets, and other toy companies were paying attention as well, as a number of franchises including Star Wars, Star Trek, TMNT and Godzilla released their own converting playsets in years to come. While Mighty Max wasn’t the longest-lasting franchise of the 90’s, it did set a trend for toys of the period and remains surprisingly influential considering its relatively brief availability over 20 years ago.
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