We just can’t do it. We can’t read MyMaitê without thinking ‘My mate, Marmite’. We’re certainly not going to be thinking about this little platformer from developers Phoenix Reborn, as it’s about the most forgettable game we’ve come across.
MyMaitê has a sweet little premise that reminds, weirdly, of the children’s book ‘Guess How Much I Love You?’. In that book, the answer to its question is “to the Moon and back”, and that’s precisely what happens here. A father loves his daughter, Maitê, so much that he would carry her back from the Moon. So that’s exactly what you do: cross a 2D platforming level to gather Maitê from her seated position on the Moon, and then bring her back.
This takes the form of fifty levels, each a single game screen. There are no collectibles, scores or distractions: you’re just getting to Maitê and then hoofing her home on your back. You can move, jump and… no, that’s it. You can move and jump.
Now, simplicity is often a good thing, but you can have too much of it. MyMaitê takes too long to introduce new ideas and mechanics, with an obstacle added roughly every five levels. Play MyMaitê, and you’ll be bemused that the first five levels are the same platforms in a slightly different sequence. It’s the barest bones of a platformer, and we wondered whether the whole game would be like this.
When obstacles are added, all too infrequently, they are things you’d expect ‘as standard’ from any platformer. On level 24 you get spikes. Spikes! That’s halfway through the game, and MyMaitê introduces an obstacle you’d find in Green Hill Zone 1-1, and it’s about as revolutionary as buttered toast. A few are irrelevant, too: you get balloons, which can bounce you, just after trampolines are added, which can – yep – bounce you. Ideas are thin on the ground in MyMaitê, and are introduced far too sparingly.
That said, there are a couple of moments where the ideas work and offer something relatively new. A third of the way through, MyMaitê adds portals (blue and orange, of course, because you can’t miss a chance for a Portal reference). They’re unexpected and fun, if a little confusing (when you have multiple portals, it’s not easy to tell which one leads to which). It hints at what MyMaitê could have been, before the designers decide to yank them out and add other, more yawnsome elements like rotating blades.
MyMaitê has other issues. It’s incredibly spiky in terms of difficulty, and will merrily chuck you a demon-tier level, before offering a level that’s so easy it could have been in the tutorial.
And the difficulty is its own problem. When MyMaitê is difficult, it is difficult in a precision sense. You have to be pixel-perfect on some levels, jumping from a platform at exactly the right time, lest you tumble to your doom and have to start again. Yet, the controls aren’t responsive enough to make this fun, and MyMaitê leans on this form of precision too often. Levels aren’t puzzles waiting to be solved, or feats of agility: they’re tests of whether you can press the jump button on the exact moment that your feet leave a platform. It’s not a brand of difficulty that’s particularly enjoyable.
Another way that MyMaitê likes to add difficulty is timing. On one level, you have to bounce across five balloons and into a portal, and then land on a moving platform at the portal’s exit. So, what MyMaitê is effectively asking you to do is anticipate where the moving platform will be after you’ve made a sequence of five jumps. No human can predict that, so you’re relying on good old trial and error, testing when it’s best to kick off the sequence of jumps. It becomes frustrating to restart over and over.
There are a few positives. MyMaitê only has ten achievements, and they unlock for completing the first ten levels. It clearly comes from the Ratalaika school of achievement design, even though it’s not a Ratalaika joint. It’s cheap, too, taking another cue from Ratalaika, and £4.19 is just about affordable for anyone. Graphically it’s reminiscent of 8-bit platformers like Parasol Stars and Bubble Bobble, so there’s a sliver of nostalgia to be had from the concept.
The idea of getting to a goal and then having to trek back is a double-edged sword that can also offer some scraps of enjoyment. Often, doing the same obstacle course twice is a pain in the proverbial. But, occasionally, it’s a small puzzle: you can’t return the way you arrived, so you have to figure out a new method. When it’s done well, MyMaitê can rise above bad and into the realms of ‘okay’.
But that’s all we can tempt you with, I’m afraid. MyMaitê is a 2D platformer that would have been dismissed by CVG or Mean Machines in the 1980s for being too thin. The few ideas it has are held back for too long, and the only thing stopping a one-hour completion is the spiky difficulty, which will slap you around the face for not jumping on precisely the right pixel.
There are probably five or six levels in MyMaitê that are worth playing, but you’ll have to fight through boredom and some painful filler levels to get there. Even for £4.19 and 1000 easy G, it’s just not worth the hassle.
You can buy MyMaitê for £4.19 from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S