The Maw (video game)

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The Maw
Xbox Live Arcade cover
Developer(s) Twisted Pixel Games
Hothead Games (PC)
Bluepin (PS Vita)
Publisher(s) Capcom (PlayStation)
Microsoft Game Studios
Composer(s) Winifred Phillips, music produced by Winnie Waldron
Engine Beard+Razor

Xbox Live Arcade
January 21, 2009
Microsoft Windows
March 9, 2009
PlayStation Vita
October 30, 2009

December 31, 2009[1]
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

The Maw is an action-adventure video game developed by Twisted Pixel Games. Released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and Microsoft Windows, the game centers on the extraterrestrial Frank and a purple, amorphous creature called The Maw, who have crash-landed their spacecraft on an alien planet. The player assumes the role of Frank and directs The Maw—which can take on the abilities of objects and fauna it consumes—via a leash.

Critical reception of The Maw was above average; both the Xbox 360 and Windows versions hold a rating of 75/100 on Metacritic, and respective ratings of 76.06% and 73.33% on GameRankings. The game won the 2008 Audience Choice award at PAX10, and was a finalist at the 2009 Independent Games Festival. As of year-end 2011, The Maw has sold more than 237,000 units.

Synopsis and gameplay[edit]

In The Maw characters Frank (right) and The Maw (left) must team up to escape capture from bounty hunters.

The Maw is set in a futuristic universe. The game begins with Frank, a pacifist bipedal alien, and The Maw, a purple one-eyed creature with small- medium teeth, both having been captured by the Galactic Bounty Hunters.[2] For unknown reasons the ship on which they are being held crash lands on a strange planet, killing all the crew. Alone, they set out for a communications tower in the distance while on the run from additional Galactic Bounty Hunters who have come to recapture them.[3]

In The Maw players control Frank, who in turn controls The Maw via an electrical leash that he uses keep him at his side.[2] Gameplay involves guiding The Maw in specific directions to clear obstacles and complete levels. The Maw also has the ability to eat objects and creatures, taking on some of the properties of the thing it eats, such as breathing fire, flying, or simply growing in size.[2] Players then use The Maw's increased abilities to navigate previously impossible sections of a level.[2]

Development and marketing[edit]

Twisted Pixel Games announced in June 2008 its plans to release The Maw as it's the first original title for the company. Previously the company had worked with Midway Games to develop the 2004 game NBA Ballers.[4] Technically The Maw is a reference or homage to Halo 1s final level of the campaign titled The Maw.

Hothead Games, a Vancouver-based independent video game developer, teamed with Twisted Pixel Games to bring The Maw to Microsoft Windows.[5] It was released for the PC on March 9, 2009.[6] The Maw soundtrack was composed by Winifred Phillips and produced by Winnie Waldron,[7] who together designed the music interactivity for the game.[8]

Downloadable content[edit]

Twisted Pixel has announced that a total of three new levels will be released for the game as downloadable content, Brute Force, River redirect, and The Speeder Lane.[9][10] Once downloaded, the new levels will be selectable from the in-game menu as "deleted scenes", taking place at various points between original levels in the storyline. Brute Force and River Redirect were released for Xbox 360 on February 18, 2009 and March 11, 2009 respectively.[11] Both were released together for the Steam version of the game on March 16, 2009.[12] The Speeder Lane was released on April 30, 2009.

When interviewed by Gamasutra, Twisted Pixel CEO Michael Wilford revealed that though the developers had plans for downloadable content from the beginning, decisions on what would be included in that content were not made until after the game was released.[13] "[We] didn't work on them in any way until after the main game was wrapped," stated Wilford.[13] "Once the game was out of our hands, we went back to the drawing board to design everything from scratch, but we obviously had a lot of half-finished pieces on the cutting room floor that we could leverage."[13] Wilford further explained that due to the way The Maw ends extending past the ending would not be possible. Therefore, plans were made for the downloadable content to be dubbed "Deleted Scenes"; levels that take place inside the story of the main game.[13] Wilford was quick to note that these levels were not simply unlock codes that provided the player with access to things already in the game. "I think some people took it to mean that we intentionally stripped out levels that were 100 percent complete only to sell them as DLC," he said, adding that it was "not the case."[13]


The Maw
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 76.06% (X360)[14]
73.33% (PC)[15]
Metacritic 75/100 (X360)[16]
75/100 (PC)[17]
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 7/10[2]
GamePro 4.5/5[18]
GameSpot 7/10[19]
Giant Bomb 4/5[20]
IGN 8/10[21]
OXM (US) 7/10[22]

The Maw received generally positive ratings from critics. It currently averages 75 out of 100 on Metacritic for both the Xbox 360 and PC versions.[16][17] GameRankings reports similar scores of 76.06% for the Xbox 360 and 73.33% for the PC.[14][15] Accolades came from outlets such as Games Radar and GamePro with each bestowing it with a 90% score.[18][23] The lowest review came from Edge magazine, who awarded only a 50% approval score.[24] As of year-end 2010, The Maw has moved more than 169,000 units with its downloadable content selling more than 52,000 units collectively.[25]

The game won the 2008 Audience Choice award at PAX10,[26] and was a finalist at the Independent Games Festival 2009.[27] The Maw sold over 34,000 copies its first week of release,[28] in May 2009 sales increased to 95,000 units,[29] and by October of the same year had sold over 113,000 copies.[30] Although sales slowed during the winter, the game still sold over one 144,000 units as of the end of January 2010.[31] Sales as of year-end 2011 were over 237,000 units on Xbox Live Arcade.[32] Collective sales of downloadable content exceeded a total of 60,000 units that same year.[32] Gamasutra also awarded the game with an honorable mention in its Top 5 Console Downloadable Games of 2009.[33]

IGN's Erik Brudvig praised the game, citing colorful graphics and easy yet fun gameplay.[21] Brudvig also praised the game's music, stating "The soundtrack is excellent and fits the feel of the game perfectly."[21] Phillip Kollar of Games Radar lauded the character designs, calling Frank and The Maw "adorable main characters."[34] Kollar further expressed appreciated for the ability to learn to play the game without tutorial levels.[34] TeamXbox's Dale Nardozzi lauded the gameplay, visuals and audio, stating " Roll [them] together and you have one very tasty yumyum, not to mention one of the better original IP’s to hit Xbox Live Arcade in awhile [sic?]."[35]

Criticism of The Maw typically pointed to the game's short play time. Edge magazine's reviewer stated that the game was fun "while it lasts",[24] a sentiment which Kevin VanOrd of GameSpot shared.[19] Game Revolution's Eduardo Reboucas also agreed, stating "enjoy it while it lasts, though, because Maw's stay isn't a very long one."[36] IGN reviewer Erik Brudvig added "The game can easily be beaten in a weekend of light playing. Some might play again to find everything, but most will call it a day."[21]


  1. ^ "The Maw on Steam". Steam. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Whitehead, Dan (2009-01-29). "The Maw Xbox 360 Review". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  3. ^ Twisted Pixel Games (2009-01-21). The Maw. Twisted Pixel Games, Microsoft Game Studios. 
  4. ^ Boyer, Brandon (2008-06-12). "Twisted Pixel Announces XBLA Action/Adventure The Maw". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  5. ^ Fahey, Mike (2009-02-24). "Hothead Brings Braid To Mac, The Maw To Windows". Kotaku. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  6. ^ "The Maw on PC - GameDaily". GameDaily. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  7. ^ Langley, Ryan (2008-06-25). "XBLA: 'The Maw' Gets Scored, Musically!". GamerBytes. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  8. ^ Bedigian, Louis (2009-01-16). "Video Game News - The Maw Q&A: Lead Designer Sean Riley on the Alien Who Eats Everything in Sight". GamerZone. Retrieved 2009-01-29. 
  9. ^ Berardini, César A. (2009-01-29). "The Maw Downloadable Content Officially Announced". Team Xbox. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  10. ^ Crecente, Brian (2009-01-26). "Three New Levels Coming to The Maw Via DLC". Kotaku. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  11. ^ "The Maw on Xbox LIVE Marketplace". Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  12. ^ "Steam offers gamers in-game downloadable content". Steam. 2009-03-16. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Jeriaska (2009-03-30). "Interview: The Maw's Creators Talk DLC Dilemma". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  14. ^ a b "The Maw for Xbox 360 - GameRankings". GameRankings. 2010-10-08. 
  15. ^ a b "The Maw for PC - GameRankings". GameRankings. 2010-10-08. 
  16. ^ a b "The Maw for Xbox 360 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  17. ^ a b "The Maw for PC Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  18. ^ a b Terrones, Terry (2009-01-24). "XBLA Review: The Maw". GamePro. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  19. ^ a b VanOrd, Kevin (2009-01-23). "The Maw Review for Xbox 360". GameSpot. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  20. ^ Vinny (2009-01-29). "The Maw Review - Giant Bomb". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  21. ^ a b c d Brudvig, Erik (2009-01-20). "IGN The Maw Review". IGN. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  22. ^ "Official Xbox Magazine" (Feb. 2009)
  23. ^ Kollar, Philip. "GamesRadar The Maw review". Games Radar. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  24. ^ a b "Edge" (March 2009)
  25. ^ Langley, Ryan (2011-01-28). "XBLA: In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis For All Of 2010". Gamerbytes. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  26. ^ Fahey, Mike (2008-09-23). "The Maw Devours PAX 10 Audience Choice Award". Kotaku. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  27. ^ "The 12th Annual Independent Games Festival: Finalists and Winners". Independent Games Festival. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  28. ^ Langley, Ryan (2009-08-11). "In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis, July 2009". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  29. ^ Langley, Ryan (2009-05-12). "Analysis: April 2009's Xbox Live Arcade Hits, Misses". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  30. ^ Langley, Ryan (2009-11-10). "In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis, October 2009". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  31. ^ Langley, Ryan (2010-02-18). "In-Depth: Xbox Live Arcade Sales Analysis, January 2010". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  32. ^ a b Langley, Ryan (2012-01-20). "Xbox Live Arcade by the numbers - the 2011 year in review". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2012-01-23. 
  33. ^ Langley, Ryan (2009-12-16). "Gamasutra's Best Of 2009: Top 5 Console Downloadable Games". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  34. ^ a b Kollar, Phillip (2009-02-04). "The Maw - Who knew gluttonous destruction could be both fun and cute?". Games Radar. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  35. ^ Nardozzi, Dale (2009-01-14). "The Maw Review (Xbox 360)". TeamXbox. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  36. ^ Reboucas, Eduardo (2009-02-03). "The Maw - Xbox360". Game Revolution. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 

External links[edit]