I first played a trial version of The Maw last January when it was first released. At the time, it was touted as having some of the highest production values of an Xbox LIVE Arcade game. Weighing in at a paltry 147MB, The Maw shows that good things can come in small packages. But perhaps the last year has brought forth better offerings from XBLA games than we’ve seen in the past, because The Maw definitely shows signs of aging.

Twisted Pixel Games, the development team behind The Maw, as well as fellow XBLA title ‘Splosion Man, is made up of only around a dozen employees, and with this game being their first outing that fact is quite impressive. The Maw is reminiscent of the gaming days of old, when the skies were filled with Lakitu and the roads were paved by Mode 7. There is no spoken dialogue, the controls consist of only three buttons, and while the gameplay can be linear at times, the player is rewarded for exploring. However, it is not without it’s flaws.

There is no better way to say this: the game is too short. This is only worsened by the fact that it also moves at a sluggish pace, and once the game is completed, there is also no reason to play it again, other than trying to reach the top of the leaderboards. The Maw has been on sale as an Xbox LIVE Deal of the Week a couple of times now, so if you’ve been lucky enough to pick it up for around $5, you didn’t get such a deal. It is a game worth playing, if even only playing once, and will also help support the growing Twisted Pixel so they can develop bigger and better games in the future.

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