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|Title:||Max & the Magic Marker|
|Rating:||3.5 out of 5|
An email from Nintendo suggesting I give Max and the Magic Marker a whirl set off alarms in my brain. The title alone got me excited! Why? I'm a huge fan of Harold and the Purple Crayon and have always thought that motif would be an awesome video game! Who wouldn't love to see a "Harold" platformer in which you, as the player, can draw the items you need?
Max and the Magic Marker is just that! As Max travels through his world of wonderfully illustrated drawings, he'll encounter rivers he must draw a bridge over, in order to cross and other similar obstacles. Drawing slopes and stairs is just the beginning as he confronts an array of challenges that block his passing.
Max loves to draw and after mysteriously receiving a "new marker" in the mail he draws a purple monster who promptly comes to life and disappears into another of Max's drawings. Realizing that the monster he created is messing with his drawings, Max sees no choice but to go after the monster. Armed with his marker he has to navigate the world he's drawn and stop the monster.
With 15 levels (spanning 3 worlds) and many puzzles to solve, you'll be quite busy helping Max draw his way through this 2D puzzle platformer for one player. Everything you draw with Max's marker becomes a physical element of the game that Max will then interact with. Ink is the main commodity - you'll acquire more in your travels, but the purple monster will often sweep in and steal some of your ink.
The more ink you have the more complex your drawings can be. In other words, you can draw a bigger set of stairs with more ink. Alas, you can't draw a bazooka and open fire. Your doodles are primarily relegated to things Max can climb or travel across - sometimes drawings are above Max and can protect him. There are also some see-saws that operate via a drawn boulder which will flip Max up to his next platform. The bigger the boulder, the farther Max sails through the air. Clever game!
In addition to the ability to draw game elements, I love the way this game makes use of the Wii controller. The nunchuck moves Max and the main controller aims at the screen to draw in components to help Max on his way. Part of the fun is figuring out what will and won't work in terms of your artistic additions. If you draw a steep slope, Max may not be able to climb it or a surfboard can take off across a conveyor belt before you get Max to jump aboard. Of course pointing with the Wii remote as a paint brush leads to some ragged looking stairs and such. This leads to each game being different as you develop your drawing skills and learn what sort of objects best assist Max.
You may bewondering how you have time to draw a flight of stairs while this manic red-headed child is escaping a monster. You can draw elements in real-time as you play or you can pause the action and focus on drawing a damn fine set of stairs. The game has a pause mode that halts the action and lets you draw at your leisure. A nice facet of his mode is that it transforms the screen into a really cool child's view of the current scene. When you're done, switch back to live mode and see how Max reacts to your masterpiece.
We really enjoyed the unique idea of determining the best object to draw in order to further Max's travels. Some are obvious like simple bridges or blocks to jump up onto. As the game progresses, you'll reach areas where you'll have to get pretty creative to draw the proper asset for Max to reach the next platform. Completion requires about 4 hours of determined play.
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