Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Max and the Magic Marker (WiiWare) Review

Review for Max and the Magic Marker on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Looking back at a comparatively happy childhood, you may remember the days when all you needed for entertainment was a piece of paper, some crayons, and your own imagination. A distant memory to be sure, but many graduate from scribbles to artistry, all the while keeping that playful nature of creation in mind. While in later life those creations feel more than mere pictures, youth provides a deep - if restricted by common sense - desire to see those pictures come to life. One such youngster, for better or worse, has that wish come true, which sets the stage for Press Play's first WiiWare game. Is it a healthy investment at 1000 Nintendo Points, or is there need for an eraser?

Max and the Magic Marker sets events in motion with the tale of a young boy named Max, who receives an anonymous gift of a marker pen in the post. He eagerly tries it out, and the first thing he draws, a purple monster, comes to life on the page, and starts wrecking all his other drawings. To stop him, Max draws himself onto the page. This is where you come in, by taking control of both creator and creation with Remote and Nunchuk in hand.

Gameplay is centered on the pointer, with the amount of ink in the on-screen pen determining how much you can draw. This can be increased by collecting containers of ink. What you draw is affected by the physics of that world, so balance is key, bringing to mind another WiiWare game in World of Goo. As such, this means you can try all sorts of shapes and combinations to get past each level's tricky situations. A seesaw to give yourself a height boost maybe? Or a platform to roll over those perilous-looking cogs? Magic Marker is a test for able-bodied minds, although that does bring about the old favourite bane of gamers worldwide, the 'trial and error' play. It's forgivable in light of the rest of the game, but not quite ignorable.

Screenshot for Max and the Magic Marker on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

You are initially limited in what you can do within the world. Max can jump and push objects, but for anything else it is purely down to the pen, including offensive attacks and protection, since one enemy touch is instant death. Still, limitation breeds creativity, thus proving more incentive to draw your way out of situations, thankfully made easier with the freeze frame feature. A quick pinch of the A and B buttons together stops the screen (and turns the visuals into a highly stylistic children's drawing), giving you all the time you need to sketch out whatever you need to draw, or alternatively take back any ink you've used with a press of the B trigger. On the whole, control and gameplay is fluid and reliable in Magic Marker, and it's very rare you'll need to wrestle with either.

Screenshot for Max and the Magic Marker on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

As aforementioned, Magic Marker portrays a more simplistic look for the frozen screen moments, and for the story cutscenes, but for the rest of the time you'll have clean, colourful visuals to interact with; not too far removed from another WiiWare belter, LostWinds. There are three main worlds, with five levels apiece, and each world plays to a different part of a child's imagination, from an urban homeland to the high seas. Levels are fairly long, and generously littered with checkpoints, though upon hitting one you have your pen ink taken away. This, despite infinite lives, ensures that the game is no cakewalk.

Magic Marker's music is of particular highlight here, with many distinct imaginings altering during your progress through a level, not only keeping things fresh, but also giving a cheeky nod for when a particularly tough section is near. The pen itself sounds as scribbly as you'd expect, and the way the music retro-ises when you freeze the screen to draw is yet another of many great touches you wouldn't expect.

Screenshot for Max and the Magic Marker on WiiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

15 levels may not sound much, especially for a platformer in danger of being a one-time experience without multiplayer for backup. However, the levels are fairly lengthy, and there are other objectives too. Scattered throughout you'll find bulb orbs, not unlike the ink orbs you have to grab for pen ammunition, and also hidden are smaller black orbs, usually about five to a level. This may start to sound like a collectathon, but since neither are necessary to actually finish the level and thus the game as a whole, there is no worry. Collecting them yields rewards you in the Extras section of the main menu, where you can see concept art, doodle around with the pointer in a relaxed environment, and other such oddities; an essential endeavour for any determined completionist. Max and the Magic Marker may not look like it offers much, but under the exterior beats the heart of a top-tier WiiWare game. It is not without its shortcomings, but a worthy purchase nonetheless.

Screenshot for Max and the Magic Marker on WiiWare- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Trial and error-based, but the impressive physics and perplexing puzzle situations will keep you coming back. Control is solid and reliable, with a generous helping of checkpoints and lives.

Graphics

An effective mishmash of styles, all the while providing one of WiiWare's most distinctive lookers. Only three world themes, but each is well-padded out levels-wise.

Sound

In a word, energetic. Constantly changing, never for the worse, with each theme fitting its world like a glove.

Value

A purely single player game, the level number may hint at a short lifespan, but collectables and stage length keep things going for a while before you could call it 100% completed.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Max and the Magic Marker is yet another considerable addition to the Wii's download library, and a great start for new developers Press Play. There isn't a great deal of visual variety, and the length, while respectable in quantity, is fairly limited, but you'll be getting a great game for your points regardless.

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21.02.2010

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Developer

Press Play

Publisher

Press Play

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (3 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

- Loved the art style, especially the frozen animation sections.

- Thought the music was brilliant, especially the way it starts off with basic instruments and builds up as you progress through the stage, bringing in more elements to beef up the soundtrack.

- Got driven absolutely crazy by the drawing mechanic, just as I did with the floating multiple jump feature in LostWinds. Constant quick Wii Remote motions to draw things accurately really got frustrating at times. However, thankfully, the game itself is so well put together and enjoyable overall, the urge to put my fist through the table after launching the Wii Remote out the window, started to subside eventually!!!

Definitely something every WiiWare player should try out, especially if you loved World of Goo and Scribblenauts.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Michael (guest) 22.02.2010 18:32#2

Although not advertised as a multiplayer game, this works well as a cooperative two-player. I played it with my 11 year-old granddaughter. One of us was handling the running, jumping and climbing with the nunchuck, the other doing all the drawing with the remote. We had a great time.

Try it with your young 'uns.

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