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Gameplay That Doesn't Reach Its Full Potential - Max & the Magic Marker Review
Developers are constantly trying to push innovative content on video game consoles. If something is considered new or revolutionary, it can pave the way for sequels, imitators, and spin-offs. Press Play are another in a long list of developers who have created something with the intention of it being innovative. Ultimately, however, Max & the Magic Marker on WiiWare is a good idea, but it doesn’t really push the envelope in terms of innovation.
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Max & the Magic Marker Storyline
Max & the Magic Marker revolves around a young boy named Max with a vivid imagination. One day, a marker arrives in the mail. Max takes the marker, starts drawing a monster, and soon discovers that his artistic tool is more than just a run-of-the-mill marker when the monster comes to life within the pages of Max’s drawing pad. Young Max then inserts himself into the hand-drawn world by sketching himself out and setting out for adventure as he pursues his created monster.
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At its core, Max & the Magic Marker is a platformer with drawing mechanics integrated into it. You’ll do a lot of climbing, jumping, and running, and there’s even a bit of combat to engage in. The bulk of all of this is done through use of Max’s marker. Using the Nunchuk, you help Max run, jump, and climb across different obstacles. By pointing the Wii Remote at the screen, you’ll see an onscreen marker. You use this marker to draw bridges, platforms, and other such objects to aid Max in his quest.
Unfortunately, while the premise sounds very creative, you’ll find that you’re often drawing the exact same objects to get through each of the game’s 15 levels. The novelty of drawing a bridge wears out after the first few times, and having to draw stacks of boxes just to get to higher ground becomes somewhat of a nuisance.
That’s not to say that Max & the Magic Marker is a bad game. It is an undeniably fun game with some well thought out platforming, and the drawing mechanics are pretty cool overall. There’s just not a lot of variety to the formula, and unlike Max, you really can’t let your imagination run wild and draw anything you want.
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Overly simplistic drawing mechanics aside, Max & the Magic Marker also suffers from a few questionable design choices. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself getting stuck in between your drawings, at which point Max will begin to shake in a strange, glitchy manner.
Another issue, and one that is more of a rare occurrence, is with the game’s enemy placement. After dying, you get sent back to a checkpoint. There are a few checkpoints that have enemies roaming about. It is quite possible for you to respawn atop an enemy, only to die once you make contact with it. Thus begins a cycle of die-respawn-die-respawn that is such a huge indication of bad enemy placement that it’s laughable. Luckily, this isn’t the case with every checkpoint, and the chances of this happening are very slim.
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Graphics and Sound
Max & the Magic Marker features stylish, colorful visuals that truly drip with heartfelt style. The visual design is easily the game’s strongest aspect, and seeing the drawing-like backgrounds and high array of colors is definitely something that can be appreciated in this game. Sadly, the game’s soundtrack isn’t as strong as the graphics. You’ll hear repetitive themes that definitely sound quirky, but don’t exude the level of charm the game’s visuals do.
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Featuring three worlds with five levels apiece, Max & Magic Marker can be completed in about five hours. There are collectible items strewn across each of the levels, and finding these unlocks a handful of bonus modes that are worth checking out. For 1,000 Wii Points, though, this package seems a little overpriced, even if it is a downloadable WiiWare game.
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Max & the Magic Marker Overall Score
Max & the Magic Marker is a charming platformer. It’s so charming that it’s hard not to recommend it to gamers. At the same time, however, the game doesn’t invite the same level of creativity that titles such as Scribblenauts and Drawn to Life do; and you’ll find that the sometimes quirky mechanics take away from the overall experience. Max & the Magic Marker is the type of game you should approach warily, because if you come into this experience expecting some grand, creative adventure, you’ll be greatly disappointed.