Max & the Magic Marker Hands-On
We help Max chase down the giant monster he created by doodling our way through his imagination.
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Some of the best games got their start as PC flash games, and it's always nice to see more that make their way to the Nintendo Wii. Developed by Press Play in Denmark, Max & the Magic Marker is a charming 2D platformer that looks like a mix between A Boy and His Blob and Drawn to Life. There's no hug button, but the bulbous eggplant-like monster that you encounter is reminiscent of the adorable blob, and your most powerful (and only) weapon is your magic marker.
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You play as the young, mischievous boy Max, who loves to draw. One day you're sent a magic marker in the mail and immediately decide to draw a giant monster with it. This blob-like purple monster somehow comes to life and jumps into one of Max's other drawings just to mess things up. Max does what any brave boy would do. He draws himself in the drawing the monster invaded and decides to chase after him. As Max, you must make your way through three different themed worlds across 15 levels, using your magic orange marker to cross chasms, find orbs, and defeat really cute monsters.
The lines that you draw don't have any specific properties other than that they can be a solid plank for you to walk across or an object heavy enough for you to drop on an unsuspecting creature. It's not always going to be that easy, though. The first couple of levels ease you into the basics of drawing, but eventually you'll have to come up with clever and more complicated contraptions to help you get through the area. Using the Wii Remote, you hold A to draw and B to erase. Drawing straight lines with the remote can be tough sometimes, but if you have a steady hand, it shouldn't be too hard if you want to come up with a well-proportioned staircase instead of the mess that we ended up with.
In some cases you'll want to draw something under Max while he's in midair. You can pause the game by pressing A and B at the same time. The game freezes, and the image transforms into a hand-drawn picture so that you can fill in your own addition. This technique comes in handy when you have challenges that are time-sensitive. For example, in one of the later levels, you'll come across spinning wheels that you'll need to draw a line through to create a catapult for Max. You're limited in the amount of ink that you have--and sometimes the purple eggplant monster will steal it from you--so there's some strategy involved when it comes to challenges, but there are multiple ways of solving them.
To control Max, you use the nunchuk and jump with the Z button. We're so used to pressing A to jump that it took a while to get used to it, but this control setup makes it possible for two people to play together. One person can navigate through the platforming sections while the other takes full control of the marker. We were told that the game will take roughly three to four hours to play through, and there are hidden items, such as black orbs, to collect as you go. Snagging these hard-to-find pieces will unlock new abilities for Max and time trials, so it's worth exploring every nook and cranny.
Max & the Magic Marker is a charming puzzle platformer with pleasant visuals and a simple soundtrack. Part of the fun is noticing the details, like how the little monsters can pull out bright yellow construction hats to protect them from your pen or how you can stick your face through one of the gorilla cutouts and snap a picture. Look for Max & the Magic Marker when it is released on March 8 for 1,000 Wii points.