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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Review: Max and the Magic Marker (iPad)

Max and the Magic Marker has been something of a sleeper hit. On WiiWare, it probably never got the broad market attention it deserved, and while it's available on Steam it was in many ways overshadowed by the big budget stuff you can download there.

The iPad is a more natural fit for the game, and fingers crossed that it's a runaway success on that platform, because it deserves to be.

Buildin' my castle


It's a fairly similar concept to the likes of Drawn to Life - the big haired hero, Max, finds himself dropped into a relatively simple platformer that is kept fresh by his ability ability to draw objects into the game world via a "Magic Marker" he has in his possession. Standing in front of a long chasm? No problem - draw yourself a bridge. See some treasure just out of reach? Draw a staircase.

Within that basic context there is a wealth of puzzling to work through. Naturally the game starts out nice and easily. With many iPad games, the game would be over before the difficulty starts to ramp up. Max and the Magic Marker has quite a gentle difficulty curve, so it's a testament to the amount of content in the game that it does eventually become quite challenging. There are no fewer than 58 levels spread across three game worlds, and reaching all the treasures and getting through to the end of each of them will test the abilities of just about everyone.

Within each of those 58 levels there are three stars to be earned - one based on how quickly the level is completed, and the other two based on your ability to find and reach the various treasures hidden within the levels. In the later levels, earning these stars is quite a task.
It's not just about building stairs and platforms. Max needs to protect himself from the elements, too



The game's controls are a natural fit on the iPad. By himself, Max hasn't got many abilities - he can run in either direction, and jump. His main ability is the "Marker" that allows you to draw onto the stages. For obvious reasons, drawing on the iPad is an easier affair - certainly easier than wrestling with the Wiimote with the Wii version of the game.

Visually, Max is a charming game, with cute enemies, incredibly bright worlds, and a varied palette. It's the kind of game that appeals to just about everyone.

For less than $10, Max is a steal. There's a lot of meat in the game and its ability to be both gentle and challenging means just about everyone can enjoy playing through the game. The iPad isn't known for quality platformers, but thanks to EA, it now has a challenger.




Review: Max and the Magic Marker (iPad)
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