Game Review

Max & the Magic Marker Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

A beautiful piece of art or a worthless doodle?

Games involving drawing seem to be incredibly popular nowadays. With the DS's touch screen and Wii Remote's pointer both allowing rather precise drawing, it's pretty obvious to see why. Although it's a bit late to the party, Max & the Magic Marker keeps things pretty basic: it's a fairly straightforward platformer in which you can draw objects to help you reach otherwise inaccessible areas.

The storyline is pretty simple, but explains how the gameplay came about. One day, Max gets a magical marker in the mail. He draws an evil monster, which comes alive and escapes into the rest of his drawings; in retaliation, Max draws a crude version of himself to give chase. Of course, he is also able to draw crude objects to help himself out.

Drawing different shapes doesn't really make a difference. Each drawing has the exact same feel to it and will act pretty much the same, falling down as fast as it can unless there's a solid surface below it. Therefore you can forget about making trampolines and boats - if they're not already part of the level, you won't be using them. You'll have to keep things simple, with crude staircases, small "boxes," very thin bridges and ramps, those sorts of things. If you ever miss up it's as simple as pointing at your drawing and pressing (B); it'll disappear and all the ink will go back into the marker.

Platforms aren't the only thing you'll use ink for, however. If you use more ink on a particular drawing, it'll become heavier, which is perfect for launching yourself off a seesaw or crushing an enemy. Or maybe there's a ball you need to bounce somewhere - simply create a slanted wall for it to bounce off and you're good to go. A handy feature at times is the ability to freeze time: pressing (A) and (B) together will put everything at a complete stop, allowing you to examine the scene, drawing and erasing lines as you please and unfreezing when everything is just right.

The progression in each level is fairly straightforward. At the beginning of a level, Max has no ink in his marker, which means he must collect some in order to be able to draw objects. After getting enough to draw some decently sized items, he can use the ink to reach the next checkpoint, where the monster he created will appear with a vacuum and steal all of his ink, basically putting him back to square one. This happens multiple times in each level, and you'll only very rarely be able to fill up the marker completely.

The game consists of three worlds, each with five levels. They're all nicely sized and stuffed with things to come back for, with plenty of collectibles (some of which are quite well-hidden). Each stage also has a challenge time that will award you with a prize when beaten. Obtaining a lot of the game's collectibles will unlock a handful of special bonus features, so get looking (and running)!

The game's graphics are nice and colourful, as is to be expected from a game about drawing. When you freeze time, everything will also be temporarily presented in a more childish doodle form, which is of course even more fitting. The music is pretty weird, consisting of some upbeat tracks which change as you get further through levels. It's actually pretty good, but it can get a little repetitive when you're stuck on a particular part of a stage and it keeps looping over and over.

One small but noticeable issue is the game's framerate. Almost all the time, you can notice a little bit of lag, and some players have even reported that the game randomly froze for them. It didn't happen for us, but it is something to be cautious about. What might be annoying for new players is that already existing platforms and objects have fairly large hitboxes - if you're trying to put something on them, make sure to steer clear of the platform's edges, because if you hit them, your drawing will end immediately, meaning you'll have to erase it and try again. With time, however, you'll learn to take this into consideration.


Although it doesn't really do anything other "drawing" games haven't already done before, Max & the Magic Marker is a very enjoyable and sizeable platforming romp, and one you'll definitely want to see through to the end. The collectibles will keep you coming back until you've got 100%, which can be pretty challenging, but it will be worth it.

From the web

Game Trailer

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User Comments (38)



Tsuchinoko said:

damn, i was hoping for there to finally be another 10/10 score game. i thought this would be it.

BTW, something weird. i had this page open just a moment ago in firefox, then opened it again in Internet explorer because my password is saved there. I got different screenshots of the game in both windows. Anyone know why this would happen?



y2josh said:

I'm looking forward to a US release.
@1: It shows different pictures every time you open a review I believe.



Corbs said:

I enjoyed the preview build, so I'm definitely getting this when it hits NA. Great review Drake!



odd69 said:

I will be putting this on my to buy list as well. I hope it comes to the usa soon.



TeMPO said:

I've been playing this quite a bit since it came out this week and I have yet to notice a framerate issue. Overall the game is exactly what I hoped it would be and well worth the purchase.



Sean_Aaron said:

If a game has more screenshots than can be displayed within the review then they cycle every time you load the page. Nice review Drake!



Notare said:

TeMPO, I'm with you. I got the game yesterday and so far I've had no FPS problems. This game is a blast!



Roo said:


Max & the Magic Marker isn't really up to that much. Don't get me wrong; it's definitely playable, but at the same time it's dismayingly repetitive and not nearly as revolutionary or intelligent as it thinks it is. I just expected a bit more after reading the previews. Still, there are worse prospects on WiiWare.

Despite it's techincal ingenuity and admirable presentation, a 5/10 would have been fairer if you ask me.



RobotLove said:

5/10? That's rather harsh. Repetition is core to all games and the real question is: Does said repetition feel tedious? In the case of Max & the Magic Marker I believe that it does not. This game is far from perfect but it is more than just "playable", I'll even go so far as to say it is fun.

Is Max & the Magic Marker revolutionary? I know of no other title that offers the same type of gameplay. It is clear that Max & the Magic Marker is inspired by previous games like Crayon Physics, World Of Goo, and of course the many platform titles that have been released over the years, but what it offers is without a doubt unique.

The above review is (in my opinion) appropriate and the score of 8/10 is fitting.



Roo said:


When I mentioned it was 'dismayingly repetitive', it wasn't to say how tedious the game might be, but rather how unambitous it is. It appears that the developers were far too happy to repeat the same four ideas over and over - I'm sure you'll agree that besides making floats, bridges, stairs and umbrellas, there isn't that much you need to doodle. It just should have been so much more than it is, even if memory is tight on WiiWare. Wouldn't really agree that it's unique either, as Drawn To Life largely did this same sort of thing a few years back.

It might seem a bit mean-spirited of me to put the boot in - especially considering how polished it is by the standards of WiiWare - but to me it isn't all that exciting.



Malouff said:

I wanted to mention that PressPlay has also confirmed that Max & the Magic Marker will be coming to both the PC and Mac.



pixelman said:

May get this eventually, but I'll be saving my points for Pearl Harbor Trilogy and Mega Man 10. :3



WolfRamHeart said:

That is a really cool image Malouff.

I have been waiting for this game for quite some time. I will definitely be getting it as soon as it becomes available.



Vendetta said:

Good work, Drake. It's a solid, thoughtful review. I'm sure Luigi-La-Bouncy appreciates it too... he's probably just too busy to say so right now. Don't worry, I'm sure he'll get around to it eventually - no rush though.



mikejonesuk said:

I agree with the review in general although this is the first game I've played with a drawing mechanism (apart from Line Rider) and found it very refreshing.
I would disagree with the previous poster who said that there are only a few useful items to draw. I've drawn see-saws, swings, ladders, lifts (elevators) and much more. The game itself will inspire you with between-level diagrams. Also, watch the trailer for ideas.
I would also point out that this game is GREAT as a two player co-op. I played it with my granddaughter - me on Wiimote, her on nunchuck - and we had a great time. Try it with your younger family members.



motang said:

Ohh, can't wait for this one to be out. I am looking forward to doodling away!



EddieBGreen said:

I loved Crayon Physics Deluxe on the PC, and I love this.
Although boxes and ladders are often the most straightforward way to get to platforms I have had a lot of fun creating all sorts of physics based contraptions to get me about.

There are also secrets to be found, and unlockables, like the 'full pen' which really allows you to go to town with your contraptions.



Tsuchinoko said:

well, its good to see so many people enjoying this. This game, Night Game (Night Sky), and And Yet It Moves were the 3 big 2010 Wiiware games that i was looking forward to. So here's hoping for a goos release soon outside of EU.

What will the 2nd 10/10 wiiware game be? hmmm



Yarox said:

I downloaded this game today, played trough the first 4 levels and all I can say is: FUN!
Good nice looking game.



Tate24 said:

just got this & was pleasantly surprised how nice it was! though theres only 15 levels the scope for replay time is high enough 2 warrent me playing it again! ive notice slight dips in frame-rate but nothing that makes it crash as of yet!



EdEN said:

Bought the game and will be getting one copy for my little sister on her Wii as well.



FJOJR said:

Tried MatMM demo and it was on the short side but I liked the concept.

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