One for the younger gamers?
Mega quiffed Max is happily drawing at home when a marker pen arrives in the mail. Like most curious and imaginative young boys he uses it to draw a moustachioed monster. Turns out said marker pen is full of magical orange ink, which brings his monster to life and sees him running into Maxâ€™s other drawings and wreaking havoc! Max must now draw himself into his pictures to stop the monster!
Cue plinky plonky music and some frustrating times ahead. A physics based 2D puzzle platformer, you control not only Max but the giant magic marker as well. Initially this seems great fun as whatever you draw becomes a physical object â€“ the possibilities must be endless I hear you cry! Well, not quite as whatever you draw is also subject to the laws of gravity and motion – groan.
The aim of the game is simple â€“ use the marker pen to complete the level by overcoming challenges, solving puzzles and beating bad guys. This actually involves drawing ladders/stairs or boxes to get Max across gaps too wide to jump over or platforms too high to reach. You can also launch him off seesaws, protect him from rain and boulders andâ€¦â€¦ thatâ€™s about it! What could have been a deathblow to Scribblenauts is in actual fact a game thatâ€™s very attractive to look at but where the possibilities are in fact limited.
The thrill of having the ability to draw absolutely anything you could possibly imagine and see it take shape and form in the game quickly disappears as the levels progress when you realise that you have finite amounts of ink. As soon as you do build up a decent reserve of ink itâ€™s sucked away by the monster at every checkpoint which you canâ€™t stop happening â€“ and where did he get that Hoover from and why donâ€™t we see more of him and why is he purple instead of orange and why exactly are we chasing him again as heâ€™s not actually that monstrous? So you only ever have the smallest amount of ink needed to get Max through â€“ no problem I like a challenge and spent ages working on using every precious dob of ink whilst trying to keep the mouse under control to craft a fabulous platform with dodecagon-ish shaped, counter-balancing blob only to be heartbroken when it uselessly fell into the waters below â€“ if only Iâ€™d had more ink to realise my full dream system. Instead I drew yet another seesaw then another set of stairs and grumpy max crawled ever onwards.
You donâ€™t have to be creative to get through the levels and for me; this made it feel a bit dull. In fact I canâ€™t help feeling like this game is a bit like a test at school â€“ made by adults trying to make it look cool and fun but actually with a focus on education and learning, with rules that are decidedly un-fun. The levels are very repetitive (as is the music) whilst the story is very basic. Seeing my orange lines become solid is quite satisfying and you can create some generally interesting results. But the flip side is you often have to redraw even the most basic of lines to allow Max to progress. Whilst thereâ€™s certainly no denying that the technology here is astounding, the animation is charming and Iâ€™m sure a young audience will love it I think overall, seasoned gamers will find itâ€™s appeal and scope too limited and probably not that magic.
Max and the Magic Marker is available from GamersGate