Max and the Magic Marker is a multi-platform game from Danish company, Press Play and is their first foray into the games market. It begins with the lead character Max receiving a parcel in the post wherein is contained a 'magic marker' pen. Max begins to draw out his own peaceful world but in true gaming style, it is soon shattered when a purple monster sporting a green moustache with matching hat, enters his drawings and begins causing havoc. Max therefore draws himself into his artwork and the adventuring begins.
Let me just say first off that as a reviewer, you end up reviewing games that no-one could like, luckily for me this was not the case for Max and the Magic Marker this game is absolutely fantastic fun from start to finish. Graphically speaking this game is a traditional 2D 'platformer' style experience, much like Mario in that you start at one end, there's plenty of obstacles and challenges in between and when you reach the finish line, the level ends. Not exactly the highest rendered, 3D experience, but this game is still extremely colourful and this gives the graphics an unforgettable charm and humour.
A second point of real strength in this game is the physics associated with Max's marker pen. Most challenges in the game require the use of his marker pen which can draw shapes such as bridges to get across chasms or a heavy weight to fling Max up in the air and onto a high plateau. This is where an otherwise average, 'getting from place A to place B' game, really comes into it's own, testing the gamers creative ingenuity, whilst also providing some hilarious game-play consequences. For instance when testing the game, I came across a large ditch, too wide for Max to jump but full of water (Max seemingly is too young to swim). The solution seemed very simple so I used the marker pen to draw a bridge and confidently, jumped right into the middle of my temporary structure. But woe is me, I hadn't noticed that I had made one of the ends of my bridge slightly too short and that by jumping in the middle, the consequence was obvious, the bridge up-ended and poor Max was teleported to a previous checkpoint. A final real strength of the game is the soundtrack. Being a musical maestro myself, I think both music and sound effects can really make the difference to how enjoyable a gaming experience can be. Fortunately Max and the Magic Marker has a very upbeat and pleasant musical score but it's not likely to be so noticeable that it will grain on you as you play.
Now for the elements I thought were slightly less well done in the game. The biggest problem that I found when playing the game is that it is simply not long enough. There are 3 main worlds and each one has 5 levels, but considering I completed some levels in under 2 or 3 minutes, that's not a huge amount of game time. This can make the price of around $7 seem a little more steep because I can't see there being too much re-playability in the game. However that is not to say this game doesn't deserve that price tag, but it is enough to say, don't expect a massively long game for your money.
Another point of criticism for me, is that the enemy A.I. isn't all that intelligent. To kill them in the game you have to drop a shape from Max's marker pen onto their heads, and although the enemies do sometimes stop and put a helmet on (which protects them from your shapes), this is quite buggy and at times I simply had no challenge with regards to dealing with them.
In conclusion nevertheless Max and the Magic Marker is still a very good game and these problems are more minor issues rather than anything that will ruin the gaming experience. The graphical design of both levels and characters are really charming and an area of strength for the game. If you add to this the very entertaining use of in game physics and a jovial but fairly well written soundtrack, the game becomes a truly fun affair. The game does feel a little short as I mentioned, but if you aren't willing to part with a measly $7 for a humorous, fun filled adventure with Max and his Magic Marker, then I have to ask whether you had any childhood at all.