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Max & the Magic Marker - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Max & the Magic Marker

WiiWare | Press Play | 1 Player | Out Now | 1,000 Nintendo Points 
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk
Related Game: Max & the Magic Marker (DS) 
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15th May 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Meet Max, an orange-haired, daring little boy who finds himself in one heck of an adventure! He finds a magical marker in the mail and wastes no time at running to his colouring book. After all, any other energetic young boy would do the same if they received some new drawing utensils. But what starts as an afternoon of fun turns into a disaster when his purple monster creation comes to life and begins to run off. With some quick thinking, Max uses this mysterious marker to send in a miniature version of himself into the drawing to go after him. But he has no idea what kinds of challenges await him!

    In order to get Max running, players use the Nunchuk's analog stick. Pressing the Z Button on the controller will perform a jump, while the C Button will let you push boxes and other items. The Wii Remote is used for the marker itself. Just by pointing at the screen, the giant marker will appear on-screen, and the floaty nature of it makes you feel like you're in Max's shoes out in the real world. Pressing and holding the A Button will apply pressure to the marker so you can create line drawings, entirely dependant on the amount of ink you have. The more lines within the drawing, the heavier it will be. You have the ability to add to existing creations, or erase them using the B Button. If you hold the B Button and shake the Wii Remote, you'll erase all the drawings that are currently on the playing field.

Max's crazy adventure will take you on a journey comprised of 15 stages, set across 3 inspired worlds. Starting from the confines of your own neighborhood, you'll move onto pirate-themed islands and a mechanical base. Before you even get to expressing your creativity, you'll need to collect orange ink bubbles littered throughout each stage. It's important to remember, though, that once you cross checkpoint signs, not only will your progress will be marked, but the ink you've collected will also disappear. Each stage also has an assortment of yellow light bulbs to collect. After all, the creative blinker inside your head isn't gonna turn itself on!

    In each stage, you'll encounter purple blob-like enemies that will try to impede your progress. You'll also face treacherous obstacles such as rain clouds and concentrated fire - the last thing you want is for your lovely drawing to get soggy or even get singed! In both cases, you'll need to think logically to use the drawing element to your advantage. For example, purple enemies can be squished using heavy scribbles or you can lead them off of ledges to plummet to their doom. The green blobs are your mini-advisors who will ensure that you know how to play or use a certain gimmick to your advantage. So be sure to consult them for their words of wisdom when you're confused at a certain point.

Along the way, you'll use your drawing abilities to solve creative puzzles. If you're only good with stick figures, then this game will be perfect for you! You'll need to reach ledges using teeter-totters, figure out how to put a basketball through a hoop, get a boulder rolling, and manuever around deadly laser beams. But if you're having a brain freeze for the day, don't worry. You can spend as much time as you want on your first go. What's interesting about the game is that it doesn't make players feel tied to a time limit - your records are only seen at the completion of each stage. There's also no life system to be seen, a great feature that eliminates possible frustration that could arise from unfortunate deaths. While the platforming aspect isn't anything special, solving puzzles is what makes the game fun to play. They force players to stop and think rather than rushing through everything, plus, there's usually more than one way to work out a solution. These are two great qualities that I've come to admire about recent platformers, and I was pleased to see Press Play incorporate this here.

    Pressing the A Button will enable you to freeze the action for a bit to plan your drawings carefully. Doing so will turn the beautifully-rendered world into a series of mere sketches, like something out of a children's picture book. This feature is especially handy when you've just fallen off a platform and are about to die. In essence, you can stop time, carefully put something on paper to save yourself, and voila! When you're playing normally, though, Max & the Magic Marker certainly has a playful theme going for it. The visuals are really impressive, and they're sure to bring a smile to your face. However, what brings that feeling down are the odd times when the game decides to show signs of glitching. The music is also well-suited to Max's antics, effectively capturing the rascally attitude that you'd expect from boys of his age. Don't let the cartoony nature of it all fool you though, this game is deceptively challenging at some points!

Clearing each stage on your first try can take anywhere from a couple minutes to half an hour. And since there are 15 stages in all, getting through the entire game shouldn't take you more than a few hours. Rest-assured, though, that it is a fun ride while it lasts, and it's the sort of game that you'd easily want to pick up for a rainy day. Thankfully, once you get through the final world, the game is not over - there are supplementary elements that give the game replay value. For one, each world has a time medals that players can aim for. Of course, you won't know what the requirement is until you finish the level, but this just keeps you motivated all the while. There are collectable black bubbles featured in each stage, whether it be through hard-to-reach or secret puzzles. Both of these aspects give players reason to return, especially for completionists.

    The Extra areas on the main menu also contains a couple unlocks that become available as you fulfill certain conditions in the game. For example, the first secret you'll gain access to is the Playground area, which basically serves no purpose beyond just messing around in a large open space. Eventually, you'll also be able to toggle the 'Full Marker' on and off. Although achievements made using this feature won't count, you can always use this to explore or even challenge yourself for personal speed runs. Overall, although the game may not look like it, there's a surprising amount of reasons to keep playing this game even beyond completion, and this helps make the game more of a worthwhile investment.

As a $10 title, Max & the Magic Marker is a thoroughly fun adventure to romp through. It's an excellent addition to the WiiWare catalog, alongside other platforming experiences such as LostWinds and NyxQuest. The minute negatives of the package don't bring it down enough to prevent me from recommending it. It's something I can see a lot of people enjoying, especially amongst families and nearly anyone who has a little kid inside of them. Although the game may not be as lengthy as some might hope, there's enough content for completionists/OCD-sufferers to come back to. Definitely add this to your list of games to get.

26/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 9/10 - Drawing aspect is explored pretty well, good puzzle element, not restricted by time limits, multiple ways to reach the same result
Presentation 9/10 - Top-notch visuals, impressiveness of this release faulters slightly when glitches pop up, undeniable charm
Enjoyment 4/5 - Will constantly bring a smile to your face, opportunities to express yourself, fun to play with someone else, great for families
Extra Content 4/5 - Quest takes a few hours, time medal, fun game to make speed runs in, secret unlocks, extras add more hours to the game

Equivalent to a score of 87% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Max & the Magic Marker
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