Max and the Magic Marker • Page 2

The inking man's platformer.

Then there are the visuals. At first it's easy to be charmed by M&MM, thanks to the cutesy style and novelty of the drawing mechanic. The way scenes take on a hand-drawn quality when you pause the game is appealing too. (You can keep drawing objects when the game is paused - great for dealing with moving environmental objects and baddies, who can be vanquished by drawing big boulders to drop on their heads.)

But once the initial attraction wears off the visuals start to look a bit messy. Environments are a mishmash of pretty pastoral elements, like trees and rolling hills, and ugly urban ones, such as concrete buildings and TV aerials. White picket fences run around houses with satellite dishes on the roof. It's as though the game doesn't know whether it wants to be cute and traditional or edgy and contemporary, and the end result is jarring.

These presentation issues are minor, however. The music isn't irritating enough to make you stop playing and the visuals aren't hideous, just not quite as stylish and cohesive as you might hope. The inventive puzzles and novel gameplay are strong enough hooks to make the game enjoyable despite these concerns.

There are some more serious problems with the control system. Max appears to have taken the same platform hero training course as Sackboy - his jumps are long and floaty and he moves slowly in midair. He can be very picky when it comes to deciding whether a gradient is too steep, and sometimes his choices can seem inconsistent.

In this level, Max finds himself in the magical land of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

It doesn't help that the Wii remote sometimes fails to offer the level of precision control required, either. Even those with the steadiest of hands may struggle - you'll often need to redraw the same thing several times before you're able to get the angle right or the line straight. This factor, combined with the tricky puzzles and limitations on Max's abilities, can lead to moments of intense frustration.

But the precision problem is down to hardware rather than software. As the demo of the PC version illustrates, controlling the marker is much easier with a mouse than a remote. So why not just buy the PC game? Perhaps because you're a cheapskate. The PC version costs €15 (£13), while the WiiWare game is 1000 Wii Points (£7).

That gets you 15 levels and an afternoon's entertainment, or longer if you're a completist and want all the collectables. The WiiWare version is pretty good value at that price, and it's possible to ignore the niggly controls for the sake of six quid. All the same, give the PC demo a try first. There's plenty to like about Max and the Magic Marker, such as challenging puzzles, novel ideas and great gameplay mechanics. But the emphasis on creativity won't appeal to everyone - especially those who remember when this was all just fields, pipes and clinky gold rings.

7 /10

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About the author

Ellie Gibson

Ellie Gibson

Contributor  |  elliegibson

Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.


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