by Ben Lelievre
reviewed on PC
As the fat plumber sings
Many a gamer born in the eighties has a soft spot for platform games. A fat plumber in an overall has taught us the ways of life through jumping pits and stepping on enemies to reach further levels. In my circle of friends, we used Super Mario Bros. as a yardstick of manhood. The kid that beat the game the fastest while losing the least amount of lives would be king of the hill for a day. My personal relationship with platform games is a lot more tormented though. I hold them dear in my heart, but the sheer frustration of jumping in the same pit fifty times in a row makes me do random acts of violence like throwing furniture out the living room window. When I was assigned to Max & The Magic Marker from Legacy Games, I was genuinely excited by the concept of drawing my way out of levels, but I knew this could turn very ugly, at least for the unsuspecting dinner table right next to my gaming couch.
Focused on platforming experience...
I would have to call Max & The Magic Marker a game ¨for everyone¨. Although the graphics and the storyline aim towards a younger audience, few children will be able to hold up to the puzzles and the pace that is set by its developers. A few years ago, there was a very successful flash browser game that came out called “Draw Play”, where you had to draw your level around the obstacles around. This game was as challenging as it was fun. It required thinking outside the box paired with a level of dexterity with the keyboard that few had. Max & The Magic Marker is something of a spin-off of “Draw Play”. It succeeds at making the adventure deeper by adding a storyline and better graphics than a stickmen jumping around on a white sheet. There are also influences of Braid, as you can stop time in order to influence the timing of your actions. So how does this game rank compared to both titles I just named? If you said “in between”, you are correct.
You are Max, a kid quietly drawing in a shed. Suddenly, the eggplant looking monster you drew on the page comes alive. You come to realize that whatever you draw, you can make it an object in real life. It sounds simple and it is. This game is about the gameplay and the platforming, so a simple story that doesn't obfuscate the platforming fun works fine for me. Legacy Games have put up fifteen levels, separated into three worlds. From what I could gather, these are the worlds of your imagination, which I found out when the green pear shaped creature told me to press space bar to “leave imagination”, so I could draw something outside of time and gravity. I am not sure what the incentive is to beat the game being able to do this, but in good platforming spirit, it's not important. Obstacles, pits and collectibles were more important to me and Legacy Games made a good job at focusing the game around them.
Refreshing and innovative gameplay. Fun puzzles.
The controls will put your furniture on the endangered species list.