|System: Wii (WiiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Press Play||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Press Play||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 8, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Throughout the game, you'll be required to collect small orbs containing ink for your magic marker. Each time you pass a checkpoint, your nemesis will empty your marker, which constantly forces you to create what you need with a very limited supply of ink. You will eventually unlock a feature that allows you to play through levels with a marker that never runs dry, but your progress won't be saved when making use of this little extra. Using the full marker is a great way to take a peek at levels you might be having trouble with, but you'll still want to go back and replay those levels as they were intended - the reason being: the achievements acquired give you access to some pretty sweet unlockables.
Though the actual platforming in Max & the Magic Marker isn't on par with the likes of Mario, the mechanics and collision detection are still spot-on. Max runs and jumps with a feel similar to that of LittleBigPlanet, though having to contend with only one plane of the Z-axis makes the experience feel much more satisfying.
What sets the core mechanic of Max & the Magic Marker apart from games such as Drawn to Life is its use of space. In Drawn to Life, for instance, the player is merely filling in a preset portion of the landscape already set aside by the developers; regardless of what you draw, the interactivity with objects is always the same. With Max, however, everything you create has its own unique collision detection and physics, meaning that no two players will experience the game in exactly the same way.
Visually, Max & the Magic Marker is simple yet appealing. The levels of the first world are quite beautiful, in fact, though the graphics seem to become less interesting as the game progresses; the second world doesn't look quite as good as the first, and the third world doesn't look as good as the second. Overall, though, it's an attractive package, one that seems to borrow from the shabby-chic stylings of World of Goo.
The sound effects and music are slightly less impressive, but they still manage to serve their function well. You're essentially hearing three different themes - one for each world - and though it's interesting how the music will sometimes stop in a holding pattern of sorts as you work out a specific portion of a level, the repetition can drive you a bit batty at times. The sound effects are pleasant and match the motif nicely, but the game, overall, could use a little extra "umph!"
Max & the Magic Marker probably could have been done on either of the other two consoles with decent results, much like Okami originated on PS2. However, the natural feeling you get when using the Wii Remote to control Max's magic marker is delightfully intuitive, and the entire experience exemplifies what WiiWare games should attempt to live up to. The game's a bit short, but you'll still get a good few hours of fun out of the adventure. The unlockables offer ample incentive to replay levels, hitting target times and collecting orbs. There's even a playground where you can fool around with the marker mechanics - the ideal test bed for various ideas that can be used in actual levels. If you were enamored by the creative ideas promised by games such as Drawn to Life, definitely give Max & the Magic Marker a look. It's not an epic adventure by any means, but there's still something magical about it.
CCC Freelance Writer