Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Max and the Magic Marker (WiiWare) Review

Let's do a WiiWare review. The first review this month was a downloadable game, so let's continue that trend. It's Max and the Magic Marker for the WiiWare service as well as PC and Mac.

The Game Where You Draw Your Own Conclusions.

The WiiWare service, like the Wii retail game library, is filled with a lot of garbage. Fortunately, there's a lot of expertly-designed, high-quality games as well. We've seen games that utilize the Wii remote well like NyxQuest, fun puzzlers like Toki Tori, and great arcade titles like the Bit.Trip series of games. Add one more excellent game to the list with Max and the Magic Marker. While not the best WiiWare has to offer, this game is one to write, draw, and doodle home about.

The gameplay of Max and the Magic Marker by design is your typical run and jump side-scrolling platformer except with a twist. That comes from the titular magic marker Max acquires. When there's a dangerous villain up ahead that will harm Max, you can draw a weight to fall on top of the skull of said baddie to defeat them. The marker is also used in a wide variety of ways from simple bridges over deadly chasms for Max to cross to drawing a set of steps for Max to reach a higher platform. The ingenuity of this mechanic is very impressive.

Argh! A pirate's life for me!

At certain times, Max and the Magic Marker is more of a puzzle game than a platformer with puzzling predicaments for Max to overcome. See a row of wheels leading to another platform? Draw a line and have Max balance on the drawn line to cross the chasm. See a treadmill without a lift? Draw one! There's usually more than one solution to every problem Max comes across be it death-inducing rain clouds that need Max to hide out under a drawn fortress of impenetrable protection or see-saws that require Max to drop something on the other end in order for him to be propelled into the air.

You can draw some crazy contraptions in Magic Marker.

Of course, you can't just doodle things willy-nilly and expect an outcome. For one, you'll quickly run of ink. Secondly, the game requires precision. Unfortunately, unlike a mouse that is grounded to a desk or table for added precision, the Wii remote is held in the air with no force feedback meaning less precision. It makes portions of the game where you have to draw something delicately extremely frustrating. Add into this one reviewer whose arms shake uncontrollably due to medication side effects, and you have one troublesome game at certain stages.

Other than that not-so-little caveat, Max and the Magic Marker plays wonderfully. Max controls like a dream with tight, responsive platforming. You can freeze time so you can draw any object you want. You can also connect doodles together to form one standing unit. In each stage there's a number of collectibles from bubbles giving Max more marker ink to special black blobs that unlock content into the options menu like developer interviews. All of this is optional, but makes a three hour game play much longer than it actually is. Who doesn't love getting the most out of their hard-earned Wii points? Not I, for one.

It's not the heat, it's the hot bonfire!

Max and the Magic Marker is a very nice-looking game. The colors are bright, the characters and backgrounds are well-animated, and everything is just a pleasure to look at. Sound-wise, the music is infectious in that it's not very good when you start to listen to it, but as it continues and incessantly plays, it gets into your mind. Soon enough, you're humming along with it for whatever sick, sadistic reason. Overall, the package is presented in a great manner.

Ultimately, Max and the Magic Marker suffers from not-as-always accurate drawing that a game like this needs. The Wii remote itself is competent, but something about not being able to hold the Wii remote against a hard surface hurts this game overall. If you can get past the minor moments where aggravation occurs, Max and the Magic Marker is a good game with plenty of replay value, constant discovery, and a specific charm that is hard to find in games these days.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.0/10]

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