Game Reviews

Max and the Magic Marker

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Max and the Magic Marker

If there's one thing LittleBigPlanet and its band of DIY gaming followers has taught us, it's that designing games from scratch isn't easy. A good idea can become - through imperfect tools and shoddy execution - a disastrous end product.

Max and the Magic Marker was made for those of us without the desire or patience to build things ground up. Though you can take your hand – quite literally – to its 2D levels, your input is limited to decorating them with scribbles.

Super scribbles

Max and the Magic Marker is a platformer. Instead of exploring a linear path, you have to sketch solutions to problems that arise along the way.

By simply drawing on the screen with your finger you can sketch out any design you like, from creating a bridge to get over a tricky gap in the track to scribbling a great big swirly ball to act as a weight as you attempt to leap off a makeshift see-saw.

Your designs are, of course, limited by the amount of ink you have to hand. This means using virtual buttons – 'left', 'right', and 'jump' – to collect orbs filled with orange ink that enable you to draw said sketches. Developer Press Play has been careful to keep the levels of orange gunk within set limits so you can't simply sketch your way past each and every hazard.

Making a mark

That said, it's still possible to add your own signature, drawing out all kinds of crazy shapes in order to reach far away platforms or skirt past deadly rain clouds.

Indeed, there's much joy to be had in squashing your enemies (otherwise known as Gobos) by simply dropping great big squiggles on their head.

While each stage comes with goals aplenty (your performance rated by the time taken to complete each stage, as well as the number of orbs you pick up), the game doesn't live and die by collecting items or achieving objectives. The fun is in the experimentation.

To the Max

Press Play delivers just enough of a playground to ensure you have room to romp about with gusto, but stops short of charging you with solving problems that take an age to tackle.

The upshot is that there sometimes really is only one drawing that will save the day, meaning from time to time you're doing very little other than filling in the blanks.

But misdemeanours such as this are rare, and on the whole Max and the Magic Marker inspires just enough ingenuity to let you create your own game experience.

Max and the Magic Marker

Not in the slightest bit sketchy, Max and the Magic Marker gives you a light hand in level design that results in something of a platforming gem
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.