PSN Review – Max & the Magic Marker

A motion based platforming game released last year on Wii, Max & the Magic Marker has just been ported to the PSN with Move support.

Remember back when a Sony representative said WiiWare wouldn’t just be simply ported to the PS3 to supply the Move with motion based games? I know I do, but that hasn’t stopped a number of Wii games making their way to us, for better or worse. Max & the Magic Marker is the latest to jump ship, and it’s time to find out if he brings worthwhile gaming to the platform.

Max & the Magic Marker opens with Max finding a marker in the mail one day, which he soon discovers have miraculous powers when the creature he draws comes to life and runs amok in his coloring book. Max dives in, to find himself in a cartoon 2d platforming world with basic physics elements and some gumdrop shaped enemies bouncing around. Trusty marker in hand, Max can run and jump through levels collecting bubbles of ink, which then allow him to draw in platforms or other necessary objects to traverse obstacles, like a ramp, set of stairs, or seesaw to launch himself. Throughout all of this Max also has the ability to freeze time, allowing him to draw in barriers or platforms which require a more accurate touch, or too fast a reaction. This nice feature keeps the game from being frustrating, and also makes the world take on a sketch visual style, and look it’s actually been drawn by a child.

Naturally, the Move motion controller allows players to use it as if it were Max’s marker, making it fairly easy to draw in the ramps and boxes you’ll need in the game. While you can play with just a Move controller if you want, Max’s left and right movement will be mapped to the X and circle buttons if you do, so an additional DS3 or Nav controller is recommended. Max & the Magic Marker is also playable without a Move, but it makes the core drawing mechanic a bit awkward to work with.

Each level requires Max to find Ink bubbles, score bubbles, and the exit as fast as possible. Ink is limited, but a click of the trigger lets you reabsorb any line drawn, and shaking the Move during this will suck all available ink back up. Despite ink being limited, for the first two thirds of the game it’s plentiful in most levels, and a majority of obstacles are easily overcome with a simple ramp, or glob of ink to crush the mindless repetitive enemies hopping about. Eventually other simple mechanics are introduced, like making a dome to protect Max from rain or falling rock, and making a platform to be thrust into the air by a fire hydrant. Luckily the challenge steps up a little bit in the last chapter of the game, but don’t expect anything that will bend your brain too much.

Max & the Magic Marker consists of 58 short levels spread out over three distinct themed areas. With each level taking only about 2-5 minutes each to run through, it should take about 3-5 hours to beat on a first run, depending on how you play. Each level has a time challenge to beat, and 2 hidden collectible challenges to complete for stars, and each can be replayed anytime after completion. Overall Max & the Magic Marker makes for a decent kids game to add to your Move enabled collection, but despite having some interesting gameplay points it stops short of doing anything deep with the mechanics at hand.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Move Control Integration Works Well

+ Nice Visual Presentation

– Shallow Gameplay, Short Playtime

5 out of 10