Max and the Magic Marker

App review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
Max and the Magic Marker App Poster Image
Great strategy adventure with physics lessons built in.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn basic concepts of physics, movement, prediction, and logic in Max and the Magic Marker. Kids playfully experiment with leverage and gravity as they make imaginative drawings that get Max through the game. Moderately geared toward making art with a purpose, this app is a solid mix of fun and physics.

Ease of Play

Drawing on the touchscreen is very easy and precise. Moving around with the arrow controls in the corners works reasonably well, too. It would be helpful if you were able to zoom out, though.

Violence & Scariness

Max can die by touching bad guys or falling into pits. If he dies, he simply starts the level over. He can squash evil blobs by drawing objects and letting them fall to squash the villains. They usually simply disappear, but the larger ones let out a purplish splash.

Sexy Stuff

A button on the title page will take you to a store to buy more EA games.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Max and the Magic Marker is the app version of a computer game of the same name. Its story is an imaginative one, in which a young boy named Max uses a special marker to sketch a blobby bad guy into one of his drawings, only to see that villain come to life and wreak havoc among Max's artwork. Max then draws himself into the picture and sets out to stop the Gobos (as they are called) from destroying his sketch world. The game is a great physics lesson, as every item that kids draw into the scene reacts to gravity as it would in the real world. There is some minor cartoony violence, as Max squishes the Gobos to defeat them -- they generally splat into nothingness, but larger ones let out a purplish splash. There are two versions of this game, which are the same except for the high definition graphics found in the iPad version called Max and the Magic Marker for iPad ($4.99). The iPhone/iPod Touch version only cost $1.99.

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What's it about?

Kids control Max's orange marker by using their finger to draw lines, shapes, and other objects. The objects help Max on his quest to keep evil blob creatures from destroying his sketch world. Kids will draw stairs, ramps, bridges, levers, and other items. Gravity in the game works much like it would in real life, so you need to anchor anything you draw to keep it from sliding away. Players earn stars by completing a level within a designated time limit or collecting special objects along the way of this 2-D platform adventure.

Is it any good?

MAX AND THE MAGIC MARKER works wonderfully as a touch-controlled app game -- better than it did as a mouse-controlled PC game, actually. Using your finger as the "magic marker" provides much more precision than was possible with a computer mouse, which you will appreciate when you're drawing bridges for Max to walk across, steps for him to jump up, or heavy weights to release on top of bad blobs, causing them to squish. The story is imaginative (and is essentially an ode to imagination itself) and the artwork is clean and colorful, with clever whimsical touches. The levels start out pretty easy to get through, but as you go on (and there are more than 50 levels), you'll really be racking your brain to figure out how to make it to the end. It's a great game for thinking kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Connect gameplay to the physics of everyday life, such as ball rolling or the action of a seesaw.

  • Steer kids who love drawing toward this title. They can learn some basic physics concepts while channeling their inner Picasso.

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love games that make them think

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