A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
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.
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Products & Purchases
A button on the title page will take you to a store to buy more EA games.
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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.