Marker Man Adventures

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Marker Man Adventures Game Poster Image
Drawing-enabled platformer unnecessarily hard to master.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The theme here is creativity. Players have to use their imaginations to figure out what they need to draw to navigate perilous environments.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Marker Man, a mute stick figure who simply runs and jumps, isn’t much of a role model, but his quest to find his lost dog is noble.

Ease of Play

Difficult to figure out without reading the instruction booklet (which, thankfully, is brief and efficient). Remains quite challenging once you know how to play.

Violence

Marker man loses health when he comes in contact with enemies or touches spikes. Should his health fall to zero, he’ll disappear and a tiny tombstone will appear in his place.

Sex

Not an issue.

Language

Not an issue.

Consumerism

Not an issue.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Not an issue.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this platform adventure has little in the way of offensive content, but that it can be difficult to figure out and remains highly challenging even once the basic game elements have been learned. Players must think hard to figure out what they need to draw -- including bridges, ramps, and boxes to drop on switches -- in order to navigate perilous environments. There is no fighting in the game. Instead, players protect their stick figure hero by drawing circles around enemies and pushing the resulting balls out of their path. However, should Marker Man lose enough health -- by touching enemies, falling, or coming into contact with spikes -- he will disappear and a tombstone will take his place.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

Beating better publicized competitor Scribblenauts to stores by a couple of weeks, the drawing-enabled MARKER MAN ADVENTURES is a clever platformer that sees players sketching lines, squares, circles, triangles and other shapes to help the game’s titular stick figure hero overcome obstacles and avoid enemies on his quest to find his lost dog, Doodles. Over the course of nearly 200 levels players will draw big boxes to trigger weight-sensitive switches, lines that act as ramps and bridges, circles that will immobilize enemies or allow Marker Man to breathe underwater, and triangles that can shrink our hero in size. The goal in each level is to collect enough gold Marker Man coins to unlock the next level, then make your way to a big white hand that marks the end of the stage, collecting marker pens along the way to replenish your ink reserves, which drain with each drawing.

Is it any good?

Marker Man Adventures is the sort of game that ought to be a critic's darling. From its quirky, minimalist graphics -- the colorful world and characters look as though they could have been drawn by a artistically inclined preschooler -- to its inventive brand of draw-your-own-tools play, it would seem that there was no way it could possibly fail. And yet, in too many ways, it does.

The biggest problem is a lack of direction. Players are thrown into the game without being told about any of the specific objects they can draw or how they work. Similarly, there’s no explanation of what the onscreen icons mean or how to go about replenishing health so that Marker Man doesn’t quickly use up his lives and get thrown back to the start. Even once players have figured out how the game works (likely by flipping through the instruction booklet, which is brief but efficient) there’s a good chance they’ll still have a hard time of it, as no guiding strategies are ever provided. Make no mistake; this is one challenging physics-based puzzler. It can be fun, but it’s a shame that it’s been made so inaccessible.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about games that help foster creativity. Marker Man Adventures lets players figure out for themselves what they ought to draw to overcome obstacles. The upcoming Scribblenauts employs a similar concept. Can you think of other games that let your imagination run wild? Games that allow you to create vehicles or design levels? Are these games more satisfying than those which lock players into a set selection of traditional moves and abilities?

  • Families can also discuss accessibility. What makes a game easy to learn and play? In-game tutorials? On-screen instructions? Well-written instruction books? Which method of instruction do you prefer? Is it better for a game to let players discover certain abilities on their own? How long will you play before deciding a particularly difficult game just isn’t worth the effort?

Game details

For kids who love puzzle games

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