A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Max and the Magic Marker has the kind of story, art, and gaming style that will appeal to very young children who may simply not have the level of dexterity required to play. Kids don't need to be artists to play, by any means, but they do need to be able to draw straight lines in the proper places at the proper angles. There is also a big platform-jumping aspect to the game, which requires even more exactness and precision. Kids who are easily frustrated might not have the patience for the trial and error required to play the game. But for those that do, will experience a creative treat.
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What's it about?
The title character of MAX AND THE MAGIC MARKER draws a monster and then \"watches\" that sketchy bad guy run loose through all of his artwork. He imagines himself within his hand-drawn world chasing down the villain. Players control Max in an old-fashioned 2-D platform-jumping adventure, but they also control Max's orange marker, with which they can sketch new objects into the scenes that will help Max on his quest. You'll have to draw stairs, ramps, bridges, levers, and various other items, including occasionally drawing a big rock to drop on an evil blob creature. Gravity in the game works just as it does in real life, so you need to anchor anything you draw if you don't want it to fall or slide away. An unlockable playground mode allows you to have fun sketching whatever you want on an otherwise blank world.
Is it any good?
Max and the Magic Marker is a creative, original game with a remarkable physics engine from which players can genuinely learn a lot about the physical world. The sketchy, childlike settings are nicely juxtaposed with the very realistic looking marker that floats over the screen waiting for you to take it and draw some new lines, just as Max himself transforms from a child's drawing to a more solid-looking cartoon character. Each little section of the game is an environmental puzzle to solve, but the nature of the game allows for multiple solutions to each. Using the magic marker is so appealing that it almost makes you grumble each time you encounter a lengthy platform- jumping section for which you can't use the marker (you have a limited amount of ink, and need to refill your pen). For less experienced gamers, the jumping feels far more difficult than necessary and adds a frustrating element to an otherwise very enjoyable game. But for those who are platform-puzzle experts, the draw-your-own-solution aspect of the game creates a refreshing change.
Talk to your kids about ...
Max and the Magic Marker provides the perfect opportunity to discuss hows and whys of the game's physics. Why does dropping larger objects cause Max to fly higher on the see-saw? How are you able to move a giant boulder by just drawing an angled line under it?
Parents can also ask children about their experience with the "playground" mode. With a completely blank slate, what did they create and why?
- Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Wii, Windows
- Subjects: Hobbies: building
Science: gravity, physics, substance properties
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, hypothesis-testing, logic
Tech Skills: digital creation
Creativity: developing novel solutions, imagination, making new creations
- Price: $19.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Legacy Interactive
- Release date: April 20, 2010
- Genre: Strategy
- ESRB rating: E for Comic Mischief
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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