Max and the Magic Marker

Common Sense Media says

Great physics game with cute story, requires steady hand.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The game carries a positive message about the power of imagination. Learning the rules of physics is also key to winning, so there's a secondary "knowledge is power" message as well.

Positive role models

The entire adventure takes place in Max's imagination, so he can definitely be considered a role model in terms of creative thinking. He's also smart, resourceful, and (at least in his mind) brave and heroic.

Ease of play

Using a mouse to draw the bridges, steps, and ramps that will help Max move through his envirionment can be a very imprecise process, but the game is rather forgiving in that respect (and using the Wii remote on the Wii Ware version should prove much simpler). The platform-jumping aspect of the game is another story, though. Landing safely on tiny floating platforms can be very difficult when Max is prone to running a few extra steps after each jump. Be prepared to keep falling and re-jumping the same platform sequences over and over until you get the hang of it.

Violence & scariness

Shapes you draw can be dropped onto purple blob monsters called Gobos. When squashed, the Gobos simply vanish with a puff of smoke, but the bigger boss blob leaves a purple splatter effect when he gets smooshed.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable

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.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • shapes

Science

  • gravity
  • physics
  • substance properties

Hobbies

  • building

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • hypothesis-testing
  • logic
  • analyzing evidence

Creativity

  • developing novel solutions
  • imagination
  • making new creations

Tech Skills

  • digital creation

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Cartoonish design makes Max and the Magic Marker warm and welcoming. Kids will be drawn in further by an intuitive interface that requires physical movement to draw solutions.

Learning Approach

Context-driven puzzles foster organic reasoning and experimentation. Kids will sense that they're the ones creating solutions based on their understanding of the real world.

Support

In-game instructions provide everything most kids should need to get cracking; and for those times when kids are stumped, they can look online to find plenty of player-made videos that show clever and original solutions.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • shapes

Science

  • gravity
  • physics
  • substance properties

Hobbies

  • building

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • hypothesis-testing
  • logic
  • analyzing evidence

Creativity

  • developing novel solutions
  • imagination
  • making new creations

Tech Skills

  • digital creation

Kids can learn about reasoning, real-world physics, and building new things in this highly creative platformer adventure. Players encounter varied contextual puzzles that force them to imagine and construct novel solutions with Max's marker, like drawing an enclosure to capture floating bubbles so they can levitate to higher ground. The freeform "Playground" mode offers nearly limitless creative potential. Max and the Magic Marker is a fun and challenging way for kids to exercise and combine their imagination and reasoning skills.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

Parents say

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo Wii, Windows, Mac
Price:$19.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Legacy Interactive
Release date:April 20, 2010
Genre:Strategy
ESRB rating:E for Comic Mischief (Mac, Nintendo Wii, Windows)

This review of Max and the Magic Marker was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 9 and 9 year old Written bykptown December 12, 2010
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

easy to play, harder to master

My daughter who enjoys puzzles, really likes this game. I enjoyed this game also! You are required to think creatively how to best use your marker tool and limited ink in order to draw physical solutions. Its a great feeling when the lightbulb turns on figuring out the solution. The further you get into the game, the harder they are to solve. Excellent game.
What other families should know
Educational value
Parent of a 7 year old Written bySternadel60 June 28, 2010
AGE
7
QUALITY
 
Love it!!!!
What other families should know
Educational value
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