Max and the Magic Marker (DS)

Game review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
Max and the Magic Marker (DS) Game Poster Image
Glitchy controls make this a lesser version of great game.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The story itself is one that champions the power of imagination. Plus, there's the secondary message that knowing a thing or two about physics can be useful.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Max is a smart and resourceful hero. He may have to fight a monster every now and then, but there's no hand-to-hand combat -- Max uses his brain to do away with the baddies.

Ease of Play

Some glitchiness with the controls mars this DS version of the game. There's an odd delay between drawing a line and seeing it appear on the screen. Sometimes the inability to move the camera without moving Max can cause a problem in seeing where you have to go. And occasionally, Max can get stuck between objects.

Violence & Scariness

The evil glob creatures (Gobos) need to be squashed sometimes in order to get past them. Smaller ones vanish, while larger ones sometimes leave a splotch of purple goo.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Max and the Magic Marker is a clever physics game that requires kids to use a lot of brainwork in order to succeed in the adventure. There's a little bit of very cartoony violence against evil blob creatures. However, it's worth noting that this DS version has glitchier (and thereby more difficult) controls than the Wii, PC, or app versions of the same game.

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What's it about?

In MAX AND THE MAGIC MARKER (DS), a young boy sketches out a colorful world on paper and then sees (or imagines) his new land being attacked by evil blob creatures called Gobos. So Max jumps into his own drawing to rid his imaginary world of Gobos and save the day. As he makes his way through classic 2-D platform-jumping game levels, you must use the DS stylus to draw items that will help him (stairs, bridges, rocks to crush enemies, etc.).

Is it any good?

Max and the Magic Marker is still a creative and clever physics game that gives players a lot to think about as they traverse its puzzling 2D levels. But the DS version doesn't hold up quite as well in comparison to previous versions of the game. For one thing, the graphics simply aren't as good. They look strangely low definition. And while the stylus-on-touchscreen method sounds like it should be the best possible control scheme for a game about drawing with a magic marker, it doesn't work all that great. There's a bizarre lag between moving the stylus and seeing the line appear. And having to touch buttons while using the stylus is always a challenging maneuver in any DS game. Other occasional glitches mar the game a bit as well, such as barely being able to see the other side of a chasm that you need to draw a bridge across, or having to restart a level if Max gets stuck between two platforms. If you've got an iPad, the app version feels like the ideal incarnation of Max and the Magic Marker.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the physics lessons learned within the game. How can kids apply such lessons to real life?

  • While it is minimal and very cartoony, there is still some violence in the game. How does squashing blobs compare to the fighting in other video games? Is it any better or worse?

Game details

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Themes & Topics

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