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[Review] Max and the Magic Marker: Gold Edition

Max & the Magic Marker is a physics based 2D puzzle platformer, in which the player controls the boy Max and his Magic Marker. While Max enables good old platforming fun, the marker provides the game’s signature feature: the ability for the player to draw directly inside the game world where everything drawn becomes physical objects. This feature is used to complete levels and overcome challenges but it also provides the player with a unique tool that in itself is fun to play around with.

Max is a young boy, and like most boys he loves to draw. One day he gets a mysterious marker in the mail. There is no letter attached – only the plain orange marker. Max decides to test it right away, sits down and starts drawing. He draws a monster but as soon as he finishes the lines on the paper start moving and to Max’s great surprise the monster runs off the paper and into another drawing. Stunned Max now sees how the Monster messes around with his drawings. Max realizes that he has to stop the monster. So he draws himself on the same drawing that the monster is in and immediately finds himself inside the drawing. The game begins.

1. 15 inventive and puzzling levels
2. Unique drawing control in a truly dynamic physics environment
3. 3 beautiful worlds inspired by childrens drawings
4. Death traps, monsters, and challenging puzzles
5. Unlockable challenges, secrets and rewards
6. Original and awesome soundtrack by Analogik

I got to play Max and the Magic Marker last year when I bought it at launch for Wii thanks to Wiiware (the equivalent to PSN for those that have never seen the Wii Shop Channel) and had a lot of fun with it. Really felt that my $10 had been spent on a game that delivered on all it promised. Now we find ourselves before a PSN HD version of the game (which is also available for Windows 7 Enabled Phones, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and Mac and Windows PCs and will SOON be released on DS as well) and can be controlled either with the Playstation Move Controller (and you’ll mimics the Wii controls) or with a Dualshock 3. How does this version stack up to the original release? Let’s find out! Oh, but first, be sure to go to the official Max and the Magic Marker and read on how the game started all those years ago!

We’re in the presence of a very colorful game that, as you’ve read above, presents to us an everyday scenario that can totally happen to any of us (ok, suspension of disbelief is a requirement for playing platformers. All good to go? Great!), a scenario in which a Magic Marker is dropped in the hands of Max, a simple kid who only wants to have fun by drawing monsters and landscapes for his entertainment… until said monster (Mustacho) comes to life and starts to wreak havoc. It is now Max who must put a stop to him before it’s too late!

Magic Marker Ink Spheres must be collected in all levels to full up the Marker so you can draw your way to the exit portal. Since the ink is orange, the spheres are orange and you draw orange things. Makes sense, right? You can create anything your imagination and your artistic ability can think off… as long as you’ve got enough ink for it! You can even push or pull said creations to better place them in the screen so you can make the best use of it so don’t forget it! The bigger the structure/object/doodle the bigger effort the effort needed to move it around. The heavier the structure (lots of ink used in a small object) the easier it is to use it to kill your enemies (called Gobos) and defeat Mustacho in any of the three boss fights you’ll encounter during your quest. Heavier structures also help you jump high into the sky when you drop them on a seesaw (which are always conveniently placed in spots where you’ll definitely need them) and fly away into adventure. No seesaw around? Make your own!

You can draw “live” while playing the game OR go into sketch mode and draw with everything looking like a hand drawn image done by someone not as … artistic as the ones that helped with the main graphics. Oh, and time freezes everything as well which allows you to take your time and really nail down that long staircase balanced over a circle that is held in place by a triangle.

Game is easy to control and offers a lot of different ways to solve the puzzles you run across since you can easily get rid of one of your drawings by sucking back in the marker ink you’ve spent OR you could erase ALL your drawings to offer a fresh start. Just be careful you’re not removing a platform that is keeping Max from danger or you’ll have to act FAST to recover! Things are easier overall with the PS Move controller since drawing feel more natural and you can do it faster than with the dual analog layout so if you own a PS Move controller (or are thinking about getting one) this game will really make good use of it.

This is one of those PSN games that just LOVES to have a lot of trophies for you to unlock but in order to make it so that number is as high as possible we’ll only be going after Bronze trophies during our hunting activities (as was the case with Hamilton’s Great Adventure).

The first couple of levels you tackle are small (take a minute at most to complete) and are designed like so in order to allow us to get used to the controls, physics and elements that need to be perfected before new puzzles, enemies and hazards are introduced to make things go up difficulty-wise around every turn.

You might have noticed Black Ink spheres and Bright Yellow Orbs in the video or the screens above and are wondering, what do they do? They act as a way to increase replay value since you’re graded on each level for the time it took you to finish the level, the total of Bright Yellow Orbs found and on finding the 1-3 Black Ink spheres. Should you be fast enough and collect everything in a level you’ll be awarded up to 3 golden stars and the level.. which will in turn help you unlock several trophies! Just remember that all 3 golden stars have to be obtained at the same time for them to count towards your total.

Max and the Magic Marker is a very fun game that all PS3 owners (and definitely those that have a PS Move Controller) must add to their collection. The colorful environments, tricky puzzles, high number of trophy-unlocking possibilities, amount of content and indie cred that this game oozes make this an easy purchase and $9.99 well spent.

And before closing this up, here’s a trophy guide for all fellow trophy hunters. Enjoy!

[review pros=”Interesting idea
Lots of ways to complete a level
Collectibles don’t get in the way of the fun” cons=”Could have used more levels like the last 3 before the final Boss Battle” score=91]

Published by Pan Vision
Developed by Press Play

Cost – $9.99 (Available in Europe right now. Launches on October 18 in the US)


– Game was completed before writing this review and 20 trophies were obtained.
– Total amount of time played: 10 hours.
– This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of Max and the Magic Marker: Gold Edition provided by Press Play.

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