Max & the Magic Marker – a perfect game for mobile both as puzzle & platformers
Max & the Magic Marker
We reviewed the original version of Max & the Magic Marker in 2010, back when Windows Phone 7 was a thing.
It doesn’t seem like an awful lot has changed with this remaster, looking back on old screenshots of the game. There’s an updated UI, support for newer iOS versions, and optimised performance, but it’s hard to say how meaningful this all is without access to the old version.
Not that I’m particularly bothered about tracking such an artefact down, because Max & the Magic Marker remains a delightfully fresh and vibrant platform-puzzler seven years down the line.
Max & the Magic Marker always felt like it was a perfect game for mobile, despite the fact that it launched on the original Wii (another sign of its age) and PC. Its core mechanic practically screams out for a touchscreen interface.
You guide our protagonist through colourful 2D platformer levels using standard virtual controls – left, right and jump. Which might have posed a problem if the game was quick or action-packed. Fortunately it’s neither.
Any meaningful interaction with your environment comes through the direct drawing in of level elements. Does that gap need bridging? Draw a platform. Need to get up to higher ground? Draw some steps.
As soon as these sketches are magicked into reality they obey the laws of physics, so you can make wheels, anchors, weights and more. I’d recommend you turn off the game’s dotted-line suggestions just as soon as you’re given the opportunity, because coming up with your own makeshift solutions to each problem is a huge part of the appeal.
Not at all sketchy
It seems like a lot to do, juggling platforming controls with screen sketching – particularly when good timing is required. But Max & the Magic Marker Remastered smartly allows you to pause the action and sketch freely, with the graphics switching to a suitably squiggly art style.
Also helpful is the ability to instantly recover all of your ink by tapping on the giant pen to the left. By combining these two mechanics, I was able to avoid a couple of self-inflicted dead-ends.
The same chief issue as before applies here though. This is a particularly constrained form of creativity, with your limited ink level and your character’s clunky traversal capabilities often encouraging you to resort to the same crude fudges to get by.
But complaining too much about these inherent limitations seems churlish. Max & the Magic Marker Remastered offers a form of creative platforming that hasn’t been repeated since, well, the last time it hit the App Store in 2010.