I got an early Christmas present this week, care of our friends over at PressPlay. Seems they deemed fit to drop me an early preview build of their upcoming WiiWare title, Max and the Magic Marker. Great news for me, but good for you as well seeing as how I get to share my experiences with you. That’s right… you can live vicariously through my own joy!
Over the last couple of hours I’ve been putting the game through its paces and testing out just about every facet of gameplay possible within the title in order to put up a proper preview for your ever curious eyes. I won’t get into too much detail in this second paragraph, but I do want to lay it out there: PressPlay is on to something with this game… something very good.
Before I jump into the nitty-gritty details, some of you may just be wondering exactly what Max and the Magic Marker is. Well, suffice it to say, you play as Max and with him comes a magic marker that you can use to solve all kinds of puzzles. You know what? I think the site will do a better job of explaining it:
Max & the Magic Marker is a physics based 2D platform game, 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.
Sound good? Believe me… it is. Now let’s get on with the preview.
Allow me to start this thing off by saying that Max and the Magic Marker has all the sort of charm we’ve come to expect out of indie games. Sure, there are plenty of top-notch indie games without the glitz and glamor, but few are ever truly recognized outside their inner circles because of it. Games like World of Goo and Braid go above and beyond and therefor are noticed within the mainstream industry for it. Max and the Magic Marker has this same sort of charm. The colors are vibrant, the world is fresh, and the artwork is absolutely lovable. Combine that we a neat twist on the traditional “pause” screen and you have yourself a dynamite game that’s bound to turn a few heads when it comes time to really gear up the hype machine.
Beyond even that, though, the game is, unsurprisingly, very fun. After all, how could a game where you get to draw everything not be fun? Every level, that I played anyways, starts out the same way. A traditional platformer with simple controls and no ink for your sword marker. It won’t be long however before you start filling that bad boy up with ink in order to trek yourself across the given level.
Now, keep in mind that the game isn’t designed to allow you to draw anything and it’ll come to life to serve your needs, ala’ Scribblenauts. In the Max and the Magic Marker the marker is more of a tool to allow you to create bridges, steps, and other such things. While this may be a let down to some of you out there, I assure you that the game is better off for it. The puzzles in the game were tailor-made for this type of interaction and the game is much better because of it. Besides, it’s not like most of us can actually draw a robot zombie anyways…
Moving on, while I only had access to the first world of the game (there’s 3 total) the game had a surprisingly large amount of replay value. Even the game’s own website says there’s likely to only about about 3 hours of gameplay, but that’s not including any replay’s you happen to do. Let’s put it this way; I’ve already played a couple hours within the first world alone as part of this preview I need to write up. I’d say, realistically, it’s taken me about an hour to play through the entirety of the first world. However, after I am done with this preview I plan on returning for a third play-through just to test some stuff out with the marker. So while the game may seem a bit on the short side, the magic lies in it’s replayability.
The only problem I can see within this game is the fact that it’s coming out on WiiWare and WiiWare alone. Now, I have nothing against Nintendo’s downloadable service, however, the Wiimote isn’t exactly the most accurate as a drawing utensil. I was lucky enough to get a PC preview-build so everything worked wonderfully for me, but I wonder if I would have the same reactions were I playing on my Wii instead. I would also like to point out just how perfect this game is for the Nintendo DS (DSiWare maybe?) given the systems knack for drawing games with it’s stylus system.
Minor future-problems aside, however, Max and the Magic Marker is fun. It’s not a rush-job, nor does it try to be something more than what it is. It’s a simple puzzle platformer where you get to draw your way into and out of various puzzles. While there’s still no hard release date or price set, you can be sure that this is one WiiWare title you won’t want to miss out on.