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I’m not much of a platform gamer. To be honest, I’d rather be running around in a first person shooter, building detailed strategies against computer controlled opponents in map-based resource management and combat games or slaying dragons online.
But there is something compellingly honest and old school about platform games, particularly those that are developed with a new angle. After all, the platform genre goes back to the 1970s; any developer that manages to do anything new with the idea deserves plenty of support.
So it is with Press Play, whose game Max and the Magic Marker (known in Japan as Rakugaki Hero) was one of the first games to hit the Windows Phone platform in 2010. Still a firm favourite, this is a title that makes full use of the platform genre and the interaction that is possible through a touchscreen.
Platforms & Pens
Following Max’s discovery of a magic marker and its ability to bring a monster that he has drawn to life, the game embarks upon a series of increasingly difficult levels, each bringing a new challenge to Max and the player.
Adopting a similar gameplay method to that found in the iOS game Crayon Physics, Max and the Magic Marker regularly challenges the player to get Max across the landscape using a combination of steps, platforms, balls and even balloons.
Standard controls (left, right, jump, etc.) are present, enabling you to get Max into position and across the screen. On the way various bonuses can be collected, all with the aim of catching and defeating the monster that Max accidentally created.
Designed With a Magic Marker
One of the main strengths of this game is the visual design. Max and the Magic Marker looks great, with cute characters (even the monster is arguably cuter than it should be!) and a depth that gives a sense of texture to the in-game world.
Of note is the technique used when a game is loaded – what appears to be an illustration (in marker pens, of course!) of the stage the player has reached, complete with Max in action soon morphs into the actual level, with backgrounds and characters now displayed in their animated form.
All in all, this game looks great!
Monster Magic Audios
Although there are several soundtracks throughout this game, the strength of Max and the Magic Marker’s audio is in the smaller, event-driven sound FX.
Enjoying the game with headphones provides the player with the optimum audio experience of the pleasing level-specific soundtracks with the cleverness of the single sound effects. Everything from the scribble sound made when a marker-made line is deleted to the growls of the monster do as much to build atmosphere as the graphics and gameplay. Naturally, your Windows Phone’s standard speakers are acceptable.
Naturally, audio can be adjusted from the main game menu, enabling you to choose whether you prefer the music or the sound effects, or a mix of the two.
Unlock Achievements With a Marker
Twelve achievements can be earned in this game, enabling a signed-in Xbox Live player to amass as much as 200 points for beating level bosses, speed challenges, secrets and more.
Puzzles blocking progress in the game can be completed with multiple solutions, while the online leaderboards for the game can be used to compete against friends and family. With 15 levels running across very different worlds, Max and the Magic Marker offers plenty to keep you amused and entertained while trying to figure out your next move.
Max Is Magic!
Max and the Magic Marker isn’t exclusive to Windows Phone, but this version is certainly the best iteration (after the original Wii release, of course!).
Whether you’re a fan of platform games or you’ve got bored with them over the years – or even if you’ve never tried one, Max and the Magic Marker is a rare thing. It’s a fascinating, endlessly entertaining and charming platformer with the added bonus of a unique interaction tool in the shape of the eponymous marker, and as a result is certainly worth playing.