Sunday, July 4, 2010

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Review: Max & the Magic Marker (PC Game)

Having seen how much my 6 year old son enjoys the computer drawing game Shidonni, I was sure he would enjoy the game Max & the Magic Marker, which has been released in several countries throughout 2010. This is an animated computer game for children that allows the player to draw what he or she needs to further their progress in the game. This is such a unique concept, which taps into both a child's imagination and problem-solving skills.

To my surprise, my son did not take to this game. I think it was the obstacles that turned him off. The game is recommended for ages 8 and up, so perhaps he was not psychologically prepared to face these challenges. There was nothing remotely frightening about these obstacles, such as the possibility of falling off something, running out of ink, and the mean fellow who shows up now and then to steal all his ink. That last one was my son's least favorite part of the game.

After two attempts, I decided I should just play Max & the Magic Marker on my own, so I could report back to my readers about this game. I found the game to be very enjoyable. It does require similar skills to other computer games of this nature, such as being able to jump up on a small platform, but not fall off the other side. The only negative consequence to a fatal error is simply returning to a pre-determined start point.

The one thing a younger child might not understand are the properties of physics that are strongly present in this game. When my son tried to draw a bridge to help him cross a ravine, his bridge fell into the water. This frustrated him very much. An older child or an adult would understand how to draw the bridge so it would be more stable and less susceptible to the laws of gravity. Another example of how gravity plays a part in this game is shown in the use of teeter totters. In some cases, Max needs to draw an object heavy enough to fall onto one side in order to toss himself up high enough to reach his destination. I learned that the height at which the object is drawn and the amount of ink that is used is in direct relation to how heavy the object turns out to be.

Max collects ink by touching the ink bubbles that can be found along the way as he travels forward through this game. I learned that he can regain some of his ink used by erasing an object he has previously drawn.

Much of this game is trial and error. For example, I had to learn that Max could not walk up a steep line and that drawing steps worked out much better. I think the unwillingness for my son to try again in such situations is what ruined the game for him.

When you have completed a level, you can take Max through a portal. The software can save up to 3 different games, which is great if you have multiple children in your household. The game has 15 levels in all and you can see your progress, total time spent playing, and other stats at any time. I thought it was odd not to have an "exit" button. I think pressing ESC to quit is not intuitive for a child.

Overall, I think this game would be perfect for a child 8 years and older. The graphics are very pleasing and would appeal to any child. It does require a bit of reading if you want to take advantage of the tips the little green guys offer Max when he walks by them.

This game retails for $20 and is available for the PC, MAC, and WiiWare. You can buy Max & the Magic Marker right on .

PC System Requirements:

Pentium III
512 MB RAM
3D-graphics card
200 MB on the hard drive
online activation

MAC System Requirements:

Intel based Mac
512 MB RAM

Thank you to Press Play for providing us with a sample download of this game free of charge to base this review upon for the Game Review Network.