Max and the Magic Marker (hands-on)

This clever platform game is like "Harold and the Purple Crayon, Teen Edition." It's good on the iPhone, but even better on an iPad.

Like platform games? Here's one with a twist: you can draw objects to help you complete your quest.
Like platform games? Here's one with a twist: you can draw objects to help you complete your quest. Screenshot by Rick Broida

Remember the children's classic "Harold and the Purple Crayon"? Imagine, if you will, that Harold had an older brother: Max, an equally artistic scamp with a Conan O'Brien haircut--and a magic marker.

So the stage is set for Max and the Magic Marker ($1.99 for iPhone/iPod, $4.99 for iPad), an inventive, entertaining iOS port of the eponymous PC/Wii game.

MMM is a 2D platformer with a twist: Like Harold, Max can draw objects in the world around him and then use and/or interact with them. For example, when standing on one end of a see-saw, he can draw a giant boulder to drop on the either side and vault him up to the next platform.

Likewise, he can draw a bridge to span a waterway, or even a balloon to carry himself skyward. You don't always have to do this on the fly; the game lets you pause time when necessary to draw just the right thing at just the right moment.

The catch is that your marker has a limited amount of ink, and refilling it requires gathering golden orbs as you work through each level (of which there are an impressive 58 total). Happily, you can reclaim certain drawings after using them, another way to boost your ink level.

The game feels a little claustrophobic on an iPhone and iPod Touch (note: it's compatible only with the iPhone 4 and third-gen and later Touches), but it's certainly playable. To really enjoy MMM, however, play it on your iPad, where the levels feel spacious and your finger has lots more room to draw.

Max and the Magic Marker is easy to learn and loads of fun. Although it skews toward a younger audience (my 11-year-old loves it), I can definitely recommend it for right-brained adults as well.


 

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