YAWMA Bundle 1: Max & the Magic Marker + Twin Sister

Max & the Magic Marker just doesn’t stay fun for long

By Daavpuke, Posted 19 Dec 2010

Physics are fun and so are puzzles! At least, if you looked like Urkel and got high off math back in the day.  Max and the Magic Marker is such a game that combines a platformer, with these joys of physics and puzzles, for your thinking pleasure.

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Solve puzzles using physics in Max And The Magic Marker

The concept is real original, but the process is simple: Max drew himself an imaginary world. Here, he can run around freely, leaping to platforms and thus going from level to level. On his way, he can collect light bubbles, but also ink bubbles, which he can use to fill up his magic pen. Whenever Max is faced with a conundrum, out comes the pen to draw something to life and help you get along in the world. You can even switch between the real-time world and the imaginary drawn world, where you can create objects where time stands still or even manipulate your positioning.

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The crudely drawn world in Max and the Magic Marker

In all, the platforming is fairly straight forward, but it’s the puzzles that make this game. In order to collect all the bubbles, but even just to access other areas, you’ll run into some brain teasers. In particular, reaching for the special bubbles and such is usually not as easy as it looks. As you proceed to complete each section of the level, you’ll pass a checkpoint where the evil eggplant person (yeah) takes away the ink in your pen. This way, every new section will require a new approach to completing your goal. Once, you completed all that, you’ll jump into the end zone, where you get a quick tally of how much you collected and in what time span.

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Watch out Max! It's an...Eggplant?...With a vacuum??

The goal of an end score doesn’t really spur you to do well, but it’s mostly the puzzles that fade in interest quickly. Whilst the combination of physics and puzzles is pretty novel, the engine for it is rather shaky, as are most of these physics things. Due to that, controlling becomes harder and most the time Max will glitch his way to the next step, rather than come up with a clever solution. Using glitches is hardly gratifying and that takes away a lot of the fun.

In turn, the controls themselves aren’t always as responsive as they need to be and that only exacerbates the lot. It’s hard enough to complete a jump, without wonky physics suddenly launching poor Max into oblivion or Max not taking a given jump, to die in the crudely drawn water.

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Fact: Kids are scared of personal hygiene.

But at least, the visual are adequate. Running around in real-time is presented in a simple, but colorful cartoon style. The drawn world is equally appealing, as the crude drawings represent the imaginary world Max drew out. Each level is also pretty distinct and that sparks life into this game, with each new terrain feeling unique enough to keep you going. Unfortunately, there are little effects and that makes the game come off as basic. It could use a little zazz, as Dethklok would put it. They could’ve added a little zazz, just to zazz it all up.

In addition, the soundtrack follows the same dull line of no zazz. While the track for each world is quite catchy and makes the game world pop out; it’s 1 song! If like me, you take your time the first time around, to get the essence of each puzzle and level; then the track loop will be infuriating. It might be peppy, but there’s just so much pep you can take. Remember, you’re Urkel, not some teen-pregnancy-promotional cheerleader.

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Crudely drawn shapes in the world of Max and the Magic Marker

The biggest bummer is that playing Max and the Magic Marker just doesn’t stay fun for long. In fact, playing unfulfilling level after level will swiftly dampen any excitement. Perhaps I just lack imagination, but I completed most puzzles by creating the most god-awful structures known to man and then waiting for poor physics to take over. There’s even a few times where you respawn and old drawings haunt the screen, making a glitch mess of it all, though I’m sure this is patch material. Playing in such a haphazard manner isn’t really my bag though. It all looks like it’s in tip-top shape, but in the end it just isn’t entertaining. And why would you play a game that isn’t entertaining?

In all, Max and the Magic Marker takes the old concept of platforming and adds a mixture of new elements to the bunch, which is good. But as these elements don’t always work like they should or lack luster, the entire experience is fleeting at best. Puzzle fanatics or fans of games such as Drawn To Life might still get a kick out of it, but other people should be wary. Check out a demo first or at best, rent the sucker. Max escapes the dull and dreary feel of reality only to jump into the next unsatisfying world; what a strange kid. In many ways, he reminded me of the twisted sadness in Calvin and Hobbes; a boy stricken by loneliness and driven to delusion. I see a sequel coming up: Max and the Therapist.


Twin Sister

If you know of my music critique, you know I usually drag every little detail through dirt and lava; I’m not a kind man on that part. So, what can I say about Twin Sister, other than it’s indie music? If you enjoy minimalistic ambient sounds, with the occasional fuzz and guitar pick here and there, accompanied by a gentle voice, you’ll like this. And if you do, you have poor taste in music, because this is background noise. Everything about the tracks is set to make you feel at ease, as if there was no music playing at all. A soothing female vocal tells you tales of a simpler time, when all was peaches and cream or rather ‘Milk & Honey.’ There’s a calming riff playing, so you can gently rock your head to the sound of what it would feel like to be autistic. A synthesized feel covers it all; just do dull it down a little more, just in case there was any pitch to hard take in there.

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Totally not an indie hipster stereotype.

Look, it’s fairly straight forward: Pick any recent, popular indie artist of the bunch and mix that together and then subtract any emotion. At least Kate Nash and in much lesser extent Norah Jones try to captivate you, whilst depressing you. I’m playing my copy right now and the mere fact I’m listening to the same song for the seventh time, doesn’t mean I love ‘White Bread;’ It means the soundtrack has repeated seven times without my knowledge.  Twin Sister is music played in elevators, quiet taverns, hotel lobbies or a church kegger. If you own a bar where you don’t want to disturb your clientele talking, go get your copy. If you own a hotel and need musical wallpaper, get yourself a copy. If you want to play music at home, without that dreaded feel of attention, get your copy. Do not put this on your mobile player. Do not put this in your car stereo, lest you cause a sleeping road catastrophe. If you have a need for music, do not get a copy.

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Your parents would love these kids.

Luckily, you can pay whatever you want; so basically, it comes free with the purchase of Max and the Magic Marker. This should be the only reason to add this to your library. But even that is pretty demanding of them; especially since you have to download each song separately. And no, I will not recommend you any one song, as I still can’t differentiate them from each other. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my nap.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed.

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General Information

Platform(s): PS3, PC, Mobile
Publisher(s): The Games Company, Press Play
Developer(s): Press Play
Genres: Platformer
Themes: Platformer
Release Date: 2010-01-22

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