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iPhone/iPad review of the day: Max and the Magic Marker offers a simple Scribblenauts

On iPhone
Max and the Magic Marker
Price: $1.99 US / £1.19
Size: 115MB
Get it now on iTunes: US / UK

On iPad
Max and the Magic Marker

Price: $4.99 US / £2.99
Size: 116MB

Get it now on iTunes: US / UK

When you play draw-it-and-it-appears puzzler Scribblenauts, do you find yourself digging the whimsical look, adorable music and innovative puzzle solving tactics? Ok, good, because you're gonna love Max and the Magic Marker. Originally spied on Wii and PC, this game reminds us of a Scribblenauts Lite. You can't quite summon virtually anything from a shovel to a zombie cat to help you solve a puzzle, but you are armed with a big marker and your imagination. What else does a guy need to figure out life, anyway?

This precious 2D platformer is split up into three sections with multiple levels (20 each in the first two and 18 in the third). As each level begins, you'll see it in the format of a child's drawing. Press the play button on the bottom right, and the world comes to life. In each level, Max will be on the lookout for ink he can use to refill the magic marker, and when he encounters obstacles, you'll draw with your finger to interact with the environment around you. You can create bridges, boulders, sketch things to kill enemies and more. Since you have limited ink, you'll need it after you're done, but a double tap of your finger spirits it back into the marker, and you can keep on moving forward.

As levels progress, your use of the marker will become more complex. At first you'll draw lines to cross gaps and such, but soon enough you'll be drawing balloons to float away on and rocks to drop on see-saws to propel yourself into the sky. Some of these puzzles will require exact timing, but that's where the use of the pause button comes in handy: you can go to the world where everything looks like a drawing and still use the marker. Just a touch of a button will flip you into that space, where you can set up your drawing perfectly before jumping back to real time and watching how the setup unfolds.

There are a total of 20 achievements to be found in Max and the Magic Marker, revolving mostly around how many stars you score. Each level has three stars you can potentially rack up: one for finishing the level under the time limit, one for collecting gold orbs, and one for collecting black orbs that are cleverly hidden within each level. You don't have to get each one perfect, but if you're into that kind of thing, the option to do so is definitely there, and it certainly adds replayability.

Max and the Magic Marker definitely seems to have appeal for kids, but it provides enough challenge for an adult to enjoy as well (there are varying difficulty levels which can be accessed in the menu). The art looks terrific, and while playing it on the iPhone isn't bad, the iPad experience is even better when it comes to having room to draw freely. Either way, it's definitely a lot of fun - we recommend you summon your creative energies and give it a shot.

Apr 6, 2010