☆ Review: Max: The Curse of Brotherhood "The modern Penny Crayon" ☆ @BrittRecluseuk #IndieGame #GameDev

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Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Press Play
Rating: Ice Cool

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood (M:TCOB) is the sequel to the 2010 game Max and the Magic Marker. The game was originally released in 2013 and in the last few months it has been ported to both the Switch and PS4. 

Whilst I had a really good time with the game throughout its 6-8 hour campaign, there was one thing that burned my family photo-album on my birthday throughout…the framerate. 

It wasn’t enough to massively hinder my enjoyment but I must admit that I know the game would have benefitted hugely from a push from 30 to 60 fps.

M:TCOB starts with the protagonist, a young boy returning home to find his even younger brother banging his toys around and generally being an irritating sibling, so much so in fact that Max jumps straight onto everyone’s favourite search engine, ‘Giggle’, and finds an incantation to get rid of him.

Naturally a portal opens in the bedroom and his brother, Felix, gets snatched away by a massive, furry beast…wasting no time, our hero leaps straight into the portal to give chase and thus the game begins.

The introduction animations and indeed the animations throughout the game are of an almost Pixar-high standard. Weighty, cartoony and fun they completely set the tone of the game. The voice acting is also strong, and the children never feel irritating, you get the sense that poor Max REALLY wants to rescue his brother and will stop at nothing to do so.

The game plays out a s a 2.5D platformer (which I am a huge fan of) with the twist coming from the magic marker pen that Max receives towards the start of the game (after a very fluid tutorial act that serves as a game-play intro, covering all of the basics without feeling ‘shoved in’). 

The marker pen acts as a magic wand that can raise platforms, cause vines to grow (as well as erasing them) etc. along Max’s journey. The marker can only be used at certain points during the game as it plays out mainly through two parts, firstly there’ll be a chase / travel sequence where Max leaps, crawls and climbs his way around (possibly being chased by something that he would much rather not be being chased by) and then the camera will pan out to give a full-screen view whenever there is a physics-based puzzle to solve with your handy marker. 

Due to the Switch’s touchscreen, in handheld mode you can draw and raise platforms etc. yourself by using your finger or you can instead hold down the right trigger in order to whip our you marker, moving it with the thumb stick. Either way works well and is down to personal preference.

The in-game graphics are vibrant and colourful with the enemies and traps bouncing around joyously as you dash and draw your way past them. The music romps along in a very filmic way which dovetails with the on-screen action and does make you feel like you are on a magical journey, a journey which moves at a solid pace and feels like it covers a lot of ground as it does so.

Should you fall to your demise or be bested by an enemy, the game boasts a generous checkpoint system ensuring that you will never lose much progress and there are also infinite lives on offer, which some players may find too easy, but personally I liked the freedom to try things out without the risk of there being a massive setback as well as finding that the quick restarts keeping up the flow of gameplay.
Aside from the game maybe feeling not enough of a challenge for some and the 30 fps framerate being a real shame, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a very solid platformer that I would recommend to most players. 

The magic marker is a fun mechanic and whilst it is locked to certain points of the game, the platforming is so well-designed that it doesn’t feel like a chore to work through either section, each being enjoyable in their own ways. 

Finally, the bad guy looks like Heihachi, so there’s even something for the Tekken fans.

Right, I’m off to see if I can get Su Pollard to narrate the next instalment.

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Review By Britt

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