The sequel to 2010’s Max and the Magic Marker, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, was originally released for Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. Its Nintendo Switch equivalent was released in December 2017.
You play as Max, a young boy who catches his annoying little brother Felix destroying his toys. When Max accidentally wishes his brother into another realm, a monster appears through a portal and grabs Felix. Max immediately regrets his decision and leaps through the portal after them, pausing only to gather up Felix’s dropped glasses on his way.
The world through the portal is a mysterious desert and you, as Max, must leap over rocks and scramble up ropes and across rickety bridges chasing after the monster as it dangles your stolen brother above its head.
If you’re not expecting the stunning graphics, it’s easy not to realise that the game has begun. The visuals are so perfectly designed and rendered that you almost don’t notice the cutscene has ended until nothing has happened for far too long. When you move Max around, it has the same smooth quality of movement as the latest Pixar film. It’s the kind of game that lends itself easily to being played on top quality televisions but still looks fantastic on the small handheld Switch screen.
The background of the fantasy world really adds to the sense of immersion.
It is beautifully designed, with lots of detail. Every rock that rolls or structure that crumbles moves realistically. The various settings are all equally captivating and it’s almost a shame that you rush through some sections so quickly.
Even the monsters are a delight to behold. They have a very cartoonish look about them, cute and scary at the same time and exactly the sort of creature that you’d expect to find in a child’s adventure.
The gameplay consists of both side-scrolling platform races and physics-based puzzles that require you to manipulate the world around you using Max’s magic marker. The marker allows you to cause the spontaneous destruction and growth of various plants and rocks so that you can pass by or climb up them to continue your quest to rescue your brother.
The marker is controlled using a creative combination of buttons, which makes decent use of the Switch’s unique design. The complicated mechanics of the magic marker weren’t received hugely well in previous incarnations of the game. But on the Switch, especially if you’ve had some time to get accustomed to the buttons, they’re easy enough to get the hang of.
It’s certainly a different way to solve puzzles, which makes for an interesting way to play. Anyone who has played the Xbox version will of course be familiar with it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it generally stands out in terms of equipment. It’s definitely refreshing for the success of the player not to have to depend on weapons to win in an adventure game, especially for anyone hoping to share the game with their kids.
It’s a fun game that, even at the simplest parts of the story, is wonderful to watch.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, is a charmingly family friendly game. The monsters and the magic are enjoyable and not really scary enough to put kids off. But there elements of the design and structure will be best appreciated by adults. The creators have done a very solid job of creating a decent game that can appeal to players of all ages, that is just challenging enough not to get old too quickly if you’re an experienced hand.
It is currently on offer on the Nintendo eStore and there is also a free demo available for anyone who wants a chance test it out before committing to buying it.