If you own an iOS device, it is quite possible that you might have played this little game called Max & the Magic Marker, developed by Press Play. It was quite a unique game back in 2009-2010 that garnered critical success and won numerous awards. The followup to the game however made the jump to consoles and came out exclusively at first on the Xbox One back in December of 2013. It wasn’t until recently that the game was also released on the Xbox 360 and PC. What I’m looking at here is the Xbox 360 version of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood stars Max, a young boy who is in quite a predicament. You see, upon arriving home from school one day, Max finds his brother Felix playing in his room and breaking his toys. Max doesn’t like this one bit so he searches the Internet for a way of getting rid of his brother. Max discovers a spell that can make his brother disappear and disappear he does. A portal opens up and a giand hand emerges grabbing Felix and pulling him into the portal. That’s not exactly what Max had in mind so he jumps after into the portal after Felix and finds himself in another dimension where he must journey his way through dangers and obstacles to save his brother from the evil Lord Mustacho.
Gameplay in Max: the Curse of Brotherhood is pretty straight forward. Those with experience playing platformers will be able to easily jump in and play with very little instruction. Much of the action here requires running, jumping, manipulating objects, and using your magic marker to create new opportunities to get to places you could not otherwise reach. You can’t really attack enemies per se, except for the eyeballs you see scattered about. Regular enemies need to be avoided somehow or trapped and killed using other means (usually part of the puzzle). I mention puzzles because many of the levels are laid out like puzzles in which you must figure out how to get from point A to point B using the environment and your magic marker.
The control scheme works, although it could be improved upon. Max: The Curse of Brotherhood plays like most platformers. Control Max’s movements using the left thumbstick while the face buttons on the right control jumping and interaction with objects. It’s not until Max gets use of his magic marker that the game really starts getting interesting. Hold the right trigger to enable use of the marker and the left thumbstick to move the marker around. When you’re using the marker, Max can not move around.
This is where I wish the controls were set up a little differently. It would be nice if we could move around still while the marker is out, which would be to simply move the marker to the right thumbstick while allowing Max’s movements to continue with the left. It’s just a little nitpick of mine but as is, it doesn’t really affect gameplay too much. Most of the puzzles don’t require Max to move around anyways but I would have preferred separation of Max’s movements from that of the marker.
Graphically, the game looks very good, even on the Xbox 360. It has an art style that almost makes it look as if everything was done in claymation, so it has a bit more of a realistic look to it than your usual CGI. The graphics definitely are better than the first Max game in my opinion and really ups the value of the game. Everything in the game is beautifully done. The environments look very realistic and alive, the lighting in the game is amazing, and the overall character designs look really good. I don’t think there was anything in the graphics department that I didn’t like.
As for the actual game itself as a whole, I really enjoyed it. Despite my nit-picking of the control scheme, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood was an enjoyable game to play. The story actually isn’t that bad at all and playing through all the puzzles and levels can be challenging in a good way. It’s also one of those games that is totally suitable for children. When I started playing this, my son saw me playing and wanted to play this too so I switched off and let him have a turn. He enjoyed it as well and was able to quickly get into playing the game and understanding all the mechanics. That’s a good thing as the last thing you want is an overly frustrating experience to the point where you don’t want to play it at all anymore.
I haven’t played an Xbox 360 game in a while as I’ve moved over to other consoles, but Max: The Curse of Brotherhood was a good enough reason to fire the old console back up. It may not be a triple-A title, but it’s a game with very good graphics, a good story about what a kid would do for his family, and an overall great gaming experience. The gameplay is solid with plenty of challenging puzzling and platforming and it’s a game players of any age can enjoy.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is also quite reasonably priced at just $14.99 which is a good price for a game of this caliber. Since it is a game that is only on Xbox though, you’ll have to pick this up on either the Xbox One or Xbox 360.
Disclaimer: Max: The Curse of Brotherhood was provided by the PR reps for this game.