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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Press Play
Developed By: Press Play
Genre: Platformer
Players: 1
Rated: E (Everyone)
Release Date: TBA 2010 (US), January 22, 2010 (UK/EU)
Screenshots: Link
Written By: Anthony E. Cara

On a day like any other, a mysterious package arrives in the mail- its contents: one plain orange marker. Our young hero Max tests the drawing implement in a series of illustrations, when suddenly a monster he has drawn jumps to life and begins corrupting his other pictures. Max is left with no other choice but to draw himself into his imagined 2-D world and stop his own abomination.

Coming soon to WiiWare, courtesy of Press Play and the New Danish Film Institute, we are pleased to present Max & the Magic Marker. We recently had the opportunity to test the demo version of this exciting new title and I am very much looking forward to seeing the final product.

Before even having the chance to sample the game play, the visual and audio style will suck you into this fantastic 2-D world. The controllable Max character is a simple (yet very well made) cell shaded model, but the real prizes here are the backgrounds and environments. They have a unique, hand painted and child-like style that contribute nicely to the magical, imaginative setting. Perhaps the greatest final touch was the choice of music. The quirky Denmark-based Ska/Electronica/Hip Hop band (as they proclaim on their myspace) Analogik provides the game with its unique soundtrack.

The press-available demo is just one level and some nice debug features, but that small taste alone was enough to showcase this title’s great potential. In one hand, you control Max’s two dimensional avatar that was drawn into the world to stop the great purple doodle-monster. In your other, you control what is presumably Max’s own hand (and vicariously, the magic marker itself). The final result is a surprisingly delightful mix of classic platforming action and drawing-based puzzle solving. Imagine controlling Mario or Sackboy and in the midst of running through levels, the day was saved not through fancy triggers or fire-spitting flowers, but rather a simple platform or weight that you yourself draw into the environment.

In the short amount of time given, I already witnessed what will be one of the game’s strongest assets- the element of choice. At one part of the tutorial, you are told how to push small objects around and you do so in order to take a small underground path to avoid the deadly rain above. Just for fun, I drew a little orange hat on Max and ran through the rain anyway. To my surprise and delight, the simply trick worked. Having multiple options allows for greater replay value and the possibility of discovering hidden secrets and unlocking some of the “…challenges, secrets, and rewards” promised by the game’s advertisements.

According to Press Play’s PR division, the final version of the game will offer 15 levels spread out over 3 worlds; furthermore, these levels offer the tantalizing promise of “death traps, monsters, and challenging puzzles.”

For those who are unfamiliar with Press Play, allow me to share with you their official press bio.

“Press Play was founded in 2006 by Mikkel Thorsted, Rune Dittmer, and Ole Teglbjærg with the ambition of making flash games better, and not just keeping skinning Pacman. In the first years all games were developed on contract but that changed last year. Supported by EU MediaDesk, Danish Film Institute and the Nordic Game Program “Max & the Magic Marker” became Press Play’s first independent production. By release of the game around Christmas 2009 the game had already won several awards and award nominations. Among them the EIGA award for “innovative game design” and the Unity award for “best overall game”. Headquartered in the very center of Copenhagen Press Play today employs 11 dedicated game developers working on coming titles.”

The title has been gathering a lot of international attention, and I for one hope to see it come stateside.

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