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Review: Max: The Curse of Brotherhood

Armed only with a magic-marker Max must track down and rescue his brother from the rather deranged Mustachio in this delightful platform puzzle game on the Xbox One.


Max comes home to find his younger brother Felix in his room playing with his toys.  His reaction?  In anger, straight onto his laptop to use the Giggle search engine to find an invocation opening a world rift that sees a gigantic monster claw grab Felix and drag him into another realm.  Max reacts quickly grabbing Felix’s dislodged glasses, his backpack and jumps into the closing rift.

And so begins an enchanting trek of brotherly love as Max firstly traverses a desert, chasing after a distant colossus that has captured Felix.  The first few levels are classic platforming, moving left to right in a 2D plane that is presented in a beautifully detailed 3D way, with just the promise of alternate paths.  There aren’t any, but the rendition of the world feels vibrant and deep.
During the course of his adventures Max will find his way through the pantheon of platform-game worlds.  Jungle, river, underground, lava and other settings will keep Max jumping for his life.

But every-game these days needs a hook.  Pure platform jumping and climbing is not enough.  Very early on in his disparate chase Max chances upon a grandmotherly guru, high atop a gigantic tree.  Max is carried aloft through a sequence of magically appearing water spouts, sprouting limbs, and vines.  

His newly found maternal protector possesses the magic-marker (a colour filled felt tipped pen) and imbues it with its first real magic (!) power.  Max is able to, at obviously coloured and animated points on the screen, draw up mini-mesas from the ground, either lifting other objects or himself to higher points on the map.  These pillars of earth can also be destroyed with the stroke of the marker, and rebuilt again at any time within pre-ordained limits.

During the course of the game the marker will have further abilities added to it, swinging vines can be drawn from yellow nodes, tree limbs from green, water spouts from blue and magical missiles from purple coloured nodes.  Limbs and vines can also be cut once created and manipulated by Max along with other on-screen objects.

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This combination of elements gives the game designers a wide variety of tools to create devious, but no-where near impossible puzzle levels for players.

Felix has been kidnapped by the evil Mustachio, whose monster is now carrying him towards his doom, a device to extract and give the aging Mustachio back his youth.  Mustachio knows Max is on a quest to retrieve his brother and has “eye” deployed throughout the land, these, along with a shattered amulet provide an added collectible challenge within the game.
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Max: The Curse of Brotherhood combines brain teasers with twitch timing game-play.  There will be frustrating moments combined with satisfying a-ha! moments as you work your way through the physics based traversal puzzles.  There are also speed-run moments, chased by gigantic monsters or having to keep ahead of a crumbling environment that will keep you on your toes.  Some of these will need all your wits and a certain practised mastery over the controls, which can take some effort.

The final boss-fight can be a drawn out series of trial-and-error attempts, but ultimately, perhaps all too soon, this delightful experience of a game is over.  If you want to take it further, or don’t yet have an Xbox One, check out the original Max and The Magic Marker here.

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.