By Michael Fontanini / January 3rd, 2018
|Title||Max: The Curse of Brotherhood|
|Developer||Stage Clear Studios|
|Publisher||Stage Clear Studios|
|Release Date||December 21st, 2017|
|Genre||Adventure, Platformer, Puzzles|
|Age Rating||ESRB: Everyone 10+|
It’s a normal day as Max arrives home to find his little brother, Felix, playing with his toys and smashing one of his cars! Thoroughly irritated, Max hops on the bed and opens his laptop, where he finds the website handysorcery.con. No, that’s not a typo as it actually says .con in his search engine, Giggle. After reading the incantation to get rid of his brother, a purple portal appears on the bedroom wall. A monster’s hand reaches out and snatches Felix into the portal. Realizing he made a huge mistake, Max jumps into the portal to save his little brother! Do you have what it takes to overcome all obstacles in your way to save Felix in Max: The Curse of Brotherhood?
After jumping into the strange portal, Max finds himself in another world. He catches up to the monster that took Felix just as it is about to eat him! As Max feels utterly hopeless and defeated, a flying creature snatches Felix away and flies off. Max, in his frustration, throws a rock at the monster while it’s still stunned by what just happened, causing it to give chase!
Once Max escapes, he very soon meets an old woman. She gives him more information on what’s happened to Felix, telling Max that he is being held by the evil Mustacho (pronounced moo-stash-oh). She also tells him how he has ravaged their lands in this world. She then asks him to take out his weapon, but Max only has a magic marker in his backpack! So he takes it out and she puts her soul into it.
Unlike most magic markers that actually contain no magic, this one is actually magical! Max can use it to draw pillars of Earth by dragging up from orangey, sparkly spots on the ground. This is useful for creating platforms to cross an otherwise insurmountable gap, or to climb to a ledge that’s too high. He can stand on the pillar as he draws it, too. This allows him to reach much higher places than he would be able to otherwise. As his quest continues, he will gain more powers for his magic marker, like drawing tree branches from green sparkly spots.
Max’s magic marker is the center of the vast majority of the puzzle solving in Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. You’ll often have to figure out how to get past various obstacles, or to thwart enemies who stand in your way. Max cannot attack enemies directly, but he can move them or block them with things he can draw. The puzzles are also often physics-based. This is usually ok, but once in a while the physics can be mildly annoying. The game has a checkpoint system, so if you do die you won’t lose much progress. This is a good thing in some of the trickier sections of the game.
In addition to the puzzles and obstacles in your path, each level (except for the first stage) has some collectibles to find. There are anywhere from three to five evil eyes to find and destroy in a given level. The evil eyes function as cameras, allowing Mustacho to see what’s going on. Nothing happens if they see you, but they will try to recoil when you get close. You need only press X while near one to rip it up like a weed. As you destroy more of them, you’ll periodically get a little cut scene showing Mustacho’s displeasure. There are several different scenes in all. Sometimes the evil eyes are easy to miss, as they can be difficult to see since they blend in too much in some cases.
A second collectible side quest involves finding the pieces of the old woman’s amulet. There is one hidden in every level except the first. These are fairly easy to find in the early levels, but are hidden much more deviously in later levels. Collecting them all doesn’t get you anything other than a little congratulatory scene. The amulet pieces and evil eyes are mostly just there to give players more to do in each level aside from just completing it, so they’re essentially achievements.
The controls in Max: The Curse of Brotherhood generally work quite well. The marker can be taken out by holding down ZR. You can move it around using motion controls, or the joystick. Press A to draw or Y to erase things. You can only draw things in certain designated places, rather than anywhere you want. Some puzzles are still quite tricky, though. The one case where the marker controls can be annoying is in timed sequences, as the magic marker moves slowly and these sequences don’t give you much room for error. Motion controls might be better in those cases.
The art style in Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is charming, and very pleasing on the eyes. The level geometry is very intricate and the textures are very detailed as well. It’s kind of a mix of realism and cartoon. I did notice an odd visual glitch in one area. It was an odd blocky effect on the top of a rock spire in the background in the forest (almost like a bit of video corruption), but it was only affecting that one object and nothing else. This had no effect on gameplay so its very minor, but quite odd. The only other issue visually is that there are some small framerate drops in TV mode. This is a very minor issue though, and not even close to the ridiculous degree to which it happens in Breath of the Wild‘s Korok Forest.
The sound effects are pretty good and do their job well. There is also voice acting for all of the major characters. Max will often yell while swinging on vines, or coming close to falling off of a ledge. He has a number of different lines he can say at various times, too. For example, he has various taunts he’ll sometimes yell at enemies. That variety definitely adds to the depth of the game and helps bring the character Max to life.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood also has a nice music track that enhances the atmosphere in each area you explore. In the dark cave level, they made use of silence rather than music to enhance the creepy atmosphere.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is a fun little game. It’s a bit on the short side, but still a great experience that fits very well in the Nintendo Switch library with its cuteness and charm. If it seems a bit familiar to you, that may be due to the fact that it is a sequel to a game from a few years back called Max and the Magic Marker. That game appeared on the original Wii’s eShop as well as on a few other platforms. This game improves on its predecessor very well. You can blow through the story in under 10 hours, but it will take a good bit longer if you go for all of the evil eyes and amulet pieces. You’ll also get stuck in some places, as the solution to some puzzles is not at all obvious at first. So be ready to put your thinking cap on at times. Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is available on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $14.99 (as well as on a few other platforms, including Steam, Xbox, and PlayStation 4). I can definitely say that I enjoyed my time with the game. Do you have what it takes to save your little brother Felix from the evil clutches of Mustacho?
Review copy provided by publisher.
Max and the Magic Markermax: the curse of brotherhoodnintendo switchStage Clear Studios