Max: The Curse of Brotherhood starts off as most games of this ilk do: someone that you care about deeply is kidnapped. In this case it is your little brother, Felix. The rest of the game is you trying to get him back from the evil Mustacho…an old wizard man with, you guessed it, a giant mustache. All of the basic platforming game stereotypes are here: miscellaneous bid boss fights, a water and fire level, hidden secret items…the gangs all here. Max does offer a unique mechanic to all of this retread: a giant magic marker; magic being the key word here. You see, Max can use this marker to change the environment around him. Whether it be creating a branch to reach a new area, a water spout to toss you into the air or a blast from a fire ball to dispatch a mindless enemy this marker comes in very handy.
This original mechanic was first introduced to this game’s predecessor: Max and Magic Marker on the Nintendo DS. Here the hook was simple as you just draw your platforms and what have you with the DS’s stylus. It was inventive and simple and worked very well on the handheld’s touchpad. It’s a wholly different on a console and controller, however. On the Xbox One you have to pull the right trigger and then move the marker with the left stick. It is exceptionally cumbersome and causes several unnecessary deaths since the left stick also moves your character. However, the marker mechanic also brings a ton of creative puzzles and adds a breath of fresh air to a genre that needed some innovation.
I will also say that the graphics on this game are beautiful. Everything from the characters to the backgrounds are rendered in beautifully meticulous models. It’ quite impressive considering that this was a launch window game for the Xbox One and the initial entry for Games With Gold for the next generation system. Yep, you can grab this game for free if you have an Xbox One and Xbox Live Gold…pretty nifty. Even though the puzzles were difficult, including some that are absolutely rage inducing, I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment when I finally figured out what the hell I was supposed to do. The story was simple, but enough to move the narrative along.
In the end Max: The Curse of Brotherhood was a serviceable enough title. A little too hard for the youngsters, but a fun game nonetheless. Some of the save points get a little frustrating whenever you die (you’ll find yourself repeating several steps that you have already completed) but when the chase begins, things pick up a few notches. Especially whenever you are falling and the time slows to a crawl; it’s pulse pounding but very innovative and fun. Would I recommend spending $20 on this puzzler platformer? Nope. Is it worth your time to download and play for free with Xbox Live Gold? Absolutely!