Microsoft's acquisition of developer Press Play seemed a bit odd at the time. Why would Redmond want the developer of a former Wii exclusive to make a sequel-of-sorts exclusively for Xbox platforms? We're not entirely sure the answer, but it's clear that the team has a lot of talent.
My time with the upcoming Max: The Curse of Brotherhood for Xbox 360 and Xbox One featured gorgeous graphics, intelligent physics-based puzzles, and most surprising of all, worked great using a controller.
The Curse of Brotherhood is not so much a sequel as it is a reboot of Max. There are a few reasons for that, of course. Its predecessor, Magic Marker, never actually ended up on Xbox. Secondly, the original game's interface was designed with the Wii Remote in mind: letting players draw in the environment to conjure up magical spells.
While The Curse of Brotherhood keeps the same spirit of the original game, the powers that Max can harness are far more controller-friendly. In Magic Marker, players were able to draw whatever and wherever they wanted, freely able to create new platforms and boxes so long as they had enough ink. However, Brotherhood's design is far more focused. Instead, Max can only summon specific powers at specific points. And even then, how much Max can draw is also limited.
This may seem far more restrictive than the original game, but the decision is wise. The end result are puzzles that are far more complex and demanding. It also becomes easy to use with a controller, letting you quickly "drag and drop" whatever you may need.
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Max has access to a number of powers: raising the ground, creating vines, drawing jet streams, and more. Because you can only access specific powers from specific points, there's no need to swap between powers. Instead, you simply draw what you think may be the solution. For example, to cross a lengthy river, you may need to create a vine, cut it, move it forward with a jet stream, and then jump atop of it while it floats across. The abilities are integrated quite nicely into the platforming as well. For example, you may need to run away from some enemies and then raise the ground behind you as you make your escape.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is shaping up to be a fine addition to the Xbox 360 library. And in spite of the aging hardware and the use of Unity as its backbone, it is a rather pleasant looking game. The Xbox One version will look better in the most expected ways, I'm told. The game will be available on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One next year.