Max: The Curse of Brotherhood draws up on Xbox One

The Xbox One isn’t due for another retail game release until early 2014. Luckily, early adopters have a steady stream of downloadable releases to keep them busy until then. Peggle 2 (review coming soon) showed up not long ago, and Halo: Spartan Assault is due out on Christmas Eve.

This past Friday another game popped up somewhat unexpectedly: Max: The Curse of Brotherhood from Press Play and Microsoft Studios.

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is the sequel to Windows Phone 7 launch title Max and the Magic Marker. It also happens to be exclusive to Xbox One and 360, with the 360 version coming later next year. Can a 2D-style platformer still excite the senses on next gen consoles? We just so happen to have video footage of the first two levels to share with you guys. Check it out after the break!

Sibling rivalry

At the start of the game, Max comes home from school to find his little brother Felix playing with (and breaking) his toys. Then he does what any of us would do, and looks online for a way to get rid of the kid. Max discovers a spell for brother removal and reads it aloud, not expecting anything to happen. But something does happen: he and Felix are swallowed up into a portal and transported to another world.

Awakening in the new world, Max sees a giant monster lumbering off with his little bro. He quickly runs after them… At which point players are now controlling Max in full 2D gameplay with 3D graphics.

Initially the game plays just like any other 2D platformer. Max can run, jump, crawl under spaces and climb ladders and ropes. The platforming feels much better with a controller than the previous game did on a phone’s touch screen though, so that’s a plus.

Drawn to life

Before long, Max meets a mysterious old woman who imbues his marker with magical powers. That’s when the gameplay gets really interesting. Now Max can use the marker to affect the game world and solve puzzles.

Hold the Right Trigger to whip out Max’s magic marker, which you then control like a cursor with the left stick. In this game, the marker can only interact with specific glowing portions of the game world. The marker can raise platformers from the ground with the A button or break them apart with the X button. A platform can only be raised once; if you need to adjust its height you’ll need to crush it and craft a new one.

The puzzles that we’ve seen so far are simple and intuitive – no getting stuck on a single screen for ages or anything like that. But Max will surely gain new abilities as the game continues.

Hopefully the difficulty remains as approachable throughout the game as it is now. Developer Press Play went overboard at times with the difficulty in the first Max and especially their previous phone game Tentacles. I’d hate to see The Curse of Brotherhood veer into frustrating territory as well.

We’ll have a full review of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood before the New Year. If you’re dying for an Xbox One platformer, this game looks like a safe bet.

  • Max: The Curse of Brotherhood – Xbox One – 3 GB – $14.99 – Store Link (opens in new tab)

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • This game is fantastic. They are extremely generous with the checkpoints so you very rarely have to backtrack. There are also many collectibles to make you go back and play through it again. It quite literally looks like an interactive Pixar movie. It was a tad on the short side but you'll want to play through again. This was a huge surprise for me...definitely worth the asking price.
  • Add me on Xbox Live rahulrambhat
  • I like difficult games. It reminds me of older games like Sonic or Super Mario.
  • Hope they release a trail soon looks great
  • I think a trial would have been the smarter move
  • Kind of off topic: In our local stores, the PS4 has lots of people around it playing games. Meanwhile the Xbox One has canned games with no one around it. Anyone else see the same?
  • I guess because nobody wants to buy ps4 and they go to stores to play it hahaha
  • I played the xbox one in a local smyths toy store with people queuing behind me looking ago of forza 5, yet the ps4 had no one playing it, its all down to timing and preference when your actually in store, as for which console is best it can no way be judged by this because that would just be stupid.
  • I'm sure in some other town, its the other way. Don't think it means anything more than just people were playing the PS4 at that moment and not what system is perceived to be better
  • Spot on Tony.
  • It means nothing. I've seen lines behind the Xbox One, and lines behind the PS4 over here. It is just people watching. If you are standing around wanting to watch someone play the game, and they are playing on the PS4, why would you stare at the Xbox One? If someone is playing on the Xbox One, why would people watch the PS4? I've don't the same ... Stand behind watching someone play a game on the PS4, and I'm not interested in the console. I'm just watching someone play.
  • But PS4 has no games. Seriously.
  • I was at Beachwood Mall in Cleveland, OH yesterday, and there was quite a crowd around the Xbox One display in front of the Microsoft Store... and there was a good crowd in the store too. At my local Target, I've seen people playing both. I agree with others, I don't think you can draw any conclusions from what you're seeing.
  • Well it's good to see playable games in other stores/cities. I wasn't drawing any conclusion about which was more popular.....just the marketing strategy.
  • Awesome
  • Thanks guys for a review, wasn't planning on buying it, but now I think it'll be perfect for my kid
  • Definitely good for kids! This is just an impressions piece though. The real review will follow later.
  • How is this game 2D? Everything is clearly has multiple dimensions, and the view angle changes constantly. There is clearly depth as Max moves around. Angles of the shot even change constantly from side view to an angled shot as you control him down a path. There is nothing 2D about this game. Do you mean that it is MOSTLY viewed from the side? Even then, that isn't what 2D means.
  • Yep agreed. Not sure why the article even mentions 2D
  • Yeah. The depth that is provided by the character, as well as background and foreground props are what makes the graphics awesome. He addition of depth and moving camera angles makes this not 2D. Nothing 2D about this game. Lol
  • Maybe they meant platform game?
  • Yeah that's what I think too. But platform game and 2D game aren't synonymous.
  • If Max himself only moves on a 2D plane it doesn't matter how much depth the graphics have it's still a 2D platformer.
  • Exactly. And I do make the distinction in the article...
  • +1
  • Looks awesome, hope they release it for the 360 too
  • Looks delightful, but I would need to demo it first, before I commit.
  • Looks really good - might be good for the kids. They're loving the xboxone :)
  • Thanks, Paul... I just saw this review as I was buying Just Dance 2014 and LEGO Marvel Superheroes and wondered about it, so I'm getting this one too. Be a nice way to spend the holidays with my girlfriend. :)
  • Great choices there. Both fun games to play in co-op. :D
  • Love this game. Been playing it since Saturday. It is a visual treat and a great game. I'm liking how there has been a new game each week to keep early adopters happy.
  • So does it use the Kinect at all or only the controller?
  • Controller only
  • Looks like a really fun game that has enough challenge and enough visual stimulation to keep you coming back.  The only hope is the pencil doesn't get in the way of its gameplay.  I like the pencil but it is over used, it might deaden game to where it becomes as much of an obstacle as the game play itself. Overall, looks very promising.
  •   Wow! This is like watching an animated movie. I will definitely have to check this out once I get my One.
  • About half way through...this is a great game!
  • I'm about 40% done with the game. Fantastic! I bought it for my kids originally, but I find myself not able to put the game down!
  • Been there.  lol
  • Is there a demo on it ? Would love to check out the first level to see if it's a must own for myself.... I guess I can wait if not, as I already have a bunch of games on the xbox one and with the Xmas holiday coming up, then there will be more...   Too many games, too little time..
  • No demo as of yet
  • Grabbed this and finally got a chance to try today. Very clever little puzzle-platformer. A steal at $15.
  • It's a cute little game for sure.. not too bad for under $20.00 I'm enjoying it so far and have only just started. .(and watching the demo, need to restart as I missed those 2 eyes on level one :)
  • This should be released for W8.
  • I just hope going forward most developers will utilize smartglass. Dead Rising 3 is a very good example of how awesome it can be. It truly has branched out the gaming experience to multiple screens that help and inform the player in many different ways