Say what you will about developer 3T Games, they sure know how to keep cranking out those indie platformers. Legend of Max ($1.00) is just the latest to join the club. Quality may take a dip with that harried development cycle (less than a week after The Blaggers and three months since the oh-so-underwhelming Unreal Land), but hey, quantity has to count for something too, right?
Well, yes. More of something, which in the case of 3T’s platformers, is a lot of same-y looking (and playing) games. For the canine hero in Legend of Max, I guess you could say it’s ‘new dog, old tricks‘ (…Damn, I’m just too clever for my own good). The move towards a pixel style is much appreciated after the Microsoft Paint-look of Unreal Land, but really, you could swap design and protagonists and wind up with almost the same game.
Here, you’re a dog in search of its master, collecting bones for points (as opposed to balloons, as was the case in Unreal Land) and generally moving from left to right in order to reach the exit. The eclectic cast of enemies mirrors the rosters from other 3T games, including its bizarre set of rules; larger animals like cows and camels are fair game to be jumped on, while diminutive types such as bees and bats are not, and take away one tick of your doggie life reserve (which you’ll want to hang on to, with no continues or saved games).
Levels themselves play out a little bit different in Max, allowing you to jump into the pits that would normally kill you in other platformers (water is still off-limits). Searching these subterranean rooms will often net you extra lives or loot, some of it required— certain stages ask you to find a key or throw a switch in order to progress. Most of the objectives can be competed by following the standard route, but if you’re not a thorough adventurer, you’ll do some backtracking.
Oh Max… only you would sail into a swarm of bees.
Otherwise, you know the drill. The game does deserve an honorable mention in trying to break up the monotony. It shoehorns other genres into a the mix at certain points, like adding a basic shooter during a boat sequence (see above screenshot), switching over to a poor man’s Space Invaders in the next moment, or in finding puzzle pieces to unlock an exit gate. All nice ideas, and you have to appreciate the effort, even as some frustrating bits with enemy placement strike a sour note later on.
So in the end, I find I have no strong feelings either way regarding the game. I’m squarely in the middle. Of course, you might be thinking ‘I’d buy that for a dollar’, though you have to consider the particulars. Legend of Max isn’t broken or all that bad, but it is lightweight, economical development ready-made for quick consumption; no real risks, and thus, no real rewards in playing it.