The Incredible Machine
[ All ] [ DOS ] [ FM Towns ] [ PC-98 ]
Critic Reviews add missing review
Average score: 82% (based on 13 ratings)
Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 65 ratings with 4 reviews)
I suppose everyone out there must have seen an episode of WB's Roadrunner cartoon show. Remember when the Coyote would hatch an extremely overcomplicated plan requiring all sorts of different elements to work together precisely just to accomplish some idiotic thing like dropping a boulder on the poor Roadrunner? Well THAT's "The Incredible Machine".
Designed as a puzzle game, The Incredible Machine's premise revolves around a single player campaign of sorts that presents you with different scenarios whose objectives include popping a balloon, firing a cannon, catching a runaway mouse, etc. all of these seemingly simple exercises in physics have to be accomplished using the same assorted collection of items the Coyote used and which includes pulleys, ropes, rifles, bowling balls, trampolines, mice, tennis balls, jack-in-a-boxes, gears, etc. etc.
While the game is played on a single 2D plane, physic concepts such as acceleration, gravity, momentum and friction are applied, and I might add that they are also exceptionally simulated and executed, making it pretty hard to "cheat" the computer into doing impossible things (though it's still possible in some cases). The seemingly simple objectives progressively develop into brain-melting challenges that have you juggling said concepts and at the same time trying to make them work with the odd cartoony array of objects the game gives you. Fortunately a stellar learning curve takes you through the basics step by step and slowly but evenly increases the difficulty as you go along.
The interface is simply fantastic, making the game comfortably playable to this day, as a simple drag'n drop is all it takes to select each item and placing it where you want it to be, or link them via ropes and similar objects. Several clearly defined controls allow you to rotate their orientation and the colorful graphics and clearly defined gameplay areas mean even a toddler will be playing in no time with it. This simplicity in gameplay and the previously mentioned excellent learning curve are primordial elements of the Incredible Machine's success, proving once again that saying that says that the great games take little time to learn but a lifetime to master. The incredible's Machine gameplay is simple, yet challenging but most of all it's incredibly fun.
Of course, considering you can get stuck pretty easily in these types of puzzle games, and as an excellent addition value-wise, the developers added a freeform construction module that far from being a difficult to learn sub-program lost in the game's directory, is integrated in the main menu and via a set of simple controls gives you full control not only over the collection of fixed and usable objects the game offers, but also the amount of gravity, wind strength and direction and everything you need to make your own little cartoon physics lab.
That plain background sure got boring after a while.... A more comprehensive hint system would also have been greatly appreciated.
And it might leave some nasty side-effects such as making you believe you can turn off the lights in your room by throwing a bowling ball at the switch.
The Bottom Line
Is it edutainment? Is it simply a puzzle-game? I don't know, all I know is that The Incredible Machine is an exceptionally amusing videogaming classic, offering lots of great and rewarding gameplay in a simple yet extremely well-developed environment for you to toy around with.
A must for everyone, specially parents that want to give kids a mildly educational title that also is actually fun to play for the entire family as you all try to figure out the solutions to a tricky puzzle.
DOS · by Zovni (10503) · 2004
First off, such nostalgia going back and playing this old classic... and remembering the countless hours in front of the computer monitor struggling to figure out a difficult puzzle with family and friends. This is a really addictive game, and lots of fun to share with others... you'll all be tossing out your best advice, or just sitting back and admiring the thousands of intricacies incorporated into the game.
And that's perhaps the most amazing feature of the game, its intricacies. While not 100% accurate, the physics are astoundingly complex - the slightest movement of an object can turn the puzzle from unbeatable to solved! Really, I just went through over the last week and played every puzzle, marveling all the way at the ingenious design of each task. Seriously, load the pre-made freeform machine called "Mice". Simply brilliant!
There's so much freedom associated in the game as well... though the goal may be singular, the ways to solve each puzzle are practically infinite - using the tools provided, complete the task by any means necessary. Sure, the designers intend for a certain solution, providing you with just enough of the parts necessary. But, if you can solve it with less, or by taking a shortcut... no problem! Love that freedom.
The learning curve is lessened by the first 21 puzzles being classified as "tutorials", with basically each puzzle introducing a new item or two for you to incorporate into your knowledge.
The ability to play in "freeform mode" is perhaps the most fun aspect of the game, especially once you've achieved the satisfaction of beating all 87 of the pre-made puzzles. Designing your own machine, with access to all the tools and parts, and then demonstrating them for your friends, never loses its enjoyment.
The re-playability is high, because with the exception of the rudimentary tutorial levels, you may struggle with remembering how you went about solving a puzzle previously (or not be able to re-create the rare combination that achieved success prior!). And that's a good thing, the game can continue feeling fresh each time you play. And with Freeform Mode, you can truly play forever...
Even though the player is eased into the "TIM" world by the large amount of tutorial levels, a new player may find it tough to grasp the concept of the game at first. You have to think mechanically, and some people just aren't suited to it... frustration may ensue! But I think most people get hooked once they solve a puzzle or two.
At times, the physics and collision detection fail, but that's probably to be expected in a game this original and of its era. But it can so frustrating to have what you think is the proper solution, only to watch, say, your bowling ball magically disappear through a solid wall! Also, impracticalities like a small fan blowing a mouse across the screen just don't make literal sense. But again, you kind of adjust your reality to the confines and nuances of the game's logic as you get used to it.
One thing I wish the game had was the ability to save and replay your solutions to solved puzzles. The way the game is set up, once you've defeated a puzzle, you have a brief moment to select "Replay" or "Advance". Pressing "Replay" does an instant replay of your solution... but once you hit "Advance", you move on to the next puzzle and your unique solution is now gone from memory forever. Not a critical fault, but something I find lacking.
The Bottom Line
Just a great game, and it really is enjoyable for all ages. I just introduced it over the last week to my girlfriend (26), my sister (10), and my nephew (7), and they all got really into it, straining and struggling to figure out not only the puzzle solutions, but how each piece functioned in the "TIM" world. Even my Grandma (80) recalls playing the game when it was new, and having fun...
DOS · by Condemned (71) · 2009
The great thing about The Incredible Machine is is that it looks so deseptivly easy. This is quite the opposite. In fact, some of the challeges in the game are really, really difficult. The concept is catchy. Even the music is cool, which I hum occacinally. I had actually used this game as a simulation tool for school once.
Well, like a mentioned before, some of the puzzles I just couldn't figure out. Aside from that, there wasn't much I didn't like.
The Bottom Line
If you can find the sharware version, get it. And if you are lucky enough to find the full version to buy, get that, too. This game is too good to pass up, though it seems more like a simulation. It deserves to be in everybody's game collection.
DOS · by Mullet of Death (592) · 2005
What I did like about this game was that it has an excellent learning curve. You'll start out with simple mechanisms, then progress up slowly to extremely difficult ones. Some of them are ingenious!
What I didn't like about this game was that it has an ending.
The Bottom Line
Did you ever fantasize about being Wiley Coyote? Here you'll have your chance to experiment with cause and effect type mechanisms. You know... the ball drops and flips the lever, which pulls the rope, which turns on the light, which lights the solar panel, which supplies electricity to the motor...etc. If you want to learn to think - and have fun at the same time, play this game!
DOS · by Darin McCoy (9) · 2003