Written by  :  Zovni (10648)
Written on  :  May 25, 2004
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars

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Dynamix goes all Acme on us

The Good

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.

The Bad

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.