Review by Jen
I'm sure most of you know that Rube Goldberg was a Pulitzer Prize-winning
cartoonist whose forte was wacky, complicated inventions that
would accomplish simple tasks. His cartoons have spawned several
contests where people compete to build the best Rube Goldberg-ish
contraption. (If you have never heard of him or have never seen
his cartoons, there is oodles of information on the webtry
plugging "Rube Goldberg" in to your favorite search
This type of "invention" spawned Dynamix's original
The Incredible Machine back in the early 1990s, and that
was followed by The Incredible Machine 2, The Even More Incredible
Machine, and The Incredible Toon Machine (not necessarily
in that order). And now Sierra has brought it back again, with
a major facelift, calling it Return of the Incredible Machine:
I played the original The Incredible Machine way back
when it was released, before I ever even played an adventure game,
back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and games still came on diskettes.
In fact, I would even go so far as to say I was obsessed with
it. I seem to remember there were well over 100 puzzles, and I
did them all. Some were easy, some were nearly impossible, and
they were all fun.
Since then, my older son has been similarly entranced by the
various incarnations of TIM. Unlike me, though, he prefers
to build his own machines in the free-form mode rather than play
the games' built-in puzzles. TIM is probably the most-played,
longest-lived computer game(s) in my house.
So I was delighted to load up this new Contraptions and
give it a whirl. It has a streamlined new look, a hints system,
a two-player mode (although I didn't try it), and an obnoxious
voice-over that does all the reading for you text-challenged types.
The puzzles are not much different, although there are more of
them and they are slicker-looking, and there are many more types
of items that can be used in building the devices.
In puzzle mode, you are given an objective to complete, such
as "light all of the rockets," with whatever items are
at your disposal, such as flashlights, generators, mice on treadmills,
bowling balls, etc. Their numbers are legion, too many to list
here. You lay out your items on the screen, among the default
objects, which are immovable, in a manner that you think will
achieve the objective, and then you start the contraption and
see how it works. Some fine-tuning, and the goal is met. You can
progress through the puzzles in order of difficulty or load any
puzzle in the game if you want to skip the basics. There are some
40 or 50 tutorial puzzles where you get a chance to play with
onscreen hints and see what all of the items actually do when
you use them.
You also have the option to build your own puzzles. This is not
fun for me, though, so I didn't try it enough to comment. As I
said before, though, my son goes gaga for this kind of stuff.
Especially the explosives ... hmm, should I worry now or wait
for manifestation of pyromaniacal tendencies in his real life?
My advice? If you like puzzle games and have not played any versions
of TIM before, by all means give Contraptions a
try. However, if, like me, you have played TIM before,
Contraptions is more of the same. My rating is based on
the amount of fun I've had with the series overall, which is considerable.
And last but not least, this series is really great for all ages,
not just kids or adults. It has honed my son's critical thinking
abilities quite a bit.
Release Date: 2000
Four Fat Chicks Links
Pentium 90 (166 preferred)
32 MB RAM (64 MB preferred)
50 MB hard drive space
4X CD-ROM drive
Mac OS 8.5.1
32 MB RAM
50 MB hard drive space
4X CD-ROM drive
Where to Find It
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