Review - The Incredible Machine

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Trev
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Review - The Incredible Machine

Post by Trev » Wed Feb 14, 2007 3:42 am

I had some choice words for Dynamix in my review of Draxon's Revenge, but 'The Incredible Machine' shows that they were indeed capable of producing some great software.

Have you ever played the board game 'MouseTrap'? Or do you remeber that crazy contraption that opened the gate in the movie 'The Goonies'? These are two examples that illustrate what 'The Incredible Machine' is about. Performing simple tasks in the most complex way is the goal of this title, and it succeeds at it.

If the above two references mean nothing to you, don't worry. The cool opening animation demonstrates the nature of this game. You can play it in one of three modes ... solve puzzles, make machines, and teach me. Each offer something unique. Teach me is likely where you should start as it presents fairly simple puzzles that demonstrate the functions of the various items you will use to build your machines.

The other two modes are much more involved. In the make machines mode you can construct devices of your own by selecting from the large arsenal of parts available. This task can seem daunting, but the option to save a work in progress and return to it later is welcome. It can be fun to watch a friend try and solve your creation (I am in the process of building one for my fiance ... she has a good head for puzzles :)) Options to adjust gravity and air pressure are unique to this mode.

The heart of the game is solving the puzzles designed by the development team. This is quite addictive, and let me tell you very satisfying! I've gotten just as much pride from solving a tough puzzle in this game, as I have from beating Resident Evil 4 (okay, maybe not quite as much, but close :wink: ) The learning curve may be slightly steep, but if a particular puzzle is proving too tough it can be skipped and returned to later.

What I really like about this game is that there is no correct way to reach your goal. Use as many, or as few of the parts as you like. Make your machine as complex, or simple as you wish (my machines tend to be complex as I have a tendency to overthink simple solutions) I've compared some of my results to those found in the 3DO Game Secrets Guide and they are quite different. So no two players will play this game the same way. This can make for good replay value also, as you try to find different ways to solve the same puzzle.

Flaws? Hmmm ... the game does not provide solutions to any of it's puzzles. Is this an actual flaw ... I'm still debating it. On the one hand it can be frustrating to reach a puzzle that you simply can't seem to conquer. On the other hand, readily available solutions could be abused for those with little willpower. Ultimately I guess it comes down to the individual. When push comes to shove I think the omission of solutions is correct, but perhaps some more hints could have been employed.

One flaw that I cannot debate though, is the occasional puzzle in which the goal cannot be reached. I've come across a few puzzles in which I accomplished the stated goal, but was not allowed to move on. This isn't too common, but it should not be present at all. My guess is that in these cases there are specifics to the goal that I have not met, but it is the designers job to make sure that these are clearly spelled out. Vague goals are not sufficient, or acceptable. :?

Having discussed the gameplay, I should briefly mention the graphics and sounds. This title does not appear to be 3DO enhanced, which is a bit of a letdown. The graphics are not bad, but they are very simple. This is not an area where puzzle games tend to thrive, and 'The Incredible Machine' continued that trend.

Music on the other hand is quite enjoyable, with a jukebox offering a wide range of tracks. Amidst all the variety, you are sure to find several that you like. Ths sound effects are solid and appropriate as well (I get a kick when after you solve a puzzle the little Dynamix critter lets out a sigh of relief) The narrator is also worth mentioning too, as he adds "clever" lines to match each puzzle. 'Feeling a little steamed?' (teapot puzzle) "Give this a shot." (gun puzzle) "Knock your socks off." (boxing glove puzzle) Cheesy perhaps, but it adds nicely to the overall package.

I don't know who Rube Goldberg is, but I like his type of puzzles (on which this game is based) The package boasts of all the awards this game won, but there is a good reason for it. The game is good fun. I overlooked this title when I first picked it up, but am glad I gave it another chance for this review. I suggest you all give it a chance as well. -Trev

P.S. Anyone else think the developers were a bit twisted? Sucking cats up with the vacuum, blowing fish out of their bowl and watching them flap around, feeding the Lemming type character to the alligator? I wonder if some of the Dynamix team later moved on to Warp? :wink:
Last edited by Trev on Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mobius

Post by Mobius » Wed Feb 14, 2007 4:24 am

Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist who drew outlandish contraptions to do a very simple task.

I grew up in West Lafayette, IN, where Purdue University holds an annual national Rube Goldberg machine building contest. It's fun stuff, and you might like it if you like The Incredible Machine. :)

http://www.purdue.edu/UNS/rube/rube.index.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-vPGVZmC7Y

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Trev
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Post by Trev » Wed Feb 14, 2007 4:44 am

Cool info, thanks! I didn't realize how popular his style of machines were. I've learned something new (looks like 'The Incredible Machine' is still teaching me) :wink:

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