The Incredible Machine
- Video Game
This game involves playing with Rube Goldberg devices devices involving floating balloons, blimps and blowing them up or popping them, using dynamite. The player has solve each puzzle before... Read allThis game involves playing with Rube Goldberg devices devices involving floating balloons, blimps and blowing them up or popping them, using dynamite. The player has solve each puzzle before moving on to the next level.This game involves playing with Rube Goldberg devices devices involving floating balloons, blimps and blowing them up or popping them, using dynamite. The player has solve each puzzle before moving on to the next level.
I remember seeing this back in the mid-nineties... the funny thing is that it wasn't at a friend's house or otherwise on a computer where you'd expect to find video-games... but on the computers at school. This was on each computer that the students had access to at that one school, and it was popular with pupils and teachers alike, due to its great mix of realism and entertainment. A few years later, I got a copy of it for myself, and it's hardly been off my hard-drive since then. The game reminds me of the Danish drawing artist Storm P.; in fact, for the longest of time, I referred to this as "the Storm P. game". You get a number of normal, everyday objects(and a few that aren't, though I believe everything seen in the game exists, and did so, when it was released nearly fifteen years ago), and from that, you have to build a machine that accomplishes one or more objectives(which are mostly very precise, though there are exceptions), such as "move this object there". There are a number of obstacles, and you have a limited number of the various objects you are given, so you have to try your hand and figure out how to use the tools right in order to solve the puzzle. There are 87 puzzles in total, and the first handful of them are tutorial ones, that introduce you properly to using everything in the game. Apart from the regular puzzles of increasingly high difficulty, there is also a "free-form" mode... where you're given a clear screen, an unlimited supply of every object in the game and you can save and load your work on them, making it possible to create countless unique machines. The game really lets you get creative, in that there are so many tools and they all behave differently. That's where the realism and, to an extent, educational value, come in; the basketball bounces more than the bowling ball, the tennis ball weighs far less than either, and so on. The game lets you play around with tons of realistically designed tools, including electric generators, mouse-wheel engines(a la the hamster running in a wheel to generate power), pipes, brick, and even several pets. Heck, you can even blow up things with (realistically designed) dynamite, and send bottle rockets flying. The puzzle designs are all quite nice, and occasionally even (inoffensively, if perhaps not always entirely animal-friendly) humorous. No two levels look or feel the same, and they are all excellent brain-teasers. Each puzzle solved gives points, and there is a countdown that will determine how many(the faster you solve it, the more) bonus points you will get. The game gives you a password every time you've solved a puzzle, so that you won't have to start over the next time you play. The overall design is nice, not too flashy, but not hard on the eyes, either. Adding both fun factor and further value as a tool to teach about the laws of physics is the fact that you can alter the air pressure and the gravity(though not in the regular puzzle-solving mode, only in free-form), making the machine you're building be based in outer space, on the moon, or under the ocean(though without any aesthetic changes). The animation is sufficient and realistic; there's really not anything cartoon-y about the game, though some of the tools are colorful(such as the jack-in-the-box). The game isn't flawless: There is midi music playing as you solve the puzzles, but it doesn't sound particularly good(though I suppose that could be argued to be a tendency in midi music), so it's fortunate that they possessed the foresight to fit the game's menu with volume control. I don't think that the game has actual sound effects, though this may be because I'm playing it on a computer of today, and not of 1993... actually, there might also have been better music with the game, I can't say for sure. The level design, while clever, isn't always perfect; they did leave holes, allowing the player to solve the puzzle through an easy and direct way, instead of finishing the machine that they set up... and perhaps the round-about puzzles with only one proper solution for each and a strict threshold of how close you can get to the mark before you complete it was simply too much, because I found myself taking the aforementioned short-cut method on far too many levels, instead of solving it properly. Maybe the motivation was lacking; perhaps the team creating this should have written detailed backgrounds for each machine, given us more reason to care than the points gathered and the pride that admittedly comes with solving it right. The sequel made some considerable improvements(though also stepped straight into several pitfalls that this game widely and skillfully dodge), including sound effects, more color and detail, more objects(though some seemed to be put in to make it more popular, as they were of little scientific interest) and more diversity all-round. Nevertheless, this is an excellent game, and a fine tool. It can be played by anyone, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. Anyone who enjoys creativity and/or brain teasers will love it. It's aged remarkably well, and is a must-have for anyone who enjoys creativity. There are just about countless hours of fun to be had with this game; little other than your own imagination sets the limit for what machines you can create, how intricate or simple they are designed, how much or how little they achieve and how long or how short a time they'll run and/or last. You can create repetitive motion machines, send things flying, blow objects up(to the extent of the dynamite's ability) and much, much more; whatever you want to do and however you want to do it. I recommend this to anyone who likes brain-teasers, creativity and imaginative machines. Yes, this is much more than just a sneaky way to teach kids about physics. 8/10
- Jan 6, 2007
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