With the buzz generated at GDC ‘11 and the subsequent success of Casey’s Contraptions, by indie game devs Snappy Touch, (see review here) that first brought a proper Rube Goldberg machine game to iOS earlier this year, it was a given that copycats would emerge. After all, for every Angry Birds, there is an Angry Birdz, or 50.
According to TUAW, Jeff Tunnell, the original programmer of the classic, was hired by Playdom, which in turn is owned by Disney Interactive. So when he wanted to do a faithful rendition of the original, Disney jumped on board.
But, they somehow miss the mark, neither quite recapturing the now retro look of the original, nor bringing anything new to the table.
The Incredible Machine gameplay remains loyal to the original and is easy to learn.
Players must move objects like, ropes, beams, pipes, balls, even cheese and other assorted thematic elements – 90 in total spread across 75 levels – to create chain-reactions that achieve simple goals like dropping a ball into a box, or getting a mouse to their hole. Oddly, with the frequent recurring theme of alligators eating cute cuddly things. I don’t quite get if that’s supposed to be ironic or dark, but it’s just weird and disconnected.
Success on one level is required to unlock the next. And while the first levels are ridiculously simple, further along they require some trial and error, which is part of the fun.
But, when things gets tricky, and they do especially on the newly released expert levels, there is nowhere to look for help.
Caseys Contraption’s handles this with originality by allowing users not only to peek at perfect solves, but at each other’s solutions as well. With The Incredible Machine, it’s between gamer and contraption alone.
The replay value is almost entirely locked into the three-star system so popular in simple puzzlers, but earning those stars isn’t reward enough to warrant reworking the levels.
The controls function, but with less precision than expected from a Disney-branded game, with some objects feeling a little sticky. Things are supposed to just lock into place, but too often they don’t, at least not easily, especially for younger players whom Disney seems to be targeting – based just on the number of monkeys in the game, -over the retro-gaming crowd.
Instead, if you want to extend the game, you have to purchase additional levels in-app. There are three so far at $.99 each, but on the plus side a recent update made this game universal – at $2.99 for the main show, it’s fair.
The graphics are the real hiccup. They are neither retrofied, nor spit-shined to make them look crisp. Instead the levels look washed out and the art uninspired.
If you are looking for a true port of the original Incredible Machine, one of the most beloved games of all time, this isn’t it. Disney’s offering is fun, but lacks the production value you’d expect from the brand. And they entered the field to late, or perhaps just without fresh vision, to bring anything new to Rube Goldberg puzzlers on iOS, and redesigned too much for it to be called classic.