The Incredible Machine: ContraptionsFall 2000 Software
Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Sierra On-Line
Review:A tinkering mind is the prerequisite for tackling the brain-teasing gizmos and gadgetry in this sequel to the original “Incredible Machines” puzzle game. Inspired by the machinery-driven illustrations of Rube Golberg that created comically complex devices to accomplish overly simple tasks, this version is loaded with more than 250 such mechanical challenges. Each begins with an arrangement of objects and parts … levers, gears, ropes, ramps, treadmills, pulleys, thing-a-ma-jigs, even lasers, mirrors and anti-gravity machines in the hardest of the four difficulty levels. The test is to recreate a working arrangement using items from the parts bin to achieve the same goal—silly stuff mostly such as rolling a billiard ball down a ramp and into a basket or lighting a fireworks display with a laser beam. Although the tutorial is way-too extensive and the optional-hint professor's yammering voice wears thin, there are plenty of clues to prevent players from getting exasperated. But some of these monstrosities do come close to impossible to solve, particularly for the mechanically mismatched. For brainiacs, the two-player mode is a blast of fresh inventions aimed at heightening timed, head-to-head competition. The design-your-own mode is open-ended exploration of what better mousetraps and ridiculous devices players can create selecting from hundreds of parts. Humorous cartoon-like graphics and customizable music and background sounds enhance the click-and-drag activities and high-quality puzzles.
Don Oldenburg ©2000 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.
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