Just what is so incredible about The Incredible Machine? I've no idea - I haven't heard of it or its numerous sequels and spin-offs at any point in my past.
The Incredible Machine is both a puzzle and a toy box that focuses on Rube Goldberg-like machines, having you arrange a set of given objects onto the field of play in such a way that they interact with each other to produce results like smashing a fish tank or dunking a basketball.
This is going to tax my brain, I can feel it.
We didn't get off to the best of starts, ol' Incredible Machine and me, thanks to some DRM implementation (which may have been deactivated in this GOG release, I didn't check, so that'll serve me right for complaining) requiring me to look through the manual.
Ugh, I know, right? Me, looking through a manual...
It's actually a pretty neat looking manual. I'm playing The Even More Incredible Machine, a release of The Incredible Machine which adds a whole load more puzzles to solve and pieces to use, but is otherwise the same as the original game that came out earlier in the year.
As well as being neat to look at, it's a damn useful manual too, especially when you need to use the guide found within it to get past the first puzzle...
Yes, I was definitely having a moment of dumb when I first sat down to play this, but, puzzle by puzzle (ish), my brain got into the swing of things and solutions became more obvious to me. Before running away again, of course.
As you'd expect, the early stages are there to teach you what kind of effects you can get out of certain objects, and how they work with each other. A mouse running in a wheel can be roped up to a conveyor belt in order to power the belt, but the mouse only runs when scared after, say, a bowling ball has landed on top of his cage, but that ball could only fall if it was nudged by a boxing glove on a spring... you see where this is going.
An introductory screen to the level gives you the briefest of hints to get you started and allows you to see the level before jumping in. As soon as you commit to it, the bonus score starts counting down and your building commences with just a few clicks.
Elements can be resized, flipped and recycled as necessary, and there's no need to hunt for a perfect solution, for as long as the physics trigger whatever you need to trigger to complete the stage, then your job is done and you can move onto the next challenge.
It's a well thought out little game... that I soon got bored with. Partly because of getting stuck or missing the obvious, sure, but mostly because I'm just not the kind of person to say 'Do you know what I need to do right now? Make and/or solve some Rube Goldberg contraptions!'
The consistent physics and humorous situations make for some entertainment value and mental exercise, and maybe, level by level, I'll chip away at it to see all kinds of props being put to use, but this game is not high on my list, no matter the effectiveness with which The Incredible Machine puts everything together.
If this all appeals to you, then with its Freeform, create what you want mode, The Incredible Machine (in any guise, I guess) is well worth giving a shot. If it isn't, watch some classic Tom & Jerry videos or something.
The Incredible Machine lives on to this day in the form of Contraption Maker, released in 2014 by some of the original Incredible Machine team.
The Incredible Machine, developed by Kevin Ryan, first released in 1993.
Version played: The Even More Incredible Machine, DOS, 1993.