Review by segaplaystation
"A great start to the series - This game is incredible."
There are only three game series that I would classify as truly being genuine, good old fashion fun. And these are not just ANY game series, either. These series are so completely and euphorically fun that you'll probably never tire of them. They are: Nights, Jumping Flash, and The Incredible Machine. I don't consider the first series to be a series, per se. In my opinion, a game needs at least three installments to be a series. Nights has 2. This review is about The Incredible Machine. It will be focusing mostly on the first game in the series, but will talk a little about the series as a whole.
I first discovered the Incredible Machine series when I saw The Return of The Incredible Machine running on a friend's computer several years ago. I didn't know the name at first, but when I first played it, I was enthralled. This was a fascinating game, and it was unlike anything else I'd played prior. I immediately spent the first few minutes torturing Mel Schlemming, a hapless person who didn't really have much of a life and made a satisfying scream when dropped from a high height.
After many playthroughs of various installments of this game at other people's houses, I really wanted this game for myself. I just couldn't get enough. Eventually, I found the first installment for DOS. I went to load it up in my crusty old Gateway, and ended up feeling... disapointed at first. There was no Mel Schlemming to be found. So, I decided that I'd just try the puzzles, which I had previously avoided due to them being too complicated. I stuck with the puzzles, and found them to be pretty fun and clever in their own right. Oh yeah, and I found someone called Pokey Cat, who was just as fun to torture as Mel Schlemming, and made a particularly hilarious face when dropped. I eventually managed to play all of the games in the series (barring the unreleased Sega CD version of Sid & Al's Incredible Toons), and loved every last one of them. I eventually got bored with the series, but it sure was a long time before I did! Now, on with the review!
Can you make a better puzzle game concept than The Incredible Machine? I certainly can't. The gameplay is about using various parts to make an amazingly complex and convoluted rube goldberg machine to do a certain task. These tasks consist of everything from trying to make a basketball go through a hoop, to completely and utterly destroying the bowl of a helpless fish, to trying to make a monkey pedal on an exercise bike.
Now, this game would be all too easy with all the parts at your disposal, wouldn't it? That's just it, they don't give you all the parts. They just give you a few parts in limited quantities. This is where the challenging part comes in. As you move up levels, the machines become more complex, and the parts less useful. By the final levels, you'll really be racking your brain and have to think extremely creatively.
In the game's freeform mode, you can take a crack at creating your own digital rube goldberg contraptions. There are 47 parts at your disposal, many of which you probably would never be able to get away with using if you were planning to build a rube goldberg machine in your own home.
While this is all well and good, however, TIM1's freeform mode sadly doesn't let you make your own puzzles. This is a real shame, because if there WAS a puzzle creation mode, this game would be perfect. Fortunately, there were three versions of this particular game released. The one I just mentioned, a sort of expanded version called The Even More Incredible Machine, and a 3DO version that incorporates all the puzzles from the first and TEMIM, and gives it a graphical makeover. These ones actually allow you to create your own puzzles. (note: if you're going to get TEMIM, get the DOS version. The windows version doesn't work well on new computers.)
The graphics in The Incredible Machine are richly detailed, sporting well drawn and colorful objects, and vibrant animation. The only real drawback to all this is the constantly green background, which can get boring to some after a while.
These physics were amazing for the time, but, as you may see, they haven't held up very well over the years. There isn't even any ragdoll on for show.
Sound & Music: 8/10
Contrary to what all the other reviews here have said, there is actual music in this version of TIM. To hear it, open the INSTALL application (Yes, the options menu is called install. Don't worry, you'll get used to it.) , go to sound and music, choose Roland MT-32 (Soundblaster on older computers) , and choose "Play The Incredible Machine" (you might have to go back to the main menu for this, I'm not sure.). It will now take the game much longer to start up, and the music may sound a little like tired musicians playing out of sync, or maybe like an accident in a piano factory, but it's definately worth it. You also get some nice sounds (which, fortunately, don't sound like trainwrecks).
The music in this game is varied, fun, and quite pleasent to listen to. You'll hear everything from futuristic techno/house beats, to relaxing, smooth Jazz, and everything in between, such as a polka tune that would probably fit well in an old timey 1920s silent flick, and a blues tune whose melody seems to have been lifted from a song about addiction (fitting, seeing as I was addicted to this game for years.).
Replay: Through the roof!/10
In regular doses, you'll probably never tire of this game. The levels are awesome and devilishly devised, the amount of machines you can create is virtually unlimited, with lots of room for experimentation, and if you have the expanded Even More edition, you can even create your own puzzles.
The incredible Machine is a brilliant game, and people with older (pre-pentium) machines with >8MB should check this game out, post haste. If you have a new machine, however, you might want so save your money and buy Crazy Machines, Chain Reaction, or maybe Armadillo Run instead, as they're much more full featured and contain better physics.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/22/08
Game Release: The Incredible Machine (US, 12/31/92)
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