Review by King Broccoli

"Live out your dreams of smashing fishbowls and maiming ugly cats!!"

The Incredible Machine is yet another game that falls into the ''It's fun, but you can learn stuff from it'' category. It features some of the most cerebral puzzles that you'll ever see (and it's still a children's game) and some of the most god-awful music you'll ever hear. That's never stopped anyone from having fun though, right?

The graphics, following the trend of many other puzzle style games, are simplistic in a big way. There hasn't been too much effort or detail put into them but it really doesn't take anything away from the game. The background in which all of the action takes place is a pleasant shade of blue and the border is composed of pretty, gold pipes. This makes up an altogether spiffy looking playing field.
There's a huge number of objects that are used during the course of the game and not a single one of them has been drawn badly, they all have their own little animations which can be either boring or comical, but always looking good. A lot of the effects in TIM (explosions, gunshots etc.) have been done superbly and really jump out at the person that is watching the screen.
Overall, the graphics of TIM aren't really up to today's standards, they didn't even really compare well to games of its time. The Incredible Machine isn't really about the graphics, so it's allowable for them to be a bit sub-par.

The sound that the developers have so generously given the game is just downright appalling, you'll never hear tunes that sound so ridiculous for the rest of your life. The background music is only available during a small number of the levels (thank god) and whilst the whole atmosphere of the music is a cheerful one, it's guaranteed that the person that listens to it won't be. There are two tunes (MIDI ones I believe) and they are the most repetitive pieces of rubbish that you'll ever hear. One uses a continuous string of high notes that will shatter your eardrums, and the other one just sounds like the composer was hitting notes randomly. Thank heavens you can turn the damn things down.
The weirdest thing is, there aren't any sound effects. There's up to thirty wacky animations and reactions just waiting for a sound effect to go off, but for some reason the makers obviously decided to focus more attention on the music, it's a pity really.
Overall, the sound really needed a tremendous amount of improvement to be classified as listenable. Sound effects were sorely missed and when it was turned down the music wasn't, something definitely got screwed up here.

The gameplay offered in The Incredible Machine is very good and makes up for the lacklustre audio and video departments. If you don't already know, here's how the game is played. You're presented with a task that must be completed, Pop all the Balloons, Free the Cat from the Cage, stupid little jobs like that. You'll then be taken to the playing field where you can see the present situation, down the side there's a list of all the objects you've got piled away in your inventory. Using these objects that you have at your disposal you must complete the task and then progress to the next level.
The controls are easy to get the hang of, all you need to use is the mouse and it's two buttons, the cursor can be over responsive at times, but it's nothing that can't be dealt with. There are a few other annoyances, like having to find the exact spot to place a pulley just so a catapult will work, but this game is all about learning and it's what you'll do.
For those who get sick of the puzzles then endless amounts of fun await them in probably what is the best feature of the game. FREEFORM MODE! You get unlimited objects and can move and manipulate them to your hearts content, creating all sorts of wacky situations and funny outcomes…it's so good it could give you a heart attack. You can save your coolest creations to disk and amaze all of your friends with them!
Overall, the gameplay of The Incredible Machine is innovative, unique, and offers the player a good time and lots of laughs, play TIM and you'll be entertained all night long. The gameplay of TIM (despite it's desire to teach people stuff) is surprisingly good, it really is worth a try.

The lifespan of TIM is great, there are over one hundred puzzles to try your hand at (a task, which will take a month of solid play to achieve) and once you've knocked all of them over it's over to the freeform mode. Not a person on Earth could ever find themselves tiring of this mode, there's just so many situations for you to play out, your only limit is your imagination. And of course once you've had a fair crack at this mode, chances are that you'll have forgotten the solutions to most of the puzzles and will play them again. All this out of one floppy disk!

There is a great amount of fun factor to be found in this game, all of the modes will entertain people of all ages (even though it's meant to be a children's game). Games of an educational nature are usually boring more than anything else, but the fun of this game has spurred the release of a string of sequels. They wouldn't release a 100 level add-on pack if the game wasn't fun now would they?

The Incredible Machine has a fantastic challenge range. There's an extraordinary amount of puzzles and whilst the first collection are a do it with your eyes closed sort of thing, as you progress there is a great difficulty range and by the time you reach the harder puzzles you should be well trained in the ways of The Incredible Machine. There's nothing stopping you from having someone make you a few challenging puzzles in freeform mode either, people of all ages will be challenged by The Incredible Machine.

Overall, The Incredible Machine is a rare find. It doesn't have the type of graphics that will make your eyes pop out or the type of music that you want played at your funeral, but the gameplay more than makes up for this with it's humour and oddball style puzzle solving. There's enough here to keep a person hooked on TIM for a long, long time. It's the perfect game for younger players but has just enough difficulty to keep the elder gamers coming back for more, well worth a look.
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GOOD POINTS
- A good change from the other puzzle games clogging every system
- Provides a decent play whilst at the same time teaching you to use your head wisely
- You get to smash fishbowls :)

NOT SO GOOD POINTS
- The music belongs in an elevator in hell! Not in this game.
- Simplistic graphics and annoying physics hurt the game a little bit
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GRAPHICS - 4/10
SOUND - 1/10
GAMEPLAY - 9/10
LIFESPAN - 9/10
FUN FACTOR - 8/10
CHALLENGE - 10/10
OVERALL - 7/10


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 06/08/00, Updated 06/08/00


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