Crazy Machines Elements, aside from looking like it needs a colon in its title, is a neatly crafted little physics-based Arcade game. The core concept involves using a variety of elements to build a crazy machine the likes of which Pee Wee Herman has never seen, all in the name of popping a balloon or making two wind-up mice kiss. There is no villain to defeat or damsel to rescue — it’s just a puzzle game for the sake of figuring out the puzzles.
While that may make it seem as though there’s not much meat in the game, the truth is far from it. There are 9 different puzzle packs, each with up to 20 individual puzzles to solve. If my pre-college algebra skills are correct, that equals at least 100 puzzles. Whoa! After solving the first 50, you’ll unlock Challenge mode and a bunch more puzzles.
Of course, they start off fairly simple as you get introduced to the different mechanics of the game and the tools at your disposal. Then the weather starts to play a factor, including how wind affects the objects on the board. Then you end up using advanced science skills to help you realize that you can conduct electricity through a puddle of water that used to be an ice cube that you had to melt with a candle to make the puddle of water in the first place.
It was only a few puzzles in before I was momentarily stumped for the first time, which made me feel sad inside because I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent individual. So that sadness turned to anger, which is how real men express themselves, and I began cursing at how this was all the game’s stupid fault, not mine. Then I just tried something different and it worked, which proves that my anger helped me be a better person.
Basic gameplay involves using the tools made available in your toolbox to manipulate the environment. Everything remains motionless until you hit the Y button to start the machine. This means that you can position objects in mid air and have them simply fall when the machine starts or put them on top of a ramp and watch them roll down. I have occasionally solved a puzzle by totally ignoring the “real” solution and just dropping a bowling ball on the button I needed to press.
In addition to merely completing the objective, however, each level also has some golden nuts to collect (the machine type, not the kind found on trees or in your father’s pants). Collecting all of them while also completing the main objective makes you more popular and better looking, though I’m not totally sure what the in-game reward is for doing this.
Playing through the main series of puzzles unlocks pieces to use in creating your own crazy machine puzzle, which you can upload and share with your friends. It’s odd to me that the puzzle creator would be so limited from the start and force you to play through the game before you have access to most of the pieces, as making your own puzzles could be a huge selling point. I guess the argument is that you have to understand how the tools work before you can use them, or maybe they just want you to play through what they have worked so hard to create. Either way, full access would have been preferable.
Overall, there’s a lot of content here for 800 space bucks, but the controls are less-than-intuitive and the graphics are merely okay. If you enjoy the physics-based puzzles, you’ll have plenty of them to solve in Crazy Machines Elements. If you check out the trial and aren’t really impressed, though, don’t expect the full game to offer anything to change your mind.
+ Tons of puzzles for a decent price
+ Thinking-man’s game
+ Feeling of accomplishment when puzzle is solved
– Kinda ugly
– Controls are somewhat clunky
– Build Mode should have less locked content
– Made me question my sexuality when I spent so much time chasing golden nuts
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