LGR – The Incredible Machine – DOS PC Game Review

LGR – The Incredible Machine – DOS PC Game Review


[intro music] [typing] You know what never gets old? Sean Connery. Holy crap, that Holy Grail actually worked. Know what else never gets old? Puzzles. Man, puzzles. Man, they’re so puzzling… and manly. Nothing like solving a good puzzle
to put you in the mood to… solve more puzzles. And not many games puzzle me
more than The Incredible Machine, developed by Jeff Tunnell Productions and Dynamix and published by Sierra in 1993 for MS-DOS PCs. “Incredible!” No crap. That’s the name of the game, so I’d hope so. “Put cat on see-saw. Bowling ball falls on see-saw. Monkey sees banana. Cat makes light go on. Bang.” Not too far off from the typical young human
male strategy of picking up dates, to be honest. Inside the box, you get a non-floppy floppy, an all-manually manual, covering the game and its ins and
outs in the form of sweet line drawings, and an ad for the Incredible Machine add-on disk. This was later packed in with the original game
and released as The Even More Incredible Machine, which is actually what we’ll be looking at for this review, since it’s the same game, just better. And I like better. Because it’s not worse. Once your incredible machine has started… The Incredible Machine, you’re greeted with an animated title screen and appropriately whimsical
music playing in the background. [whimsical MIDI music] Honestly, this screen tells you
all you need to know about the game. It’s all about creating machines of an incredible nature, much like the famed Rube Goldberg
or Heath Robinson contraptions. The menu screen is pretty self-explanatory, too, since it lets you control some
basic options, select levels and describes the current level’s objectives. There are 87 levels in the original game, but The Even More Incredible
Machine expands that to 160. While the first 21 levels are tutorials, don’t be fooled into thinking you should just skip them. On the contrary, the tutorial levels
are challenging but very fair, since they focus on one or two objects at a time and really help you get a grip
on the game’s breed of logic. So, each level starts the same: you’re given a very simple objective and it’s up to you to figure out what that entails. Something like: ignite this dynamite, pop these balloons, break this fish bowl, smack these balls until they fall off the screen, etc. The items you see placed already on
the screen cannot be moved, though, but they can be interacted with
using the items in your inventory. So it’s your job to pick up and place these items in such a way that the objective is met. While there are dozens of parts
to choose from, like bowling balls, scissors, guns, explosives, cats, monkeys on stationary bikes
and even miniature people, usually you only have a handful at
your disposal to meet your current goal. There is no time limit, but you
do have incentive to think fast via a bonus score, which is determined by how
quickly you solve the puzzle. You probably get the idea just by
looking at this gameplay, to be honest. I mean, you place items with a specific function close to other items with a specific function to achieve a specific outcome. But there are some finer details of what’s going on that aren’t quite so apparent at first glance, so… let’s talk about ’em. For one thing, there is a grid that things
are placed on, even though it’s not visible, so you have to take this into account
when you’re planning out your contraptions. You can’t just place anything anywhere. Adding to this is the fact that the game does not use
a random number generator for its physics model. This means that every time you place the exact
same items on the exact same place on the grid, you’ll get the exact same results each and every time. It’s actually quite helpful to know these facts because otherwise you’d end up
with way more trial and error. Not to say there isn’t trial and error at all, though, because there most certainly is, and that’s what you’ll spend
most of the time figuring out. Determining where pieces should logically fit and the timing of them is the crux of the gameplay. And for the most part, it’s simple to wrap
your head around it, if you enjoy logic puzzles. But then you have some puzzles
that are deceptively complex, like this one here where you have to
separate the tennis balls from the baseballs before they fall to the ground, an you can only use bullets to do so. Yeah, it’s not long into the game at all
that the difficulty spikes massively and that can be good or a bad thing,
depending on how puzzling you like your puzzles. And if you get tired of the
endless barrage of tedious crap, you can always just enter the Freeform Machine mode which is a sandbox allowing you to
make absolutely anything you can think of, within the confines of the simulation. You can even adjust things like gravity
and air pressure to your heart’s content. And… that’s about it for The Incredible Machine and Even More Incredible Machine. There were several sequels and
spin-offs that iterated on the formula, but for the most part, the base idea of
solving physics puzzles stayed the same. They just got it right the first time. Not only that, but it’s inspired a whole slew
of knock-offs and imitations throughout the years, especially as touch-screen smartphones
and tablets began to take off. But there’s still something about the mixture
of simple execution and controlled complexity in the originals that really keeps me coming back. Much like Tetris and Lemmings, I find the concept to be absolutely timeless regardless of how much
technology has moved on since. So, if you like Rube Goldberg machines, logic puzzles, or just farting around with shooting cannons at goldfish, I’d definitely give The Incredible Machine a try. [harried music plays] [game]
Phew! [funky MIDI music plays to the end]