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By Dan Zuccarelli | May 23, 2011 |

Casey's Contraptions is a game that would make Rube Goldberg proud

Ever since I watched the opening scene from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (where the room sized mechanical something or other goes through the convoluted process of making him breakfast) I’ve been fascinated with Rube Goldberg machines. Of course outside the board game Mousetrap, most of us never get to indulge that urge to build overly complicated setups to achieve rudimentary tasks. Enter Casey’s Contraptions.

In Casey’s Contraptions you’ll be helping the title character Casey achieve some simple tasks around the house by setting up various objects that will trigger to have some sort of effect. For example, on one level Casey needs you to put a tennis ball in a basket and gives you some shelves, books and soccer balls to do it. Setting up a domino effect with the books will knock the soccer ball into the tennis ball into the basket. The game is filled with these kinds of inane tasks and all sorts of objects to string together to make it happen.

A game like Casey’s Contraptions could fall apart beyond repair without reliable physics. Luckily, while the physics are certainly exaggerated, they act like you expect them to time after time. Consistency is good here, because when setting up chains of action you need to know that the soccer ball or balloon are going to act the same each time with no weirdness.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the game is the variety of ways you could solve puzzles. With the tools you’re given on each stage you can kind of tell what the developers expect your train of thought to be, it doesn’t at all mean you’ve got to go that route. The game thrives on creative thinking and lets you really go to town. And if you’re really feeling creative you can create and share your own puzzles as well!

Similar to games like Cut The Rope, after you beat a level you’re scored on how well you did in your solution by not only solving the puzzle but also grabbing some stars spread around the level. These stars can give you an idea of the general area the developers think you’ll be placing your objects, but again, you can throw that right out the window and do your own thing.

Because the game has a ton of trial and error to it, it’s nice to see you can “re-load” the puzzle setup to make small adjustments to your solution. This is key when you, say, need a balloon to graze a pair of scissors but not get popped. It’s just going to take a lot of back and forth to get it right, and some delay or pause in the action would kill the feeling and make it tedious instead of exploratory.

Casey's Contraptions

Casey's Contraptions

The graphics gives you the feeling of childlike wonder, and really make you want to engage with them. Manipulating objects, rotating them just so to get the reaction you want all feels very natural. There’s just something affirming about being able to just grab an object and move it around with your hands. This simply isn’t a game that could be translated well to a console or something with a conventional controller, it belongs on a touch screen.

The only bad thing I have to say about Casey’s Contraptions is that I wish there were more of it. I’m confident that there’s going to be some future updates to give me more puzzles to solve, and I heartily admit I’ll be downloading it and playing on day one. It’s the kind of game that doesn’t punish you for failing, and leaves you with a great feeling of accomplishment when beating levels, especially the harder ones. A fun treat.

Pros:

  • Satisfying inventive puzzler, rewards creativity

Cons:

  • Some puzzles take a lot of trial and error

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