Apparatus brings Rube Goldberg fun to Android phones
Apparatus is something of an Android reincarnation of legendary 90s computer game series The Incredible Machine. Much like its predecessor, Apparatus is about figuring out how to build a Rube Goldberg device that accomplishes a particular task, usually flipping a ball into a goal. To accomplish this, the game gives you planks, weights, levers, pulleys, cables, and even batteries. You use the touchscreen to drag building components around, sometimes combining them to create more complex parts.
The free version of Apparatus gives you twelve levels to clear, six of which are tutorials and the ability to create your own levels using the game’s various machine parts. The game’s paid version contains more levels and allows you to save and upload your created levels to share with other users. You can also download community-created levels, which gives Apparatus an effectively infinite number of levels to play. One game mode wasn’t finished during our test period, but Bithack does currently label Apparatus as a beta despite the full version being a paid download.
The heart of Apparatus is its touch screen interface and physics, both of which are quite good. You can solve many levels more than one way, provided you build a machine that solves the problem posed by the ball’s physics in each level. The touch screen interface is intended for handsets with larger screens, but was perfectly playable on the HTC Incredible used to test the game. You can zoom out and in by pinching, which is necessary for completing levels. Sometimes without zooming in significantly, it’s a bit hard to position pieces with the kind of precision the game can demand.
While this is an annoyance in the regular levels, it becomes very troublesome in the level creator. Positioning level elements is fiddly in a way that a larger screen probably wouldn’t alleviate. Even when tightly zoomed in, some pieces (particularly planks and cables) always seem to end up just slightly off of where you intend them. This is not much of a problem if building for fun, but players interested in creating super-challenging levels may find the interface frustrating. It also grows tiresome to deal with when building very complex levels.
Apparatus is a good fit for Android handsets, offering a wide selection of brain-teasing puzzles even before you get into the community levels. Players willing to fight with the game’s still-wonky interface will also find it a promising sandbox for creating puzzles and contraptions of their own. The visuals are very simple but made strong use of the physics possibilities of 3D graphics. While there’s no shortage of physics games available for Android, Apparatus still manages to stand out. If you never had a chance to play The Incredible Machine back in its heyday, then Apparatus will give you a good idea of what you missed.