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Thursday
Apr232009

Magnificent Gizmos & Gadgets: It makes your brain hurt (in a good way)

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I usually say that I'm not a fan of puzzle games.  I don't like "whodunits," I'm terrible at deductive reasoning, and I absolutely, 100% can't tolerate "Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego."

It's not that I'm bad at these games.  I'm actually pretty good.  But they drive me insane and put my mind into circles.  In the end, if I fail, I want to scream.  I guess you could say I just take these things too seriously.

img_00015 Select a level...

When I sat down with Magnificent Gizmos & Gadgets by Publisher X, though, I was pleasantly surprised.  Someone managed to make a challenging, user-friendly, fun problem-solving game without all the headache and hair pulling.  How'd they do it?  With a series of intelligent and well put-together tutorials peppered throughout the game.  As well as an option to cheat.

See, to me, these games are all about having fun, seeing what you can build, and giving yourself a little hint if things get too difficult.  That's exactly what this app does.

We've seen the concept before.  Your job is to build a gadget within a designated build area.  The gadget can take many forms, but its one purpose is to carry a special ball, called a "goalon," toward a designated red box.  If your goalon is successfully moved into the box, you win the level.

img_00043 ...Build your gizmo...

Game play on this one is top notch, complete with a cadre of gears, supports, pipes and ropes.  Each one has several functions and you have to use each piece in different ways based on the challenges and obstacles in your way.  Even though the pieces are relatively simple, the interface allows you to connect them in a surprisingly different number of ways, fastening connectors to not only the middle of wheels but also to the rotating outer edge.  It's never confusing, always intuitive, and all-together well done.

The real strength of the app, though, comes from the way the game walks you through all the different possible variables and ways to build.  Starting on easy, you progress immediately into a simple level which teaches you basic building.  All ten of the easy levels are "training" levels.  Simple text instructions walk you through the challenges of the level and instruct you on what must be done to be successful.

This means that even the most inexperienced gamer can jump into this immediately without having to spend an hour learning the ropes.  The game is designed to teach as it goes.  Even throughout the medium and hard levels, tutorials are peppered in to introduce new challenges, concepts, and ways of building.

img_00032 ...And pray it works.

Also, the app allows users to access three different levels of hints.  The final level will actually build an appropriate gizmo for you.  It will illustrate exactly what needs to be done, but will not work 100%.  The user must tweak it a bit to accomplish the goal, giving a kind of satisfaction that rarely comes from flat-out cheating.  But these hints are life savers as sometimes even the most experienced builder gets stuck.

I do have a couple of problems with this app.  First, it does have a tendency to crash every so often, sometimes when I'm in the middle of building a fairly complicated gizmo.  That can be really frustrating.  This is the first release of the app, though, so I'd give it time.  I'm sure the bugs will be sorted out.

Second, there are only 44 levels.  That sounds like a lot, but when you consider that many of the levels are tutorial in nature (and insanely easy), there isn't as much gameplay as it would seem.  I finished this game off, solving every puzzle (all but one legitimately, without cheating), in a day and a half...probably about four to six hours of gameplay.  That's not terrible for a $4.99 app, but I would like to see the developer keep updating this one with new levels for download.  The game should grow up with the users, providing new and more challenging levels.  Time will tell if this will happen, as the game is brand new on the iTunes store.

The fact that I completed the game so fast, though, is a definite testament to its addictive nature.  This is legitimately fun, well put-together, and sports a great physics simulator with a fun, playful design interface.  All around, it's more than worth your while.

I enjoyed it so much, it's inspired me to pull out my old Erector set.  

No, that's not a euphemism you dirty minded people.

Buy Magnificent Gadgets & Gizmos HERE.

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