Crazy Machines


posted 5/3/2006 by Lydia Graslie
other articles by Lydia Graslie
Platforms: PC

Back in the glory days of my youth (stop laughing), I fondly recall trying to build a Rube Goldberg machine out of a spoon, a ping pong ball, and some scotch tape. Well, I wasn't very successful at getting it to do anything, but luckily for me Crazy Machines by Viva Media has matched and exceeded my childhood ambitions.

Crazy Machines is at heart a puzzle solving game. You are presented with various objects that have various attributes (weight, heat, etc.) and are expected to connect them in some way to accomplish the task at hand. In one scenario, you are asked to harness the power of a steam generator in order to roast a sausage over a candle. Another puzzle has you hook together gears and drive belts to make two lights blink on and off. Other scenarios have you dinking around with blimps, dominoes, blowtorches, catapults, and even fireworks.

There are two main game modes within Crazy Machines. The first one is the main game mode, in which you are presented with over a hundred prefabricated puzzles which you must complete in succession. Each puzzle gets a little bit harder, and towards the end they start getting very difficult indeed. Younger players might get a bit frustrated by some of the later puzzles. This mode is excellent gadget training for what I consider to be the most fun part of the game: My Lab. My Lab is where you get to build anything you want using all of the tools available in the game. Want to build a machine that both grows flowers and shoots off a cannon? Bounce a box off a spring to start a chain of dominoes? Or just play around with elements of physics without having to worry about causing excessive property damage or getting arrested? My Lab makes it possible           

Graphics wise Crazy Machines is serviceable, but not overly remarkable. It looks decent but it doesn't go out of its way to be pretty. Shadows and a few fireworks explosions are about as extravagant as it gets. Then again, its not really designed to be beautiful. Sound is a bit better. Plenty of toings, clicks, and other effects to flesh out the puzzle solving experience. I had to turn off the sound functions soon after I started because it was slowing down my computer, but what snippets I heard sounded good.

About the lag: I had a few choppiness problems with some of the more complex puzzles. However, I was running it off a laptop with a horribly janky video card. After tweaking things a bit by turning off sound and lighting effects I had much less of a problem. Anyone with a real computer should have little problem getting this game to run more smoothly.

Overall Crazy Machines is a fun, if somewhat plain-looking game. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to just pick up a bunch of random objects and try to make them do something useful, this is for you. Its great fun for satisfying your inventor's urge, without all of the nasty patent process and legal fees.

Overall, a fun little puzzle game with a few nice quirks. Being able to build your own machines was a nice touch as well. However, its not really knockout stupefying or gorgeous, as the graphics are merely decent and the game's creative energy tends to drag a bit at times. Apart from these quibbles Crazy Machines is a solid, enjoyable game.

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