Remember all those old Warner Brothers cartoons with the weird Rube Goldberg/Heath Robinson-style contraptions? You know, the one where the ball goes down a ramp, knocks over a line of dominoes, sending one down onto a teeter totter with a lit candle at the other end which burns a hold in a rope allowing a piece of cheese to drop into a mouse cage, making the mouse inside run while powering a pulley which opens a door that hides a spring-loaded boxing glove behind it? Or how about the one where a toy car with a matchstick attached to it rolls down a ramp, striking the match lit, then lighting a small firecracker which sends a small rock flying on top of a button which activated a spring-loaded jack-in-the-box that bumps a wooden plank holding a small glass of water which knocks over and pours into a measuring cup which then gets heavy enough to activate a catapult that flings a bomb at the unwitting target? Ever wondered how cool it would be to actually build one yourself? Well thanks to developer Kevin Ryan and publisher Jeff Tunnell, now you can. The Incredible Machine was originally published by Dynamix and Sierra Entertainment. From 93 to 95, the series had the same developers, but a different group of developers worked on 2000′s Return of the Incredible Machine: Contraptions and 2001′s The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions. The entire series and intellectual property was acquired by Jeff Tunnell’s Pushbutton Labs earlier this month.
TIM is a puzzle game in which you have to accomplish a goal using whatever means you have available. This can be from something as simple as putting a ball into a basket, or something as complex as operating a series of appliances. You’ll have a certain amount of objects available to you, and it’s up to you to figure out how to use them to accomplish the goal. You’ll use everything from balls, to pipes, and even laser guns. You can even design your own puzzles, choosing which parts to use, which parts to throw in the use bin, and determine under what conditions the puzzle would be solved with an easy to use interface. The most recent iteration of the series, Even More Contraptions featured an online sharing service which was sadly disabled due to the game’s age. Speaking of EMC, you’ll want to check out the tutorial mode. Although it’s lengthy, you’ll learn how to use every gadget in the game.
It’s hard to find a boxed retail copy of the game, but thankfully GOG.com has recently released The Incredible Machine Mega pack. It contains The Even More Incredible Machine (an enhanced version of TIM 1), The Incredible Machine 3 (which contains all of the levels from TIM 2 as well as newer content), The Return of the Incredible Machine, and Even More Contraptions, all for the low price of $9.99. There are also rumors of an Xbox Live Arcade version, but I’ll believe it when I see it. You should definitely check it out, as it’s highly fun and innovative. Fans of the recently released and Scribblenauts especially would get a kick out of this game. It’s fun putting together things just to see what you can come up with.