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I am a huge fan of puzzle games, not just full on puzzle games but really any type of game that makes you use your mind. With this in mind I was keen to get stuck into Crazy Machines Complete by Fakt Software. This is actually three titles bundled together, Crazy Machines, Inventors Training Camp and New from the Lab. Essentially, hundreds of puzzles here to plough into. Although the original Crazy Machines had been around a while now I was keen to have a foray into PC based Puzzling after not doing so for many years (word games excepted).
I must admit, at first I was afraid, I was petrified (sorry). I knew that it had been so long since I dabbled in the brainbox arena that I would struggle at first. Basically this game involves the gamer being given various different components to try and perform a particular task. Objects are placed in suspended animation until you flick the switch and witness it all (hopefully), coming together nicely.
The style is that of a mad professors lab come metallurgy workshop, and there is a slightly irritating but cute Einstein lookalike that pops up and makes sarcastic comments along the way. I must stress although he resembles Einstein, I don't think there is actually any real intended impersonation happening, which of course would probably be illegal unless the trustees of Einstein's estate received a whopping fee. Anyway I digress.
As I progressed I couldn't help but notice the similarity between my solutions, and the delightful old game Mousetrap.
There are around 200 levels. To start with you are faced with some terribly easy ones to get you going and help familiarise yourself with the concept. This of course, is the bit where I seriously struggled. I always do, I struggle to do the simplest of things, but get on ok with the more difficult ones. After a quick youtube of how to complete the bits I was struggling on, things got interesting. I improved very quickly and swiftly got into the swing of things.
Upon beginning a level, you are given a rough idea of the task ahead from the prof, your inventory is shown on the right, and off you go, solve the problem at hand. The range of implements at hand is nicely diverse and includes steam driven pistons, balls, dominos, balloons, boards, robots, conveyor belts, I could go on. As I progressed I couldn't help but notice the similarity between my solutions, and the delightful old game Mousetrap. It is a lovely feeling when you finally flick the switch and watch the superb physics engine maneouvre everything into place nicely. A particularly nice feature is that you can have another go without having to replace all your pieces, it's quite a forgiving game, thankfully. If you wish, you can begin the level again from scratch.
It's fair to say that in the later stages you would need a meeting between Enstein, Hawking and Socrates in order to just debate the task at hand. You will probably then rope in Charles Babbage to actually implement the fix just debated. In my case anyhow. Some of the puzzles can make you feel like throwing your PC out of the window, but that is what this is all about, and it's great.
You have to give credit to the imagination here, complemented by the programmers ingenuity at tying things together nicely
You have to give credit to the imagination here, complemented by the programmers ingenuity at tying things together nicely. Candles move nicely to heat up steam pistons, balls bounce in a way they would do on the park, very cunning stuff. It's fair to say that the gamemakers intention is not to set the World alight, but to provide an excellent workshop themed interjection into the puzzle gaming arena. This is certainly achieved successfully. Where the game really excels is the way that the various objects interact with each other.
So far we have talked about the main gameplay but it's worth noting that there is an excellent workshop that facilitates creation of your own wacky experiments. Serious puzzlers will want to spend many hours in this section of the game. I don't want to waffle on about the graphics and sound (we let other sites do that) suffice to say the graphics are 2D, more than passable, and the music is basic but gives you the choice to use your own CD.
I wouldn't recommend this for kids under 8 or so (prodigys excepted). It's a great one to play whilst performing other tasks on your pc as it will run nicely in it's own window. You will want to turn off the sarcastic prof though after a while. Serious and amateur puzzlers will be extremely happy with this educational, well constructed budget offering.
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