By Alec Meer on August 5th, 2008 at 10:52 am.
I hated physics more than any other class at school. And not just because of the time my teacher slammed me in the side of the neck with an exercise book, causing me to black out for 3 seconds. It was mostly because my brain seems to have some inherent inability to accommodate the kind of thinking necessary to understand forces and elasticity and so on. Which is annoying, as thanks largely to videogames I now tend to think not ‘physics’ but PHYSICS!
So I recognise that Fantastic Contraption is a thing of brilliance (awful, awful music aside), and I get enormously excited when I manage to bodge together something that works. What I can’t seem to do is plan what should work. Apart from level 5, where my ever-destructive brain correctly surmised that a battering ram was in order. Knocking stuff over is something I do understand.
It’s the bastard child of The Incredible Machine and Armadillo Run, possibly more limited than either but perhaps a little more instant with it. In each level, you’re moving your starting piece from a blue square to a pink square, as simple as that. Where it differs from Armadillo Run is that you’re building a vehicle rather than a course, bizarre constructs of rods and wheels that reshape themselves as they trundle across geometric obstacles. One level might require an undulating mecha-caterpillar, and another an enormous, ambulatory triangle with a pokey-pole sticking out the front. The shapes required will doubtless be immediately obvious to physics-heads; the rest of us can gradually piece it together by seeing just how far our initial constructs make it and exactly what grinds them to a halt.
It’s not necessarily anything new, but it’s very well put-together and the free version is pleasingly substantial. Go play. It also supports user-made levels if you cough up $10 for the full version, which is probably where the real fun lies. Most of all, it’s one of those games that’s hugely entertaining whilst also making you feel slightly smarter. Like snooker, but with more all-terrain parallelograms.
Thanks to Colthor, Daniel Blackburn and Delirium Wartner for the tip-offs.