Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Rube Goldberg set off more than he thought when he started inventing crazy machines back in the day. On PC, his legacy mostly lived on as The Incredible Machine, a series of… honestly, less ‘build a machine to do a thing’ games than a ‘finish the one we made’ puzzle series. They were fun. They were clever. But the only one of the series I owned was its dip into cartoon logic, with Sid and Al’s Incredible Toons.
The concept was the same, but instead of mostly real-world objects, Incredible Toons puzzles used an army of cartoon characters and their logic. Sid the mouse would dash after cheese and go through mouseholes to other parts of the screen. His counterpart, Al the cat, was a fiend for fish and trying to snatch and eat him up. There were catapults and ants on treadmills and dragons and banana skins to slip on and all manner of other devices, all making up four sets of increasingly fiendish puzzles. Then, when you’d done them all or simply got bored, you could wipe the screen clean and create your own crazy sequences or puzzles in the editor screen.
It had a ton more charm than The Incredible Machine, though that also proved its downfall. Waiting while all the animations played out and everyone skidded everywhere and chased each other on what you knew were pointless attempts took forever, and watching the same basic machine fail again and again while repositioning Al’s fat blue bottom by another pixel or so really did get old. A few niceties like backgrounds wouldn’t have hurt either. Still, it’s a puzzle game that I played for literally months and months, squeezing every drop of delicious cartoon action out of it. None of the successors have ever quite appealed in the same way either, usually doing a much better job at giving gears and tools to make things out of, but at the expense of that award-winning personality. At least, it probably won awards. I hope so, anyway.