Fantastic Contraption Game

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A cleverly creative physics puzzler requiring brain power and the will to entertained

Creating Your Own Fun

Have you ever wanted to invent things for a living? Unless you’re part of a small portion of the population that does so as a career, you have most likely wished or hoped at some point that you would invent the next big thing, perhaps the equivalent of sliced bread, the teabag, the kettle, or that non-stick coating you find on many cooking utensils. The chances of doing so are fairly slim however, unless you tip the odds in your favour. Some have a workshop in their garage, but for a bit of fun and some thought-provoking action, why not have a sneaky peaky at Fantastic Contraption, a unique little physics-based puzzle game that is free to play and gives you freedom to invent your way out of various problematic situations. It may not be the invention that gets purchased for billions by Facebook in a few years’ time, but it certainly passes a good few minutes of an otherwise boring day lacking in creative tendencies.

The Fantastic Machine

You may already be thinking that this game sounds a little like the classic and timeless TIM or The Incredible Machine game that once lay dormant on many Windows 95-powered machines until its discovery by the bored user that has grown tired of solitary; it’s a little like this, in concept anyhow. But Fantastic Contraption more of a physics-driven puzzle game with fairly well-defined parameters and limits that exist purely because it is a free-to-play flash game. Instead of creating a machine with dozens of different parts for your own puzzle-solving ends like in The Incredible Machine you are prescribed a selection of different parts which can be used in a variety of different ways in order to achieve one consistent goal: to get the pink object from one end of the screen to the other in order to beat the puzzle.

Invention, Invention, Invention

Each level of this puzzle game presents you with two squares: the confines of the blue square represent your workshop in which you must construct your contraption; the pink box represents the goal area, the place where the pink object that begins in your workshop must get to, with the help of your brain and the different objects available to you, that is. You’ll notice that the cloud at the top of the screen contains the tools you’ll need for the job. Firstly, you have a set of three wheels: two require power from an external source, each of which travels either clockwise or counter-clockwise depending on the direction of the arrow on it; the third type of wheel is unpowered and will roll in any direction that an external force happens to push it. Then you have the two power sources: water rods and wooden rods. Both types of rods need to be attached to a wheel to make them move. Water rods can pass through other rods but cannot pass through the environment around them; wooden rods are similar but they cannot pass through other rods but can pass through objects they are already attached to. It is with these pre-defined rules in mind that one must construct a contraption worthy of getting the pink object into the pink box.

The early levels are a sort of introductive tutorial of sorts, allowing you to experience the game without many obstacles in your way but you will find that getting the pink object to its goal becomes more difficult the deeper you get into the collection of levels. The environment around you becomes more awkward and restrictive and the objects in your way become more numerous. You will find yourself being forced to be more inventive as the levels become more difficult. You can make very good use of the delete button which allows you to get rid of parts and have another go at refining your design to improve it enough for victory when you press ‘play’ the next time.

Creative Community

Fantastic Contraption is far from an isolated game of brilliance that forces you to be creative on your own; you will find that the game has an online community, the designs by the individuals of of which you can access readily. This allows you to gain some inspiration from other people as well as see the approaches that they use so you can identify where you may be going wrong. The lack of any budget makes the game very laid-back and less stressful than similar games like Cargo Bridge or Bridgecraft.

The design of the game could perhaps be a little more polished but this would shift focus away from the true nature of the experience which is the encouraging of pure creativity which flourishes from the challenge of creating unique contraptions from a limited set of tools. The physics engine can be taxing for older computers, but there’s even a quality button that can lower the quality of the graphics to help out if you’re playing on an older machine. Developer Colin Northway of Northway Games has thought of pretty much everything here and the result is a physics puzzler with a difference.