As a child, I was fascinated by the board game, Mousetrap. While the game lacked the decision-making elements found in similar diversions, building the Rube Goldberg-inspirited contraption was wholly engrossing. Turning the crank to set the mechanism into motion was usually rewarding, however, a single piece positioned improperly could bring the machine to a grinding halt.
As home computers became powerful enough to model simple physics, The Incredible Machine was introduced in 1992. The Dynamix-developed program allowed people to build complex devices using a handful of parts, on their computer screens. The virtual world was a perfect environment for these simulations, as budding engineers no longer had to worry about the minutia of each component’s position. Contraptions would function the same way each time they were initiated- eliminating the infamous Mousetrap miscalculation. The Incredible Machine saw five sequels, before the series’ demise in 2001. Not letting the concept fade easily into obscurity, developer Most Wanted Entertainment has resurrected the classic game’s concept and brought it on the Nintendo DS platform.
All the instructions you need are shown here.
Mechanic Master’s principal gameplay consists of two different game modes. The puzzle mode closely resembles The Incredible Machine, where players drop a few parts into a preexisting machine. Once all the parts are inserted correctly, all the level’s aliens will be dispatched from the playfield. Errors are easy to fix, via a start/stop icon in the lower left corner. Fortunately, there is no penalty for mistakes so gamers are free to adapt to a trial-and-error play style. The title’s other mode is entitled ‘Drawing’ and requires players to use the stylus to create guidelines for the on-screen contraptions. Reminiscent of Kirby Canvas Course, gamers have a limited amount of ink to create colorful lines on the screen. Additionally, by drawing a circle, the player can create a warp point if the level allows. The drawing mode isn’t strong enough to stand on its own, but creates a wonderful supplement to the main gameplay.
Once players have exhausted all the game’s built-in content, they can create their own puzzle and drawing levels. Mechanic Master allows for an astounding 120 levels to be created by the player, which can be transferred locally. Sadly, the game lacks the option to download puzzles via the internet, which would have added greatly to the title’s longevity.
When purple aliens attack earth, have your tennis balls, buckets, and weights ready!
Artistically, Mechanic Master is exceedingly utilitarian. Individual elements like balls, boxes, and laser guns are drawn in a simplistic, two-dimensional manner. Moving parts are animated with a nominal number of frames. Even the victory screen that is displayed after finishing a level is without frills- simple the word, “Wow!!” constructed from in-game assets. While the game mechanic doesn’t call for graphical opulence, the in-game art should look better than shareware quality. Mechanic Master’s menu system uses icons with no textual assistance, so new users will have to glance at the instructional manual to get their bearings. Sonically, Mechanic Master’s soundtrack is deciding retro, and best left turned off.
Overall, Mechanic Master is a compelling game, limited only by its simplistic art style and lack of level sharing via the internet. We found it to be captivating and challenging, while never entering the realm of frustration. For the DS owner seeking a title to recreate the virtuosity of The Incredible Machine, this title comes recommended.