Casey’s Contraptions is an Incredible Machine-style physics/puzzle game where you build a Rube Goldberg machine to perform a simple task. For each puzzle, some objects are laid out in the room, Casey tells you the goal you need to accomplish, and gives you a few basic objects you can use to do so. For example, Casey might ask you to get a soccer ball from a bookshelf into a bucket, giving you some pipes and tennis ball to do so. Or he might ask you to pop all of the balloons on the screen, providing you with some shelves and a pair of scissors. You lay out your various objects and tap “play” to see if you were successful. As you complete levels, you will get new items added to your arsenal of contraptions, such as pipes, seesaws, swinging buckets, punching arms, slingshots, springs, skateboards and more.
In addition to solving the task at hand, for each puzzle you are also trying to collect the 3 stars that are on the screen. These stars let you unlock additional rooms of puzzles. This initial game release contains 72 puzzles, broken down into 3 “rooms”, with two additional rooms listed as “Coming Soon”:
- The Classroom – 8 levels (the introduction and tutorial levels)
- The Backyard – 32 levels (need 15 stars to unlock)
- Casey’s Bedroom – 32 levels (need 60 stars to unlock)
After playing the game for several hours, I was able to complete 37 of the first 40 levels (there were a couple that had me stumped for a while and three that still have me guessing). There is a good deal of replayability, as you can always go back and try to find a new solution to the puzzle that also manages to collect all 3 of the stars, giving you a perfect score. You also have the ability to skip over puzzles that are stuck on. When you look at all of the puzzles for a given room, they are broken down into rows of 4, and you can choose from any of those 4 puzzles in the current row, and not just the next one (like most games). You can also skip over to another room once you collect enough stars from the puzzles you have solved.
The game has a unique feature where you can share your solution with your friends. (I am assuming it shares your solution with everyone you friend on Game Center–I am writing this review before the official release and don’t currently have any friends who also have a copy of the game to verify this.) In the game menu, there is an option “Friends”. This brings up a split screen where you can see “My Friends’ Solutions” and “My Solutions” where you can view playbacks of any shared (or your own) solutions. This is a great way for you to show your friends any particularly clever solutions you have come up with. However, one thing I noticed is that for every puzzle, there is a shared 3-star solution from “Casey”. In my opinion, this feature makes it way to easy and convenient to just give up and cheat–especially if the perfect solution is there for every puzzle. I’m not sure if “Casey” will be sharing his solutions with everyone for just a limited time, or if they are a permanent fixture of the game.
Another great feature is the ability to create your own levels to share with friends. The developers have included the same level editor they used to create the game! This allows you to extend the game with additional levels, or just explore all of the various tools you have unlocked thus far by building your own free-form contraption. When building a custom level, you choose a background, use your toolbox of unlocked objects to populate the room, lay out the 3 stars and select which additional objects will be available to your friends to complete the contraption when they play the level. Before sharing your level (via email), you can test it to ensure a 3-star solution can be obtained. Once shared, your friends will see your level in their “My Friends’ Contraptions” menu. It would also be nice if you had the ability to access ALL of the community shared levels (and not just those shared with you). Perhaps even have a community rating system for these levels so you could find the most popular levels. This would greatly expand the game and offer even more replayability.
Casey’s Contraptions’ graphics and soundtrack are cartoony and fun. The background music in the menus is a fast player piano medley, while the actual game levels are a bit more subdued with a slower xylophone tune.
Unfortunately the game currently has no Game Center achievements. I would prefer that the developers remove all of Casey’s 3-star shared solutions (which, as I said makes it too easy to cheat/give up) and instead offer some Game Center achievements for completing the levels/rooms on your own. While there were tutorial levels, it never really explained that you could rotate objects, and how to do so. I only discovered how to do this by accident–and this was a necessary step to solve one of these initial tutorial levels. An iPhone/iPod Touch version planned, but there is currently no release date, so for right now only iPad owners get to help Casey out.
Overall, Casey’s Contraptions is a fun, and sometimes challenging, game that offers a lot of replayability both through trying to earn perfect scores on the official game levels as well as the ability to play custom levels created by your Game Center friends.