Rube Goldberg machines are nonsensically over-elaborate devices that are used to perform very basic tasks, and that is the heart of the newly released iPad application, Casey’s Contraptions from indie startup Snappy Touch. A highly creative problem-solving game, the $2.99 title has already made its quality known by rocketing up to the #2 spot on the top paid iPad apps charts over this past weekend.
It would seem that the level of creativity involved in this app is not without precedent. It plays similarly to another past #2 iPad title, TinkerBox from software maker, Autodesk. However, where that app was free and hosted a serious, industrialized style, Casey’s Contraptions is far more childlike and cheerful, hosting an impressive number of levels and interactive items. Moreover, like its predecessor, the game comes with its own custom contraption editor, allowing players to create their own Rube Goldberg devices and share them with friends.
In the game, the main character Casey is a rather inventive child. He is constantly looking for unique ways to perform tasks or have fun using everyday items and toys. The player, is tasked with helping Casey solve each of these challenges.
With each level, Casey presents a simple problem, and users are granted various toys and objects in which to work around. Every single item interacts with the game’s physics engine in some way. Shelves provide ramps and platforms, balls and toys on wheels roll, and books get treated like dominos. It wouldn’t be prudent to go through all of them — as there are over 30 — but there is everything from projectiles to scissors.
Players are never overwhelmed though. With each puzzle, users are granted only a handful of items. Users simply drag them to the screen and rotate (using two fingers) them as needed. As players place objects, they can start the scenario at any time to see how it will play out, then pause and continue constructing their contraption.
Progress is measured by physically completing the objective, but the game also comes with a basic scoring mechanism. It’s a collection-based scoring system, not unlike Cut the Rope. Around the level, there are three floating stars, and the added objective is to try and use all of the objects in one’s inventory to collect them all by touching them with a physics-activated item. Even should a puzzle be easy to solve, collecting all of the stars may not be.
In order to help out, the game automatically adds Casey as a “friend,” and players can view a clip of how he resolved the puzzle. Of course, this means that challenge in the game is based on the honor system. Nevertheless, the real treat is that via Game Center, players can share their solutions as well for others to view when they are playing.
Players can also go in and create their own custom made contraptions that can be shared with friends via email. As users progress through the game’s premade puzzles, they will unlock more of the noted 30+ items for this mode.
Truth be told, there isn’t much to complain about with Casey’s Contraptions. It was only released May 19th, and there’s good reason why it has risen so dramatically in the past few days.