Toying with Physics Through TinkerBox on iPad

TinkerBoxWhen one hears the term “physics puzzle,” games such as Finger Physics or Cut the Rope might come to mind; games that involve using, or removing, basic objects in order to get something from Point A to Point B. However, a iPad game from Autodesk, called TinkerBox, takes a much more advanced pass at the genre with an app that is both a game and a toy.

Recently #2 on Apple’s top free iPad apps chart, this title has flown under the radar, since its release back in late January. A physics game that channels the ideas of a Rube Goldberg machine, it’s an app that provides a rather addictive level of thought without being overly difficult. However, sometimes the game feels a bit too easy, and there aren’t very many puzzles.

However, it has a sandbox mode for sharable creations, which makes it a toy only limited by the user’s creativity.

Since this is a physics puzzle, most people are already going to be aware of the basic premise: Get some object from one point to another. Unlike past titles of this genre, however, TinkerBox grants players a surprisingly large variety of different tools in order to do so. In fact, there are roughly 40 different items, in total, that players can toy with.

Platform ItemsWhen you start playing the game though, few of these tools are available. Users must play with a finite number of machine parts to complete an objective, whether it’s getting a ball in a tube, knocking something off a ledge, or hitting a button.

There are several different types of tools: some stick to the background, which allows other elements to rest upon them, roll down, or bounce off of them.

Then there are more dynamic items, which are usually differently-sized and weighted boxes and balls. There are also other items that can be affected by physics including dominoes, conveyor belts, and high tension springs. Each one of these can alter the trajectory of moving objects, increase speed, or even activate functional items.

Functional ItemsThen there are more functional items like bolts that can be used to connect objects or attach them to the background so they do not fall.

But the game is fairly easy. With each puzzle, the majority of the machine is already built, and it is up to the user to complete it with only a handful of available items.

The real fun, and where the name TinkerBox almost certainly stems from, is the Invent mode. In this sandbox mode, players are granted access to a blank space and every item in the game. From here, someone can conceivably spend hours, well, tinkering and creating bizarre Rube Goldberg-style machinery.

PuzzleWhat makes this even more addictive, is that users can share all of their “inventions” through email. Players can also show off their work on TinkerBoxNews.com. Many create machines that will demolish setups with a wrecking ball, emulate a dancing man, or are just ridiculously complex.

Overall, TinkerBox is an excellent physics puzzle game. The title is still well polished and fun to play even if there aren’t that many puzzles. Free, addictive, and very different from the majority of physics titles out there, this “toy” is one that any creative person should try.