Sunday, October 10, 2010


Today's review is on a super badass game from way back when, the original The Incredible Machine.

Cannons and boxing gloves and cats, oh my!

The Incredible Machine was designed and coded by a guy named Kevin Ryan and published by Sierra Entertainment in 1992. It was a Rube Goldberg-esque puzzle game with almost a hundred unique puzzles and the ability to create your own, making for a mind-bending blast of a game.

Story: N/A

There really is no story in The Incredible Machine. It's a pure puzzle game at its very best. You don't have lives or motivation; your only goal is to finish all of the puzzles.

Graphics: 7/10

There's not a whole ton to say when it comes to graphics. In essence, every object very clearly looks like what it is. A pair of bellows looks like a pair of bellows, a cat looks like a cat, etc. That's really all you need.

Beyond that, the game doesn't have a whole lot of graphical bells and whistles. The background is completely blue at all times. The score ticker actually looks pretty slick, but doesn't do much other than tick.

A lot of people might not like such barebones graphics, but to me, it completely makes this game. It fits; it just feels right.

Gameplay: 9/10

The Incredible Machine is an exercise in coming up with really complex solutions to simple problems. You get a pretty large range of items to help you create your contraptions, from simple objects like ropes and pulleys to much more complex items like generators, engines, power outlets, and mice in cages. Most objects connect to at least one other object in some way (seesaws to ropes, a conveyor belt to a cable, etc). The objects that don't connect will usually have some sort of interaction with another object instead (cats go towards a fishbowl when it's broken, scissors pop balloons, etc.).

You start with a very simple puzzle: putting a ball in a hoop.

Pictured: simplicity.

From there, you go through a series of 86 other increasingly more complex puzzles, teaching you how to use every item in the game.

Pictured: HOLY FUCK!

Thankfully, the game has a very nice learning curve. Some puzzles also have altered gravity where it's either very powerful so things fall quickly or it's very weak, like the moon, so things fall slowly.

There's always a score ticker at the bottom that counts downward at a set rate, so the faster you solve a puzzle, the more points you'll get. The points are largely meaningless other than to see how much better you've gotten at the game.

The best way to explain this game, though, is just to show it. Here's a short clip showing the first several levels. It clearly shows the entire setup including the start of a puzzle, the tips and information about a puzzle you're given before it begins, the bank of items (and how it changes from level to level), the score ticker, and the completion of a puzzle.

Sound: 6.5/10

The soundtrack in TIM did its purpose well: stayed in the background. A lot of it stands up on its own pretty well, but most of it is very background-y. I'm not a huge fan of listening to it standalone, but I'll say that it never interferes with finishing a puzzle. In fact, it can be quite soothing on some levels.

Here's your standard sample. This is a VERY well done YouTube video; it's long, but when it first starts, there's a popup for a 'tracklisting' of sorts. That way, you can just click and jump around from song to song.

Here's part two of the soundtrack, setup in the same way so you can pick your track.

Replay Value: 10/10

The Incredible Machine actually had a surprising amount of replay value. It was fun enough replaying through so many of the standard puzzles, but on top of that, they also included the freeform mode. Basically, you can build your own puzzles with no time constraints or item limits. There's no end to the Goldberg-style madness you can come up with, creating puzzles to try and stump yourself or having your friends try to solve the ones you've made.


The Incredible Machine is a phenomenally fun game. It's basically Rube Goldberg: The Game. Go, buy it now! If you can't find a copy, since the original is SUPER hard to find, download a freeware/abandonware version of it on the interwebz. It runs perfectly fine in DOSbox. Below are links to buy updated/newer versions of the same style of game.


  1. I LOOOOVE this game. When you mentioned it last year to me, I was so excited. Finding these old games I used to play as a kid was my favorite thing to do over this past summer. This game gets really challenging and it's AWESOME. I liked the music quite a lot, probably just because of the nostalgia, though.

    Not a bad review; there's not too much to say about the game. It's very simple. I wonder how many people will actually know this game.

  2. cool post bro!!:)
    Welcome to Italy!

  3. looks like a fun and simple game. might have to check it out soon.

  4. This game looks cool. Might give this game a try sometime!

  5. Pretty sweet game man! looking forward to more like this.

  6. How did you even know about this game? o.0

    Its really complex, reminds me a lot of LBP

  7. Great read! Looking forward to reading your next post.

  8. Never heard of this. Looks pretty baller.

  9. I'm going to have to hunt down and find this game.

  10. this game looks so full of WTF.

  11. haha, this games looks all sorts of awesome

  12. I used to play this game so much as a kid!
    I didn't know it was as old as I am, though, hahaha

  13. interesting, I didn't know that...


  14. whoa, your blog's got a good amount of followers!

  15. This reminds me of a sesame street game I played on the NES when I was really younger. You had to get Ernie to the bathtub by making extremely long complicated pathways to it, but also leading through the rubber ducky at some point. XD

  16. Interesting, always a fan of good and classic puzzle games.

  17. I loved this game, I renumber sitting in the computer lab playing this on the windows 3.1 boxes

  18. yeah there is a new game like this, forgot the name :D
    no, not garry's mod :D

  19. All i can say is...


  20. Oh I used to play this for hours and hours when I was a we lad.

  21. Great post! Brings back all kinds of memories.

    I just posted about how Google Analytics can be added to your blog in order to track trends and increase blog profitability.

    Check it out in the post titled I See You!

    See you real soon.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. retrooo.. like the first sandbox xD

  24. Nice post and game! Those building games are awesome. You should check out armadillo run.

  25. Hey I noticed it has been a short while since you posted. No rush or anything, just would like to see what's up and make sure everything is good with you. :)