Challenging puzzles that are fun to tackle cooperatively.
Annoying controls take away from the gameplay at times.
I’ve always been a fan of puzzle games. World of Goo on WiiWare is a personal favorite of mine, and I remember spending hours of time back in the day on Maxis’ Marble Drop. FAKT Software’s puzzle game Crazy Machines works in a similar manner to Marble Drop, where you had to drop the marbles into a maze and have them land in the correct spot after a series of chain reactions. Crazy Machines simplifies and complicates this idea at the same time, asking the player to place assorted pieces into puzzles in order to complete a single chain reaction per level, completing random tasks such as getting a basketball through a number of hoops, or allowing a turtle to consume its cabbage lunch.
In terms of gameplay, Crazy Machines is one of those simple ideas that could have the potential to be really fun if executed correctly. The game is fun, in small doses. Despite all the different environments and the huge number of different puzzle pieces included in the game, it still somehow feels repetitive as you move from level to level. The single player mode is actually a lot more fun when played with friends or family members; it’s neat to kick around ideas about how a puzzle could be solved when you do get stumped, passing around the Wii Remote until somebody finally figures it out. Playing alone however, can get old quickly. Although the difficulty does seem to rise at a fairly steady rate as you progress, occasionally it will spike at seemingly random times, where you’ll come across a really difficult level even in the lower groupings of Rube Goldberg machines.
I had played this game briefly once before on a computer, and I enjoyed the mouse control scheme much more than I did with the Wii Remote controls. Controlling the pieces with the pointer is annoying, it’s difficult to get things exactly into place from time to time. The developers did include an alternate control method, if you hold down the A button when selecting a piece you can use the D-Pad to move it around and the + and – buttons to rotate it, for precision control. This mechanic works fine, but it takes forever to move pieces long distances with this method because holding down a directional button has absolutely no effect on the piece’s movement. You have to keep tapping the button, moving that plank inch by inch across the screen. A hybrid of these two control schemes would have been nice, perhaps being able to move a piece by pointing the Wii Remote, while being able to rotate it with the buttons. Many times, I pressed A to put down a piece only to have it suddenly rotate an inch to the left because I slightly moved the controller as I pressed down the button. After five or six times, it can get a little frustrating.
There are a couple other modes in the game besides the single player, which offers some challenging puzzles (especially at the higher levels) that will satisfy any brain tease junkie. Unfortunately, the multiplayer minigame mode is quite bland– we didn’t have too much fun with those. There is also a sandbox mode where players can create their own Crazy Machines using all of the different pieces offered in single player, so this is great for those creative types or for those who just want to fool around with physics-y things that explode. Besides a few restrictions, where this mode is lacking most is in the potential for downloadable content. I would love to play some awesome puzzles that people from all over the world designed, and it’s a shame that they didn’t include some sort of online interface.
The one thing that annoyed me the most about certain stages in the game was the lack of flexibility of where pieces are allowed to be placed. Sometimes, even if it looks like nothing would interfere if you were to put a piece someplace, the game just beeps at you and says you can’t anyway. I feel like if they designed this cool physics engine, they should let people play around with it a little bit more. Who knows, maybe there could be more than one way to complete certain levels. I’ll tell you who knows: no one! Because you can’t put that piece there! No! Bad!
Crazy Machines, despite its many problems, is still a pretty fun puzzle game, especially when you play it cooperatively. Is it the best puzzle game out there, though? By no means. But if you’re itching for a brain cruncher then I would definitely recommend you pick this one up, if you can find it used or for cheap.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.