The inspiration for Casey's Contraptions HD is obvious: it's been almost twenty years since the first The Incredible Machine game was released.
Its template for Rube Goldberg (or as we says in the UK, Heath Robinson) devices fits perfectly into the world of direct contact touchscreen gameplay, encouraging developers to reimagine the concept in new ways.
In that regard, Casey's Contraptions HD (currently available for iPad, but coming to iPhone, too) takes the template and applies it faithfully into the world of an eight year-old boy, getting you to create increasingly complex interactions by placing balls, scissors, ropes, boxes, trapdoors, catapults, balloons, and see-saws to fulfill simple level goals.Shooting for stars
Taking another well-worn theme, each of the 72 levels that ships with the game (more are promised in updates) comes complete with a three-star rating.
These are linked to the three stars that are placed in each level. Their positioning adds difficulty to the level goal, which is typically something like 'get the ball into bucket',' pop the balloon', or 'drop the doll into basket on top of the moving skateboard'.
You have to 'collect' the stars, hitting them with a moving object before the goal is achieved, and their placement forces you to think beyond the obvious solution. Stars are required to unlock new levels, although the number required isn't too restrictive.
In addition, the game has a nice way of unlocking each subset of four levels, by getting you to complete at least three of the goals in the previous set of four. This ensures you're never stuck.Share alike
Yet, despite the wonderful presentation from co-developers Snappy Touch and Mystery Coconut, with respect to colourful cartoon graphics, lively music, neat UI and a solid progression structure, the game's real hook is the way it enables social, not physical, interaction.
Adding significantly to the experience, you can save and share your solutions to each level via Game Center. A default developer's solution is always available for you too, but seeing the wacky examples from other players is something that rarely ceases to amuse or inspire.
You can also use the game's editor to generate your own levels, again sharing them via Game Center and ensuring an almost limitless supply of new content.
Of course, without this social stickiness, Casey's Contraptions HD would still be an excellent example of The Incredible Machine 2D physics-based puzzler.
But the additional value provided by these features, combined with the attention to detail lavished by its developers, makes it one of the most polished iOS games you can currently lay your hands on.