Hands on with very social iPad physics puzzler Casey's Contraptions

The Incredible Machine with Friends

Hands on with very social iPad physics puzzler Casey's Contraptions

If there's one gaming genre that touchscreen devices have enabled like no other technology, it's the physics puzzler.

The enjoyment gained by having direct control over the placement of objects, especially when it comes to 2D scenes, means there's plenty of competition when it comes to games about constructing buildings, smashing down buildings, blowing up buildings, oh... and throwing birds at buildings.

Casey's Contraptions takes a wander down a less walked recent path in the genre however, building on the legacy of the The Incredible Machine series, in which you're provided with an inventory of objects you place in interesting interactive combinations to fulfill specific goals.

Not just for the kids

Appropriate to its name, the game's art style, objects you place, and the tasks you have to complete are compatible with the world of Casey, an eight-year-old cartoon kid, who plays with balls, radio controlled cars and, occasionally and with some menace, his sister's doll.

The game starts off easily, placing you into The Classroom, a set of eight levels which introduce you to the basic concept. Each level has one main goal - get the ball into bucket, pop the balloon etc - which must be completed, as you place objects and then hit the play button to let the physics roll.

There are also three stars placed in each level. Collecting these encourages you to create more complex solutions as you need stars to unlock new parts of the game.

Do what you wanna do

In general though, one of the great strengths of Casey's Contraptions is how it enables players to find their way through its difficulty curve.

For example, each group of four levels are unlocked by completing three of previous four. In addition, the main meat of the game - the 32 levels each of The Backyard and Casey's Bedroom, with more promised in updates - are unlocked by fairly low star totals.

In this way, you can't get stuck on levels you can't solve, and there's always something new to do, whether that's new levels, replaying old levels to gain three stars, or just experimenting with different solutions.

Share and share alike

Yet, despite its excellent levels of presentation and gameplay polish, the thing that really impresses about Casey's Contraptions are its social aspects.

Using Game Center as its social glue, you can share your solutions to each level, as well as viewing a standard developer solution, and checking out your friends' solutions too. There's also a level editor, in which you can create and share your own levels, making this one of the neatest social games we're experienced.

Of course, this is an issue if you're playing the game without an internet connection, as you won't be able to share your solutions, or for some reason you don't want to use Game Center.

But this caveat, and its at launch iPad-only status (an iPhone version is in the works), aside, Casey's Contraptions looks like it will be very popular when it's released on May 19.

You can get an idea how it plays in the following video.

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