Game Reviews

TinkerBox

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TinkerBox
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Games that claim to be both fun and educational should normally be approached with caution, as many believe that no game can boast both qualities.

However, developer Autodesk is convinced that it can defy this trend with its physics based puzzler Tinkerbox.

Tinkerbox’s two main modes of play, Puzzle and Invent, promise to test engineering concepts and creative problem-solving skills.

While the Puzzle mode may be on the short side, Tinkerbox’s creation tools provide enough entertainment to distract you from the fact that you may be learning something.

Let’s get physical

The two modes are largely similar, except that Puzzle mode requires you to complete tasks on pre-created levels while Invent mode allows for the construction of user-created physics simulations.

In both modes, an array of objects is provided in a sidebar on the right hand of the screen. You drag objects into position and tap to move, rotate, or remove them.

These objects range from basic elements such as platforms and boxes to more complicated contraptions such as switches, winches, and conveyer belts.

Puzzle mode introduces many of these items through a lengthy tutorial followed by a series of tasks that you have to complete using a number of pre-selected objects.

Tasks can range from something as simple as placing and rotating a platform in order to guide a ball into a bucket to creating a motorised wheel that's activated by a ball hitting a switch.

You're limited in terms of which objects they can use in these puzzles and where they can place them. Although this may seem overly restrictive, it does serve as a sort of guide that can aid completion.

Since completing these puzzles can often necessitate many failed attempts and minor adjustments, you'll be grateful that you can restart the level at any time with all objects in their original positions.

Create and Simulate

Invent mode permits you to use the objects that have been introduced in Puzzle mode. This sandbox creator has no restrictions on type or quantity and any object can be used to create your own physical simulations.

With no challenges to complete, this is perhaps where the educational virtues of the game are most evident as virtually any kind of simulation is possible.

Although making these puzzles can be fairly time consuming, more elaborate creations are certainly satisfying, and you can send your best creations to friends via email.

Tinkerman

As a free physics-based puzzler, there's little to dislike about TinkerBox. The Invent mode offers almost limitless possibilities, while Puzzle mode is challenging.

However, the process of completing a puzzle is as frustrating as it is satisfying. With no hint system or option to skip individual puzzles, many will lose interest.

Even if the game is unlikely to appear either on the national curriculum or Pocket Gamer's list of the best iPhone games of all time, TinkerBox is a clever little title that will hopefully teach you something.

TinkerBox

Although more puzzles and a level sharing facility would be welcome, the ability to create almost any physics-based simulation on the move means that players can do far worse than TinkerBox
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