Casey’s Contraptions: jury rigging joy

Spoiler alert! Casey’s Contraptions allows you to tinker with toys to your heart’s delight. It’s like opening the toy box to the past, because some of these toys haven’t been cool for kids since the invention of the walkman. One of the week’s best buys of summer.

School should be out for everyone by now, unless you flunked out and got stuck in summer school. Or have a job. But if you are on summer vacation, chances are your parents are pestering you to go outside and get some sun, or your wife is pestering you to go outside and do something useful. For once.This week we’re going to look at the three best reasons to pay no attention to pesky parents or wives. Three summer game best buys. Are there other good games out there? Absolutely. But these are the three I love to play and I suspect most gamers will enjoy too.

Nobody dies, so be prepared for that sad fact. But I’m not fond of games where I do to virtual people what I’ve spend my entire life trying to avoid myself. Even if they’re already dead (with the possible exception of Plants vs. Zombies).

Casey’s Contraptions falls clearly into the puzzle game category, but these puzzles are more like the puzzles in Cut the Rope (another best buy). It isn’t enough to tinker or move around the pieces until things fall into place. You really need to understand the problem and how objects in motion interact.

Currently the game provides 70 puzzles over three stages with more stages coming. It isn’t clear if developer Snappy Touch intends to charge for in app level upgrades, but the new levels probably wouldn’t be more than a dollar and still worth it. (The game itself is a bargain at $3).

Players begin with a training stage in Casey’s school room. The eight puzzles pretty much teach players the basic concepts behind solving game puzzles. From there the game proceeds to Casey’s backyard and then to his room. The more difficult the puzzles, the more tools the game provides.

The goal of this puzzle is to get the tennis ball into the bucket and knock out all three stars.

Be careful, however. Sometimes the designers provide more tools than you need so you have to select the ones most likely to accomplish the goal. The beauty of the game is that several different solutions can produce the same result.Each puzzle provides a basic motion puzzle, how to move one or more objects from one location to another. Or you may have to get three balls to bounce to the same location at the same time. Moving objects can include basketballs, pool balls, pinballs, balloons, darts or even dolls. The puzzles also begin with set elements that can’t be moved.

This puzzle requires you to pop the three balloons. The question is, how do you push all three balloons into the scissors?

This is the game’s suggested solution. The key is to load the tennis balls into the pvc pipe and shoot them at the balloons one-by-one.

This solution works just as well and bypasses the tennis balls altogether. In this case the soccer ball pushes all three balloons into the scissors while other objects knock out the stars.

The construction tools include slingshots, additional balls, tables, books and boxes in the early stages. Soon you will have to juggle pvc pipes, scissors, punching gloves, skate boards, laundry baskets, rope, seesaws, springs and even pinball bumpers.If you get stuck you can always see how an expert solved the problem, but beware. You may not be able to reproduce the results exactly. So keep your thinking caps on.

As with many such puzzles, players earn points (or stars) for not only solving the puzzle but for solving it in a way that also knocks three stars from different locations. If you feel your solution is particularly clever you can save it for friends to see (although I haven’t figured out how to retrieve my solutions yet).

What appeals to me the most about Casey’s Contraptions (and what sets it apart from Rooms and Max & the Magic Marker, which I review later this week) is that there is no set solution. If the physics work, you get credit. It doesn’t matter whether your solution resembles the suggested solution or approaches the problem from a completely different angle.

The game design is also appealing, adopting a fifties kid’s cartoons motiff. Think Archie and Jughead or Dennis the Menace. The colors are warm and bright, and even, I dare say, cheerful. The graphics complement the nostalgia associated with Rube Goldberg contraptions. 1

Casey’s Contraptions has raised the bar for both physics puzzle games and maze puzzle games like Cut the Rope and Burn it All. The game celebrates lateral thinking (or, as businessmen like to call it, “out of the box thinking” just before they try to squeeze inventive ideas right back into the box).

You may scratch your head several times on any level, and the difference between success or failure can often be a single degree of an angle. But when you finally push the play button and see all of the interactions engage perfectly, you’ll feel a rush other games simply can’t offer.

Jenny Manytoes rates Casey’s Contraptions

Jenny Manytoes would make biscuits all over Casey’s Contraptions. She can spend an afternoon chasing all those balls around and knocking down stars. She wouldn’t trade it for cat food, but in every other respect it’s a best buy.

1Rube Goldberg is credited with both the cartoon style and outlandish concept of kludge machines. These were machines that provided complex solution to simple tasks. For instance pressing a button to raise a lever to dangle cheese into the a mouse’s maze. The mouse had a string tied to his tail and as he chased after the cheese the string would release a switch that would trigger a mechanical finger to ring a doorbell.
The once popular game Mouse Trap was inspired by just such kludges.back

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat

  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 5 Stars + Best Buy, Entertainment, Games, Puzzle Games and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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