- By: Snappy Touch & Mystery Coconut
- Genre: puzzle game, physics puzzle, Rube Goldberg machines
- Platform: iPad (iPhone coming soon)
- Price: $2.99
- SAHGeekMom Rating: 5 Stars
- Pump gives it 4.75 Pump’s up!
- Recommended Age: 7+
- EDU-APP NO-BRAINER!
Contest Note: This is a comprehensive look at Casey’s Contraptions, including words from the developers and Pump’s Point for kids. If you want the short version be sure to check out my review on appadvice.com.
But, if you like what you see, and you will because this game is killer, then be sure to come back. You can only win the promo code by leaving a comment here or tweeting this review. Good luck!
Casey’s Contraptions, by Snappy Touch (actually co-developed by both Snappy Touch and Mystery Coconut) is the 1992 classic game The Incredible Machine re-imagined for a new new millennium of devices and gamers.
It maintains the premise of creating Rube Goldberg-like mechanisms, but adds a realistic physics engine, touch screen controls, gorgeous GUI and unique sharing capabilities. The net result: Casey’s Contraptions is the best new physics puzzler of the year to date.
Eight-year-old Casey guides you through three environments: the classroom, the backyard and his bedroom. (I’m not touching that……)
He helps you build an amazing assortment of contraptions using his toys, (cars, slingshots, balls etc.) and other items like boxes, books, balloons, pipes and scissors. You try to create chain reactions to achieve simple goals like getting a ball into a basket or popping balloons.
Collect stars and complete levels as fast as possible to max your score.
It’s simple (and necessary) to stop and restart each of the included 72 levels. An additional two worlds are coming, and an iPhone release is in the works too.
While the setting is imaginative and child-like, the game is not child’s play by a long shot. The challenges are fresh and often daunting. The physics engine is superb and the interface is super-responsive and clean.
Check out the trailer:
I’m all about indie everything. But, because I have had good fortune with my reviews, I now get to see the hottest new titles from big-name publishers too, and I need to cover those for obvious reasons, and because a great game is a great game.
When a game gets a much buzz as Casey’s Contraptions, and you see a huge banner in the App Store it’s easy to assume it’s there because it’s backed by some big corporate entity like EA.
I disagree, however, with those who say the process is completely rigged. It’s true the power-houses know how to manipulate sales and releases and press to propel their apps to prominence, but there is more too it.
I have no idea what makes Apple pick their picks, but because many of the apps I have covered that were very small and very indie have been featured, I think Apple is pretty fair and follows user trends heavily in deciding what to feature.
Casey’s Contraption’s is a case-in-point. The buzz it has is because the game-gurus who saw it at GDC 11 in February were wowed.
I have no idea if they were offered a publishing deal, but I don’t see a big name here, I see a two-man team who made something stellar. So reviewing this brings me back to my roots, while still being about as relevant as any game review can be.
I [Noel] did the programming, Miguel did the art, and we did the design together. We spent eight months working full-time on the game, [it shows] which is quite long by iOS development standards, but we wanted to make sure the game provided the experience we had in mind. We’re very proud of the final result.
One of the aspects of the game that we spent considerable amount of time on was the user interaction. We designed item manipulation so players would interact with them in a very direct and intuitive way. We also made sure the game ran at 60fps so movement was always smooth.
The attention to detail shows at every turn and critics and users alike are raving.
Frankly, I’m proud to have been given the honour of getting to hear from Noel, and to test-drive this great game not just for appadvice, but here on my blog.
While Casey’s Contraptions follows the same somewhat overdone progression formula you see in Chillingo-like puzzlers, Snappy Touch and Mystery Coconut add some cool twists.
As usual there are multiple levels in multiple environments, with successful completion of one unlocking the next. And, course you can earn up to three stars per level.
But, you only need to complete a few of each sub-set to unlock more, and you accumulate a set number of stars to open new worlds. What this means in a nutshell, is don’t worry about getting stuck; there are several ways to progress through the game.
The game also features a level editor and you can share your homemade challenges with Game Center friends. It’s great for this sort of game and almost a requisite feature, but level editors are not new.
But, Casey’s Contraptions uses Game Center in a novel way. You can share solutions with your friends and peek at theirs. Since there is no right or wrong way to solve the puzzles, it’s fascinating to see what others come up with.
Don’t have any friends who have the answers? Of course you do! Casey is always there for you and he’ll share his perfect plan. It’s hard to cheat though, whomever’s solution you see.
Replicating someone’s exact item placement (there’s no grid, anything can go anywhere and items rotate a full 360 degrees) is likely more time consuming and certainly less fun than finding your own solve, (she wrote, not admitting she knows this from experience…)
Like I said, this is not a child’s game. I think kids younger than my co-reviewer and son, who will be eight sooner than I care to think about, would get easily frustrated with the complex physics aspects of the game.
That said, it will appeal to little ones because of the toy-theme, and the cute, cartoonish, and vibrant graphics.
But, if you have a gifted young puzzler like I do, this is one of the rare games that won’t cause guilt over screen-time. It’s genuinely educational and creative, and a great way to get young users into the whole Rube Goldberg thing. That is always cool. If you have a clever Lego, Kinnex or other building toy fan, this is sure to please.
Pump’s Point: The game is not easy like my other new ones. [They are “his” now, because he officially co-opted my old iPad, although he’s been kind enough to let me borrow it back when I need a jailbreak app.] It’s kinda hard, just not bad hard. I like figuring out how to make the toys do different things.
I tied my mom and dad and my way was better. Evan [his best friend] will love it too, and so will your kids, except if they don’t like to think a lot like after homework and stuff. And Casey has a cool robot, I am going to make one with boxes too.
In my last game review that I put up on Friday (Spider Jack) I said, and maintain, that I am not a fan of pure physics puzzlers.
That doesn’t mean that with a collection of well over 5000 apps and games, and having tested and/or reviewed hundreds of iOS offerings, that I can’t cover a game that’s isn’t my cup of tea. But, if I’m talking about Angry Birds or Cut the Rope, I can see the merit without enjoying the games themselves very much.
Because Casey’s Contraptions has so many different types of puzzles, and because it’s so easy to skip levels or sneak a peek at a solution, this is the rare pure puzzler I plan to keep on my iPad 2. (I don’t alliterate on purpose; I can’t seem to stop myself!)
This and World of Goo are likely to stay alone in a very small folder, but even for me, Casey is a keeper.
It’s no surprise that Apple has a Casey’s Contraptions banner on the App Store homepage, and TUAW picked it as the Game of the Day; it’s definitely The Stay at Home GeekMom’s Game of the Month too. I am willing to put money on its presence in the December ’11 year-end round-ups. I believe it will maintain its position at the top of the charts, even as the buzz and hype fade, or passes to the next must-have.
In an App Store and year replete with new and innovative iPad games, Casey’s Contraptions stands out as the best physics-puzzler on the App Store for 2011. Don’t forget to watch for its release on iPhone If you have an iPad, buy it now.
Or… enter to win a promo code only on http://www.sahgeekmom.com. Check out my contest page for additional ways to earn entries.
The enter just leave a relevant comment here, or tweet this review (make sure to mention @sahgeekmom so I can find you) and a winner will be chosen at random. This time, since I have a code, the contest is open to all.
Contest Closes Tuesday, May 24, 9:00pm EDT. Good Luck!
It’s still not to late to enter to my giveaway of Chillingo’s new smash Spider Jack, I’m making up for lost time!
And please check out and bookmark my brand new comprehensive list of the very best (and a few of the worst) apps for artists and photographers of all levels for iPad and iPad 2. I take you through the hottest 23, yes 23, apps for painting, sketching, photo editing and everything in between, tested on both iPad models, and take a look at all three of Adobe’s new CS 5 companion apps.
Here’s a massive gallery of screenshots for you, I can’t select individual ones using the wordpress.com template I have, sorry for the overabundance, but this game had me snapping away:
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