Posted by Kuang on Thu, 06 Aug 2009.
Fantastic Contraption offers 21 levels and challenges you to transport a small object (generally a ball or cube) to a pink area known as the goal in each one. You do this by building a device from a number of components which will push, carry, or throw the object from the workshop (the starting area in which you're allowed to build) to the goal, dealing with any obstructions or hazards along the way.
The components used to build your device are simple – you have wheels that turn clockwise or anticlockwise when connected to something, a further wheel that will rotate if pushed but has no power of its own, wooden bars for joining things up and water bars which will also connect components but can pass through each other where wooden bars would just clash. The object, wheels and bars all have connecting points, and adding components is as simple as choosing them from the top of the screen, placing them in the workshop with a click, and then click-dragging to join them with bars.
Once you have a device you can click the ‘start' button, which will set any powered wheels you've used in motion. You then have to sit back and watch how well your intrepid little machine works without being allowed to interfere, which can be a nail-biting experience. If all goes well you'll unlock the next level, but if it doesn't you're returned to the start with your machine intact where you can make further adjustments by adding or removing components, or repositioning the ones you have.
The first couple of levels are very clear tutorials followed by a couple of simple challenges, but before you know it you'll be bridging gaps, clearing rubble, climbing stairs and even flinging your hapless little object between floating platforms. There are a few levels that'll have you tearing your hair out, but they all have logical and fair solutions – it's all about timing and subtly adjusting your machine to do the job properly.
Fantastic Contraption is a brilliant little puzzle game, where the ease with which it can be played hides what's actually a very sophisticated little sandbox tool. It's also one of those great games where making a complete mess of things is just as much fun as getting it right, and as it never penalises you for mistakes you never feel frustrated into giving up.