|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Most Wanted Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Midway||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 21, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Rube Goldberg contraptions often crazy mechanical devices pieced together with a broad assortment of unusual materials with the sole purpose of accomplishing relatively simple tasks in the most overly complex manner possible are extremely fascinating to watch in motion.
In the early 1990s, Sierra Entertainment capitalized on the peculiar allure such devices hold for people, by letting PC owners create their own in The Incredible Machine series. Players whove been waiting for the TIM games to make a comeback may still have quite a long wait ahead of them. In the meantime, Mechanic Master fits the bill rather nicely.
True, much about Mechanic Master will resonate with players who enjoyed the game it was clearly inspired by, simply because its essentially the exact same concept. The game has been done before and done better, but Most Wanted Entertainment gets props for bringing the crazy, puzzle-based, machine building gameplay to the handheld format and doing a good job with it. The portability and compact nature is part of what makes the game work so well. Though its not an incredibly original idea or amazing design, its still highly entertaining to use a variety of gizmos available to you to concoct just the right machine to get the job done.
Theres not a huge need for a story in this puzzle game, but Mechanic Master attempts to provide one anyway. Gooey, purple alien blobs have invaded the Earth and enslaved its inhabitants. For whatever reason they felt the need to do so (none is offered), these beings are holding your people captive in force field cages. Freeing your human pals is far more complicated than it should be, but thats what makes the puzzles fun. The inclusion of story elements is a decent gesture, yet theyre simply too thin to offer any substance. The only real trace of plot is mainly packed into the front end of the game, and a short intro animation sequence is mostly all youll find here.
The puzzle gameplay revolves around solving increasingly complex mechanical mindbenders to wipe out the aliens in each level, free the human captive scattered in strategic locations, or both at the same time. In the first of two different play modes, youre presented with levels filled with crazy combinations of ramps, pulleys, switches, conveyor belts, motors, lasers, robots, and lots of other different objects. Key elements of each puzzle are missing; youre given the handful of items required to solve each puzzle but no direction on exactly where they fit into the mess. You have to figure out where everything goes and how it works through a mixture of logic and trial and error.
Each item available in a given puzzle can be dragged from a menu and dropped almost anywhere on the touch screen. Once theyre placed, you can un-pause the scene and let gravity take over. At any point you can stop the action to go back and adjust the components youve laid out. Typically one element, like a tennis ball placed in mid-air or a robot set in motion, will serve as a trigger to spark the chain reaction. From there, structured chaos ensues. Watching your work in motion and seeing it succeed is quite satisfying. Figuring out how each piece incorporates into the design in order to set off the appropriate sequence of events needed to whack the aliens and save the humans is what makes the process interesting. Also, theres often more than one precise way to solve the more involved puzzles, so experimentation plays a significant role further along in the game.