Mechanic Master Review for Nintendo DS

Mechanic Master Review for Nintendo DS

Mechanical Masterminds

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.

Mechanic Master screenshot

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 who’ve 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 it’s 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 it’s not an incredibly original idea or amazing design, it’s still highly entertaining to use a variety of gizmos available to you to concoct just the right machine to get the job done.

There’s 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 that’s what makes the puzzles fun. The inclusion of story elements is a decent gesture, yet they’re 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 you’ll find here.

Mechanic Master screenshot

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, you’re 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; you’re 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 they’re 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 you’ve 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, there’s often more than one precise way to solve the more involved puzzles, so experimentation plays a significant role further along in the game.

Mechanic Master screenshot

A second mode, which focuses on drawing challenges, oddly channels the spirits of Kirby: Canvas Curse and Portal. These levels also present you with incomplete puzzles, but instead of using a select number of pre-determined items to solve them, you must find the solution by free-hand drawing lines to form ramps and barriers and circles to create portals for moving objects through space. The two options for playing Mechanic Master are enjoyable in their own way. They’re similar, though each requires slightly different strategies and thought processes to persevere.

Mechanic Master screenshot

If you tire of playing through the 100+ puzzles in the game, a full-featured level building toolkit allows you to create your own elaborate Rube Goldberg masterpieces. This can become a substantial distraction by itself. Levels you’ve made can be shared wirelessly, and there are quite a few slots to save your crazy creations to. The building design interface works a lot like the main play mode, as it lets you drag-and-drop any of the many unusual elements found throughout the game. You can scroll through menus sorted by item type. This provides a lot of freedom to come up with some truly unique levels.

Mechanic Master’s presentation is disappointingly sparse. The upper screen serves as a map, offering a small view of the entire board. It’s dull and empty, save for the diminutive elements laid out across the level. Despite that, it’s helpful when experimenting, since it shows all of the action on one screen as it unfolds. The touch screen provides a closer view that can be scrolled around with the D-pad. All of the stylus interaction works smoothly, but graphically, things don’t look much better zoomed-in. All of the sprites are mildly generic-looking, and the visuals tend to underwhelm overall. On the other hand, the decision to hold back on dropping tons of detail into every area of the game works; later levels can get rather busy with all the different elements in play. However, that shouldn’t be an excuse to skimp on what there is to see.

With tons of levels, several different ways to play, lots of interactive little items and gadgets to utilize, and a gameplay design that feels creative and rewarding, Mechanic Master rises above being just a copycat. A few more layers of polish, a little more originality, and an interesting story with some substance would make it a much better game. Regardless, it boils down to a good puzzle experience with gameplay that’s strong enough to carry the weight.

There’s not much to look at besides simple sprites and non-existent backgrounds. 3.9 Control
The drag and drop stylus interface works excellently. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is catchy but repetitive. 4.0

Play Value
Despite starting out a tad easy, the game’s many levels and interesting ways to play add up to a lot of fun.

3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Fun problem-solving game for creative minds.
  • Uses the stylus as a weapon to rid the Earth of alien invaders that have scattered across the planet.
  • Become the ultimate Master of Mechanics, by creating crazy contraptions to free humans, keep the mechanics in motion and, defeat those pesky foes.
  • Test your skills with more than 100 levels.

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