Reviewed: May 3, 2009
Released: April 7, 2009
App Store Price: $4.99
Try the 15-level Web Demo HERE
Magnificent Gizmos & Gadgets is one of my newest favorite and addictive iPhone apps so far this year. It follows in a long line of puzzle games that creates a world of rules then gives you the ultimate freedom to play the game. Imagine a combination of Lemmings and Bob the Builder.
Magnificent Gizmos & Gadgets offers 44 challenging levels spread across three difficulty levels. The first 10 stages make up the Easy levels and are mostly tutorials that teach you about the tools, interface, and rules of the unique physics-engine that drives the puzzles. But even after you learn the basics you will still have periodic tutorials pop-up in some of the 12 Medium levels and 22 Hard levels, when new concepts are introduced.
Your objective in each level is to construct a “Gizmo” from the available parts at the bottom of the screen. There are no limits on the number or each part or the type of device you can build, which makes playing and replaying this game a unique experience each and every time. Each stage has a green construction zone and a red goal area and a purple Goalon. You need your Gizmo to transport the Goalon into the red goal area by any means possible. You might build a car to drive it there or a catapult to fling it there. The possibilities are limited only by the obstacles of each level and your imagination for overcoming them.
Most of the game takes place in the green construction zone where you will place parts like the GoWheel and various connector parts like pipes, girders, and ropes. Each part has its own rules that will force you to think while building. Green wheels only roll left to right while red wheels only roll right to left. Black wheels don’t roll at all but add substantial weight to your Gizmo. Girders connect other pieces but pass through other objects, while pipes are solid and can contain a Goalon. Rope connectors are flexible and used for the more advanced devices in the later stages.
Assembling the objects is merely a matter of tapping on the object in the tool bar then tapping inside the construction are to place that object. You’ll lay out the basic design of your Gizmo then start connecting the various pieces. GoWheels have multiple connection points; center hubs for use as a wheel, or exterior points for more complicated constructs like catapults. You can use the standard pinch technique to zoom in and out of the construction area as well as tools like move, delete, and undo to edit your work.
My single complaint with the game is that using your finger as a precision point device, especially when trying to connect to exterior GoWheel points can be problematic. I found myself zooming in tight to make the connection then zooming back out to see and work on other parts of my Gizmo. I’d love to play this game on the PC with a precise mouse interface. In fact, if you go to the game’s website you can play 15 levels using your web browser and a mouse and see just how much better it is. Sadly, the iPhone doesn’t seem the ideal platform for this title, at least for totally functional gameplay. I just had to fuss with zooming too much during construction, but on the flipside, I would personally never play a game like this on the PC, so I guess I will sacrifice functionality for opportunity.
And even with some awkward pointing issues, that doesn't make Magnificent Gizmos & Gadgets any less fun or addicting once you come to grips with the touchscreen interface. Most of the fun is had when you press the Play button and watch your Gizmo attempt to complete the level…and fail. Like most inventors, you learn more from your mistakes than your successes, so watching what goes wrong will ultimately lead you into moving various parts around or adding an extra wheel or changing the position of the Goalon.
If you totally get stuck there is a multi-level hint system that will give you a “little hint”, a “bigger hint” or just “show you what to do”. This final hint will actually replace your Gizmo with a pre-built one that should get the job done, although it may need some tweaking before it can reach the finish. But the best part is that you can often out-think the designers and create something totally unexpected.
A great example of this is one level where they wanted me to build an underhanded catapult to fling the Goalon across a gap into the red goal area, but instead, I built a snake-like car of green GoWheels with a tiny pipe flange on the back that raced to the edge of the gap then as it tumbled over the edge, the flange flung my Goalon into the zone. And when you do come up with a brilliant original idea you can save your Gizmos and even share them with friends via email.
Magnificent Gizmos & Gadgets has a stylish look that is simple, yet colorful and richly detailed. There are only a handful of parts but there are infinite possibilities when it comes to Gizmo construction. The backgrounds are modest but nice with moving environmental parts and effects – you seldom even see or notice them until you hit the play button and the camera pulls out. The physics is realistic and the animation is smooth and believable, so it is easy to see what construction changes need to be made based on what you see unfolding on the screen.
There is a pleasing jazz-style music that plays in the background. What few menu, construction, and action sound effects do exist are often drowned out by the music, but you can change the sound mix in the options menu. Sadly, you cannot listen to your own MP3 library while playing the game, because, eventually, you will get tired of the cool jazz riffs and turn it down or off. Maybe a future update will offer more music or access to our own MP3s.
Magnificent Gizmos & Gadgets is an extremely clever puzzle game that will challenge gamers of all ages, and thanks to the ingenious hint system no one should ever get stuck to the point where they cannot continue. The game rewards ingenuity and experimentation while keeping track of your best completion times for each stage. I love these experimental, rules-based, sandbox games, and this is one of the best examples of a game where the fun is only limited by your imagination.