Crazy Machine Elements (Xbox 360) Review
Everyone has probably experienced the Rube Goldberg effect at some point in their life whether tinkering around with toys or playing the popular board game Mouse Trap. Crazy Machine Elements gives you the chance to virtually play around with physics and gravity, but the final package feels anything but complete.
This XBLA game is for one type of gamer only – the most patient and dedicated of players. Due to the lack of any type of tutorial system, the player is blindly thrown into the game. Like high school sophomores, players can probably figure their way through a Geometry book without a teacher, but it will take a ton of time, patience, and experimentation before you finally get the hang of it – as is the case of Crazy Machine Elements.
The player basically uses the analog stick like a mouse to select random items from the side of the screen to solve the gravity/physics based puzzles. Other than a very short description of each piece, the player is left to figure out what each piece does through a trial and error system. Sure, the beginning stages are easy as there are basically empty holes in the stage that are dead giveaways that something belongs there. But the game quickly ramps up in difficulty as the player has to determine what the end result is and how to make it possible to get there. Some type of hint system, whether through text pop-ups or a video system, should have been included as players are basically shooting in the dark. Without question, this game will frustrate as opposed to challenge. Each stage offers little to no wiggle room either. Meaning, you will have to solve each puzzle exactly how the developers intended.
Even if figuring out puzzles is the highlight of your day, the player will still have to struggle with other tedious things that have no place in modern day gaming. Sitting through long load times after each level is annoying, as is the Einstein scientist character that constantly follows you around. The analog control is probably the worst I have seen in a long, long time; the game doesn’t allow you to move in small increments accurately. If you just tap down on the analog stick, your cursor will move one pixel down and one pixel to the side. And considering that most puzzles require exact placement of the Rube Goldberg puzzles, this is highly unacceptable. If anything, D-Pad control should have been an option.
The menu system is also a disaster. If you want to go back and play a previous level, the player is forced to scroll through every single stage until you hit your desired level. This terrible scrolling system makes you appreciate Angry Birds level selection page that much more. When the game first boots up, the music starts off at a super high volume, but most stages contain nothing more that ambient noise as opposed to musical tunes. Making things worse, the musical tracks that are in the game do not even loop properly and the frame rate drops when basically anything moves.
Crazy Machine Elements’ saving grace might have been the “make your own level” option. But due to the mundane menu system, I could not even figure out how to set win properties to my puzzle, let alone upload it to the community. In fact, I do not even think this is an option. I also completed several puzzles but didn’t see my gamertag on the Leaderboard option either.
The bottom line, even if you suffer through the game’s frustrating puzzles, the player will constantly be fighting against things that shouldn’t require effort, like control or the menu system. Coming off the higher quality titles of the 2011 Summer of Arcade program, Crazy Machine Elements isn’t even worthy of a demo download.
Better Than: setting up a Mouse Trap game board
Also Try: playing around in Halo Reach’s Forge mode
Wait For It: Tetris 3DS
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