Some of you might know and love the classic board game Mouse Trap, or even the popular 1990s-era PC game The Incredible Machine. Those of you not familiar with these titles will find an excellent app exploring the world of Rube Goldberg devices in Casey's Contraptions for $2.99 on the iPad.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a Rube Goldberg device uses a connection of complicated, and often silly gadgets to perform a very simple task. The gameplay of Casey's Contraptions captures this essence of Rube Goldberg perfectly. On a typical stage, the goal might be to release two balloons from their anchors mounted to a wall. This task alone is rather easy, but the difficulty ramps up quickly as a perfect solution must also somehow touch three stars in the level. The final solution involves a soccer ball, boxing glove device, billiard ball, pipes, shelves and scissors. The resulting machine is far more complicated than the original goal would necessitate, and that is precisely what makes Casey's Contraptions fun and compelling.
The challenge of 70 initial levels will certainly keep even genius engineers busy for hours. For a change of pace, you can create your own contraptions with any item unlocked from the puzzle stages, giving nearly unlimited replayability.
The cartoon art style and lighthearted music is sure to draw in both young and old. However cute the graphics might be, there is a serious puzzle game here with a solid physics engine. The slightest change in position of an object in the game will give consistent results, which will be important in honing a solution to get all three stars. It is a truly gratifying feeling to make that final small tweak, resulting in a perfectly functioning solution.
I would love to see future updates offer the ability to view anyone's solution to a puzzle, not just those in my Games Center friends list. Similarly, the ability to rate and view anyone's free-form contraption could add many more hours of entertainment. That sort of addition would turn an already great game into an absolute bargain at $2.99.