Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Browser Gaming: Fantastic Contraptions

Looking for still more ways to spend non-productive hours online? No worries, I've got another highly addictive, well produced game you can play in a browser for easy minimization when the boss pays a visit. Be warned: turn down your sound before you visit this web site. This game's one glaring flaw is that the music is just too loud.

Fantastic Contraptions, published by Orange County's inXile Entertainment, is a case of Rube Goldberg meets model car building. The rules are deceptively simple: move an object from zone A to zone B. You are given a small array of wheels and connectors to do this. Interfering with your efforts are various environmental obstructions... stairs, chasms, small rolling balls, huge rolling boulders... all manipulated with a fairly consistent attention to physics. In addition to gravity and balance, you will have to deal with friction, momentum, and the sheer frustration of watching your cleverly designed and meticulously constructed machine get hung up on a tiny pebble.

Like any good puzzle game, the levels are not so challenging as to cause you to chuck your keyboard out a window. Beat your head against your desk, yes. But in a good way. Success is tantalizingly close whether you spend ten minutes or two hours on a level. And you will likely spend two hours on some levels. Even after numerous repeated attempts, though, the levels stay fun. Its the sort of challenge you will find yourself thinking about as you drive home from work. Its the sort of challenge that will completely kill your productivity at work. Even better, its the sort of game that people will enjoy watching you play and want to try themselves, killing the productivity of your entire company.

For free, you can play through 21 levels. Depending on your amazing skill at moving objects with oddly shaped machines, this will probably be more than three or four hours of play. For many people, it will easily be twice that. Don't despair, though. For $10 you can make your own levels and play through levels made by other people. The potential for replay here is sky high.

The price is right, the game is fun, so give it a try. It could kill your productivity, but I'm sure your boss won't mind.

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