Bev Chen
15 Sep, 2011

Crazy Machines Elements Review

360 Review | This crazy machine is one that runs well.
There’s nothing more fascinating than watching video clips of ridiculously complex machines setting off chain reactions in order to perform relatively simple tasks. These contraptions are known as Rube Goldberg machines, named after the American inventor and cartoonist. As they are featured in popular media fairly often, you’ve probably seen them in action. You probably also think that video games built around the concept of having to solve or build your own Rube Goldberg machines would be a bit more common, but we suppose it’s because developers know people wouldn’t leave their houses. Crazy Machines Elements is the newest title in the Crazy Machines series, one in a handful of games about these fascinating gadgets. Lucky for fans of such titles though, Elements proves to be solid affair packed full of head-scratchers to last hours.

Elements is a game that is to the point. There’s no tacked-on story here, just pure puzzle action supplemented by pretty graphics and a fine selection of music. As soon as you start the game up, you are presented with a menu highlighting the various gameplay modes, as well as your other standard options. Getting started with solving puzzles occurs almost as soon as you select which set of puzzles you want to play (with only one unlocked to begin with). Even the tutorial is rather bare-bones, with the game simply telling you where your objectives can be found, how to open your inventory, how to place items, and how to start your machine up. Given that every puzzle gives you different items to play with and hovering over them gives you details about them anyway, it makes perfect sense. Besides, chances are you won’t get puzzles right the first time (or else you’d probably qualify for MENSA).

OBJECTIVE: Don't suck at this game.

OBJECTIVE: Don't suck at this game.
While the objectives of the puzzles seem to vary, it doesn’t take very long to realise that they are all essentially the same. Essentially, more often than not it’s a case of trying to get Object A to Point A. Where Elements keeps it fresh is in each of the vastly different playing environments (some even affected by things like wind speed and temperature) and the number and type of tools you are given to get around the problem. What we really liked about this is that sometimes pieces weren’t even necessary to complete the puzzles, or pieces that we expected to have a rigid application could be used in creative ways. If you’re a completist though, you’ll probably want to find the most difficult way of getting around a puzzle as they each have a number of bolts that can be collected. Get them all and the professor (who looks a little bit like Einstein) will tell you that you perfected that stage. Don’t get them all and... hey, at least you tried, right? To be honest, we expected these bolts to be used as something for something like purchasing new puzzle parts for the level editor (which will be talked about later), but beggars can’t be choosers.

Although we enjoyed our time with Elements, we did find that the controls were quite stiff. In games such as these, when you are moving items around quite often and need utmost precision to place them, sensitive controls are needed. Often, slight nudges did not registered, which led to pressing the analogue stick harder, which sometimes resulted in having to rethink the component placement. It feels as though the control scheme lends itself better to a mouse and keyboard set up. Another issue is the speed at which some of the puzzles run at. Understand that Elements is a physics-based game so this is to be expected, but waiting five minutes to see whether if that ball might just make it over the edge is a rather frustrating experience. There’s also the fact that puzzles only unlock one at a time. This is a little bit poor considering the sheer amount of puzzles contained in the game and could potentially lead to younger or less skilled players abandoning the game (unless they use a walkthrough).

Sometimes you'll have to deal with pesky things like fire in your way.

Sometimes you'll have to deal with pesky things like fire in your way.
As we’ve alluded to several times throughout this review, you’re getting a lot of value for money by purchasing Elements. In addition to the main game mode, there is also a challenge mode, in which the game simply gives you an objective, and you have free reign (constrained by a budget) to construct whatever you want to try and achieve it. The level editor allows you to create your own puzzles from scratch, giving you access to all the components you have encountered in the main game so far, but again, giving you a budget you need to stick to. It’s in these two modes that the game is most likely to bring out players' creativity, but unfortunately there’s no way of sharing any of this content. This is probably the biggest flaw of Elements, especially given the prominence of such options in creative games like these nowadays.

Nevertheless, Crazy Machines Elements does what it sets out to do well – provide gamers with a very different sort of puzzle game than we are used to in the era of Bejeweled. Sure, the lack of level sharing and occasionally clunky controls might sound like terrible hindrances on paper (er... your monitor), but in the big picture, it’s not so bad considering that there’s countless hours of fun to be had here for the price of 800 MS points. We just hope that this little outing inspires the developers to keep the series’ machine well-oiled, and we look forward to the next game.
The Score
For 800 MS Points, Crazy Machines Elements is well worth the money, providing patient players willing to overlook its minor flaws with countless hours of fascinating and complex puzzles.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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2 years ago
sounds alot like that game called CREATE, i enjoyed that even though it was simple and, not very pretty, and i assume (mine was a freebie)overpriced...

it did have heaps of cool online sharing options though...
2 years ago
the crazy machines games have always been cool... good to see the 360 version isn't a let down... will def grab this when it inevitably goes on special
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