Created by inXile Entertainment / Rated 4+ / 1 Player / iPhone + iPod Touch / 8.4 MB / $4.99
Review written by Tim

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Fantastic Contraption is brought to the iPhone by inXile Entertainment, most well-known for bringing Line Rider out of Flash and onto consoles and mobile devices. Fantastic Contraption has more than a few similarities to Line Rider, from its beginnings as a Flash title to user-generated content to online sharing, it has that feeling of endless possibility that made Liner Rider so popular. One big difference though is that Fantastic Contraption has a goal, making it an actual game, not just a toy.

The goal of each level is to move the red shape out of the blue area (your ‘sandbox’ where you can build your contraption) to a red area somewhere else in the level. It sounds simple enough, but with your limited set of tools including just a couple types of connectors and a few different wheels, it often takes quite a bit of creativity and trial & error to complete. Early levels aren’t too tough, but as you progress, you’ll be scratching your head for some time wondering how your toolset could possibly accomplish the task at hand. Fortunately, levels don’t need to be beaten in any particular order, so you can always try something new if you’re stumped. There’s a great sense of accomplishment that accompanies the game’s challenging levels, making the game a very rewarding experience. Not only that, but you can brag to the world of your design genius through a surprisingly deep online sharing system.

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The online system survived the transition to the iPhone which really helps make this game feel like a complete package. If the 43 included levels aren’t enough to keep you busy, make your own with the included level editor and share them online. For the lazy or design-challenged, you can just rely on the work of others and play the plethora of user-created levels already available. You can upload solutions to standard or user-created levels so others can see how you beat a level. And if you’re stumped on a level you can check out how others beat it. You can even rate levels and solutions, ensuring the most popular submissions get more recognition. This robust system gives you a reason to keep coming back, even if you mastered the included levels.

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My complaints about the game are mostly minor. With a small screen, it can be tough to see exactly what you’re hooking up, so inXile implemented a zoom window in the corner when you’re placing parts. This is extremely useful, but I still found that after placing a part just right, I’d take off my finger and the position of the part moved slightly. This meant I had to delete the part and try again. I also found that the framerate dipped when there was too much going on at one time. It would be nice to see that fixed in a future update. My biggest gripe has to be the skeleton of an achievement system the game employs. When completing a level, you can get one or more badges depending on how you beat it. For example, one badge requires that you beat the level and leave no parts on the screen at the end. Another badge is for beating the level without using wheels. This would be a great addition, except that some of these badges just aren’t possible for some levels and this isn’t reflected anywhere on-screen. You’re led to believe that you could beat the level different ways to get all the badges, but that’s just not true. Imagine a game with an achievement for getting 100 coins for each level, but some levels don’t have that many coins. You wouldn’t even bother trying! It sort of makes the badge system pointless. I’d like to see a bit more thought put into it to provide a real motivation to come back and create new ways to beat each level.

Overall, Fantastic Contraption is a very solid title. It has tons of replay value built in due to the great online level sharing system. Anyone who is a fan of the PC version would enjoy this version as well, and if you’re not sure if it’s worth your $5, try the PC version and see if it’s your kind of game!

Stars
Version Reviewed: 1.1

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