Thank you, Gravity

Rube Goldberg did his thing by making very simple tasks using some of the most involved algorithms and techniques.  Each of his machines ended up solving a task.  In the Wikipedia article referenced above, you’ll see the explanation about the self-operating napkin and how it worked.

All of the inventions were really problems ready for a solution!  What’s so impressive is game makers have taken some of the basics and turned them into great games on the computer.  The gizmos that are found in these puzzles may differ but there’s been one constant and that has been gravity.  I’d like to share some of my favourites in today’s post.

The Incredible Machine
Not the Sugarland album, but turn the clock back to the days of DOS.  These were the days when computers ran really quickly without a GUI interface and you just used them.

These were incredible puzzles and I recall spending all kinds of times with a science teacher friend of mine working on the mechanics.  I hate to admit it, but I also purchased The Incredible Machine II.

Sid and Al’s Incredible Toons
Also produced by Sierra Online, this was the natural time-wasting successor to The Incredible Machine.  Again, I spent far too much time on this one.  But, I write it off as productive, problem solving time.

This time, the game had characters that became part of the puzzle!

Time moves on and yet the same challenge of providing a problem solving environment that exploits gravity lives on.  Here are three of my current favourites.

In fact, I had long forgotten the enjoyment and hours wasted solving the epic puzzles from Sierra Online until I got curious with all the furor about…

Angry Birds
Gravity puzzles are back!  In the game, you’re using a slingshot to fire birds with various attributes towards puzzles with the goal of destroying structures and pigs who happened to be in the road!  I was fortunate enough to have some credits at the iTunes store as a result of gift cards and this has fed my newfound interest in these sorts of games!

Once you’re done the original, it’s time to dig into the Seasons version or the Rio Version.  The games pack a one-two punch.  The one comes from solving the darn puzzles to begin with.  But, that’s only part of the game … the best part is going back and making sure that you have three stars worth of devastation at each level.

Bubble Ball
If you like a good puzzle, you’ll enjoy Bubble Ball!  The goal is simple enough.  Get the ball to the finish flag using the tools at hand.  The tools are so simple – pieces of wood, pieces of metal, accelerators, change of direction tools…  but the puzzle that they generate are so interesting and engaging.

Game play presents so many puzzles.  The game does allow you to try to test a hypothesis for solution and then build upon it but the thrill comes from setting up all the components right the first time.  The original download provides 48 levels of play but more are available for just $.99

World of Goo
Lest you think that the best of the games are on portable devices, here’s one for Windows, Macintosh, Linux and WII in addition to iOS machines.  Get ready for applying a little useless body action as you try to stack and build structures with Goo Balls.

This is easily the best computer game that I’ve played in quite some time.  I highly recommend it – if you need further proof, you can download the first level and play for free at the link above.

It’s amazing how a simple concept like gravity can make a good premise into a terrific game.  Thank you!

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