The Incredible Machine (Mega Pack)

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The Incredible Machine

JamesIf your idea of a good puzzle involves balls, gears, conveyor belts, balloons, ropes, mice, cats, monkeys, guns and gravity, you can not go wrong to invest in the original Rube Goldberg-inspired puzzle game and Sierra classic, The Incredible Machine, created by Kevin Ryan.

The concept behind The Incredible Machine is very simple and one that has been copied in one way or another by countless puzzle outings since inspiring a generation of gamers back in 1994. It uses the idea of a Rube-Goldberg machine, an overly elaborate setup to achieve a simple task - a concept celebrated by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Goonies and countless Youtube videos. The Incredible Machine has spawned its own share of sequels, nearly all of which are present in this mega-pack. The idea is simple: each puzzle presents you with a different challenge to construct an elaborate chain-reaction towards a goal. For example; you have to burst three balloons present on the screen. Along with this will be some pre-set elements normally used throughout the puzzles and you are given a selection of similar items to accomplish the task.

The Incredible MachineFor example, say the challenge is to pop a balloon. On the scene is the balloon, as well as a mouse in a cage, a conveyor belt, a ball over the cage and a ball on the belt. You are given a gun, a see-saw, a rope and something to angle the rope with. The solution would be to aim the gun at the balloon, place the see-saw just below the drop point of the ball on the belt and finally tie the gun and see-saw together, angling the rope to yank the trigger backwards. When you start the machine, the first ball lands on the mouse cage, causing the little sucker to run and start up the belt. The ball on this belt moves forward, drops on the see-saw, which jerks the rope back, pulling the trigger on the gun and bursting the balloon.

This is a simple illustration: the puzzles can become quite complex, involving power switches, generators, rockets, flashlights, cannons, trampolines, monkeys on bicycles, cheese and crocodiles (to name a few). To add complexity, some puzzles even alter air-pressure and gravity. And if you want to flex your imagination, there is the free-form mode where you can build a really elaborate machine that is indeed incredible and might also have your friends and family question if you have too much time on your hands...

Analysis: The Incredible Machine is an undisputed classic and nothing has managed to quite step into its zone yet. There are similar games like this, but nothing has manages the sheer scope that the series has offered. In fact, if the Sierra name was not languishing somewhere in the deep licensing vaults of today's Activision-Blizzard, an iPhone version would be an excellent idea. Thankfully Good Old Games keeps some of the dream alive with this terrific mega pack.

The Incredible MachineThe pack more-or-less brings all of the series together, with the exception of Incredible Toons. The four games represent the four best releases, but it's the whole deal. The Even More Incredible Machine is the first game, but with more puzzles, while The Incredible Machine 3 is the second game, but redesigned to work in Windows. So you are not losing anything and with hundreds of levels this is beyond a steal. It's shaking down the local school's pre-graders for candy and having the teachers help you.

It should be noted, though, that The Incredible Machine was developed before games became insanely convenient within their interface features. It plays easily, but every time you quit and go back you'll need to remember which level you were on last, as the game unlocks chunks of levels at a go. This annoyance goes away bit by bit in the subsequent games, but if you didn't cut your teeth on early-Nineties PC games, this might come as a bit strange. It does not, however, detract from this classic title's awesomeness.

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I remember playing this game with my father on a 468 when I was a 4 or 5. Probably one of my first gaming experiences.

We also played Doom and Wolvenstein together, my dad navigated and I shot the bad guys. I didn't turn out a violent psychopath killer, so I never really understand people saying games are a cause of violence.

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I remember the two newest games: Return of and Even More Contraptions. Heck, I still have the CDs! I never really got pass the medium (or was it hard?) levels because they didn't have hints and I thought hints were absolutely necessary. I'm gonna go play Even More Contraptions now.

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Oh wow I remember playing this game when I was a kid.. probably my first gaming experience ever, too. Might just have to look into this one myself, it's been far too long.

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Black Drazon Author Profile Page March 28, 2010 7:50 PM

Oddly enough, my GOG copy of this just so happens to be at the level in the second screenshot! Just thought I'd share that. The game is awesome.

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I love these games. They are amazing. These probably have the biggest claim to my time as a kid of all the games I owned, by a long shot. Even after you solve all the levels, which will take a while, there is endless fun in the level editors.

Now I wish I had a copy with me.

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tenkuchima Author Profile Page March 29, 2010 1:07 AM

wow, fond memories of this game. I think it was probably one of my first pc gamin experiences. certainty my first puzzle game.

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One of my absolute favorite games growing up. These were the glory days of Lemmings, Sim City, and Oregon Trail. This series truly hasn't been topped.

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TIM was such an awesome game... I remember it fondly. Has anyone ported it to Mac in any way?

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Bought this a few weeks ago, when they had it on sale.

One issue I have with this pack is that some additions are pretty redundant. TIM3 is basically an (ugly) Windows reworking of TIM2, and the Contraptions series is basically a reworking of earlier games (and two Contraption games are the only ones worth playing; the earlier ones mostly work for nostalgic reasons). Worse yet, the Toon series is sadly missing.

Still, this is a great value for the money, and I highly recommend it. Those people who haven't got introduced to TIM years before are in for a great ride.

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Oh, TIM. Played a lot of this way back when. Fantastic game. Really cool to see it revived by GOG.

Random tidbit: I happen to know the fellow who did a lot of the graphics for TIM and TIM 2, though I haven't really been in touch him for a while.

Ah, the era when one or two guys could create a big "studio" game by themselves. Very glad that spirit is kept alive by sites like JiG!

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We are still in that era! Look at games like World of Goo, Iji, and Altitude. They were all made by teams of 2 people (or 1 person, in Iji's case.)


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Yeah, so many games, indie and not, are made by very few people.

Also, to quote a certain song in the later games, "You can't put it down, It's AMAAAAZZZING!"

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Person of Awesome March 29, 2010 6:37 PM

This is so awesome I'm just waiting for the world to end ironically. I NEVER saw this coming.

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Danielle March 29, 2010 7:48 PM

Blast from my PAST, man! I remember Pokey the cat! And wasn't the guy called Mel Schlemming? I made up a song about how slow and dumb he was (hey, I was a kid!). I don't think I ever beat it.

It's great to see old-school games getting their due! Just because tech advances doesn't mean old concepts (or old graphics) render a game completely outdated!

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I loved this game, but just FYI I just downloaded and installed this pack and mcafee popped up and said there was a trojan in it, so be careful.

[Virus checkers are notorious for reporting false positives, and I believe that is the case here. I can confidently say that you have nothing to worry about. -Jay]

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TheRealTJ March 29, 2010 9:45 PM

...Dang. Now I need $10.

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the problem with early Windows games is that their program code included a lot of routines which aren't in regular practice today and are mostly associated with worms/trojans. There is hardly a game from the era of Windows 95 which today's antivirus programs wouldn't deem as "potential threat". Fear not, everything is safe, but if you still have doubts you can check out the GoG forums - they have a lot more information about this kind of stuff there.

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@Danielle: You are indeed correct. Ah, Mel...

The other characters were Bob the fish, Ernie the alligator, and Mort the mouse (in addition to Mel Schlemming and Pokey the cat).

(found by Google)

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This from a representative of PushButton Labs, the owner of the Incredible Machine franchise:

There is something about the GOG installer that has been triggering false negatives in a few anti-virus programs. We saw users reporting this on the GOG forums after launch but it is all safe.

Here is one of the associated threads:

The product is virus-free. :)

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Kevin Ryan March 31, 2010 5:35 PM

Pokey the cat was named in honor of Gumby's pony sidekick which I used to watch on tv back in the 1960s.

Mortimer Mouse was the planned original name of Mickey Mouse before they settled on Mickey. In the French translation of TIM they changed the name of Mort. I was wondering why they changed it when I first got the translated text back until I realized what mort means in french.

Kelly the monkey was named after my sister. She said, "Gee, thanks", but I don't think she meant it. :)

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I know! I happen to be one of those indie designers. ;)

I'm glad sites like JiG can help give those lesser known, lesser (or no) budget games the recognition they deserve.

Had to come back to this article to try and pick up a copy of TIM. Haven't played in years, got a yearning for some retro gaming. :)

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Kevin Ryan April 2, 2010 10:49 PM

@James Francis

Damon Slye got back all the rights to Red Baron last September. He mentions it on his Mad Otter Games web site - not sure what he is planning to do with it. My son interned with Damon a summer ago. He is now the same age that Damon and I were when were working together on Arctic Fox for the Amiga. The years really do fly past.

Push Button Labs, run by TIM co-designer Jeff Tunnell, acquired the rights to TIM. I'm not sure what's public so I probably shouldn't comment about other products. I do still work with Jeff though on various projects. :)

JIG is great and I've been following it for along time. Jeff told me about it quite a few years ago.

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Has anyone figured out how to run this in a Window in Vista or 7? It's the perfect brain flexer for those boring online meetings (unless you are my boss in which case that 45 minute speech on standardized e-mail signatures was both informative and an excellent use of my time); however, I can't seem to get it into a window. I've tried using -window commands. No luck. I also thought it might be related to the color settings used by the game's old school graphics. Still haven't pinned down an answer.

Even with this slight annoyance, the game is absolutely worth your hard-earned cash. Eat ramen for a few days, mow a lawn, or take your accordion down to the street corner, only get this game(s).

p.s. to all those still on the fence, I have actually successfully used TIM as a pickup line. "Soo...I have The Incredible Machine back at my place." For what it's worth...

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i never played before but it won't let me play

unless i order it

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