Fantastic Contraption

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Rating: 4.8/5 (509 votes)
Comments (827) | Views (4,685)

Officially Haphazard

Fantastic Contraption is an elastic attraction.
Each physics level guarantees satisfaction.
And unless you have a strange allergic reaction,
You'll soon be hooked on Newton's laws of interaction.

Fantastic ContraptionOk, so maybe I shouldn't write poetry for a living, but I have had so much fun with this game, that I could not help myself. Created by Colin Northway and Andy Moore, Fantastic Contraption is a physics puzzle game in which the objective in each level is to move all red objects into a rectangular goal area. To do this, you are given a blue rectangular building area and a few different materials in which you can build your device. Standing in your way, however, are a variety of obstacles, ranging from gaping gaps to a sea of circles bent on destroying your red-object-mover-apparatus.

To make your machine, click on the type of material you want, and then click or drag in the light blue "building area" to place it. At your disposal are three different wheels—a clockwise spinner, a counter clockwise spinner, and a regular wheel—as well as two different connectors—a solid "stick" and "water" rod, which can pass through other walls and wheels, but not the environment. Each of these objects has nodes (represented by small, light gray circles) that other objects can attach to so you can create more complicated contraptions. One nice feature about this game is the keyboard shortcuts. A couple especially useful ones are:

  • [Shift]+mouse to move items. Note that if you click on a node when using this technique, only that connection will move, whereas if you click on any other part of the structure, the entire device will move. Also, you can use [Shift] click to pan around the level by clicking on the background.
  • [Command]+mouse (or Ctrl, for Windows users) to delete items.
  • [Space] to start or stop a test.

Although the game is completely free, for 10 dollars, you can get a few added benefits: being able to make and share custom levels as well as being able to play other people's levels, all while supporting independent game development.

Analysis: With just 5 components, you might think this game would not be that interesting. However, as the levels grow harder and harder, you will quickly find yourself doing things that you could have never imagined with these meager materials. Furthermore, after each level, I found myself amazed with the Fantastic Contraption I had just built, wanting to show it to everybody.

The main reason this game is so rewarding is because it is so well thought out. Like most physics games, you have to do a lot of tweaking, and the controls are easy to get used to and provide helpful visual cues (i.e. if you hold shift, a set of arrows comes up to remind you can now move stuff around). Similarly, if you attempt to edit your machine while a trial is in progress, an arrow pops up, reminding you to stop the trial first. Likewise, the art is unobtrusive yet beautiful; the pastel colors make you feel less like bashing your keyboard when your beautiful Ferris wheel fails to launch the red balls far enough for the 10th time.

Another plus about this game is that it is extremely casual. There are no spending limits; you can use all the material you want. You can also, skip levels if they are just too difficult which takes the stress off of casual gamers. This has the added benefit of allowing you to play on different computers without restarting the entire game.

Furthermore, if you just can't beat that one level, don't worry. Colin Northway has done an excellent job of allowing players to easily share their created content. Users can easily save and share levels (after a painless registration), so you can see the funky contraptions that others have made. However, instead of having to share long obfuscated level codes, the game gives you a short URL to copy. In addition to the extra levels, the 10-dollar expansion also allows you to create and share your own levels.

As far as downsides to this game, there aren't that many. Like any game with a full physics engine, it may cause performance issues on older computers. Also, the music can get a bit repetitive (although I doubt the author expected me to play for such an extended time period). Luckily there is a volume control that instantly remedied the situation.

In short, this game was excellently conceived, and excellently executed, altogether making for excellent fun.

Play Fantastic Contraption

Created a Fantastic Contraption? Share it in the comments!


I have currently fallen in love with Fantastic Contraption! It's great and so much fun!


Whoa. Fantastic contraption needs its own JIG entry, it deserves better than being left in an LDF crowd.


I was thinking the same thing, Einar.


I'm a huge fan of physics games in general, and I loved Fantastic Contraption. I think it's interesting to note that my solution for Awash was amazingly similar to OfficiallyHaphazard's, but without the flails.

My solution to Awash:


Fantastic Contraption definitely deserves its own entry! Really fun game!

My solution to Four Balls. Took me a while!


Fantasic Contraption, although simple, is really great fun. I'm reminded of sodaplay (and wow, that was a long time ago for me).
I'm currently tackling Awash.


All I can say is that beating Awash felt really satisfying.
Foolish orange balls! You'll never defeat the conveyor-tank!


The "Four Balls" level (of Fantastic Contraption) seems very tricky - haven't managed to beat it yet. But the game is really great.

Anonymous July 18, 2008 7:53 AM

Fantastic Contraption is pretty great.

Here's how I did Four Balls:

Totally stuck on Down Under though.


Like many here, I think Fantastic Contraption is absolutely brilliant.

Whoosh... There goes my Friday afternoon.

fuzzyface July 18, 2008 9:33 AM

Why is Fantastic Contraption in Fridays Link Dump, this deserves its own review!!!

BTW: A awash solution that finishes within a minute.

The big diggr :-)


I prefer simplicity...

The Syntax Reliant Robin Stairclimber ;)

fuzzyface July 18, 2008 9:44 AM

Stairs: I like it technical :-) The caterpillar :-)


Wow, just look at this solution:

I don't take credit for it, but this is brilliant :D


Someone please help! Trying to play Fantastic Contraption, I keep getting the "You may have an old version of this site" page, and i've tried ctl+F5 multiple times to no avail! Judging by the rave reviews it's been getting, i reaaaaally want to play it! D:

Any helpful info?


Thx, folx, for both the double-click info and the four balls setup!


that ferris wheel solution for the four balls level is simply ingenious!


:( I need help on 'up the hump'.

fuzzyface July 18, 2008 12:25 PM

Uninpossilbe, this one I'm proud of.


That solution to Unpossible is crazy, I didn't think anyone could do it.


Fantastic Contraption was amazing, should have been reviewed


:o *gasp* it's the creepy stringy catapult of doom!!!


My midified version to Haphazard's Ferris Wheel for the "Four balls" level. Now with two wheels! :)

geddings July 18, 2008 1:32 PM

I also need help with "up the hump".


Shoot, I got about 95% of the red ball in the goal area on the "Down under" level :D


Yeah! Got it! The Australian Mace :)

(Down Under level)


The Slanted Rig of Bio

(Mission to Mars level)


Noticed something strange. If you play the same setup a couple of times, the result will always be exactly the same. Logical. But then, if you, say, change a wooden stick to a waterstick, let it go, then reset the water stick to a wooden stick again, the results will sometimes be different then originally. The nodes haven't been moved so it should be guaranteed that the contraption looks exactly the same as originally. Still sometimes it works differently.


Some of these walkthroughs are amazing ideas!

AndyP, your 'On a chain' one made me laugh. I think it's amazing that people are creating such wonderful designs :) This game is actually a really good game, I'd buy it :P

geddings July 18, 2008 3:10 PM

Finally got "mission to mars". It took some tweaking.


Another one I found while browsing their forum:

The inventive skills of some people is amazing!


Or maybe I found it on here. LOL

Sorry about that. I was just looking through the forum then came back :G

I'm so blonde sometimes.


that's the link I included just above you of my Locomotive :D


Anyone with any working ideas for The Tube level?

So far I don't even know how to construct anything that doesn't fall off the bottom... And even if I can solve that I'm still nowhere...


For the tube I have been trying to create a walker that spreads and will wedge itself in the walls and crawl up.

So far I have been able to slow the decent but not actually go up.


I can't figure out Tube yet either. I managed to wedge a block into the bottom, but I can't get anything to climb the walls...

fuzzyface July 18, 2008 3:30 PM

bioLarzen: I like this one most:

(isn't mine tough)


What I've been trying for the tube is

creating an "inner tube" of rotating disks that would spin upwards and maybe canon the target ball up to the goal area

But couldn't create a base for it that could wedge in at the bottom. I could create a wedge that would stay but as soon as I built something on it it would fall off :(

Shame we can't link unsuccessful tries, isn't it? Would be huge fun to watch each others ideas.


that's really a great idea. But!!! The target ball is not at the same starting position as on my Tube level... Mine is in the middle and under the link it's on the right.


There's something fishy about this design you linked, fuzzyface. First of all, as I said, the target ball is in a different starting position. Then, as you start the contraption, the target ball starts upward very suddenly and at once as if something was sucking it upwards. What does it???


You can move the starting position.

I recreated the solution and it works.Not sure how. Seems like the little ball is magnetic..

The middle ball rotates cloclwise so not sure how it swings to the right like that


Oh, shoot, Just realized that I can move the target ball... Now i feel stupid :D


Here is the tube solution again.

I can't see how the ball swings to the right like that.

Julian2 July 18, 2008 4:25 PM

Jeff, I believe the ball is moving because of the wheel in the middle.

I don't understand how that wheel moves though because it is a clockwise wheel but the ball swings counter clockwise.


I am probably overproud of this contraption, but I think it might be one of the fastest possible solutions to Awash:

And here's an almost invisibly tweaked version that's even faster!

fuzzyface July 18, 2008 4:57 PM

There is indeed something fishy in that solution, I don't know, has to do with the anchor of the middle wheel.

Okay made a new solution that should be nice and clean:

How do you like this one?


I feel behind, I can't even finish On A Roll!
Oh well. From what I've beaten, Fantastic Contraption is great. I feel like there should be a limit (maybe in cash like Armadillo Run) of some sort. While it's cool that the only limit is yourself at Zombo- eh, Fantastic Contraption, it doesn't feel right to me. Just my 2 cents.


Absolutely loved Fantastic Contraption. Kept an office of engineers busy all day. Good find.

This is my second solution to Back and Forth. Tried to make it as ridiculous as I could.

Lasse Laserman July 18, 2008 6:57 PM

A different approach to the "Four Balls" level.


slow but successful solution to 'up the stairs'!!!!!!!


This is one of the best physics game ever. I finally solved all the stock levels...I may have to buy it to further feed my addiction.

Einar, your catapult rocks!

I was laughing at some of the contraptions for handling. This is my super simple solution:

KingofTown July 18, 2008 8:42 PM

How did anyone do "Big Ball"?

KingofTown July 18, 2008 8:51 PM

Ask for advice...then beat it moments later.

For those who get stuck, maybe something like that will help.


slightly modified, slightly faster version

Lasse Laserman July 18, 2008 9:24 PM

For "Big Ball" you could also go for speed, like this:


about the tube level:
that "amazing" solution that was posted works because the middle wheel is held in place by the rods attached to it. it tries to turn clockwise, but since it cant, the torque throws the rod and target ball counter-clockwise. motion is relative :)
my solution:


I think I figured out why the Tube solution works: there's a center wheel that also spins clockwise, making it so that the right side is always pushing against the wall. The position of the starting ball doesn't matter either: I beat it with it just hanging in the middle.

I would guess that if you reversed it, with the counter-clockwise wheel higher, you would get the same result.


Sorry to double post, but I figured out how to move the red object. Step 1: connect a water bar or stick to it. Step 2: select the move cursor. Step 3: click the middle of the bar from before. Step 4: when you move the bar, the object moves too. Example:


aaaand one of my links is wrong -_- please remove all 3 posts at this point, i'll do them over later. its too late atm.


Man. I've just made a flying contraption! I'd never guess this one would behave like it does:

Not a solution, just looks funny :)


Mutevampire, you can also just select the move cursor and move the red object.


Here's my solution to unpossible:

bioLarzen, your one just acts crazy :)

TheDalaiChicken July 19, 2008 8:31 AM

Check this one out for 'Handling'! Now there was 20mins well spent!


All of you who think you solved "Back and forth", I have to disappoint you: I am the one who really managed to get that red ball "back and forth":

Not a solution, but at least i did what the level's name asks for :D :D :D


And with one small adjustment here's the working one (Back and Forth level):


Not a solution yet, still I'm kinda proud of my trapdoor idea (Unpossible level) :D

sijapu17 July 19, 2008 10:57 AM

To complete Awash in 35 seconds:

Jason Harper July 19, 2008 11:00 AM

I'm rather proud of this Unpossible solution: only three wheels used!


Trapdoor technique fixed (Unpossible level):


my handling. getting the timing right was a pain.


Mission to Mars on Fantastic Contraption...
Watching this design work cracked me up.

Lasse Laserman July 20, 2008 9:00 PM

This is for "Mission to Mars":

I really didn't expect THAT to happen. It looks elegant in a kind of explosive way.


This was built to do something else and then it just flipped out! It still works though!


This thread in the forum got me to pay the $10. Even if I never use any of the for-pay features, it was worth $10 to see all the "green" solutions.


I found a really simple solution to the "stairs" level. Only two wheels!

blakyoshi7 July 20, 2008 11:44 PM

I've only figured out five levels... I suck at this game :(

On the other hand I made some awesome solutions.
Check it out:

On a Roll:
Completed in like five seconds. Woo!

Full Up:
Inspired by the Bridge Building Game.


Awesome way to complete reach up. Totally useless, though awesome


2 really awesome solutions up the stairs and around the bend, both astoundingly simple


This is for big ball: why beat it to the goal when you can beat it up?


Golden gate: why mind the gap when you can use a bridge?


Solutions for Junkyard and the Wall:
Junkyard uses the pink piece in an unusual way
The Wall is freaking fast




Over easy, a little complex, but oh well.


Awesome sandbox-style level, with a simple contraption that goes a long way (it works)

starbrood January 8, 2010 3:27 PM

I don't understand why some of your designs explode, speed up and then fly away. Why does that happen? If you have the answer please reply

starbrood January 8, 2010 3:36 PM
I love it! My solution to Awash is so quick and it looks so proffetional.



Mission to Mars Solution:

GimmeChocolate March 7, 2010 5:05 PM

Very originall new way to beat U-Turn. Hasn't been done before.

Anonymous March 15, 2010 2:27 AM

Back and forth:

Pls dun ask me how this works

Meeeeeeeeeee June 16, 2010 11:13 PM

Oops i messed up on the name/description, i thought it was MY name/discription

Anonymous July 27, 2010 11:33 AM

Dancing worm solution for back and forth:

And Fred Flintstone's car for Unpossible:

This is a treadmill I tried to make. I'm not so sure what I got ... It helps in some levels

jiang.matthew22 June 7, 2012 6:10 PM

It climbs awash like nobody's bussiness


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