Clever puzzler lets players experiment with cause & effect.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mechanic Master is a problem solving game suitable for both children and adults. Puzzle-oriented play involves placing and manipulating game objects so that, when set in motion, they bring about a desired consequence, such as the destruction of googly-eyed balls of goo. It's a terrific game for players interested in setting their minds to complex, physics-based conundrums. There is little if anything in the game with potential to offend.
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What’s It About?
When most people think of puzzle games they conjure up images of falling blocks and grids of brightly colored jewels. Play MECHANIC MASTER long enough and you might end up picturing complex arrangements of tennis balls, scissors, and anvils instead.
Midway's new puzzle game has players placing and manipulating a variety of everyday objects -- as well as a few outlandish ones -- in frozen environments that are later set in motion, at which point balls fall, flames ignite, and magnets attract, setting off a chain of events that (hopefully) results in a desired consequence, such as the freeing of a caged captive, or the squishing of a purple, googly-eyed blob. It forces players to consider causal relationships and plan out series of complicated events, making it one of the more thought-provoking puzzle games currently available.
Is It Any Good?
Mechanic Master's puzzles are wonderfully engaging. Once players start to learn the relationships governing object interaction -- robot sweepers will be drawn to spilled trash, UFO abduction beams will attract anything that passes beneath them, a falling tennis ball will depress buttons and ignite lighters -- they won't be able to help but start thinking about all the ways these objects can be used to solve the problems set before them. And with more than 100 puzzles, plus support for building and sharing custom conundrums with friends over local WiFi DS networks, they'll have countless hours in which to practice deploying and manipulating the game's many objects.
However, the fun is dampened somewhat by shoddy graphics and a complete lack of style. Decidedly simple audio and visual design makes Mechanic Master feel like a game that could have been created a decade or more ago. What's more, its presentation is utterly lacking in personality. No attempt has been made to create a memorable visual theme or give the game some sense of character. It's as though the puzzles were designed individually, then cobbled together with no overarching goal. Better production values and presentation could have made Mechanic Master one of the must have puzzlers of 2008. As is, it's merely good.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the continuing popularity of puzzle games in a world that seems to place a high value on digital entertainment of a more spectacular sort. What is it about puzzles that makes people young and old want to solve them? Are people simply hardwired to want to figure out any problem set before them? Or do puzzle games add something that makes solving a problem more rewarding? What elements of Mechanic Master's physics-based puzzles are most interesting to you?
- Platforms: Nintendo DS, Windows, Mac, PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo 64
- Available online?: Not available online
- Publisher: Midway
- Release date: October 21, 2008
- Genre: Puzzle
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
- Last updated: November 4, 2015
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