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Build crazy contraptions in Crazy Machines (Review)

Familiar to anyone who played The Incredible Machine, this pleasing puzzle game challenges you to cobble together Rube Goldberg-style contraptions. It's a blast.

Developers have been working overtime to bring classic PC games to the iPhone. Some, like Wolfenstein 3D Classic, do a great job recreating the original, but just don't play well on a small touch screen.

Then there's Crazy Machines, the unofficial heir to Sierra's beloved classic The Incredible Machine. It's not only a faithful recreation, but also a perfect fit for the iPhone and iPod Touch. If you like puzzle games, this is $2.99 extremely well spent.

Like to build wacky contraptions? Crazy Machines is the game for you.

For those unfamiliar with the whole "machines" concept, the idea is to build a Rube Goldberg-style contraption that accomplishes a specific goal: dropping a basketball through a hoop, launching a rocket, knocking over a crate, and so on. (If you've never seen the classic Honda commercial that takes this idea to a manic real-world extreme, you must check it out.)

What puts the "crazy" in Crazy Machines is the eclectic set of tools you're given to build your gizmo: weights, ropes, pulleys, candles, balloons, batteries, motors, and the like. The challenge lies is assembling everything "just so" to make your machine work properly.

And it's a blast. If you're already familiar with the mechanics, working through the mandatory tutorial can be tedious--but after that it's nothing but fun. Crazy Machines serves up 50 levels, plus a Construction Kit so you can build your own. (Alas, there's no way to share them.)

One nice touch: the game allots you three profiles, meaning three different people can play and maintain their own separate progress. That's great for people who routinely have to share their device with kids and/or a spouse.

Bottom line: if you liked The Incredible Machine, you'll love Crazy Machines. It's a great way to pass a few minutes or even a few hours.