"Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." -Michael Corleone

One of the greatest gaming series of all time was The Incredible Machine, which debuted for DOS in 1992 and was followed by several official sequels and the related “Toons” games. Each game consisted of dozens of levels, and each level has a specific goal that was achieved by creating a machine. Players, using a provided set of parts and tools, would create machines in order to complete a given task and move to the next level.

I really loved the Incredible Machines series. These games were less about speed and graphics and were more about thinking. Many of the levels had one obvious solution, but the game was so open-ended that you could literally solve each level a dozen (or more) different ways. It was what I had hoped the future of videogames would look like. Instead, ID Software released Doom, it caught on, and companies have been churning out Doom clones for fifteen years now.

Fast forward to last week; rumblings of a new game called Crayon Physics have been circulating for a while. Here is a demo of the game:

Obviously the game ia similar to The Incredible Machine, except players are no longer limited to a specific set of provided tools. Instead, players can create their own! As you can see in the video, any object you draw inherits the physics of that object. Wheels roll, ropes swing, axles pivot and so on. While the demo shows the game being played with a light pen, I can assure you that it is completely enjoyable and playable with an ordinary mouse. The video shows the creator erasing objects by “scribbling” on them. With a mouse, this is done with the right mouse button. Also in the video, the creator typically propels the red ball by dropping objects on it; by using a mouse, the left button pushes the ball to the right, and the right button pushes it back to the left.

The beauty of this game is that the only limits are your imagination. For example, some of those levels in the video I posted above look pretty simple to beat, right? Check out some of the creative solutions this guy came up with for those same levels!

Not only does Crayon Physics come with 80 levels, but it also comes with a very easy to use level editor. User created levels can be loaded, saved, and shared online. This game is begging to be ported to the Nintendo Wii or the Nintendo DS (there is a homebrew port for the DS called , but it’s not the real deal), but for now, I have no complaints with the PC version.

Mason played Crayon Physics for over two hours yesterday, working his way through the early levels and later creating his own levels for me to try and solve. After he went to bed, I got to play a little, too. Crayon Physics is the best game I’ve bought in a long, long time, and may be the best $20 game I’ve ever seen. If you wanted to try it out, the author is offering a free downloadable demo to give you a taste.

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2 Responses to “Crayon Physics Review”

  1. ladyjaye says:

    It does look pretty sweet as a game. I oughta download the demo to check it out. Heck, even my non-gaming parents might like it. :)

  2. ubikuberalles says:

    Excellent review! Very professionally written. When I first read from my Google News reader I thought I was reading the CNN science blog – it was written that well!

    I LOVE the Incredible machine! I think I downloaded it a while back. I’m not ksure if I need DOSbox to run it or not. I’ll have to check it out again. Thanks for reminding me.

    $20 is cheap for such an excellent program. I spent $20 on a used Brain Age card for my DS and I hate that game. This Crayon Physics program looks a 100 times more fun.

    Looks like I gots some downloading tonight!