There are very few games these days that really challenge the mind; I think that assumption is probably why I’m so strongly draw to great puzzle games like handheld classics like Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many of these games on Android right now, but I think I may have found one of my favourites. You may recall earlier this year we announced that the Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game was launched on Android and luckily I’ve finally gotten around to playing it.
For those of you who don’t know, Rube Goldberg was a well-known cartoonist and inventor last century, who apart from winning the Pulitzer Prize for political cartooning and founding the National Cartoonists Society, was also best known for a series of cartoons which depicted simple tasks being completed in incredibly intricate and convoluted ways, a concept which has been adopted and modified over the ages to be known as Rube Goldberg Machines. These original cartoons, which have been kept under lock and key by the Heirs of Rube Goldberg, have finally been realized in video game format in Rube Works.
As you might expect then, the premise for Rube Works is simple enough: as you progress through the game, each stage will be a different Rube Goldberg Machine as depicted by one of Goldberg’s original cartoons, but with a 3D take. With a total of 18 puzzles, the game isn’t limitless, but I can assure you will get a warm buzz (or utter relief) when you complete one of the machines in its entirety.
At each stage, you will be given your scenario as well as a number of items for you to arrange as part of the apparatus. As a guide, there will be items already in situ which can go a long way to helping you figure out what order things need to go in. As a further guide, tapping on each item will bring up a “hint” pop-up. This pop-up will give you crucial insight as to how to utilize that item as well as what it could be used in conjunction with.
Moving around the whole stage is very easily achieved with swipes left and right, though this can be a bit weird at first as the perspective swoops the camera as opposed to just panning. You can always zoom in and out as well to make sure you have the placement of your object aligned correctly.
Dragging and dropping items around the stage is easy enough, but somehow the game seems to lag a little; in fact, this observation appears to permeate the app as a whole. It’s not exactly a deal breaker as all the features of the game work just fine, but it is noticeable and does require a little bit of patience.
There’s one really useful button located in the top right which is the play button; this is meant to execute your entire machine to see if you can complete your targeted simple task, however I found it a good strategy to use this button intermittently to check that what I already had was working as planned.
The beauty of this game is that it really forces you to think about your next move and how the whole machine fits together; sure, you could try trial and error to get all the pieces in place, but I would say that is nigh on impossible. For me, each stage took 10-20 mins depending on the difficulty, and sometimes it was just better to stop working on it to come back and try and figure it out again. Again, the game isn’t limitless, but I think by the end of the 18 levels, you will be sufficiently satisfied and a guru in Rube Goldberg machines. To increase replayability, you will be able to score a maximum of 3 stars; stars are rewarded for getting as close to the original Rube Goldberg cartoon as possible.
There are also 25 achievements that can be unlocked on Google Play Games (and within the game as well, curiously) so that all your friends can see how much of a Rube Goldberg expert you really are.
Built in Unity 3D, Rube Works looks great and Goldberg’s cartoons look fantastic realized in 3D form. Cartoon characters and objects are constructed well and although there are some issues with object collisions, it all looked very polished overall.
I did however feel there is a bit of a disconnect between the theme of the menu and the theme of the game itself, but that’s potentially getting a bit nitpicky. The menus as a whole are extremely colourful and sometimes the contrast of black and yellow was a bit jarring.
The music in the menus is great and really spoke to the era that Rube Goldberg was inventing during and all menu actions have a sound associated with it. Assuming you aren’t terribly irritable, these sounds are quite cute, keeping with the comical theme of the game. In the stages themselves though, all the music ceases, which is really quite unusual; I did expect some music to be playing in the background, but after playing several stages, I figured it was almost a godsend there wasn’t any music as this gave me a chance to really think clearly about the puzzle at hand.
I really like Rube Works; I think it’s a gem in the sea of mindless mobile games that are on the Google Play Store, or even mobile in general. I found it extremely educational to get a glimpse of Rube Goldberg’s original machine cartoons as well as the chance to work your way through them as part of the game. If you feel like being challenged, like a good puzzle, or want to know where all those crazy Rube Goldberg machines originated from, there’s hardly a better game on Android than Rube Works right now.
Rube Works can be purchased on the Google Play Store right now for $1.99 (link below)