The concept of making a Rube Goldberg machine in a video game has been done so many times that it feels like some kind of crime against gaming that one hasn't been done to honor the man who invented it. He's has a huge following that has survived almost a century. His name has become part of the American vernacular. His comic strips were clearly ahead of their time as a way to mock the unstoppable drive of technology. Perhaps that's why it's taken so long to get a game made in his name and it's a shame because it's a faithful, fun adaptation of some of Rube's famous works.

Rube Works [$2.99] is the first  contraption building game officially sanctioned by the Rube Goldberg estate and it's done the family name proud. It's a sharp, slick recreation of Goldberg's artistic work that offers a unique and accessible puzzle challenge.

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If the name Rube Goldberg doesn't ring a bell that's been pushed by a rubber hand that was activated by a mouse running to a piece of cheese out of a jar where the lid was unscrewed by a rotating magnet on the end of a stick attached to a pulley that turning from a fan near an open window, let's clue you in. Goldberg's comic strip consisted of elaborate plans for contraptions that can do simple tasks with a complex and unnecessary set of steps. The challenge is to reconstruct one of Rube's puzzle designs that are all based on some of the man's original drawings.

The challenge may sound straightforward and easy but it can be quite a conundrum to figure out just how all the pieces fit together when they're sitting in an unorganized pile. Each level sets up some of the basic pieces such as tables and stools to give you a tiny hint of how they can be used to provide an extra hand to tie a package or open a garage door. The interface can feel a little wonky at first since you have to hold each piece to drag it into place and wait for it to acknowledge your touch but it doesn't take too long to get used to as you work through the contraption.

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Such a game might sound like a challenge for children but it's actually very puzzling since it requires a different kind of cartoon logic than the traditional puzzler. There's an array of items in the inventory that seem completely random such as a gun, a block of ice and a revolver but the puzzle begins to fall into place once you get a couple of correct objects in place before the whole thing comes together. The game also requires you to tie certain objects together with twine or rubber belts to complete a full Goldberg machine.

The biggest accomplishment is the look of the game. The designers really took the time to make sure that each level looks like it was drawn in a Goldberg comic strip because each of them are based on an actual Goldberg comic strip. It does a great job of mimicking his artistic style and sense of space and even moves in a 3D environment that feels like you're actually in one of the strips. They even took the time to put some of Goldberg's original characters into the action to complete the allusion.

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It's got the play of a puzzle game with a plausible challenge level but without ignoring the whimsy and charm that you'd expect from an original Rube Goldberg design. It's a wonderful nod of the cap to the man whose crazy visions inspired real world challenges to complete his work and become an adjective for creating a complex set of plans for something relatively simple.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • one.sixty.four

    Tiny wings icon is on the page.

  • wiinwinn

    Tiny Wings ?

  • Isaacquartz

    I was like, this is a little bit late for a Tiny Wings review! :)

  • ColeDaddy

    You had me at "Rube Goldberg". I remember helping my son on his RG-themed projects, so this should be a good one to share.

  • repapermunky

    Yeah, the Tiny Wings thing is lost to me...

    • repapermunky

      Not sure why it's here, I mean.

  • JJE McManus

    You tap Tiny Wings which flies up and fires Red Bird making Contra think he under attack and throw a grenade at Tiny Towers making Mario a refugee launching a lawsuit from Nintendo that Cuts the Rope dropping the Infinity Blade and Crushing the Candy which gives Space Hulk the sads and whose tears then wash away JunkJack's mine causing him to move into Terraria where the weight of that awesomeness causes the Tower of Awful Movie Tie-ins to fall into the AC Pirate Ship causing a tsunami of outrage to wash away all micro-transactions. And Thus All IAP Is Free.
    Easy-peasy
    How did you not see that?
    OFAP (seriously)

    • Jake7905

      Six degrees of confusion

    • Lazer Kat

      Half-Life 3 Confirmed

  • JPhilipp

    Pssst.. the developer behind this (David Fox from Electric Eggplant) is the man behind Zak McKracken, which some of you might remember as one of the most terrific adventure games of all times...

  • David Fox

    Danny, thank you for the great review! I LOL'd several times while reading it, and from your humor, I can see why you love the game! I wanted to let you and your readers know that today we updated the game to include an additional 9 levels (for free), for 18 in all! Even better, Rube Works is on sale at $0.99 (normally $2.99) for the holidays, through the end of 2013! So if you already own it, get the free update for 9 more levels. If you don't own it, now is the time to download it!

Tiny Wings Reviewed by Danny Gallagher on . Rating: 4