|The Magic Toy Chest|
|Genre||Rube Goldberg Puzzler|
|MtAMinutes to Action||1|
|Score||6 Gameplay: 6
Fun Factor: 7
The Magic Toy Chest is a PC puzzle game that clearly has roots in The Incredible Machine. Developed by indie Graduate Games, Toy Chest is soon to be released and features over 100 levels with a variety of items and a level editor. I grew up playing The Incredible Machine and was excited when the devs approached me to play this. Physics based puzzle games are generally awesome, just look at the World of Goo last week. Of course, like The Incredible Machine, the Magic Toy Chest is more about solving puzzles like you have the mind of Rube Goldberg, the cartoonist who would draw complex mechanical solutions to simple everyday problems. What's not to like about that?
The Magic Toy Chest takes place in a young boy's house. The style of the graphics and simplicity of gameplay in the first hour definitely lends itself to be a game directed at kids. This isn't a bad thing, but as you'll see there's not much of a challenge to be had early on. Let's just get right down to it, let the first hour of the Magic Toy Chest begin.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I click Play and the first hour of the Magic Toy Chest begins. A house appears with a series of rooms darkened out. Level 0 is Basic Training. So what's this game going to be about... We have to put away a baseball.
01 - Sounds easy enough, collect the keys, open the chest, and get the ball rolling. So I'm looking at the main gameplay screen now, and time is ticking away. "Find and click all the keys."
02 - So once you get all the keys, you can open the chest. Hey, not bad, I drop a block on the baseball and it rolls into the chest. Chore complete, haha. I remember how Bully had real chores, like lawn-mowing and stuff, I always wanted to make a lawn mowing game though...
04 - In the next level now, I collected all the keys, and placed a domino piece to complete a bridge of sorts. The ball got rolling but then got stuck on a baseball bat. Ouch. I think I have to restart the level.
05 - All right, things worked much better that time! And I collected a few extra domino pieces in my chest along the way. I think the first time I got the ball rolling at just the right (or wrong) speed to make it stop in middle of the bat. Unlucky!
07 - On the third stage we have to collect two baseballs, just had to watch them roll for a bit, the game is still telling me what to do.
09 - Just played a few more stages, got to use the heavier teddy bear, this is actually a fun game... oh oh! A nerf gun! Awesome.
10 - So you place a nerf gun (foam darts actually...) and then click the action icon to create like a "spark" object, so you click the gun again with the spark and it fires. What's kind of confusing is that if you beat a level, you can still stuff in the background, is it helping at all?
11 - Oh no, failed my first level! So this next level just kind of starts without you. The baseball gets rolling and you have to do something to save it in time. Unfortunately I'm too slow to figure that out.
13 - Ah, I was suppose to pause the game with the spacebar to figure things out. Okay, that made things quite a bit easier.
14 - First nerf guns, now a rocket! In my childhood I only got to fire off one rocket ever. Though I did put a lego spaceman in it. That was kind of cool.
17 - I'm on the tenth tutorial now, I've learned about guns and rockets, now it is time for pins.
18 - Oh, I finally noticed the "Goal" box in the corner. Here I thought we were just aiming to get the baseball or teddy bear in there every time, but it tells you what it needs. And by pins, they don't mean bowling pins, but pins to like hold up baseball bats at an angle. Pin them to the wall.
19 - All right, I've finally made it to Level 1: Your Bedroom!
20 - So the first real stage isn't very tough, just getting baseballs into the chest, same old. Post level stats are a little more interesting though, keeps track of your best times and actions. Useful for continuous improvement.
23 - Next stage I have to use a teddy bear to propel a ball like they're on a teeter totter. Kind of buggy though, the ball is not flying. Maybe it's just bad positioning.
24 - Okay, got it... but this time the teddy bear and ball got stuck on a ramp and I had to remove the teddy bear by clicking on it. Feels a bit like cheating.
26 - A few levels later and I start out with a nearly empty stage and tons of room to build. Reminds me of the later stages of World of Goo.
29 - Not bad, had to build a bat bridge and then shoot the nerf gun into a pile of blocks. The blocks would land in the toy chest and I could then pick them up out of there and reuse them.
30 - Hey, a bowling ball! Remember those in Incredible Machine? It crushes through a wall of blocks and knocks them into the chest, completing the level.
33 - Not sure if that was just a tricky test, but the keys you have to collect to open the chest were basically falling into the open pit at the bottom of the next level! Evil.
35 - Sometimes the physics and geometry are just a bit too unforgiving. The rocket I have to get in the chest just got stuck on the edge of it.
37 - This time I set up a little domino wall to keep in it and that works.
39 - The stages are getting more complicated and with a lot more pieces in play.
41 - Oh man! The toy chest is too full, I can't get the baseball into it!
42 - Level 10 of the Bedroom... I don't think it was supposed to be that easy. I was supposed to get a baseball into the chest and I just put a nerf gun next to it and shot it in.
43 - So I beat the first room with a series of one, two, and three star scores. Time to move on to... my sibling's room!
44 - I have a new toy, the ring toss. Which is really just those colored rings that babies play with. Doesn't seem to do much though.
46 - I guess it's useful as a bridge? Not sure, I'm actually stuck on the 11th stage. Oh, beat it, didn't need to use those new rings at all.
48 - Stuck again on what seems to be a simple level. What the heck?
49 - What... there's like some hidden nerf guns at the bottom of the level, those should help, if I can move them.
50 - Guess not, I'll just skip to level 15, Homage to Goldberg. Rube Goldberg?
52 - This is a pretty epic level with bowling balls, nerf guns, and launching blocks. Physics is fun! Except when it gets in the way of having fun. I had to restart that level like eight times so that the baseballs would actually roll and not get stuck on things.
55 - Now I have to get 10 dominoes in the chest... they're perilously stacked on some baseball bats, seems easy with all these rockets on hand... but they're not positioned very well.
57 - I did it! More through luck than anything else it seems though.
58 - Haha, the next one was easy, though I think I cheated. Just had to get a rocket in the chest, as long as they're pointing in the general vicinity... all too easy. Level 18 - Building Bridges.
60 - You find out pretty quickly that baseball bats make the best bridges in this game, especially to transfer baseballs. Too bad the ball sometimes gets stuck on the edge of the chest and won't fall in. Oh well, that's the end of the first hour of the Magic Toy Chest.
Time for some scores out of 10.
Minutes to Action: 1
First off, there's some issues I'd like to get out of the way. I mentioned a few times that maybe the physics are "too good," as important items will get stuck on something and stop rolling. This can be a bit annoying, thankfully you can quickly restart a level by hitting the Q key. The game is also directed towards children, and I would guess something like this could be a bit frustrating for them, I even started losing my patience at times (see minute 52). There's enough randomness thrown in that sometimes things just don't work like they did last time, even though all the input parameters are the same.
On the whole though, the Magic Toy Chest features a solid first hour of gameplay. Annoying "bugs" aside, things generally work like you expect them to, and the idea of getting an object from point A to point B works well. It's very tangible and makes for a simple but elegant game. If you enjoyed The Incredible Machine as a kid, then I don't see why you also wouldn't enjoy Toy Chest.
Fun Factor: 7
I had a lot of fun with the Magic Toy Chest, pretty much just docked points here for the issues I had above. Being able to quickly restart levels is a blessing, and being able to skip frustrating levels is also very welcome. I'm not sure if you can "complete" a room with unfinished levels, but at least you can set them aside for a while. I think that's a very important feature for puzzle games to have. I want to step away from this puzzle for a second, but not from the whole game. Anyways, it would have been great to use more of the game's items in the first hour.
Graphics and Sound: 6
The Magic Toy Chest lacks in the presentation department, and while the backgrounds are nicely drawn, there's not much to the game's usable items. I'm not really sure what else I should be expecting, but it's just not much of an upgrade from the 15 year old Incredible Machine. While navigating the game's menus, none of the buttons give any kind of visual response when clicked, which can be a little confusing at times if the game is actually responding to your request or not. I may sound like I'm really complaining, but as you can see from the screenshots, the game's simple look lends itself to the gameplay nicely.
Well, you're a boy solving physics Goldberg puzzles in the rooms of your house. What else is there? This won't affect the final score.
Despite some issues, The Magic Toy Chest shows off that simple puzzle games are still fun to play. There's a fun mix of levels and items in the game's first hour, but you'll be watching baseballs roll down a lot of ramps before it is over. If you enjoyed The Incredible Machine, give Toy Chest a try while helping out the independent developer. If you've never played The Incredible Machine, well maybe you just won't care, but give the demo a shot if you've got some time. An hour isn't long to figure out if you like a game or not, and I like this one. Just remember, don't shoot off rockets in your own bedroom, your mom might yell at you.