The Ingenious Machine, a frustratingly challenging Windows Phone game

The Ingenious Machine is a Windows Phone puzzle game that is very reminiscent of the old board game Mouse Trap). Instead of designing a contraption from assorted gadgets to capture a mouse, with The Ingenious Machine you are building a device that will guide a ball across the screen to trigger a light switch.

The game has strong potential but is hindered by a difficult user-interface. The minimal graphics and animations have appeal, the concept is challenging but tiny gaming controls and odd game piece selection can be very frustrating. It is best to take advantage of the trial version before taking the plunge with The Ingenious Machine.

Game Setup - Building a better mouse trap

The Ingenious Machine has a wide range of gadgets that are all at your disposal to use in building your contraption. The gadgets include gears, conveyor belts, explosives, magnets, weights, fans, lasers and more.

The main menu is modest with options to start the game or view the tutorial. The tutorial does a decent job of covering game mechanics and objectives. I would have liked to have seen a listing of the gadgets or examples of them in action but they aren't too difficult to figure out.

Game play is multi-level but The Ingenious Machine lacks a level map to let you jump back into game play where you left off. In other words, if you fail a level you have to start at the beginning. Which isn't the most ideal of situations.

Again, the goal is to build a contraption that will guide your ball across the screen to hit a light switch. You begin the game with a blank drawing page with the ball suspended at the top of the screen and the light switch is in the opposite side of the screen. As you advance through the levels of play, obstacles will be added to the drawing board that you will need to navigate around or blow up to get to the light switch.

Game Play

The game screen has two on-screen controls. One to abandon ship and quit the game and the other to drop the ball, which changes to a reset button should you need to tweak your gadget placements.

Speaking of which, the gadgets are generated by tapping the screen and dragging them into place. To switch between gadgets you will need to tap and hold the screen with one finger and tap the screen with a second finger. This isn't a bad system for switching gadget choices but your first finger blocks your view of the gadget. Until you get used to all the gadgets, this can be rather annoying.

Oh… did I mention there is a time limit involved? You have to build your contraption and successfully turn on the light in under two minutes. Two minutes sounds like a lot of time but when you have to select and place your gadgets, test your ball drops and adjust accordingly those two minute fly by rather quickly.

Your score for each level takes the number of tries it takes to complete the puzzle and the more creative the machine, the higher your score. And the machines can be rather creative.

Overall Impression

I really liked the concept behind The Ingenious Machine but it shoots itself in the foot with a not-so-friendly user interface. The button tiles to quit the game and drop the ball/reset the game are really small and difficult to press. This can cause you seconds on the clock, that could be used to re-position your gadgets.

The game also needs a better means of switching from gadget to gadget. I don't mind the two finger approach but have the gadget displayed somewhere on the screen other than from beneath your finger. The mechanics seem to work better with the Windows 8 version but then again, you are working from a larger screen.

Lastly, the game really needs a level map. The Ingenious Machine has twenty-five gaming levels and it would be extremely depressing to reach level twenty-four, fail the level and have to start the game over from level one. If not a level map, give players three attempts at a level before knocking them to the ground level.

The Ingenious Machine isn't a bad game; it just needs a little renovation to help it be more user friendly and shine. As is, I would recommend giving the trial version a go before investing in the full game.

  • The Ingenious Machine - Windows Phone 8 - Trial / $1.29 - Store Link
  • The Ingenious Machine - Windows 8 - Trial / $1.29 - Store Link

George Ponder

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.