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spacer all reviews > > > problem solving software

Crazy Machines 2

Viva Media

Ages 8 to adult

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
Kid Appeal
Ease of Use

Crazy Machines 2 arrow indentSystem Requirements

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Crazy Machines 2 is a puzzle game taken to the extreme. It is narrated by a quirky, Einsteinesque scientist complete with crazy white hair and mustache, who becomes the game’s main and only character. The game is segmented into chapters with 10 sections to each chapter. There are 15 chapters in the game, combining to produce 150 sections or puzzles to solve. In each, the user is presented with a partially set up “experiment”, and the scientist provides his apprentice (you) with an introduction to the scenario. For instance, he may ask you to guide a bowling ball through a maze and knock over three bowling pins at the bottom of the screen. He also provides you with a set of equipment that may be utilized in the experiment to achieve the objective.

The game begins with a tutorial that unfortunately suffers from unclear directions. After a short walkthrough, the game begins with a simple puzzle. The initial puzzles are easy, but they very rapidly become complicated. As the game progresses, the scientist leads you around the world solving puzzles from Egypt to Alaska, each area having its own theme. There are over 100 different pieces of equipment that can be used to solve the various puzzles, though only a select number are offered for use in each. There is also an online option, linking the user to the entire online community of Crazy Machines 2. Through this option, the user is able to upload solutions to the puzzles and view the solutions of others. There is also a feature where it is possible to create your own puzzle and upload it for others to try and solve. The replay value is high with this inclusion of user made content.

Educational Value

Like any puzzle game, Crazy Machines 2 forces the user to engage Problem Solving and Critical Thinking skills to get through the array of increasingly challenging scenarios. The education is not forced upon you, but is hidden throughout the experiments. It is more of a mental exercise that stimulates the brain.

One great aspect of the game is that each scenario boasts a primary objective (e.g., knock three bowling pins over with a bowling ball) as well as a secondary objective (such as lighting a candle before the pins are knocked over). In each case, the user is provided with materials such as a Bunson Burner, a ramp, a balloon, and a wooden crate. The user must them combine these with a partially composed scenario on the screen to achieve the objectives. Primary objectives are necessary to advance; secondary objectives provide additional, optional challenges.

Kid Appeal

Crazy Machines 2 is flashy and fun. It suffers, however, because of its complexity and difficulty level. Even with only the primary objectives, the levels quickly become very difficult. It is a fun game, but it may require the supervision of an adult for younger kids, as theymay get frustrated quickly. With proper instruction and supervision, the game could be a very valuable learning tool, however the time and effort involved may not be worth it. The game attempts to remedy this with the option of hints for each stage which reveal part or all of the default solution, and while they do help, even an adult may frequently have to use these, and this takes away from the experience.

Ease of Use / Install

Crazy Machines 2 is fairly easy to install. It has the standard auto-run feature that prompts the user to install it the moment that the CD is inserted. After going through the basic agreements and install locations it also asks for a registration code that is provided on the instruction packet. This may be the only complex part for kids who are trying to install this on their own. The code is 25 characters long, with 0s looking a lot like Os. It took our tester a few tries to get it right. In terms of use, the controls are mostly point and click, very intuitive. The menu pops up when the game starts with self explanatory navigation buttons.

On another note, the game is in 3d and has very good graphics. Unfortunately for many, this means that their several year-old, hand me down computers will be unable to run the game. The program recommends having a high quality video card -- and it isn’t overtating this requirement. Be sure that your machine can handle this game before you buy it.

Best for... / Bottom-Line

Crazy Machines 2 is a well done game. Unfortunately the difficulty level may prove to be too challenging for many younger players. For parents looking for a challenge that they can share with their kids, this may just be the game for you. In any case, Crazy Machines 2 is incredibly deep and has a wealth of options for the players that do get into it. The ability to share your creations with others online is a great move, which will allow the player to continue making and solving experiments for many years to come.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other problem solving software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the product.

System Requirements
PC: Windows XP or Vista, 2.0 GHz Pentium 4 (or equivalent) or faster cpu (3 GB recommened), 500 MB hard drive space, 512 MB RAM (1 GB recommended), DirectX® 9.0c - compatible graphics card with 64 MB and Pixelshader 2.0 (256 MB recommended), CD-ROM, DirectX® compatible sound card, Internet connection (optional).

Reviewed on:
-     Pentium 4 - 3GHz running Windows XP, with 1GB RAM and 24x - CD-ROM
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