Over the last few days, I’ve mostly been distracted by Armadillo Run, a fabulous little shareware game (Windows only… for now) somewhat reminiscent of The Incredible Machine. It’s great fun, and the download is under 2MB, which makes it a reasonable download even if you’re on a modem (who does that, these days?).
Each level challenges you to get a rolling "armadillo" to maintain a position somewhere in space, by hooking up ropes, poles, cloth, metal sheets, rubber panels, elasticated ropes, and rockets, and modifying them with greater or lesser tension or by setting them to self-destruct on a timer. When you "run" your proposed solution, these objects interact with one another and with the armadillo in order to try to solve the puzzle.
The thing that makes it notabley different from The Incredible Machine, apart from the very powerful physics engine – mentioned above – is the huge degree of flexibility you have in implementing a working solution. In The Incredible Machine, you had in your toolbox a set number of varied "parts" – everything from candles to monkeys. While there are less different "parts" in Armadillo Run, each "part" has a cost, and you must spread your budget accordingly and try to get a high score by saving as much money as possible. It’s remarkabley cool, because this means that there are a huge number of solutions to any given puzzle.
Give it a go. I’ve got the full version if you’ve played the demo and would like to try a few of the actual levels before comitting your £10 to buying a copy.