The Incredible Machine

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"Roll the baseball down the ramp that triggers the boxing glove that pushes the bowling ball that strikes the teeter-totter that launches the tennis ball that bounces off the trampoline and powers the bellows to fan the mill to crank the gears to spring the toy that sends the basketball down the drain pipe off the pinball bumper flipping on the beam that travels through the glass that lights the fuse that fires the cannon! Welcome to the Incredible Machine..."


A Puzzle Game published by Sierra Entertainment in 1992, The Incredible Machine (a.k.a. TIM) centers around the construction of Rube Goldberg Devices. The player is provided with a predetermined set of parts to use in order to achieve the given objective. There are over 100 puzzles to complete, each of varying difficulty, but custom puzzles and machines can also be made (with full access to all the parts in the game). Many parts are available, ranging from the simple (gears and ropes) to the downright bizarre (alligators and blimps).

The game's family-friendly quality and subtle moments of humor and satisfaction led to widespread popularity. Over the course of nine years, seven more titles were released, and the series has since been a recipient of several awards.

For the more modern variant, see Crazy Machines.

The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the The Incredible Machine franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
  • Cosmic Plaything: The game's resident mindless mini-human Mel Schlemming.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: A notable example occurs in The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions, where the player is forced to goad a mouse out of its home using cheese in order to feed the mouse to an alligator.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a machine, and it's incredible.
  • Excuse Plot: In The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions, earning a Doctorate of Contrapology.
  • Made of Iron: The small human character can withstand just about anything aside from being eaten.
    • Falling too far will knock him out though (either that or trigger the character's latent narcolepsy, since it's represented as "falling asleep").
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Pictures at an Exhibition is one of the recurring soundtrack songs.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: The entire idea behind the game.
  • Selective Gravity: Generally speaking, objects can be classified into those that are fixed in place (conveyors, seesaws, etc) and those that aren't (balls, animals, etc). The pool balls in particular are exempt from gravity altogether, and air pressure determines which objects fall and which objects float in midair.
  • Spiritual Successor: 2006's Crazy Machines.
  • Stock Scream: Mel when he falls off stuff.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Easily caused by vials of nitroglycerin, where even a fan blowing air against it can set it off.
  • Units Not to Scale: Several instances, such as basketballs being larger than houses.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Feeding Mel to the Alligator, feeding the cat the mouse.
  • Vocal Dissonance: The mandrill's yawn in The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions is unexpectedly loud and deep.
  • The Voice: Professor Tim.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The Build Contraptions option.