Chain Reaction

Developer:  Monster Studios
Publisher:  Garage Games
Year Released:  2003

Review by Gordon Aplin (March, 2003)
Chain Reaction comes from the creators of the popular The Incredible Machine (TIM) games and is a direct descendent of that series, only now it is in smooth flowing 3D so you can zoom in or out or circle around to get the best vantage point to examine the puzzle you are about to solve. Fans of previous incarnations of TIM will be instantly at home here and will probably skip the eighteen tutorial levels to jump right into the game.

But if you haven't played a game like this before then the tutorial levels will ease you into the game mechanics and have you solving more complex levels in no time. They are particularly good for introducing younger players to the gameplay.

Ready, Set, Go!
In Chain Reaction the objective of each level is always the same: to get MC Monster (a grinning, purple creature in a rocketship) safely onto a landing pad from wherever he is perched. Quick reflexes are not required so you can take as long as you want to set up the solution using items that are already fixed in the contraption along with any 'spare' parts that you can move around and set in place just where you want them. Think you got it right? Then all you need to do is click on the 'Start' button and watch as your carefully positioned baseball drops to switch on the torch that shines through the magnifying glass to heat up the kettle which produces steam to turn the windmill and drive the motor that powers the conveyor belt that will eventually carry MC towards home ... providing, of course, that the balloon hits the popgun to fire it and release the trapdoor so that he doesn't get stuck along the way.

It's basically very simple, trust me J . All you need to do is examine each object, determine how it works, drop it in the right place and set your creation in motion. Experimentation is the key. If your first try doesn't work you can always make adjustments to the items you have in place or start from scratch with a new and improved strategy. Often there is more than one solution to completing a level and not every item will always need to be used, some are red herrings to lead you up the garden path.

Do it yourself
Apart from the tutorials there are forty puzzle levels of varying degrees of difficulty. Most I found to be relatively easy but several had me scratching my head and trying different tactics. Each level comes with a brief note and, perhaps a hint on how to approach it. You can replay previously solved levels and try to find an alternative solution, but you can't jump ahead. If you are stuck on a level then that's where you'll stay until you have solved it.

As with the TIM games I had a lot of fun tinkering with all the objects in Chain Reaction and watching out for the fireworks as MC made it to his landing pad. It was over all too soon. The good news is that with a toybox containing sixty-nine 3D parts you can build your own fiendish levels and challenge family and friends to solve them.

Chain Reaction is mouse controlled, bright and colourful and suitable for all ages. It's addictive and it's fun so all the family can join in and play. The game remembers the last level you completed and automatically takes you back to the puzzle you were working on when you restart the game. Several players can have games in progress at the same time by logging in under their own names. So try it out, you can download the demo and purchase the game from the Garage Games website. rating:  

Copyright © Gordon Aplin 2003. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Windows 98/NT/ME/2000/XP, Pentium II 450, 64 MB RAM, DirectX Compatible 3D Graphics Accelerator, DirectX compatible Soundcard, Internet required for download and registration.