IncrediBots is a brand new physics-based webtoy from Grubby Games, creator of the Professor Fizzwizzle series. Much like Fantastic Contraption, the downloadable sandbox builder Phun, and Line Rider before it, IncrediBots gives you a handful of simple tools and sets you free to explore your creative impulses. Draw shapes, connect them with joints, and tweak their basic properties to create living, moving, and functioning 'bots that can perform any task (catapult, anyone?). You can even make movies, complete with text, than can be shared with the IncrediBots community!
Because of the enormous flexibility of the IncrediBots engine, you'll need a couple of minutes to familiarize yourself with the options at your disposal. A set of tutorial levels introduces the basics and will only take you a few moments to complete. The game also features a set of challenge levels with a few dozen (optional) tasks to work through, including moving objects around, climbing obstacle courses, and building catapults to hurtle shapes through the air. The real power (and fun), though, is in the sandbox mode, where you begin with a blank template and let your imagination run wild.
IncrediBots breaks down 'bot building into two basic components: shapes and joints. Using the menu at the top of the screen, draw rectangles, circles and triangles with the mouse, and connect them using rotating, fixed and sliding joints. Clicking on shapes allows you to change attributes such as density, which has precisely the affect you would expect when the contraption comes alive.
A robot isn't very interesting when it just sits there, of course. Joints give you the power to get some serious (or seriously fun) work done. Click on any existing joint to bring up an options menu on the left side of the screen. Here you can enable the motor, powering the joint to move on its own or via keyboard input. You can also adjust the speed and power in which the joint operates, useful for crafting all sorts of moving parts that can lift large loads. When everything is ready to roll, click the "play" button to see your creation come to life!
IncrediBots also features a set of more movie-centric tools that allow you to set camera focus and change the cosmetic appearance of things by removing the outline, sliding objects forward and backward, and changing colors. Everything you create can be saved as a robot or a replay movie, and you can choose to share your work with the world and even allow public edits!
Analysis: Although still technically in beta at the time of this review, IncrediBots is already an amazing piece of work. The level of control you have over your contraptions is surprisingly deep, yet everything is handled with a streamlined interface that is very simple to use. No fiddling with equations, just point and click adjustments here and there that make immediate logical sense.
The game's set-up lends itself well to building, testing, and tweaking with minimal fuss. After placing a shape the cursor automatically goes back to "select" mode, which I found quite intuitive. You can select multiple shapes by using the [shift] key, and the copy/paste and rotation tools come in handy. Just about every action is also tied to a keyboard shortcut, so after you become familiar with how things work, it's even easier to build more intricate machines.
If all of this sounds complex, don't worry, it isn't. Complete the tutorial levels, which will take all of ten minutes, and you'll be fully versed in IncrediBots creation. Be sure to check out some of the robots and replays already saved by the community, such as The Adventures of Mr. Monocle. You'll get just a small taste of the amazing flexibility this game offers. Now get out there and build some cool stuff!