Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Pettson's Inventions Deluxe

Pettson's Inventions Deluxe

Fall 2013 Mobile Apps
Ages: 3 - 11 yrs.
Developer: Filimundus AB
Download Price: $3.99
Platform: iPad

Pettson's Inventions Deluxe is a game of building improbable inventions in the tradition of Rube Goldberg machines. The Scandinavian farmer Pettson (based on the book and animated series Pettson and Findus, about a crazy farmer and his cat) asks the player's help in building a machine to do something that ought to be simple—rock a rocking chair, feed a mouse some cheese, make a snowman, or bathe a pig (well, maybe not THAT simple, then). But the tools provided make for a challenging design: levers, pulleys, gears, and belts, not to mention animals, carrots, balloons, and, occasionally, odd little monsters.

The click-and-drag interface allows for the possibility of an entirely trial-and-error approach to building the machine; in the easy mode, only the necessary parts are provided, and it is likely that the youngest players will simply drag pieces over the playing area until something clicks into place. These players will certainly giggle over the resulting animations (as the monster scares the dog into running along a treadmill, which turns the gears, lowers a weight, and bounces a creature over a fence, for example). But the puzzles get increasingly complicated, and at the advanced level there are extra pieces lying around to confuse the matter. Older children will solve puzzles more quickly by the use of a bit of engineering creativity and reasoning. The 66 puzzles are unlocked six at a time as players progress, and they can be played over and over. Many hours of playing time are possible.

A player-vs.-player mode allows two puzzle makers to go head-to-head on the same randomly selected puzzle, each claiming half the screen. The puzzles are rather tiny on a half screen but still easy enough to work with. When one player finishes, it does not automatically halt the other player—a choice much appreciated by parents of kids who love to play games until everyone finishes.

A version that would be even more challenging for older children would be much appreciated. For example, we could imagine levels requiring players to position and resize gears and belts by hand. Even without this functionality, though, the game is clever and fun, one parents and kids can appreciate together.

Emily Crawford   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Look for this product at:
Filimundus AB
Available on iTunes

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