Building things is fun, but so is destroying them. At least until you have to clean up the mess you make afterwards.
Such is the thinking behind Crashtastic, a game that I only became aware of today after witnessing a Twitter conversation in which the instigator was looking for a physics-based vehicle construction game. (Rovio's Angry Birds spinoff Bad Piggies was also recommended to him, but I did not enjoy that game at all, and thus we're going to talk about Crashtastic instead.)
Crashtastic, currently in a conspicuously untextured (though oddly appealing-looking) alpha state, is a puzzle game in which you are tasked with getting your crash test robot to his destination as quickly and safely as possible. In order to achieve this goal, you'll have to build a vehicle that both keeps the robot safe and allows it to traverse the increasingly perilous environments safely.
This isn't a half-hearted vehicle building game -- you'll be snapping together all manner of Lego-style pieces in order to build your own dream form of transportation. Build a body with sticks and blocks; attach axles and wheels -- either steerable or non-steerable; apply bracers and shock absorbers; then stick on some rockets to actually make the thing go. Drop the vehicle into the level, set the power of the rockets, then watch your little robot friend fly. Or, more frequently, barrel straight into a wall, shattering his vehicle into a million pieces.
It's not just about getting from point A to point B, though. Sometimes you'll have objectives that require you to reach a particular speed or finish within a specific time. Other levels will be perilous obstacle courses that require you to negotiate ramps, jumps and inconveniently placed walls. And, just to make things awkward, each level will require you to complete the challenge using a limited variety of parts -- so don't necessarily count on being able to steer around that tricky-looking chicane up ahead, because you might not have steerable wheels to hand.
While the puzzly nature of the game's levels is likely to be fun by itself, this sort of inherently creative game lends itself to a freeform sandbox mode -- and fortunately there's one present, allowing you to construct your own elaborate courses and vehicles, then repeatedly abuse your robot buddy by dropping him into the environment and watching him smash into things. The final version will also incorporate a level editor, allowing players to create and share their own challenges with specific objectives.
Crashtastic is largely the work of just one man named Mark Smith, though he enlisted some assistance with the 3D models for the robot and wheels. The game is currently available in an alpha state on PC and Mac for $9.99, with a Linux version set to follow in the future. At present, the game requires players be connected to the Internet to play, but Smith assures prospective purchasers that the final product, whenever it comes to market, will have an offline mode -- the requirement for Internet access at present is to assist with testing of the game's online features.
Crashtastic looks like being a lot of fun, so if you're at all curious, be sure to check out the official website for more information or to preorder, and vote for it on Greenlight if you'd like to see it on Steam -- all purchasers of Crashtastic will automatically receive a Steam key if the Greenlight campaign proves successful.