What’s Under the Hood
’Tis the Season
It’s That Time Of Year
Well, it seems that the holiday season is upon us once again. People are looking for that perfect Mac gift for their loved ones. To help you find that gift, I submit for your approval some of what I consider the best games available for the Macintosh.
This year has been kind to the Mac. After having to go through a drought for the last few years, 2002 has to go down as one of the best years for entertainment on the Mac. Most of the games I will discuss should run on most G3 and G4 Macs with a processor speed of at least 266 MHz.
Some of the games I will discuss may be hard to find in most retail stores. Most just do not stock as many Mac games compared to PC games. Two stores that do stock a fair share of Mac games are Fry’s and Micro Center. If you cannot find what you want there, then visit Apple’s Macintosh Products Guide to find almost every type of game that available for the Mac.
In order to avoid confusion over who makes which product, I will break down my list of entertainment software titles according to the companies who distribute them. So, grab some eggnog, settle back, and let’s look at some great games.
Any Mac user with more than ten years of experience should know the MacPlay name. MacPlay started as a spin-off of InterPlay software. Back then, Mac gamers were treated to titles such as the Alone in the Dark Trilogy, Flashback, PowerPete (Pangea Software’s first creation), and Star Trek 25th Anniversary—just to name a few. Then all of a sudden InterPlay pulled the plug on their Mac franchise, creating a major void in the Mac gaming world.
About eighteen months ago, games bearing the MacPlay logo began to surface once more. Since then, MacPlay has released about twenty different titles ranging from arcade to real-time strategy games. To help take a bite out of the holiday crunch, MacPlay has reduced prices of fifteen titles to a cost-saving $19.99 each.
Aliens Versus Predator
Mac OS 8.6, G3/233, $29.99
This First-Person Shooter (FPS) is a game of survival. Choose to be an Alien, Predator, or Colonial Marine as you make your way through alien spaceships, space stations, alien terrains and more. The graphics augment the horrifying and tense action you will feel as you play the game. Add excellent sound effects and music and you will find yourself playing this for a long time. If you want more of the same, the sequel should be out before the end of the year.
The Feeble Files
Mac OS 8.6, G3/233, $19.99
When I first loaded this game and saw the opening graphics, I thought I had taken a trip back in time to when Sierra On-Line was making games like Kings Quest and Space Quest for the Mac. Even with that retro feel, this sci-fi adventure game is a must for those who enjoyed games of that genre. It is full of puzzles to solve and needs a twisted mind to solve some of them. Join poor Feeble as he links up with a rebellion to overthrow The Company and restore freedom to his people.
Besides the feel of the game, I also like the controls. The control bar cycles through the different actions such as look, walk, pick up, and touch; while clicking the mouse carries out the action. The game does require some patience in solving the different puzzles. If you miss the type of games that Sierra made for the Mac, then step into the wayback machine and give this game a try.
Mac OS 8.6, G3/233, $19.99
The year is 2140 and the war to end all wars has left two major world powers at each other’s throats. Earth has been totally polluted, driving the two powers underground. The only problem is that Earth’s natural resources have been almost depleted. Now war is breaking out to see which power is going to lay claim to the remaining resources Earth has to offer. The question is if you are up to winning this war.
Earth 2140 is a real-time strategy game that uses an engine very similar to Command and Conquest. It is you against them as you battle to take control of the planet’s resources. The controls are almost completely mouse-driven. For those who hate to learn keyboard commands, this is a definite plus. The graphics are a bit above average, but it is the game play that will really pull you in.
My son Alex has been helping me kid test many of the games and he was hooked on it in the first five minutes of play. The only thing he thought that did not go with the game was the soundtrack, and I had to agree. The music is too somber and does not go with the action of the game. Except for that one weak link, Earth 2140 makes for a fun Command & Conquer-style game.
Mac OS 8.6, G3/233, $19.99
This game is a side-scrolling target shooter that is highly addictive and just plain fun to play. The object is simple; shoot down as many birds as you can per level of play. The graphics are done with a cartoon flair that just adds to the humor of the game, as do the sound effects. The controls of the game are nice and simple, too: the mouse does the shooting while the space bar reloads your shotgun. Another well-done feature is the extremely well-rendered background and foreground graphics.
As you play the game, you will discover that there are more things to shoot at than just the birds. A rare feature is that once you install it, you do not need the CD to play it. So grab your shotgun; birdie season is now open!
Jinni Zeala Pinball
Mac OS 8.6, G3/233, $19.99
When you hear the name Little Wing, what do you think of? If your answer is outstanding pinball action, then you are right. Little Wing was the first to bring real action pinball to the Mac over ten years ago. With titles such as Eight Ball Deluxe, Crystal Caliburn, Loony Labyrinth, and Angel Egg, you are guaranteed a pinball game that is fast-paced and challenging to play. This game has all that a pinball enthusiast could want, and the best part is that no tokens are needed. Play on. (Also see the ATPM review of Jinni Zeala Pinball.)
Mac OS X, G4/400, $19.99
It is the year 2008 and more and more people are seeing Unidentified Flying Objects. At first, these sightings are brushed off until the international moon base is wiped out. Now, as Earth’s governments shed their rose-colored glasses, the whole planet sends its military units to defend the planet against the incoming aliens.
Incoming is a first-class ship-to-ship shoot-em-up. It can be played either in arcade or flight simulation mode. In either case, you will find that the action comes fast and furious as you complete more levels. Your combat will take you from sea, to land, to air, and finally space. To aid you in your quest to save the planet is a wide variety of crafts to fight off the alien horde.
The graphics, sound, and effects have been fully optimized to take advantage of OS X. To keep the learning curve low, the number of keys used in game control are kept to a minimum. I find myself twisting and turning as I play the game and, for me, this is rare. So, strap yourself in, take charge, and bring them on.
Knights & Merchants
Mac OS 8.6, G3/233, $19.99
The King has been taken ill. While the King is under the weather, the Prince has taken it upon himself to bring down the King’s domain. Confusion breaks out as the prince pillages the land and brings suffering to the people. You are the Captain of the Palace Guard, and it’s up to you to gather the remaining troops and free the lands the evil prince has taken over.
MacPlay describes Knights & Merchants as a “medieval real-time strategy game.” I just call it fun. Those of you who like Warcraft may want to give this game a go. Although it does not have the in-depth graphics and game play of Warcraft, it does satisfy any gamer of this genre. My son is a big fan of Blizzard games and found Knights & Merchants easy to learn and fun to play. If your Mac is not up to speed to handle Warcraft III, or even if you’re looking for something a touch easier, then Knights & Merchants might be the answer to your quest.
Soldier of Fortune Double Helix II
Mac OS X, G3/400, $49.99
A bio-terrorist organization has obtained the two-pronged Gemini Virus and is holding the world at ransom. You are John Mullins, an anti-terrorist mercenary and military consultant who lives for days like this. Your mission is simple: use your brains, muscle, and firepower to take out the organization and render the virus useless.
Soldier of Fortune is one of MacPlay’s newest releases, and it’s right up there with Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Medal of Honor. This FPS is sure to keep you going for hours on end. Those with fast video cards are in for some real eye candy and great frame rates. I played it under both ATI 8500 and 9000 Radeon cards and was amazed at the render quality and at the animation.
At your command is an arsenal of realistic weapons (no fantasy weapons here) to help you through all 61 levels of play. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) in this game is cunning and intelligent, so you’re going to need a lot more than a big gun to get you through this game. Just remember that failure is not an option.
Mac OS 8.6, G3/233, $29.99
When Myst came out about ten years ago it was an instant hit. It had everything: a great story line, beautifully rendered scenes, a mesmerizing soundtrack, and enough puzzles to keep you going for months. The game was way ahead of its time when it was introduced, and led to two sequels in later years. Yet with all the beauty of the game, Myst lacked one thing; a three-dimensional feel. The game was more like a slide show as you moved from one area to another. A fluid, virtual 3D environment was just not possible at the time.
Real Myst completes the equation. All aspects of the original Myst have been revamped to take advantage of today’s Mac technology. Now you can go back and re-visit Myst with real-time 3D graphics in full 32-bit color, and experience 360 degrees of interactive exploration. No longer do you to wait for the next scene to load. Real Myst works in real time; day changes to night, the weather changes from clear skies to thunderstorms. So as not to disappoint early adopters, new puzzles have been added to the game.
Although MacPlay claims that Real Myst will run on G3/233 Macs, on my G3/270 it was sluggish. I recommend a G3/300 or better. Whether you are new or old to Myst, this classic puzzle adventure game is sure to please.
Mac OS 8.6, G3/233, $49.99
Back in 1998 a game was released by the name of Baldur’s Gate. It brought the world of Dungeons and Dragons to the PC and Mac like no other D&D game had before. The game followed all the rules set by Wizards of the Coast and gave role-playing adventure games a whole new meaning. In Baldur’s Gate we were introduced to the land of the Forgotten Realms, a land of might and magic.
Icewind Dale lies in a frozen and untamed region of the Forgotten Realms. An evil has befallen the land and now threatens all who live there. It is up to you to form a band of humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes and/or halflings in your quest to send this horde of evil back to where it came from.
Deciding on the racial make-up of your party is probably the most important part of the game, since a bad mix of characters can only lead to failure. Your quest will not be easy, as you will encounter over 150 different types of monsters. As you explore the land, you will come across ancient temples, frozen plains, volcanic caves and more.
The graphics and special effects are extremely well done. Besides single player mode, Icewind Dale allows you to set up LAN or Internet quests (singular to go with LAN) consisting of up to six people. As the game uses Bioware’s Infinity Engine, those who have played Baldur’s Gate will feel right at home.
Those new to this type of game will find the learning curve very slight. After playing the game for a while I did find a multi-button mouse more advantageous than a single button one. (When will Apple learn?) Once you complete your expedition, you can then move on to Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Ann ($49.99).
MacPlay also offers the following games: Fallout, Fallout II, Sacrifice, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Sin Gold, Heretic II, Hexen II, Zork Grand Inquisitor, Majesty, and Bejeweled & Alchemy. Except for Zork and Fallout II, which retail for $29.99, all others are $19.99. In addition, as of this writing, No One Lives Forever ($49.99) has gone golden master and should be in stores by the time you read this. Alien versus Predator II and Freedom Force should be in the stores either by year’s end or early next year. Party on, MacPlay!
Back in 1997, a small company in Dallas released a third-person shooter game that would spawn three sequels, a movie, and a hit comic book series. It featured a female Indiana Jones who did not know the meaning of trouble. The girl’s name was Lara Croft, and the game was Tomb Raider. It was already a hit on the PC side and became one of the hottest games for the Mac at the time. Within a couple of months, Aspyr released Tomb Raider Gold. These two games firmly established Aspyr’s roots in the Mac gaming world and the rest was history, as Aspyr went on to port some of the best PC games to the Mac.
Mac OS 8.1, G3/233, $49.95
This game has been in the PC game chart ever since it was released several years ago. You can trace its roots to Sim City by Maxis. The imagination that allowed you to be mayor of a city developed into other games such as, Sim Earth, Sim Isle, Sim Ant, Sim Cities 2000 and 3000, and eventually, The Sims.
The premise of the game is so simple that it has become an addiction for some players. First, create a family or couple, then move them into a home and control their daily actions on a real-time basis. This may sound easy, but think about all the things you do in the course of a day.
Your Sims must get a job and go to work, the little ones must go to school, bills must be paid, they must sleep, eat and of course, good hygiene must be maintained. You even have to tell your Sims when to go to the bathroom. It just is not good to have puddles form on the floor. Besides creating your Sims, you can also design homes from the ground up for your Sims to live in.
Since its initial release, Aspyr has released additional add-on modules to give more life to your Sims for $29.95 each. These add-ons include Livin’ Large, House Party, Vacation, and Hot Date. Electronic Arts just released The Sims Unleashed on the PC side, so we can expect Aspyr to have it ported over probably in about six months.
Mac OS 8.6, G3/400, $19.95
Alice is in an insane asylum and Wonderland is turned upside-down. In order for Alice to find her sanity, she must return to that strange land and find out what has turned the whole place inside out. This third-person, 3D role adventure game is brought to life by the use of the Quake III engine. American McGee created an environment that is at times more like eye candy as you make your way through Wonderland.
In your quest to save the land you will have to overcome twisted and distorted puzzles and mazes. All the characters are back as well, but now you’ll have to watch your back when around them. The only friendly face (and sometimes less than that) is our friend the Cheshire Cat who will help with clues as you make your way through the game.
The soundtrack, composed by the award-winning Chris Vrenna, further enhances this game. I was watching Tech TV doing an interview with McGee and he hinted at doing another game that may be based on the Wizard of Oz. Heaven help Dorothy.
Mac OS 8.6, G3/400, $19.95
It is not often that horror directors take their time to add their genius to a game. Clive Barker, director of Hellraiser, did just that in the creation of Undying. The game begins in 1899 where we see Jeremiah Covenant and his four younger siblings reading an evil ritual not knowing it would come back to bite them years later.
We then jump to 1920 in Ireland, where Patrick Galloway has been asked by his friend Jeremiah to see him concerning a matter of life and death. Upon arrival, Patrick discovers that Jeremiah’s four siblings have died and have been reanimated to carry out one last task. In order to complete the ritual initiated in 1899, they now must kill Jeremiah in order to release the Undying King.
Having reviewed Mac games since 1985, I have seen many games that played with the gothic and supernatural genre. Undying takes that game play to a whole new level. The game consists of five dangerous missions. In each case, Patrick must come face to face with one of the four siblings, and finally the Undying King himself. To further complicate the story is the addition of strange and evil demons which have been attracted to the estate thanks to the curse.
The graphics just add to the eeriness and feel of the game. One time I was looking in a mirror when a demon appeared and made my heart skip a beat. You just do not know what is around the next corner. The music and sound effects just heighten the atmosphere and add to the tension of the game, so it is up to you to either overcome the curse or become a part of the undying. Happy nightmares…
Mac OS 8.6, G3/266, $34.95
Pangea software has always been known for games that were designed to take advantage of the abilities of the Mac. Their games have always been for people of any age, and Otto Matic is no different.
Otto Matic is a take off of the classic sci-fi films of the 1950s. Earth is being invaded by aliens and the humans are being kidnapped in saucers which look a lot like those from Earth versus the Flying Saucers. To get past each level, it is up to Otto to rescue the humans before all of them are kidnapped.
If level one sounds easy, it is. It gives you a chance to cut your teeth as you move up the ten different levels of the game. As you move up, Otto will have to fight 25 different aliens with the use of seven different space-age guns. Throughout the game our little hero will get shot out of a cannon, pilot a flying saucer, drink a radioactive potion to grow 50 feet tall, and beat a giant brain from Planet X as Otto tries to stay alive after wave after wave of aliens.
Luckily, if you do get wasted, you just start the level over; but you cannot save your game mid-level. As usual, the graphics and effects take full advantage of the Mac’s abilities. (As an aside, Pangea Software has recently broken away from Aspyr and has just released Bugdom 2 for the Mac.)
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Mac OS 9.2, G3/500, $49.95
You are being held prisoner at Castle Wolfenstein by Heinrich Himmler’s genetic and occult core of scientists. Himmler believes that through these experiments, he can raise an army of the dead that can level the Allies’ assault. You are an agent of the Office of Secret Actions task force. It is up to you to escape from the castle, report your findings and return to stop the experiments before they succeed. The only problem is that Himmler’s men have gone further than one could have imagined.
This is a World War II game, with elements you would find in a Doom-style game. In this game, you will battle the Germans and all sorts of demons, zombies, and eight-foot-tall genetic mutants that have been released by Himmler. Although at the surface this game may appear like just another FPS, it also offers a very complex storyline and excellent graphics through use of the Quake III engine. I do beta work for ATI, and since I started working with them my graphics card, a Radeon 7500, has been upgraded to a 8500 and again to, at present, a 9000. One can really see what a good card can do as I saw major improvements in frame rates and graphics.
Aspyr claims this game has a good AI, yet I found several situations where I could be looking straight at a German officer and he would do nothing as I shot him. Another weakness I found involves the flame thrower. While it does major damage to your enemies, if you were to fire at a tree or something else in the environment, nothing would happen. Even with these weaknesses, Return to Castle Wolfenstein is still one of the top three FPS games out for the Mac at press time.
As Far As I Know
Like MacPlay, Aspyr has many other older titles available at bargain prices. Just recently, Aspyr has released several new games for the holidays: they include Medal of Honor, Jedi Outcast, Galactic Battlegrounds, Clone Wars expansion packs for Star Wars, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon.
MacSoft is the third of what I call the big three in the Mac gaming department. This company has been around since about 1996. Two of the first games I can recall by them were Duke Nukem Atomic Edition and Shadow Warrior. Since then MacSoft has released games emulating game shows such as Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, to arcade games such as Break Out, Q*Bert and, what is now considered a classic FPS game, Unreal Tournament. As you will see, 2002 has been no different.
Beach Head 2002
Mac OS 8.6, G3/400, $19.99
Back in the days of black & white Macs, there was a company called Silicon Beach. They created a game called Airborne. It was a simple but very fun to play. The premise was simple: you were a gunner on a hill and it was up to you to defend that hill against an unending approaching enemy. Now, let’s fast forward 14 years, take the same game, add color 3D graphics, a 360-degree view range, and a whole lot more to shoot at, and you end up with Beach Head 2002.
This is just a plain shoot-at-anything-that-comes-at-you game. MacSoft even gives you cheat codes for unlimited ammo and life. To defend your hill you are kitted out with M-69s, six-barrel Vulcan MGs, and heat-seeking missiles. If things really get tough, you can call in for an air to ground strike. Who says you can’t build on an old concept?
Mac OS 9.1 (9.2.2 recommended), G3/450 (G4/733 recommended), $49.99
Max is a New York City cop who just can’t win. Three years ago, his family was found dead in his home, and he found himself framed for murder by the mob. It is up to you in the guise of Max to go on an emotional and psychological rollercoaster in order to clear your name and stay alive at the same time.
Although the plot may seem old, there is nothing old about this game. If you like The Matrix, then you are going to get a kick out of Max. Built into this excellent FPS is a feature called “Bullet Time.” When Max is in a tight situation, you can trigger it. All action around Max goes into slow motion while you still work in real time, allowing you to take down all around you. Just be careful how you use it since it does not last long and it takes time to build it back up. The game also has the ability to adjust to your ability as you play; as you get better, so does the difficulty of the game.
The use of movie-like cinematics and cut scenes gives the game an atmosphere similar to that of the 1940s gangster films. Another unique feature is the ability to put your face in the game. As I read in the press release, CyberExtruder’s CyberX-3D allows you to take a picture of your face and create a 3D model that you can then import into the game. I have not had a chance to test this out. It may be still Max taking all the risk, but it will be your face on the screen. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “here’s looking at you, kid.”
Mac OS 8.6, G3/350 (G3/500 for online play), $39.99
Take Sim City back to medieval times, make yourself King of the land, and you have Stronghold. In Stronghold, it is up to you to build up your kingdom and create your castle from the ground up while protecting all those under you from invasion. You hope to create a thriving community consisting of commoners, lords, ladies, jesters, chickens, goats, and more.
At first, the game feels a lot like Sim City in that you create your Kingdom, design and build your castles, and manage the economy of the land. As you go about building your dynasty, you will also have to defend what you build from enemies who will try to storm your castle, so make sure you take your time as you design your castle. In single player mode, you will embark on a campaign comprising of 21 story-based missions. Up to eight people can play Stronghold over the Internet or a Local Area Network (LAN). A map and scenario editor is included to give you more creativity over all that you see.
Although the graphics are well done, we are stuck with the same bird’s eye view found in most games of this genre. With the 3D technology that exists for the Mac, it is high time that the ability to change the viewing angle should be the norm. Blizzard showed that it could be done with Warcraft III, and it’s time that other developers followed suit. However, I digress; time to get the pots of boiling oil ready and light the ditches—the enemy is approaching.
Mac OS 8.6, G3/300 (G3/500 recommended), $49.99
When it comes to pure strategy games, Sid Meier has to be one of the trailblazers of the genre. From Railroad Tycoon to Alpha Centauri he has created games to challenge and engage the grey area of our brain like no one else. Now, with the release of Civilization III we are once again treated to a new level of exploration and conquest.
The goal is basic, global domination, but it is how you get there is what makes this game so unique. One of the biggest weaknesses in most strategy games is the number of options or alternate paths available to you as you play. In Civilization III, the strategy of the game can be broken down into what are called five impulses. They are exploration, economics, knowledge, conquest, and culture. It is the manipulation and control of these five factors that will decide if you will be the conqueror or the conquered. You can gain dominance over the world by brute force or by the cultural finesse of diplomacy. Use your knowledge base (or level of intelligence) to help you move up in technical advancements.
If you have played Civilization I or II, you will enjoy all the enhancements that have been worked into this new edition. Newcomers will find the game easier to learn than its predecessor, thanks to an improved interface that offers better management and game control. If all goes well, by the time you read this MacSoft should have ready for download an editor for Civilization III where you will be able to create your own maps, edit the rules, and customize the different civilizations in the game. If conquering the world still leaves you hungry, then dominating the universe may be the next step when MacSoft releases Masters of Orion III in the first half of 2003.
Vampire: The Masquerade Redemption
Mac OS 8.6, G3/300, $14.99
It all started in the year 1141 when you were leading a seemingly never-ending battle against the undead in medieval Europe. Then, in a perverse twist of fate you were turned into a vampire, that which you had fought so much to exterminate. Despite this setback, you are still undaunted in your quest to find and destroy the vampire lord.
As a vampire, you will have to control your blood lust and master your inherent powers as you try to save what is left of your humanity. You will travel from Europe to America as you traverse 800 years in your mission to destroy your foe. In your travels, you will enlist other vampire clans to help you fight for the way of the land.
Unlike most role adventure games, this story is yours to command using the storyteller system. This feature lets you control the story using real time commands, tailor your character, and join other players through Gameranger. This game is much more than the standard role play adventure game. The gothic graphics enhance this surreal and macabre tale. This is one tale where you will never know who is putting the bite on whom.
Regrettably, there are no plans for any new MacSoft releases for the rest of the year. 2003 does look very bright for MacSoft, however. If what I read online is correct, Mac gamers can look forward to NeverWinters Nights, Masters of Orion III, Unreal Tournament 2003, and a new Duke Nukem.
When I started to think about what I could say about this company the only games I could think of were Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo. The titles alone speak volumes about these games. If there is one thing Blizzard knows how to do, it is to create high-quality games designed to keep the gamer actively engaged. Whether you seek the real-time strategy of Starcraft and Warcraft III or great D & D gaming in Diablo II, you will more than get your money’s worth from this company.
Ambrosia has been making software for the Mac since 1994. Their first game, the Asteroids-like Maelstrom, was an instant hit when they released it in their first year. After the release of Maelstrom, Chiral, their first strategy game, came out. Then came Apeiron, a Centipede-style game and Swoop, a Galaxian-style arcade game.
As a fine wine improves with age, so did Ambrosia as they continued to create new and more diverse games for the Mac. If you visit their Web site you can look over their entire library of games and download trial versions of many of them. Sadly, the majority of their older games have not been updated to run natively under OS X.
The good news is that the guys at Ambrosia have created a whole bunch of games that do run native in OS X. I wrote to Ambrosia about obtaining some of their new, larger games to look at since I still only have dial-up Internet access. A CD was sent out but, at press time, the CD had yet to arrive. I will try to do a feature on some of Ambrosia’s games in a future issue.
• • •
For the rest of this article I shall look at some newcomers and the great software they have introduced.
Bold By Destineer
Age of Empires II Gold Edition
Mac OS 8.6, G3/233, $49.95
If you are a Civilization fan, then you will want to add this to your collection. Like Civilization, the object is to start with nothing and build it into a thriving empire. In many ways the two games compare to each other in game play. Age of Empire includes the Age of Kings and The Conquerors expansion packs.
In Age of Kings we start from the time when Rome falls. You will lead your empire though the Middle Ages. As time progresses, you will have a chance to battle alongside Joan of Arc, William Wallace, and Genghis Khan among others. Some of the features found in the Conquerors expansion set are the addition of five new civilizations, four new crusades, and 26 new technologies. The awesome graphics are just so detailed.
This game has received praise and awards from Newsweek, Time, and USA Today, just to name a few. Bold by Destineer did very well by picking this game to propel them into the Mac gaming world.
Links Championship Edition
Mac OS 9.2.2, G3/266, $49.95
Of all the games that have existed on the Mac, golf games have been around since the original 128K Macintosh (remember MacGolf?). Links was first made by Access software, then updated by MacSoft (still available), and now it has been updated once more to sport many new features. I did a full review of this game in MacHome’s November issue.
Whether you are a seasoned armchair golfer or a novice, this game is great. One of the best features of the game is the ability to port all Links LS courses over to this version. You can also play against other players online. The graphics, sounds, and multiple camera views combine to make a fun game of golf. The only thing I must warn you about the game is that the slower the Mac, the longer it will take for screens to refresh between swings. To serve as a barometer, on my G4/733 MHz screens take about 10 seconds to redraw.
Still To Come
In reviewing Links for MacHome, I got to know the folks there and gain some insight with regards to the direction they will be going in the future. The most important thing I did find out was that they have first refusal on porting to the Mac any games Microsoft will be making in the future. They will also release one of the most anticipated Mac games of 2003, Halo. If all goes well and they are able to stay on schedule, Halo could ship sometime in the summer.
Freeverse is best known initially for their solitaire and board style games. These include 3D Spades, Hearts, Bridge, Deathground, Reversi the Eclipse, Enigma, and X-Word Deluxe among so many others. If you go to their Web site, you can download trial versions of every title they offer.
Mac OS 8.6, G3/333, $24.99
This is Freeverse’s latest Mac offering. I love arcade shooting games, and Wingnuts has to rank top of my list. In the game, you pilot a jet fighter as you go head to head against Baron von Schtopwatch and his time-traveling air force. As you progress through the levels, you will combat bi-planes, blimps, helicopters, gunships, and more. Rescuing parachutists will reward you with all different types of power-ups.
The 360 degrees of movement, graphics, and sounds all add up to a well-designed game. I also like the fact that the number of controls for the game can be counted on your two hands and that once you install it on your HD you do not need the CD to play it.
Mac OS 9.2.2, G3/333, about $29.99
When Pod Racer came out several years ago, we had the chance to be Anakin and compete just as he did in Phantom Menace. The game was a delight to play and the graphics were fantastic. Sadly, this game was never carbonized so it could run under OS X. Enter Wipe Out 2097. Although, this game is not quite another Pod Racer, it is sure to fill in the void left by it.
To make the race more interesting, you car is preloaded with a set of different types of weapons. Although none of the weapons is deadly, each one has a unique effect on your competition. This adds a new level of strategy to the game. There are also different types of power-ups scattered across the track to assist you. The graphics are sharp and vivid, although they do not quite live up to the graphics of Pod Racer. The sound effects and music are great. In fact, you can import the music directly into iTunes if you are into electronic-style music like me. The controls are easy to learn but mastering control of you car will take a bit of time. So, turn the key, put the pedal to the metal, and get ready for some great racing action.
Print Explosion Deluxe
Mac OS 7.6, any PowerPC-based Mac, about $69.99
Nova Development is well known for their clip art collections. Print Explosion Deluxe gives you a way to put all those great clip art collections to use. This program brings out the creativity in all of us. You can create banners, greeting cards, party theme sets, calendars, and so much more.
The program comes with 8,800 ready-made designs, 90,000 premium-quality graphics, 5,000 photographs, 500 fonts, 3,000 greeting cards, and 8,500 quotations to assist you in any project. You can also import many types of graphic file including EPS, PICT, TIFF, JPEG, and GIF. Learning how to use Print Explosion Deluxe is as easy as one, two, three. The interface is very user-friendly and you will be up and running with it in less than a half hour. I know this is not a game, but if you like to do crafts on your Mac, this is the package to buy.
Print Shop Deluxe
Mac OS 8.6, any PowerPC-based Mac, $69.99
Consumer alert: I have to warn you about this piece of software. I bought Print Shop Deluxe before buying Print Explosion. It said on the box that it was compatible with Mac OS X. When I inserted the CD and tried to open the application, my Mac switched to Classic mode. Only then did I realize that Print Shop Deluxe is not OS X-native and only works in Classic mode or native in OS 9.
I wrote Broderbund to find out why it did not work natively in OS X. They responded by saying that if it can run in the Classic environment then in their opinion it is OS X-compatible. I then took Print Shop Deluxe back to CompUSA and swapped it for Print Explosion Deluxe.
It will be curious to see what Broderbund does with Print Shop Deluxe when, starting January, no new Macs will be able to boot into OS 9. I would also like to point out that this application has not been updated in almost 8 years, except to make it run in OS 9.2.2 without crashing, making it very dated. The bottom line is, do not let the sticker on the box fool you; OS X compatibility does not mean carbonization.
There was a time when people used to say that there was not enough game support for the Mac. As you can see, the Mac gaming world has shown some significant improvement in the last year. I must also say that this is by no means a definitive list of games for the Mac; there should be many new titles released between now and the end of the year.
If you have any problems locating any of these games at a given store, tell the store manager that you want a copy. The only way computer stores are going to increase their stock of Mac software is if the buying public let them know that Mac software is in demand. Otherwise, you can find these titles by visiting the retailers listed on the Support ATPM page.
One other place to go for good deals on Mac games is eBay. Many old and new games can be bought at auction. A couple of words of advice are required here: make sure you know how much the game is worth and how much shipping will cost you. If you win a game that retails for $50, you pay your bid price of $42 and shipping costs $8, then you end up not getting a good deal. It takes a well-educated buyer to get a good deal on eBay.
I would like to thank all the software companies for all the help they have given me in the course of writing this article. If it were not for their support, there would have not been any way I could have written about all the great games that are available for the Mac. If 2002 is any indication, then 2003 should be an even better year for Mac games. In any case, may you find that perfect Mac gift for your loved ones and may you have a safe Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
What I am about to write does not come easy. I am unemployed in the Houston area where the job market is totally flat. Besides being a writer, I am a Mac consultant and indirectly do PR work for many Mac companies through my writing and the presentations I do at my user group. I do IT and beta work; I have also been a teacher for more than 20 years, making me a good communicator and trainer.
If you know of any positions or of someone you may know where my services may be of use, please contact me and I will send you a copy of my resume. I guess you could say this would be my perfect Mac gift. Thank you.
Also in This Series
- Tips—Getting More Out of Your Mac · June 2003
- Got Vinyl? LPs to CDs Part 3: The Playlist and Burning to CD · May 2003
- Got Vinyl? LPs to CDs Part 2: Recording and Editing · April 2003
- Got Vinyl? Converting LPs to CDs Part 1: Terminology & Hardware · March 2003
- Eye Candy for the Mac · February 2003
- New Year, More Utilities · January 2003
- ’Tis the Season · December 2002
- What’s Under the Hood · November 2002
- What’s Under the Hood · September 2002
- Complete Archive
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