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Games growing for Mac OS X

Debunking the myth that serious gaming requires Windows.

You hear it from the Windows press all the time: “There are no games for the Mac and too few business applications.” The fact is, members of the Windows press haven’t bothered to research the issue; they’re just spouting the same old myths. In fact, there are so many games out now and in the works for Mac OS X alone that we need two Mac Advisor columns to round ’em up. As for a dearth of Mac business applications, well, go online to the Apple Product Guide and check out the 18,000-plus hardware and software items for the Mac platform.

It’s a good time to be a Mac gamer–even if you’re running Mac OS X. A surprising number of games are being carbonized (tweaked, to oversimplify things) to run natively under Apple’s relatively new operating system. Following is a roundup of what’s available now and what’s in the works, many of which I’ve had the opportunity to play.

But first, two caveats. Unless you’re more fond of playing games with a mouse and keyboard combination than I am, you’ll definitely want to download the $15 shareware application, GamePad Companion. As of this writing, there were no Mac OS X drivers available for the plethora of joysticks and gamepads around. GamePad Companion runs in Mac OS X, and maps HID devices (gamepads, joysticks, etc.) to keyboard keys. In other words, it lets you use your HID devices with classic games and native OS X games that don’t have built-in support.

Access to Ambrosia

Ambrosia has two games, “Maelstrom” and “Pillars of Garendall,” that are Mac OS X-native.

“Pillars of Garendall” is a fantasy role-playing game that combines an intriguing story with detailed graphics. “Maelstrom,” a classic-style action game, sees you piloting a small spacecraft through a thick field of gigantic asteroids. You have to avoid colliding with the asteroids, as well as deal with hostile aliens and wormholes of death.

Aspyr Media: nifty

Aspyr Media has some of the niftiest Mac OS X games around. “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2” is a top-notch skateboarding game with multiplayer support and customization features. The 3D extreme action game lets you play the role of a skateboarder who does tricks through a variety of environments, including a shopping mall and an aircraft hanger, while navigating such obstacles as grind rails and ramps. What makes the game a real keeper is its ability to customize your own skateboarder and skate parks should you tire of the prebuilt ones that come with the game.

“American McGee’s ‘Alice'” is one of my favorite games. Named in part after the mastermind of the game, developer McGee, this warped revisiting of the “Alice in Wonderland” mythos sees a teenaged–and perhaps deranged–Alice returning to the fantasy world she visited as a child. But both Alice and Wonderland have turned dark and sinister. Let’s put it this way: Alice goes in search of the white rabbit, but armed with a butcher knife. Despite its dark premise, the game, powered by a Quake engine, is very detailed and has an imaginative storyline and great gameplay. If you’re looking for an offbeat combination of action and problem-solving, this is your cup of tea.

In “The Sims,” you control the daily lives of individual Sim citizens. It’s up to you to design your Sims’ house, decorate it, decide what they’ll do for a living, and help to guide them in how they make friends and build their relationships. “The Sims: House Party” is an expansion set for “The Sims” in which the goal is to host the biggest and best house party ever seen. It’s loads of fun. In fact, if there’s a drawback to it and all the Sims games, it’s that they’re very addictive and can end up devouring lots of your valuable time.

“Otto Matic” offers some offbeat, addictive gameplay with a visual style inspired by 1930’s and 1950’s science fiction flicks. As an intergalactic robot named Otto Matic, you must go from planet to planet battling aliens and preventing the humans from being abducted, using various gadgets and special abilities.

“Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone” puts you in the role of the famous young magician as he explorers Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry while solving puzzles, casting spells, battling foes, and uncovering secrets.

“Spiderman” is a third-person action/adventure, based on the Marvel comic series. Players play as Spiderman to combat such menaces as the Green Goblin, the Scorpion, Venom, and Rhino.

In “Clive Barker’s Undying,” you’re off on a quest to stop an “unimaginable horror” that’s been loosed upon the world. The game is set in Ireland in the 1920s. You assume the role of Patrick Galloway, a man who must unravel a curse visited upon a once-noble aristocratic family that has dabbled in the black arts. The estate’s lone living descendant, Jeremiah, is besieged by attacks from his four siblings, who come back from the grave intent on killing him to free the Undying King. You (as Galloway) have to square off against each of the undead siblings and the legions of strange creatures that have been called to their bidding.

“Escape from Monkey Island” is the fourth installment in the Monkey Island series. In the 3D game, players take the role of intrepid hero Guybrush Threepwood as he once again squares off against the dread pirate LeChuck and his evil minions.

“Tomb Raider: Chronicles” continues the adventures of the anatomically impossible Lara Croft. The game ships with its own level editor, letting players make and share their own environments for Lara Croft to explore.

Get Bold

Bold, has “Age of Empires II: Gold Edition” available for Mac OS X. It includes both “Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings” and “Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion.” “Age of Empires II” is a real-time strategy game in which you lead one of the most powerful civilizations of the Middle Ages to greatness. You grow its economy, raise its armies, forge alliances, and build wonders to stand the test of time.

Bold’s Championship Edition of “Links,” a Mac version of Microsoft’s best-selling golf game, should also be available by the time you read this. Some of the features in “Links” are new to the Mac community, including a completely new graphics engine, a new physics engine, a full-featured course designer, new golfer personalities, and 13 of “the world’s best golf courses.”


Though best known for such Mac utilities as Grammarian and Spell Catcher, Casady & Greene also makes Glider Pro, a quirky game that’s been around and evolving (well, a bit) for years. You control a small paper airplane, working to keep it afloat as it glides over fans and vents. You also have to keep it from biting the dust from such sources of danger as paper shredders and candles. Glider Pro is a relatively small download (2.1MB) and is available at the Casady & Greene site.

Out from the shadows

Currently Dark Shadow Software Limited has one Mac OS X game shipping: “Star Conquest.” It’s already Mac OS X-compatible, but an update (version 1.2) is planned for early 2002. “Star Conquest” is a turn-based strategic wargame. It can be played in single-player, multiplayer, or network-game modes. The objective is to guide your species in its expansion to all corners of the known universe. You start with two or more populated planets and a small number of starships. Using these ships, you have to explore and colonize other star systems.

Dark Shadow’s next carbonized game, “Surrender,” will be a two-player network game that’s played on a 10-by-10 grid. To win the game you must destroy the other players’ star bases or all their star ships.

Next month, we’ll look at carbonized games by Delta Tao, By Design, e.p.i.c. interactive entertainment, Feline Entertainment, Feral Interactive, Freeverse, GL Tron, Ground Zero Software, Id Software, MacPlay, MacSoft, Pyro Studios, Simon & Schuster Interactive, and Strange Flavour.

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