Low End Mac Gaming

Mac Games in Development

Brian Rumsey - 2000.04.14

In this edition of my column, I am taking a look at some games that we can expect to see within the next year or so. Almost anyone who has any interest in computer games has probably heard of giants such as Halo, Oni, and WarCraft III. Because games like these and a few others are so well known, they don't need my attention - not to mention that a lot of people are probably sick of hearing about them.

I have tried to find a variety of lesser-known games which appear worthy of anticipation. In addition to being a bit less known, a lot of these games at least fit the Low End Gaming designation, to one extent or another. While I wouldn't expect to see many of them running on a Quadra, they should be a little less power hungry than some of the big-name games.

Speed Demon II: Road Rage (SD2) is a driving game which will be published by Cerberus Development. Mac game fans may be familiar with SD2's predecessor, Speed Demon. SD2 follows the original in concept: "a race to the death across the United States," according to its website. You compete with other cars along Interstate 90. SD2 is expected to include multiplayer as well as single player action. SD2 will include changes under the hood which will make it a more modern game than the original, the biggest of which is that it will support the main types of 3D acceleration. System requirements and/or recommendations will probably something like this: Power Mac with 32 MB of free RAM, preferably at least 132 MHz clock speed, and 3D acceleration recommended (but not required). This game is expected to be released in the calendar year 2000, but I was not able to find anything more specific.

Uberhocken, a computerized version of air hockey, will be released by Cajun Games. Although Uberhocken does not look like it will have spectacular graphics, it should be interesting to see the first game of this type on the Mac (at least that comes to my mind) since the classic ShufflePuck, which I used to play on a Macintosh Plus. Uberhocken will add some variants to air hockey, such as bumpers (like in pinball) and teleporters. Uberhocken will also include multiplayer capabilities. No specific system requirements are given or hinted at. I would hope that this game will run well on any 604.

Lance is an upcoming role playing game from The Alchemist Guild. It is expected to be published by Fantasoft, publishers of the legendary Mac RPG, Realmz. The website for Lance notes that this game will be Mac only. Lance will be primarily, if not only, a multiplayer game to be played over the Internet. I have been eagerly watching for Lance for quite a while, and it looks like it may be nearing completion. No release date has been set, but Lance is in "the final stages of development," according to the website. No system requirements have been set yet, either. My guess is that most Power Macs should be able to run this game. As a big RPG fan, I am definitely anticipating the arrival of this game.

Atlas: Gift of Aramai (Atlas) is another role-playing game. Atlas is being developed by Freeverse Software. This game looks like it should have some fairly decent graphics. It could also have a pretty good soundtrack. There are some MP3s of music from the game available on the website. Atlas looks like it will follow the standard RPG formula of having a band of adventurers who travel together. I was not able to discern whether this game will be multiplayer. Apparently, there will eventually be multiple scenarios for Atlas, with Gift of Aramai being the first. The information I found did not specify whether this game will be turn-based or real time, but my guess is real-time. This game will require at least a Power Mac. This game could be released within a month.

Eternal War (EW) looks like something of a combination of WarCraft and Civilization. EW is being developed by Past Tree Inc. You must advance your civilization through time, much like in the Civilization series, while also managing several resources. The interface and fighting sound like they may be similar to WarCraft, probably real-time. EW will support up to eight computer or human players. An index of screen shots can be found here: http://www.pasttree.com/eternalwar/ssarchives.html. This game looks like it will have some pretty nice graphics. Eternal War is expected to ship in the second quarter of 2000. Preliminary system requirements include: Power Mac at 132 MHz or greater, 32 MB RAM, 1024 x 768 graphics, 4x CD, and 300 MB hard drive space. This game should definitely be worth checking out.

Grimoire is yet another RPG, this one under development by Elysium Digital. Grimoire is inspired by the legendary Wizardry series of role-playing games. It will have a first-person interface. Grimoire calls itself "The Ultimate Computer Fantasy Roleplaying Game." It has been in development for several years now, but according to its head developer, it will be finished by the end of the year. Grimoire does not look like it will have multiplayer capabilities. I would guess that it will be happiest with a 100 MHz or faster processor. Grimoire will be distributed as shareware.

Riddle of the Sphinx (ROTS) looks like it could be one of the most beautifully detailed games to hit the market in some time. ROTS, which will be distributed by Dreamcatcher Interactive, features pre-rendered graphics which have been painstakingly modeled after real places in Egypt. The plot of the game is that one of your friends has discovered a scroll containing the solution to the Riddle of the Sphinx, but by opening the scroll, a curse has been released, and you have been called on to solve the problem, because he has been killed. In addition to rich graphics, the game will also feature an Egyptian-inspired soundtrack. ROTS will be one of the first games to be available on DVD as well as CD. ROTS is expected to be released this spring. ROTS will certainly require a Power Mac, but of more than that I am not sure.

Chronicle of Ekan (CE), published by Flair Interactive, is described as "a console-style shareware RPG for the Mac." This game will not be such a heavyweight in multimedia as some of the other games I have mentioned. This game was developed with Apple's HyperCard, bringing back a wave of memories for me. It will run on 68040-based computers, although a Power Mac is recommended. While CE was written in HyperCard, it has used various add-ons to HyperCard which support features such as color and QuickTime movies. Based in a science-fantasy universe, CE uses RPG standbys such as turn-based combat and the concept of building up a party with which to adventure. CE's web page has a demo available, which is described as "primitive". After trying the demo, the game seems interesting, although I am glad that the demo is classified as primitive, since this infers that improvements will still be made. Release is expected by May.

These games are a few which I am looking forward to seeing. If you think of others, please let me know - maybe I know of them, maybe I don't. If I feel the need, I will do another column featuring several other upcoming games. If it seems like I have included a disproportionately high number of adventure and role playing games, it is true that RPGs are a genre which I like quite a bit. However, quite a few other people must like them also, especially game developers, because frankly, more of them seem to be in development than most other genres.

Note to readers: sometime in the future I am thinking of doing a column on game soundtracks and sound effects. If you think of certain games which you feel have to be mentioned, let me know.

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