That Old Mac Magic

4 Offbeat Mac Games

- 2005.12.05

When I first was introduced to computers with my Commodore VIC-20 back in the early 80s, computers were basically tools to get things done, to learn about, and maybe to have a little fun along the way.

That VIC-20 introduced me to rudimentary BASIC programming, typing, and Moon Lander, a maddening little game that I played with and swore at for hours. I loved it! It didn't take a detailed cockpit and control panels, 3-D graphics, real-life sounds, a joystick, a keyboard full of controls, and a $4,000 PC to keep me playing that game. I kept playing it because it was simple and surprisingly challenging.

Through the years, as I've gone from Commodore to PC to Mac, I've tended to gravitate towards these relatively simple, offbeat games that don't require a steep learning curve and keep me coming back time and time again.

Here are four of my favorite offbeat Mac games that even your older Mac will like. Each of these is pretty easy to master, but who cares? They're fun and a little nutty, and that's why you'll keep going back to them.


Remember Centipede? Apeiron is like Centipede on acid. From the psychedelic intro graphic to the background music down to the funky game play and hilarious sound effects, this is one very wacky take on an old standard.

Your essence has been trapped in a crystal, and you have to fight your way through a mushroom patch that you've somehow ended up in. Your principal enemy is the Pentipede - a smiling, sneaker-clad many-legger that makes his way through the mushroom patch to get you. Your job is to take him out with your plasma cannon piece by piece before he reaches the bottom.

Shoot the mushrooms, and you can earn bonuses like a shield that protects you from all harm for a while.

While you are at it, watch out for Larry (the Scobster), a cantankerous combination of a scorpion and a lobster who eats mushrooms and makes your life miserable. There's also Gordon (the Gecko), who smells so bad he funkifies mushrooms as he walks by. These foul mushrooms so offend the Pentipede that he takes a nosedive straight at you.

But, perhaps the funniest parts of this game is the sound effects. For instance, when you complete a level you're congratulated with a guy primal screaming "YEAH!" After your bonus tallies and you're ready to move to the next level, you'll hear Al Pacino's "Hoo Ahh!" from Scent of a Woman - hilarious.

There are plenty more, but you'll have to play the game to experience them for yourself. If you've never played Apeiron, download it and enjoy. Just remember to pay your shareware fee to unlock the whole game.

Apeiron is a product of Ambrosia Software. Versions 1.0.0 - 1.0.3 of Apeiron run on System 7.5.2 to Mac OS 9. An OS X version was released last year.

Meat Gone Bad

Here's another funny take on an old standard - this time it's Space Invaders. Instead of an attacking alien horde, you're faced with an onslaught of bad meat!

Brought to life by bacteria after you left some meat out on the counter too long while talking to your long lost aunt on the telephone, they are out to get you. But fear not! You've got the power of mustard on your side.

No, really, mustard.

In the game you control a mustard bottle at the bottom of the screen and have to squirt down the angry, foul meat before it gets to you. That's pretty much all there is to it.

This game is very difficult to find, but surf around for a while and you just might stumble across a download.

Postman Pat

This is not Postman Pat, lovable children's TV character. No, this is Postman Pat, cyborg postal carrier. Pat is programmed to deliver the mail at all costs - and deliver he does. But the rest of Postman Pat's fellow public servants (police, army, etc.) don't seem to like the idea of a cyborg postal carrier running around, so they are out to kill him.

Your job as Postman Pat is to take out as many of your assailants as possible with your mail and grenades while making sure that you deliver the mail to a little old lady in a gray dress who slowly walks across the screen at the end of each level.

Postman Pat can be downloaded from a number of Mac shareware archives. Search around for a bit and you'll find it.

Pocket Tanks

Pocket Tanks is for OS X, but it's based on one of the oldest computer game concepts, and many of the older cousins of Pocket Tanks exist for older Macs.

Remember this? Two tanks face off against each other on either side of a hill. It's your job to judge the correct power and angle to score a direct hit on the other tank.

Pocket Tanks

Pocket Tanks takes this simple idea to another offbeat level. Pocket Tanks features a variety of weapons other than your garden-variety tank shot that blows up in a ball of red around your enemy.

In Pocket Tanks you can fire heat-seeking missiles; homing missiles; 3- and 5-shot bursts; nukes; bombs that roll forwards and backwards; shots that release small, large, and obscenely enormous balls of dirt that bury your enemy; and my personal favorite - the Chaos Grenade.

The Chaos Grenade lobs over your target and blows up to release about 10 different weapons all at once. It's most enjoyable to bury your enemy under a mountain of dirt and then watch him blow himself to smithereens trying to dig himself out.

Pocket Tanks can be purchased from Cornerstone TSP Games. It costs $15.99, and there are a number of weapon expansion packs - some free, some for $7.99.

If you have any favorite offbeat Mac games that you would like to give a shout out to, email - thanks! LEM

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