Low End Mac Gaming

Games for '040s

Brian Rumsey - 2000.02.25

Last week I looked at how a Quadra era machine could be upgraded for the most gaming usability without going overboard. This article will be a little more fun: looking at the games themselves.

While few new commercial games support Macs without PowerPC processors, that does not mean that Quadras, Centrises, and Performas are useless for gaming. Two things can not be overlooked in finding games for older computers such as these still-useful Macs. One is shareware and freeware games, and the other is older commercial games. True, Marathon is no Unreal Tournament, but nonetheless it is part of a still-potent lineup of games which can be used on Macs of this era.

Fans of fantasy/role-playing games are probably some of the best suited to the lower amounts of power available on 68040s. Many fans of this genre would say that Realmz by Fantasoft is the greatest RPG of all time. Its graphics are functional, although certainly not breathtaking, and great attention has been given to detail. Realmz is built on the concept of the scenario. It comes with one scenario, and registering gives the ability to try and possibly register more. Due to the popularity of Realmz, many scenarios are available.

Another respected Mac game developer is Ambrosia Software. Ambrosia distributes an RPG which works well on '040s, Cythera. Although I am not as familiar with Cythera as I am with Realmz, I have played it enough to see that it certainly has the potential for many hours of play. Ambrosia also has developed several other Mac games, most of them shareware and most of them compatible with the 68040. I have not played most of their offerings that much, but even with my limited knowledge of them, I know that no discussion of Mac games would be complete without mention of Ambrosia.

Of the many other RPGs available for Quadras, two which I have found worthy of mention are Prince of Destruction and Odyssey: the Legend of Nemesis. Prince of Destruction is shareware, and Odyssey is a game which was offered by MacSoft. While Odyssey may not be available from the publisher any more, it should still be available from various on-line merchants. As far as Prince of Destruction, its publisher, Badgercom, recently closed its doors. However, the game is still available on many Mac sites for your enjoyment.

Strategy games are another good genre for 68040s. Most of the good strategy games for '040s are commercial. MacSoft leads the way with several titles, such as Civilization II, Deadlock, and Master of Orion II. Two of these, Deadlock and Master of Orion II, are networkable. However, I would not recommend playing either of these games on a network without a Power Mac to handle server duties.

Two other good strategy games for '040s are Lords of the Realm II and Heroes of Might and Magic II. Both are commercial and may be hard to find, but in my opinion, both of them, especially Heroes II, are worth finding. Heroes II has now been followed by Heroes III, but I know of people who would still play 2 instead of 3. A very well done game indeed.

The king of strategy games may be Warcraft II, from Blizzard. Lucky for '040 owners, this game runs well on any 68040. It is also a very good game to network. I think that I would nominate Warcraft II as the best network game for '040s. A network of Quadras would probably play Warcraft II just as well as a network of G3s. The viability of Warcraft II as an enjoyable game even today is backed up by the fact that Blizzard just recently released a new version of Warcraft II, usable over their internet site, battle.net. Unfortunately, this new version of Warcraft II is not compatible with 68040s, but except for the internet option, the new version is no different from the one which will run on Quadras.

Fun as all these games may be, there are certain people who enjoy nothing more than aiming and firing. These are the people who enjoy action games. The Marathon series from Bungie was dominant for many years and still has a lot of devoted players. I think that my favorite action game for '040s is Dark Forces from LucasArts. To me it seems to have the best combination of good graphics, smoothness on slower machines, and an interesting story line with good music. Other 3D games worthy of play include Doom and Wolfenstein. Giza, from B and B software, is another 3D game, the only shareware one in this group.

Also worthy of mention are side-scroll action games. While they were never as popular on the Mac as they were on the PC, several were released, such as Abuse by Bungie and Flashback and Blackthorne, both published by the now-defunct MacPlay. Of these three, my favorite is Flashback.

Most readers probably do not have the attention span to listen to me ramble on about all the good games I have played on my trusty LC 475. At this point, I will simply mention the names of some other cool games for '040s: Colonization (strategy), Shockwave: Assault (action), Out of the Sun (flight sim), Diamonds 3D (arcade), Pirates! Gold (adventure), the Exile series (RPG), the Glypha series (arcade), the Sim series (strategy/simulation) other games by Fantasoft of various genres, mostly arcade, and many more. In fact, within a day, I am sure that I will be kicking myself for the omission of some classic. However, some games which may seem unjustly omitted or given too little attention are actually games that I know but will mention when I cover gaming on other processors such as the 68030. In this article I have tried to focus more on games that require the power of a 68040.

Some sites to find games: Cnet Download.com, the Mac Game Database, and LEO, a site which seems to have a disproportionately high number of games from this era.

One of the best ways to find older games is eBay, the large auction site. There are usually a couple hundred Mac games up for auction at any given time, and if you are looking for a certain one, chances are someone will offer it sooner or later. As a last word, you never know what you might find in the bargain bin of your local software store.

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