News Round-up: April 8 - May 3

mossy_11 on Monday, 03 May 2010. Posted in News

gamebase64-browserA Mac-native version of GameBase64 Browser has been released. GameBase64 is a database of over 20000 Commodore 64 games, with detailed information and screenshots for each game. Setting up is not exactly intuitive if you do not already have the database file -- you’ll need to drag a folder (any folder) to the application, then it will tell you that the folder contains no valid database file. It will then allow you to download the database file from within the application. You can get screenshots and sounds packs here. It offers the ability to launch games in your C64 emulator of choice, but I couldn’t seem to get that feature working. Despite this strange configuration problem, it’s very impressive, so be sure to check it out (provided you have Snow Leopard installed).

A new version of the open-source IA-32 (x86) emulator Bochs was released on April 25. Release 2.4.5 implements X2APIC and Intel VMx2 extensions, fixes some CPU emulation bugs, reworks the configuration options, and more. Check the changelog for full details.

Those of you desperate for Steam on the Mac will have to wait just a little longer, with Valve announcing that it will be released on May 12. No word yet on what games will be available at launch, although you can be sure a few of Valve’s titles will be there.

More updates after the break.

Growing up Mac: Life with a Plus

mossy_11 on Thursday, 29 April 2010. Posted in Opinion

My introduction to both video games and computers came from a rather unusual source for a child raised in the 1990s. Other kids my age were inheriting 8-bit consoles or picking up the Super Nintendo or Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, or they were experiencing the torture of MS-DOS. As for me, I had a Mac. Not a shiny new Mac, mind you, but an aging Macintosh Plus, with a monochrome 9-inch monitor, no hard drive, and 800 KB floppy drive. Most of the time, I had to first use the boot disk to start the system, then switch to the game disk, although a few games were bootable. Freezes, which were not uncommon, were typically resolved with a resounding whack to either the side or top of the computer. Sometimes, though, a hard-reset was required. And that often resulted in a “sad Mac” on startup.

I (like many others on this site, I expect) have fond memories of games that most people -- even those who live and breathe gaming culture -- have never heard of, and likely never will. Glider moved me with its whimsical world where the paper plane was king. StuntCopter entertained me with a falling stick-figure and a horse that could be knocked over. Spelunx taught me about gravity, lightning, and the power of learning through play. ShufflePuck Café consumed me as I tried to beat all its weird characters. Dark Castle offered an atmospheric action/puzzle/platformer hybrid that was years ahead of its time. Banzai, Super Maze Wars, Artillery, MacSki, Memory, Amazing, Block Out, Maelstrom, and many other unique little games exposed me to all sorts of ideas, filling my childhood with hours of fun and entertainment.

9 iPhone Apps for the Retro Enthusiast

mossy_11 on Thursday, 22 April 2010. Posted in Opinion

The iPhone and iPod Touch App Store is brimming with content for just about every niché (except those that will never meet Apple’s stringent requirements). But so many apps are terrible that it can sometimes be a dice roll whether you’ll find what you want. This is doubly so for fans of retro games and technology, with countless attempts made to trick you out of your money in an orgasmic blast of nostalgia. Some apps actually are what they say, however, so I’ve put together this list of nine iPhone apps worth a look for fans of retro gaming and technology.

2600 Magic / DragstrMagic

From the creator of Pitfall, David Crane’s Technical Wizardry Series has so far spawned just two apps. But both provide phenomenal insight into the work that went into making games for the Atari 2600. Each app describes the internal workings of the hardware, and reveals the tricks used to make various graphics appear on the screen. The language used is very accessible, seldom requiring any technical knowledge whatsoever, and there are numerous interactive diagrams used to illustrate the descriptions. You'll likely finish wondering how anything was made at all, given how difficult every little task must have been.

Cost: 2600 Magic -- $1.99 (a free ‘Lite’ version is available); DragstrMagic -- $3.99.


Fashionably Late News Round-up

mossy_11 on Wednesday, 07 April 2010. Posted in News

Here’s some of the news you might have missed over the past month or-so:

Nintendo64In news from just a few days ago, the Mac-only Nintendo 64 emulator Sixtyforce has risen from the dead. After more than two years without an update, author Gerrit posted a new version on his birthday earlier this week. The update brings major improvements to the Cocoa interface, graphics and game compatibility, sound, and more. Download it here, and be sure to check out the MacScene discussion topic for more details (thanks erise for the tip).

123622-iphone_os_4_sneak_peekThe iPad launched in the United States less than a week ago, but is believed to have already sold more than 500,000 units alongside many favourable reviews. In less than 24 hours we’ll get a better idea of the iPad’s potential, as Apple will unveil iPhone OS 4.0 at an invite-only preview event.

steam_logo1In March, Valve officially announced that the Steam gaming service and Source engine would be coming to the Mac this month, with the Mac now considered a “tier-1 platform” by the company -- which means simultaneous release of future games for Mac and Windows. The announcement drove interest from other developers, including Gas Powered Games and DICE. Applications for the Steam on Mac beta are now open for anyone willing to tell Valve their life story (link). Check out the MacScene community's reaction here.

More emulator updates after the break.


mossy_11 on Monday, 08 March 2010. Posted in Mac Classics Reborn

A helicopter, a tiny little man, and a horse-drawn wagon. That doesn't sound like much of an idea for a game, but it's the basis for StuntCopter, a shareware Mac game released by teenage programmer Duane Blehm in October 1986. Blehm released two other games -- Zero Gravity and Cairo ShootOut! -- and updated versions of StuntCopter before his untimely death a few years later. His parents decided to release the games into the public domain, where they have become increasingly difficult to run on current hardware.

But now gamers can once again enjoy the simple-yet-gratifying gameplay of StuntCopter (without jumping through hoops to make it run). The game was ported to OS X by Antell Software in 2004 (get it here; requires Mac OS 10.4 or later), and to the iPhone by nerdgames in 2009.


The Current State of Mac Gaming: Looking Ahead

mossy_11 on Saturday, 27 February 2010. Posted in Opinion


Mac gamers are a sad bunch. Every few years someone or something comes along that is going to transform the Mac gaming landscape. But nothing happens. Promise after promise has been broken, and few good things have emerged. So you can excuse the cynics who say gaming on the Mac will never amount to anything. Most look elsewhere for their gaming fix, either unsatisfied with or unaware of the paltry offerings on display, especially given the oftentimes-long delays and poor performance compared to other platforms. It seems like the Mac just isn't on anyone's radar. But, as has been the case in looking at the past and present of gaming on the Mac, the issue is more complicated than it at first seems.

The Current State of Mac Gaming: Don't Forget the Little Guys

mossy_11 on Tuesday, 16 February 2010. Posted in Opinion

Small developers have long had a strong following on the Mac, from the early days of shareware with Pangea Software, Duane Blehm, John Calhoun, and Cyan (amongst others), to the emergence of Ambrosia Software, Spiderweb Software and Freeverse in the mid-90s, and countless others who have tried their luck making games for the Mac.


MacTech: Fusion vs. Parallels

Niemann on Wednesday, 10 February 2010. Posted in News


In what is one of the most complete and comprehensive comparisons between VMware Fusion and Parallels virtualization software for Mac, MacTech concludes that across the board Parallels outperforms Fusion.  Not only in start up times, normal application execution, disk activity, and compatibility, but also in 3D graphics and gaming.  If you're looking for a solid thorough comparison of these virtualization products, this is the best I've seen.  You can read the entire article here.