Now, For Something Completely Different In Your Palm June 6th, 2000
Gary: Hey dude, what are you working on so furiously there in the palm of your hand there?
Randy: Okay, now that's just not right. What kind of image is that to paint for our readers? Here I am playing with my new Handspring Visor and you have to go and make it sound all perverted.
Gary: Hey I just asked what you were doing. Where is your mind at? Geez!
Randy: All right. Go ahead and make your little Junior High jokes.
Gary: That is what we get paid to do.
Randy: Now you put it that way good point.
(both laugh like little schoolgirls)
Randy: Well now, do we have that out of our system?
Gary: I hope not, but back to my question. What's up with the Visor in your hand?
I thought we were here to talk about Mac stuff, like kick ass games and diversions on the Mac.
Randy: Yes, that is what we do. But I have to tell you these Palm OS devices are almost like having a Macintosh right in your hand. I got one for my birthday and I have gone nuts over it. Not only does it do all the stuff you'd expect a PDA to do like keeping your address book and appointments and easily sync up your info with your desktop Mac, but I am finding out it's also a wonderful time waster too.
Gary: Hey, you don't have to tell me. I just got a Palm V. I have been gaming my face off on every subway and taxi trip I take!
Randy: Exactly. While the games that are available for the Palm OS are not going to compete with Unreal Tournament or Riven in terms of graphics, there is an incredible selection of great palm-sized games that can make you wish that that public bus ride would take a whole lot longer.
Gary: The coolest thing about a little PDA like the Palm or the Visor is that you can take it ANYWHERE! Often times when I'm on the go, I don't want to drag my PowerBook G3 with me. Sometimes it's just too heavy and I'm not going on a long enough trip to justify taking it. But I always have my PDA with me and even if I am just taking a quick subway ride across town. And since my little pocket pal starts up in an instant, I can whip it out and get in a couple of rounds of my game of choice before I arrive at my destination.
Randy: So you are whipping out your pocket pal on the subway now, are you?
Gary: At least my pocket pal starts up in a second. The chicks really dig that.
This is really getting pathetic now. Do you really think you are the first person to make "palm" jokes?
Randy: Of course not, but I am the first one to make jokes about you and your "palm."
(both laugh like little schoolgirls)
Randy: But we digress.
Gary: More like regress, but do go on.
Randy: Before I even started playing games on my Visor, I found this killer system enhancement called Silver Screen. With Silver Screen, you bring the most Mac-like features to your palm top computing experience. First, Silver Screen adds a cool popup tool bar to the bottom of your PDA screen that lets you do drag and drop operations, like dragging items to the trashcan or moving items to different categories, or getting info on items.
Gary: Once I had my trusty trashcan icon on my PDA screen I felt right at home on my Palm V. Very Macintasty.
Randy: But Silver Screen also gives you some other cool features like the ability to choose themes for your "palm desktop."
Gary: Can you say Appearance Control Panel? It just doesn't get anymore Mac-like.
Randy: True enough. I spent several days just playing with the themes before I finally started to load on some games.
Gary: Which brings us to the best part about a Palm OS device. All the fantastic games you can play on it. If you were ever one of those kids that prized the old handheld electronic games of yours, then you will flip over the Palm OS game scene.
Randy: There is just about every type of game conceivable available for the Palm OS. Racing games, adventure games, arcade classics, sports games, trivia games and even networkable games!
Gary: I was totally surprised by how much stuff there was to choose from. I started slow with a cool trivia game called Who Wants to be a Zillionaire from Cosmic Infinity. Like the name implies, you get all the brain-busting trivia and smarmy charm of the popular TV show right in the grey-scale screen of your palm device.
Randy: I went for the action games right off the bat. I loaded up Dragon Fire Pinball from Stand Alone, Inc. The only thing that was missing was the nudge button, so you can't tilt this machine.
Gary: Next I started getting into some classic arcade games like Galax, AsteroidsGS and Tank Pilot. Galax is a Palm OS version of the famous Galaxian arcade game and it plays just like the real thing. And this game comes with a color version too, if you are lucky enough to have a color capable palm device.
Galax, in black and white and color versions
AsteroidsGS is again just what you'd expect, a great palm sized version of one of my all-time favorite arcade games, Asteroids. It plays great and this title supports color as well. In fact, it looks more like Ambrosia Software's beautiful Maelstrom rather than the simple old vector based original.
And finally, Tank Pilot from Giles Goddard rounded out my arcade pack. This is a recreation of the old Atari Tank Commander arcade game. And once again the palm version duplicated the exact look and feel of the original right down to the vector-based volcanoes spouting sparks in the background.
Randy: Next I started getting into some action games like Julian Scott's Bomb Run and Till Harbaum's beautiful Argon V. Both of these space shootem' ups will challenge even the fastest fingers out there. Bomb Run is a side-scroller in the mold of the old arcade game Vanguard while Argon V is a vertical scroller with amazing multi-layer scrolling that I didn't think was possible on the PalmOS. I just wish it wasn't so damn hard. This one is for only the bravest of the brave who don't mind dying hard and often.
Gary: Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see if there were any first person shooters available for the PalmOS and sure enough I found Dreadling from James McCombe. This fully 3D shooter features four levels of grey-scale and supports texture mapping and basic AI for the enemies. Can you say Marathon on your PalmOS PDA?
Randy: Man, we have mentioned tons of titles and we haven't even scratched the surface.
Gary: Yep, my Hand-Mac kick ass.
Randy: Mmmmm, Hand-Mac. I kind of like that. Let's trademark it.
Gary: Let's just finish up before we start trying to patent words, okay?
Randy: Fine. Let's get to our favorite kind of game: adventure! For all you D&D fans out there look no further than Dragon's Bane from Palm Creations. This graphical 3D adventure supports great grey-scale graphics, an inventory complete with magical spells and weapons you can buy and sell, turn based combat and a host of non-player characters to round out your epic quest.
Gary: Well I had a hankerin' for a more Diablo style adventure and low and behold I found Ancient Red. This title from SkeNext pulls all the best features from the popular hack and slash adventure game and packs it all into your PDA with crispy grey-scale or color graphics.
Randy: Man, there is nothing my PDA can't do!
Gary: How about multiplayer games?
Randy: Again, the PalmOS kicks butt here too. Through the built-in infrared ports on all PalmOS devices, you can play networked games like IR Pong from the industrious Till Harbaum or BattleShipIR from IS Complete.
Gary: While we have mentioned some of our favorites here, there are so many more games you can play on a PalmOS PDA. Card games, strategy games, board games pretty anything you could want for your PDA is out there and waiting at some of the great PalmOS software sites like PalmGear HQ, ZD Net's Palm software section, TUCows software, and the comically named software site, Handango.
Randy: I'll just bet you danced the Handango a few times.
Gary: I was waiting for that one. At least you are consistent if not infantile.
Randy: I like to think I excel at both.
Gary: You got that half right.
Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.
The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.
You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .