by Chris Barylick
September 30th, 2005
An Instant Classic:
For better or worse, I've always been fond of Apple, which shouldn't come as a huge surprise to anyone who visits this or any other Mac-related site on a regular basis. Apple has taken something once seen as overtly technical and made it both interesting and accessible to an enormous user base. No mean feat by anyone's estimation.
In doing so, the company has brought a terrific set of tools to the market that allow people to quickly and easily work their thoughts and ideas into reality with minimal experience and training.
But let's get down to it: it's still computing. With this comes moments where watching the paint dry can seem like the most thrilling activity in the world. This is especially so if you've ever sat through a full installation of Mac OS X, plus system updates and permission repairs on a computer that might be best described as the technological equivalent of a pony that's 20 minutes away from the glue factory.
Then -- if you've accidentally configured the machine to install the international language packs, you realize you've you added 38 minutes to the overall time as it installs a Cantonese language pack you've never even conceived of using -- whittling begins to look like an interesting hobby.
It's moments like these where time needs to be killed, but slain well. For this, I proffer Popcap Games' classic puzzle title, Bejeweled. Available in both its free web format as well as a $14.95 deluxe edition complete with improved graphics as well as additional sound effects and levels, Bejeweled showed what a good, simple puzzle game could be.
Simply switch the positions of two jewels on a grid to align three identical jewels in a row and you've cleared space for new pieces to fall in as well as earned points and additional time to play. Easy, fun and the kind of thing you could literally learn in seconds as well as spend time developing strategies centered around future moves (run out of time or possible moves and the game was over), the game could be as simple or as involved as you wanted it to be as well as something that could be walked away from and returned to later.
Bejeweled requires Mac OS 8.6 or later and a capable web browser (Netscape 7 or Internet Explorer 5 or later to run under the Mac OS 8 and OS 9 operating systems) or a current version of a browser such as Internet Explorer, Safari, Netscape, Mozilla, iCab or Firefox to run.
Bejeweled, a web-based puzzle game.
When Max Payne was first released for the Mac, the player could see where its PC and console platform popularity had stemmed from. A modern, gritty film noir title cranked up to 11, its plot and dialogue were cliche and over the top at points, but it remained a fun third-person shooter that grabbed the player's interest and pulled him in. The goal of the game was simple; simple revenge for a person who had lost everything through the deaths of his wife and daughter with conventional principles put aside for the purpose.
Revolutionary for its time in terms of graphics, game play and a still-impressive "Bulllet Time" feature that slowed down time to allow Max to move faster than his opponents, the title holds its own even three years after its release. Now available for a mere $19.95 and still as fun as ever, the game has had several modifications created for it by independent developers.
Max Payne with the free Matrix Total Conversion modification.
One of the more extensive is the True Matrix Total Conversion, a free Matrix-themed makeover to the title that was released in 2002 by a development team led by "MasterFusion" that is both free to download from gamezone, but seems to have been abandoned somewhere along the line.
Even if the project has been put aside, the work is impressive. The mod, a 37.6 megabyte download complete with installation instructions (just put the file into your Max Payne folder), overlays the skin of Neo onto Max Payne and includes full weapons, physics, extended "Bullet Time," characters and other elements from the films.
Players can fight in Neo's kung fu mode (extremely fun, if lengthy) as well as have full access to over a dozen new weapons in addition to those featured in the original Max Payne video game. Extra details such as Neo's unique "clambering" jump style and flip/sidejump round out the conversion and bonuses such as the lobby shootout from the original Matrix make the mod worth your time and attention.
If there's a gremlin to be contended with in the software, it's the overall stability, which isn't terrible, but can be known to bring the application to its knees and require a force quit (although nothing else is affected within Mac OS X 10.4.2). With the source code at hand, these problems could probably be tackled by a few determined geeks via the Terminal application or error reporting software, as the program runs fine the majority of the time, but seems to be finding something it doesn't like within the operating system.
Maybe something for a rainy weekend, there's cool "resurrected a nifty piece of abandonware points for the Mac community" points to be had here.
Max Payne requires Mac OS 8.6 or Mac OS X 10.0.4 or later, a 300 MHz G3 processor, 64 (under Mac OS 8.6-9.2.2) or 128 (under Mac OS X) megabytes of RAM, 500 megabytes of hard drive space and a graphics card with 16 megabytes of VRAM to run.
That rounds it out for this week. As always, if you see anything interesting in the Mac world, please let me know.
Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.
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