by Chris Barylick
November 11th, 2005
Enigma: Oxyd's Revenge
Some people spend their prom nights whisking a high school sweetheart away on the most romantic night of their young adult lives. Complete with limo, corsage, formal attire and several months of minimum wage income sunk into one glamorous event, they head off to try to make an evening last forever.
Then there are those of us who stay home and spend the night playing Oxyd on a Macintosh LC II.
And while I'd like to claim otherwise, perhaps I had the better time in the long run.
Oxyd, designed by a Dongleware and released for the Mac as shareware in the mid-90's, proved what a combination of a simple gaming idea (that of a small marble) combined with an intricate world (the levels it had to maneuver through) could do. Easy, addictive and perhaps one of the finest puzzle games ever released for the Mac, Oxyd challenged the player and kept them interested by continually upping the stakes as far as what the marble had to achieve through each level. While the premise was simple (roll into stones to reveal matching colors), Dongleware upped the stakes with each passing moment.
While most games gently introduce the player to gameplay, tactics and ideas to use, Oxyd practically pushed you off a cliff, yet kept the idea of it fun. Here, a player might be triggering bombs or moving objects with their marble, all while traversing a thin path over a chasm and trying to keep alive. And as each level was completed, the puzzles actually became that much more clever to the point where a player would actually have to sit back and plan the moves they'd make to complete their task.
Although Dongleware has apparently gone the way of the dodo where Macintosh development is concerned (a Windows-only version of Oxyd 2.0 can be found, the game lives on through Enigma, a Mac OS X-compatible clone of the puzzle classic created by Daniel Heck.
True to the classic, players take on the role of the small black marble and hit stones which reveal matching colors to pass the level. Like the original, each level adds new challenges and factors to the puzzle while retaining both a fast game pace that actually allows the player to pause and work out a larger strategy.
Crossing the bridge in Enigma.
Planning the next move, Oxyd style.
(Click the thumbnails for larger images.)
The game features several level packs as well as two difficulty settings to allow players to both ease into the game as well as go as hardcore as they like. Like the original, the game can be picked up and put down after 10 minutes or be worth investing a few hours into as a full on gaming session and remain just as enjoyable.
Enigma is currently available as freeware and requires Mac OS X 10.0 or later to run. The game is available as an 11.2 MB download
Somewhere along the line, I became more interested in World of Warcraft, and expansion pack aside (I can't even imagine saving the remaining 70 gold pieces to obtain my mount at level 40), the idea of interface modifications began to make more sense.
While this doesn't bode well for my social life, there's a logical argument to be had here; albeit Blizzard's standard game interface is good, there's always something that can be done to make it better. To this end, countless small modifications have surfaced, the more popular ones being folded into collections that affect literally dozens of functions within the game. And while some may seem mundane or excessive, others are genuinely useful and demonstrate where a good idea can go.
To date, CTMod and Cosmos have traded positions as the king of the World of Warcraft mods. Users have switched off when new versions of either title came out, then deciding on a favorite for the time being. New to the scene and gathering some momentum is Gypsy Mod, a free mod pack for World of Warcraft based around five main features that can be activated individually or as an integrated system.
Somewhat more customizable than other mod packs currently available for download, Gypsy Mod allows every item and menu bar save for the World of Warcraft minimap to be placed at will throughout the screen. The mod features a cleaner look and feel along the menus, touching up what's already there and providing a more uniform feel.
Although more basic and not quite as enormous an overhaul as its competitors, there are some good ideas at work here. The ability to place your player's main stats on any corner of the game screen is a nice touch and there's a feeling that the player can truly craft the game screen they'd like just by dragging various windows around, much like Dashboard under Tiger.
Custom-placed menus in Gypsy Mod.
Information available at a glance
via a Gypsy Mod feature.
(Click the thumbnails for larger images.)
Gypsy Mod is currently available for free and weighs in at less than a 1 MB download. The program is installed by simply inserting the files into the World of Warcraft/Interface/AddOns folder and then launching the game. For more information or to provide feedback on your experience, hit the Gypsy Mod web site.
That's it for this week. If you've seen anything new in the Macintosh universe, 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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