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The Slacker's Guide - More Fun Than a Sack of Confused Weasels: Mountain Tanks

by Chris Barylick
July 3rd, 2006

First things first, before video games or software or anything new in the Mac universe is to be discussed, it should be known that Paris Hilton finally released a single ("Stars are Blind") that's now on the iTunes Top 10 list.

The song appears to answer the question of what it might sound like if someone decided to repeatedly punch a Chihuahua in the solar-plexus.

Case in point: you can spend all the money in the world on marketing, studio time and vocal editing, but unless a work has actual talent and relevance to it, it's doomed to a two out of five star rating even after 9,387 opinions have weighed in on it.

Fortunately, Mountain Tanks by Battery Acid Games does not fall into this category. A revamped version of various first, overhead, and third person perspective tank shooters, players take control of a tank and a variety of both offensive and tactical weapons in a turn-based environment with the goal of destroying the city their opponents are tasked with guarding.

A genre that is usually "kill or be killed" among its players becomes a title in which the player is now responsible for something larger than themselves. "Scorched Earth" on steroids, the title pushes the player to learn how to quickly destroy their opponents' cities while preserving their own city for as long as possible. Add in the unique factor that your tank is invincible, yet can't move and the game becomes about assault and defense.

A missile streaks towards its target in Battery Acid Games' Mountain Tanks.

Weapons make all the difference and Mountain Tanks provides a wide variety to work with. Conventional rockets and grenades provide offensive power while other rounds can transform into explosive barrels to be detonated upon the next turn, smoke screens to obscure shots for a few turns, and massive walls that can be fired directly into an opponent's path. Here, there is no nuclear warhead or super-weapon, only what's available and players must learn to work this to their advantage if they wish to succeed.

Mountain Tanks sets out to do something and does it well. Even if turn-based games don't seem like the most exciting thing in the world, Battery Acid Games made the title fun by including impressive graphics, realistic physics, cool smoke effects and interesting music that proves to be both relaxing (yet never boring). The overall result isn't ground breaking, but it helps show what a good shareware developer can do if they put their mind to it.

A player chooses an angle, weapon and velocity for their next turn.

Unfortunately, there are a few stipulations regarding the game. The current version of Mountain Tanks causes a hard crash when run on Intel-based Macs running Mac OS X 10.4.7, despite the program being a universal binary. Programmer Derek Arndt has resolved to release an updated version which should take care of the problem, but for people running the newest hardware, they might want to hold off for a few days until the new version is out or install the game on a pre-10.4.7 partition. For players hoping to get some online competition in, this will have to wait as well. Mountain Tanks currently supports up to six players per round in its present incarnation, but nothing over the Internet to date.

Mountain Tanks is available for a US$14 shareware registration fee and is a 6.9 megabyte download that expands to occupy 18.8 megabytes of disk space once installed. The game requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, a 700 MHz G4 processor and a 64 MB graphics card to run. If you do nothing else this glorious week wherein Axl Rose decided to rise back to the peak of rock star oddity by biting a security guard's leg, give this game a shot.

That wraps it up for this week. As always, if you see anything new, cool or useful in the Mac universe,


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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