Games

Tomb Raider Anniversary

Why can’t we just raid a tomb once in a while without having to leap for precarious ledges?  Lara Croft trades Indiana Jones’s whip for a pair of big guns. The two characters end up in similar adventures, however, stealing priceless artifacts from around the world. But unlike the creakier Dr. Jones, Lara uses her athleticism to vault through traps, off walls, and over pits. This acrobatic style makes Tomb Raider Anniversary an exciting game, even though it occasionally frustrates.

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The next time some hater tells you that “Mac gamer” is a contradiction, fire back with these best-ever Apple-platform titles. Sure, Apple’s systems have had their gaming downs; the short-lived Pippin had few worth playing, and the most fun we had on a Newton was “Find Elvis.” But the Apple II and Mac have had a vibrant ecosystem of games that stood out among all titles.

 

We had a hard time settling on 10. In no order, SimCity, Oni, Glider, Bolo, Crystal Quest, Out of This World, Deus Ex, Diablo, Civilization, The Secret of Monkey Island, Starcraft, Lemmings, Spaceward Ho!, Ultima, Myst, and World of Warcraft, were all significant but didn’t quite make the cut.

 

You’ll have a hard time finding copies of most of our top games. Some are available online , while eBay and local computer stores might carry old copies of others. But if you do have the floppies or CDs, the game isn’t likely to run in OS X. Try an emulator like Basilisk II to trick the old software into thinking it’s running on an old Mac or Apple II.

 

First Look: The Evolution of Spore

 Spore starts small. A simple life form--you, specifically--merrily swims around in primordial goo, absorbing nutrients. Nothing matters outside of this pool, not the rock basin that holds it, the continent that cradles the rock basin, the planet that holds the continent, the solar system that contains the planet, or the galaxy that surrounds the solar system. None of that matters--yet. Spore keeps its focus on the immediate goal, a race to survive and grow. Just like those scaling worlds, there’s always a hungry creature bigger than you.

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Scrabble

 We like traditional Scrabble for its physical feel almost as much as the crossword game itself. We carefully arrange letters between turns, sometimes petting a groove into a treasured tile like rubbing Buddha’s belly. Scrabble for the iPod loses that physical touch, but it brings the game to turbulent flights and the family truckster without the danger of losing tiles under the seat.

Colin McRae Rally Mac

Free-wheelin’ rally racing is way more fun with a gamepad or racing wheel.  Most racing games are fun because you rub shoulders—and wheels—with other cars, trying to outmaneuver foes to the finish. Colin McRae Rally Mac instead pits you against times of other drivers, losing that in-the-moment thrill. Depending on the mode, a “ghost” car outline might represent another racer, but physical collisions are impossible. However, the game has so much else, it still places as one of our favorites. Tight controls, imaginative off-road tracks, and punishing but rewarding competitor times make this technical racer a winner.

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 Apple displayed games at its iPhone SDK event, with EA, Sega, and Apple itself unveiling upcoming products. Sega will release a tilt-sensitive version of Super Monkey Ball, its marble-in-a-maze franchise. Apple showed Touch Fighter, an OpenGL space-pilot game where you lean the iPhone to steer and tap the screen to fire. And EA announced plans to bring a version of Spore to the iPhone. Release dates aren’t available for Super Monkey Ball or Touch Fighter, but EA is targeting a September release for iPhone Spore. In addition to the creature simulation, EA has “other [iPhone] games in early stages of development,” according to EA spokesperson Trudy Muller. While Apple announced that all iPhone products would also work on the iPod touch, EA didn’t offer any comment about Spore’s specific phone-free compatibility. 

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Bubble Bash

 Great game mechanics inspire decades of imitators, and Bubble Bash for the iPod clearly follows Bust-a Move. You might also remember the basic idea as remixed in Snood and many others: erase on-screen bubbles by firing new ones, matching three or more of the same color. Using a light touch to aim with the click wheel, Bubble Bash pulls off this core gameplay, adding a few of its own flourishes.

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 The latest iPod game, Pirates of the Caribbean: Aegir’s Fire, runs aground immediately. Like nearly every other licensed videogame, this sailing adventure feels like a cash-in, looting unsuspecting iPod fans. While the first few ship battles are briefly fun, Aegir’s Fire is mostly tedious, repetitive, and frustrating.

Plant Tycoon

A relaxing time spent watering and pruning. Ah, the life!  For many, spending time in a garden pruning, watering, and planting can be a serene and pleasing experience. But if you’re stuck inside or you just lack a green thumb, there’s Plant Tycoon. This game from Last Day of Work does a nice job of capturing the essence of gardening, without dirtying your hands. Watch Grass Grow! (it's fun, we promise.)

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Yahtzee

 Yahtzee is another childhood favorite being reintroduced to today’s gadget-laden iPod generation. We grew up huddling together on cold winter floors, rolling dice for the chance at five-of-a-kind. (This was before iPods and global warming, mind you.) Now iPod owners can experience the same thrill on a bus (or in class) without a dice-ready surface.