Narrow your choices

The Tuttles Madcap Misadventures

Barbara Tuttle, voiced by Jamie Lee Curtis, jumps through one of the colorful levels.  The Tuttles Madcap Misadventures has a lot going for it: big-name character voices, gorgeous graphics, several top awards. Plus, half the retail proceeds are donated to charity. But if you strip all of that away, you’re left with a pretty standard side-scrolling platform game. Then again, why would you strip all of that away? 

Ableton Live 7

Live's interface is a single-window affair, clear and uncluttered despite its depth.  The market for audio recording software is vast, ranging from GarageBand to Pro Tools, with a lot of stuff in between. Now in its seventh iteration, Ableton Live started as a tool designed primarily for—surprise—live performances, but over the years, has morphed into a popular tool for studio and recording work as well. Ableton Live 7 is not revolutionary but evolutionary. With this latest version, Live has matured into a well-rounded, integrated environment with extensive automation and a unique approach to the musical process.

Eschalon: Book I

Twelve hours of rest? Your character must be a teenager.  Eschalon: Book I, the first title from indie developer Basilisk Games, is branded as a traditional RPG, a stereotype fulfilled here with a vengeance. Unfortunately, problems with skill choices and movement, and an uninspiring story line may turn that vengeance into slaughter for anyone who might not be a hardcore RPG fan.

Avernum 5

Its looks are basic, but its story and crazy amount of options will keep you coming back for more.  Avernum 5 is like a steaming plate of diner meat loaf—the presentation ain’t pretty, but it fills you up and leaves you satisfied. With an intense and engaging story smothered in traditional RPG gameplay gravy, it will thrill role-playing fans, as long as they don’t expect fine-dining flourishes like 3D graphics or multiplayer modes.

Susie Ochs's picture

Master Kick

Foosball Rules!Haven’t you always wanted to play foosball on your Mac? Come on, sure you have. Foosball rules. And this is a light, practically brainless, stress-relieving, palate-cleanser of a foosball game, perfect for breaking up long stretches of...whatever it is you do all day. 

Zack Stern's picture

Axiotron Modbook

The Modbook can do a lot of things a regular MacBook can’t. We still don’t recommend that you take it for a float in the pool!  Take away a MacBook’s keyboard, and add a touchscreen display, and behold the Modbook. Literally a retrofitted MacBook, this Apple-sanctioned tablet Mac shares the same features and performance. But the Modbook does more—and less—than Apple’s portable. The Modbook’s touch-sensitive screen responds well to the included stylus, making it a great digital sketch pad for artists. With the right software, the Modbook makes a useful in-the-field device for doctors, insurance representatives, and other specialized mobile users. A built-in GPS module even tracks the Modbook’s location. But efficient work, even in graphic and other media applications, often requires buttons—or the keyboard that this tablet lacks. A narrow segment of users will find the Modbook ideal; it’s the only tablet computer that runs OS X, after all. But we wish it had just a few more features.

Zack Stern's picture

The Sims DJ

Stereotypical, shallow DJs have more depth than this iPod game.  Imagine you’re spinning turntables in the hottest nightclub in the city, keeping the party rocking until the fire marshal shuts you down. The role of the fire marshal will be played by The Sims DJ. This iPod game is spun around the winning idea of a DJ simulator, but the result is just a repetitive series of mini-games wrapped around boring rules.

Zack Stern's picture

iPod Monopoly

iPod game wins second prize in a beauty contest, collects $10  iPod Monopoly is just as fun as the capitalist board game, minus the joy of throwing houses and hotels at your sibling after a three-hour stalemate. For better or worse, almost nothing has changed from the physical game, with the iPod version sporting the same rules and play. You can even customize more than a dozen “house” rules; we never realized that putting tax money on Free Parking wasn’t in the official game, but iPod Monopoly let us add that jackpot to that space.

Zack Stern's picture

Healing Rhythms

You can practice meditation techniques with biofeedback from these sensors.  To us, biofeedback has always seemed like the natural direction for input devices, where sensors can hook up to your body and read subtle changes in brain activity that would control what’s displayed on the computer—or, in our most advanced sci-fi fantasies—what the computer does. Companies such as NeuroSky (www.neurosky.com) are developing EEG brainwave-reading systems to control machines. These applications could eventually lead to a retail product that lets you move the cursor with your mind. Healing Rhythms introduces us to a few other biofeedback sensors designed to teach users about meditation and quieting the mind and body. The hardware and software don’t control the Mac otherwise, but instead monitor your responses as you move through various exercises. We got a kick out of watching the software change with biofeedback, and we even learned a few useful basic meditation techniques in the process.

Cintiq 20WSX

Take your photos and illustrations in hand with this gloriously large and responsive LCD tablet.  Digital Artists, Designers and photographers need a way to edit photos, draw onscreen, and edit their designs and images. Without a pen tablet, clicking and drawing with a standard mouse can feel cumbersome and imprecise. With Wacom’s gorgeous (and pricey) Cintiq 20WSX, you can banish your mouse and write, scribble, and sketch onscreen with a stylus instead. This 20.1-inch drawing tablet merges a bright LCD with a touch-sensitive surface, giving amazing control in the apps that graphics pros use most. The result feels nearly the same as actual pencils and brushes, but with all the benefits of a digital workspace, like undo, layers, and scripts.