Free Introductory Mac Strategy Games?

26 09 2009

Ever since my Mom got her new Macbook, she’s been a total flash game addict. Word games, match-the-gem games, silly “get the ball in the bucket” games – the whole gamut.
momsmacShe’s a gamer, but a gamer that’s never been exposed to games beyond these simple mindless toys. Granted, some of them are sort of interesting and fun, but there’s a whole world that she’s never seen.
Now me? I’m into Starcraft, and Civilization, and Eve, and all these epic immersive things. But for someone who has never played the basics, these are completely daunting and will more likely scare her off than intrigue her.
So where do you find the middle ground?
I’m looking for basic, introductory games for the Mac that are free (or really close to free), that should have a basic plot line (even if it’s trivial), and some way of advancing through the game.
We tried FreeCiv, but that’s targeted at people who already grok Civilization, so that’s not going to work. Something simpler than that, along the lines of Master of Orion (the original), Spaceward Ho, etc etc. At some point she tried the original SimCity but that almost ate her brain, and she deleted it. However, this same woman is one of the best players I’ve ever seen at… believe it or not… Crystal Quest. Granted, that’s also a mindless “keep shooting” game, but it takes some serious chops for the upper levels.
So, dear readers, what would you suggest? It can be flash based, or downloadable, needs to run on the Mac, and should have a very basic level of introduction, particularly to turn based gameplay where there’s regular advancement. The first one I’ve come across that comes even remotely close is TradeWinds, a trading game set in Arabia. Very simple gameplay, entertaining, and has a plotline of sorts.
Any others?
(Note – I’ve had reports of people having problems posting comments to the blog. If you have a problem, please send mail to me ( ) and I’ll look into it!)

Super Obama World!

13 11 2008

This is so not right.
Super Obama World!
No, it really is just what you think it is.
Thanks, fish-shaking, whatever to Cathy for this.

A Way to Kill Some Time – Fantastic Contraption

4 08 2008

I don’t recommend going over to unless you have a couple hours you’d care to dispose of.

It’s a puzzle game of sorts, where you can build simple machines consisting of wheels and sticks, then set the machine in motion to accomplish a task. Once the machine starts going, there’s no touching it until it either completes the given task, or you restart.

The game is ‘physics based’, meaning objects behave as you’d expect them to. Balls roll, blocks tumble, and a small vehicle rolling off the edge of a cliff… plummets.

The site also allows you to upload completed machines for each task, and going through other peoples’ solutions to the problem. Some are absolutely fascinating and intricate, involving dozens upon dozens of components.

Thanks (or raspberries, not sure which yet) to blk for pointing this one out to me.

Ikariam – Civilization goes Web!

11 03 2008

Everyone who has had anything to do with computer gaming has probably heard of Civilization, the genre originated by Sid Meier and so successfully built (some would say exploited by) Microprose. There have been many branches of the Civilization pedigree, and I even reviewed one (FreeCiv) a while back.
Recently I tripped over another incarnation that has taken the Civilization concept into the ‘web 2.0’ world. Through a combination of Javascript, extremely well done graphics, and some basic gaming smarts, the folks at GameForge have come up with Ikariam, a pretty interesting little game.

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It’s GROW time again!

20 02 2008

Y’all have become complacent. Too much free time! Well, enough of that. Time to get back out there and help the little blob people! This time one of them has gotten sick, and it’s up to you to heal ’em!
This is a ‘nano’ version of Grow, while the author works on a new game. It’s got all the trappings of the original grow games – the cutesy music, the little blob people, and the plot twists. Only 6 items to choose from, shouldn’t take long to figure out (bout 15 minutes for me)
Click on over to Eyezmaze to check it out!

Darwinia Mini-Review

8 07 2007

I haven’t been doing much reviewing lately, but I thought I’d point a couple of the folks who keep whining about the lack of Linux games to the fine work at Introversion Software.

I just completed the demo for Darwinia, a sort of ‘Populous meets TRON’ game.

Darwinia is very much a ‘god game’ in that you are ‘above’ the life forms you’re interacting with, but, like Populous, you can’t directly control them. You can influence them in several ways (“All citizens, you feel an urge to move sort of in that direction!”), but can’t give the “you guys, move there and build a building, you guys, there and shoot them” sort of detail that’s common in things like Starcraft.

From Introversion’s page:

The world of Darwinia is a virtual themepark, running entirely inside a computer network and populated by a sentient evolving life form called the Darwinians. Unfortunately Darwinia has been overrun by a computer virus which has multiplied out of control. Your task is to destroy the Viral Infection and save the Darwinians from extinction.

The plotline does sound somewhat trite, and there’s certainly an 80’s-esque flair to the entire game. It’s modelled very heavily on TRON in imagery and concept (a model that Introversion seems to use a lot), so the rendered playing feels very much like one of those graphics demos you oo’ed and ah’ed at the first time you saw an SGI machine (well I did, anyway). If you make sure you’re not being overly critical and immediately jump up with “Gosh, Doom3 blows this away!”, you might find yourself enjoying yourself.

First of all, it’s a Linux-enabled, full GL, full sound, network enabled, multiplatform game. There’s no ‘hack’ or backsupport or Wine-fiddling here, the game has native Mac, Windows, and Linux builds. Installation was a matter of downloading the demo and running the installation script. On my machine, running Ubuntu, it installed and ran without a hitch, in full screen high resolution, and some phenomenal refresh rate (I noticed -zero- lag in any of either the cut scenes or actual gameplay, when I had several hundred characters moving on the screen).

Introversion has made it ‘de rigeur’ to have full Linux ports of all their games, and they have several that are top notch. I’ll be taking a look at others shortly. But if you’re into god-games, and have a Mac, Windows, or Linux PC, and don’t mind a new twist on the game with a good story line and comfortable game play, this is a game you should definitely check out.

Rampant Eye Candy

10 06 2007

It’s about time I did something with some of this horsepower on my desk. So this week I fired up a couple toys just to have some fun.

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Teeny wonderful games

12 04 2007

I recently got pointed at an ongoing contest on Java Unlimited whereby folks are encouraged to write a game that compiles into less than 4k. The size is calculated based on the JAR file resulting from the build, and must include all graphics, sounds, and logic.
I recommend folks looking for some light entertainment go over and look through the various contest results (hint: sort the entrants by ‘DL’ (downloads), and look for the ones that have been downloaded the most – that usually indicates a good game).
The one that has me totally hooked is Miners4k (home page here). The feel of the game is similar to Lemmings and definitely has the “I’ll keep clicking for the next half hour and watch little guys moving” feel to it.
Other ones I recommend:
Pipe Extreme – Fly the pipe!
Cubis – A simple Cubis implementation
fuzetsu – Hard to explain, just try it.
As always, all these games run via webstart, so will work under windows, mac, and linux.

Review: Bang! Howdy

6 04 2007

A long time ago on a laptop far far away, I chanced across a new game called Puzzle Pirates. It was from a new outfit on the block calling themselves Three Rings. It looked fun, and even better, ran on Mac, Linux, and Windows without problems due to the wonderous portability of Java. I was impressed then, but stopped playing after a year or so and moved on.
Now ThreeRings has done it again with a new game called Bang! Howdy. Lets take a look…

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Space Worms!

20 09 2005

Spaceworms is a nice simple flash game, but fair warning! It will really suck you in.
The idea is you’re trying to out-maneuver the spaceworms. Use the arrow keys to move your ‘dot’. The worms are faster and more maneuverable than you, but have slightly slower reaction time. Use the edges of the screen to your advantage.
Avoid getting caught for 10 seconds, you go up a level, and get another Worm chasing you.
I got up to 7 worms chasing me, and almost wore out my arrow keys.
Thanks to Screenhead for the link.