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2000 Gaming Gift Ideas

Cro-Mag Rally — List Kreme <[email protected]> wrote in part to warn people away from Risk II because of its "horrible and thoughtless" interface. Far more attractive, however, was Cro-Mag Rally, which he felt looked like a lot of fun. "The game is hard, but it looks gorgeous, the action is fast, the response is good and the idea is pretty cool." In the game, you play a speed-hungry caveman who races through the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages in primitive vehicles armed with a variety of primitive weaponry. It offers modes for one player, two players on the same computer, and up to six players on a network.


Pod Racer — Forget the trench scene from Star Wars – for speed freaks nothing beats the pod race in Star Wars, Episode I. Either way, Chris Hanson <[email protected]> recommends "Star Wars Episode I Racer," better known among his friends as "pod racer." It’s another racing game, but this time you’re rocketing your vehicle at 600 miles per hour. It only runs on PowerPC G3-based systems, but "it’s inexpensive, very easy to play, supports LAN and (with GameRanger) Internet play, and addicting." If you thought the pod racing scene was the best part of the movie, you’ll find yourself in a galaxy far, far away for hours on end.

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Gridz — When your adrenaline has hit its peak levels from pod racing, Chris also recommends Gridz from Mac-centric publisher Green Dragon Creations. "Gridz is a great action-strategy territory-capture game. Kids really take to it, and it’s fun for all ages. Your goal is to capture territory and destroy your opponents by fencing off portions of a grid and building robots which ‘activate’ the tiles you’ve fenced off, and which can attack your opponents’ robots and fences. The more tiles you have fenced off, the more energy you generate and the more robots you can build."


iPoker — Some would argue that the greatest achievement attained by personal computers is automatic card deck reshuffling (can you deny that Solitaire is probably the most-launched Windows application?). If you’re looking for higher stakes, Gordon Meyer <[email protected]> recommends checking out iPoker 2000 by Scenario Software. "iPoker plays about 80 different poker games, has good graphics, and is very Mac-like. As a casual player, it is very easy to use and provides a great way to learn and enjoy the game. For more serious players, there are plenty of advanced features that will help you in betting and strategy. Everyone I’ve shown this game to, even if they’re not a card player, has been very impressed."


Freeverse Card Games — Another fan of card games is Conrad M. Hirano <[email protected]>, who recommends choosing from Freeverse Software’s selection of card games. You can play against the computer or challenge other players online via the HMS Freeverse Server. The games offer a tutoring mode for novices, as well as popular variations of each game. "I’ve played only Spades and Hearts, but Freeverse also has versions of Euchre, Cribbage, and others, and has just recently released a Bridge game. These games may not appeal to those users demanding the adrenaline rush from the latest action game, but I’ve found these games addicting. I’ve been up late numerous nights battling it out on the card table with other night owls."


Fly Your Own Warthog: A-10 — You don’t need the biggest and fastest Mac to enjoy a good game. Hank Harken <[email protected]> takes to the sky with a now-classic flight simulator, Parsoft’s A-10 Attack and A-10 Cuba. "Bored with tooling around the sky and looking at the landscape in a regular flight simulator? Liven things up: have someone shoot at you, make decisions on weapons loadouts, learn to use laser guided weaponry, try to survive unfriendly neighbors, and more. These two flight simulators will run on 68040-based Macs (slow), but will nicely complement your iMac.

"Even better, you can get these as part of special game bundles. For example, A-10 Cuba is included on Starplay Productions Inc.’s 10 Tons of Fun game bundle. They’re not recent releases but have given me lots of challenging diversion. Even repeatedly playing the same scenario never seems exactly the same twice. Get two copies of A-10 Cuba and go head-to-head against your buddy in network combat. My only complaint is that the manual tells you how to operate everything in the aircraft and how to set and launch weapons, but there is no tactical information, i.e. best practices in using the aircraft and its weapons in combat situations, something in which I expect every Air Force pilot is trained. Let’s just say that you’ll lose many virtual lives during your OJT (on the job training)."


The Sims — Looking to make someone who doesn’t typically like video games miserably addicted to their computer? Give them a copy of The Sims, a sort of role-playing, real-life "adventure" that’s a logical progression from SimCity. Instead of managing people in aggregate (in the form of industries, building, and so on) as in SimCity, you manage individuals. Choose or make a family, build a house, help them find jobs, and then take off the mundane details like washing dishes and frying burgers on the BBQ. The Mac version, through the developer Aspyr, offers add-ons to the game, such as potted plants, a pinball machine, and other items one can buy (sort of like the original Wheel of Fortune). A new add-on pack called The Sims: Livin’ Large, adds a variety of new building styles, decoration ideas, and characters, including the grim reaper. "Just ask my girlfriend about the ‘miserably addicted’ part," says Glenn Fleishman <[email protected]>. "The TV ads are brilliant. And beware the hamster; that’s all I’ll say." System requirements are high: a PowerPC G3-based Mac or better is needed, along with lots of RAM and hard disk space.


Deus Ex — First-person shooter games like Doom or Duke Nukem can feel flat after a while: enter room, shoot everything that moves, move on to next room. For more of a thinking-person’s action game, try Jeff Carlson’s <[email protected]> latest addiction Deus Ex. You portray the role of a nanotechnology-augmented secret agent in the near future, gradually unraveling a myriad of conspiracies. There’s plenty of action, but the game also calls for times when creeping quietly in the shadows is the best defense against the bad guys. Like others of its ilk, Deus Ex prefers plenty of hardware (at least a PowerPC G3-based Mac with lots of RAM).


The Settlers of Catan — Rick Holzgrafe <[email protected]> suggests a non-computer game that is a family favorite: The Settlers of Catan. He writes, "This is a board game for three to four people – happily my wife and I have two kids of the right age, so the game is perfectly sized for us. The board represents an island with various areas that produce grain, ore, lumber, and so on. Players start out with single settlements and try to expand their colonies by judicious use of resources. Points are awarded for various accomplishments and the winner is the first to reach ten points.

"The Settlers of Catan is an award-winning game with a number of innovative features. For example, although players take turns rolling dice and getting things done in the usual way, every roll of the dice gives every player something to do even if it’s not their turn. This keeps the game constantly interesting; nobody gets bored waiting for their turn. Another interesting point is that the ‘board’ is actually made of a couple of dozen separate tiles; during setup the tiles are shuffled before being laid out, so you get a different board every time.

"Settlers of Catan is a strategy game with an element of luck. The box says ‘ages 12 and up’ and the rules are somewhat complex. But our 9-year-old plays a killer game and we’ve long since stopped giving him handicaps. We adults find it fascinating and we play as enthusiastically as the kids. Games take up to two hours to complete. Two people could play but it’s really best with at least three. Strongly recommended!"

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