It has long been fashionable among members of the PC-using crowd to belittle the Macintosh as a gaming platform, one doomed to be an also-ran with a skimpy catalog of outdated titles and a plethora of solitaire sims and Myst clones on the shelf. Savvy Mac gamers know this impression of the Mac as a gaming rig is out of date – thanks to aggressive moves in hardware configurations and a proliferation of third-party 3D hardware, recent years have brought us to parity with the PC gamers in many respects. While we don’t get all the latest games we tend to get the cream of the crop, and even a truly addicted game player will always be able to find a new game to try when the old ones get stale.
However there is one area of gaming in which the PC field has total dominance, much to our chagrin: video game development itself. The overwhelming majority of games are created for, and with, PC hardware. This in many cases dooms Mac gamers to a life of waiting for a game to be “ported” while those from the Dark Side can just grab it off the shelf. Although the Mac OS supports a thriving shareware and independent publishing community, the list of must-have, make-the-PC-bigots-drool Mac-first games is perilously short.
Take a close look at that list and you will find that Pangea Software created most of the games on it. Founder and head Brian Greenstone has consistently brought to market one “showcase” title after another, from Nanosaur to Bugdom to Cro-Mag Rally. Featuring 3D graphics full of detail and color and cartoonish, surreal worlds that appeal to young and old, Brian’s creations embody the spirit of the Mac: easy to grasp, yet addictive to play with, featuring a sleek design that reflects cutting-edge technology. It is no coincidence that three of Pangea’s games have become Apple-bundled titles used to “demo” the latest hardware at retail locations. Pangea’s latest title in production is called Otto Matic, another 3D action/adventure game that manages to carry all that Greenstone learned in creating his previous titles forward without duplication or repetition. In this game that mixes action with fast-paced puzzle solving, you guide a robot named Otto Matic on a surreal adventure from one world to the next, battling a host of enemies and rescuing the helpless humans caught in the middle.
Clearly (and proudly) influenced by the great sci-fi films of the ‘30s and ‘50s (The Day The Earth Stood Still, This Island Earth, Plan Nine from Outer Space, just to name a few), Otto Matic is a 3D romp through complex worlds with bizarre inhabitants. While still in early development (known as the “alpha” stage) and thus subject to change, the game blends the fast-paced action of Bugdom and Nanosaur with an interactive landscape full of moving obstacles, dangerous enemies and of course lots of secret goodies to find.
Although his previous titles were certainly praised for their colorful, vibrant 3D graphics, Otto is clearly an attempt by Greenstone to take Mac game visuals to the next level. With a cutting-edge engine crafted with Apple’s OpenGL, the game is packed with special effects such as motion blur, simulated “lens flares,” glowing objects, wobbly landscapes and sophisticated animation. The result is a game which is a visual knockout as well as a challenging diversion crafted by a veteran game designer.