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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Action
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 266 MHz    RAM: 96 MB    Graphics: 640x480 @ 16-bit

Otto Matic
March 20, 2002 | Patrick Leyden

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The video games of Pangea Software have become the stuff of legend on the Mac platform. With only a handful of programming teams creating original games for the Mac, Pangea is a development house that makes Mac OS games their priority. Adding to their unique status among Mac game developers, the company is also a Mac-only shop that has actually seen one of their titles ported to Windows platform. How’s that for bragging rights?

As a result of past successes, as well as its Mac first–Mac only attitude, the impending release of any new Pangea Software title has become an eagerly anticipated event in the Mac gaming community. Otto Matic is the latest release from Pangea Software. This game marks a return to the 3rd person perspective style of action games seen in company’s previous titles, Nanosaur and Bugdom. The Pangea Software release directly proceeding Otto Matic was the Mario Kart-inspired/Flintstones-envisioned Cro-Mag Rally racing game.

Otto Matic is a textbook example of a well-produced video game. No single element overshadows another. This title features vibrant 3D graphics, good quality music and sound effects and solid gameplay mechanics. This attention to detail and thoughtful design results an enjoyable and balanced game playing experience.

The classic science fiction movies of the 1950s inspired Otto Matic. To modern audiences, these films are nothing more than silly, Cold War period pieces. In their day most of these films were produced to be as serious as modern sci-fi classics like 'Blade Runner' or 'Alien.'

Otto Matic begins on Earth in the year 1957. Brain Aliens from the Planet X have come to our world in order to enslave innocent humans and force them to serve the Giant Brain. It is the player’s job, as Otto Matic, to save as many humans as possible from these malevolent Brain creatures. Since the aliens have taken the humans to planets throughout the galaxy, Otto Matic must find the humans and return them to Earth…all the while avoiding the Brain Creatures and traversing precarious alien landscapes.

The look of Otto Matic perfectly captures the feel of the films that served as its inspiration. From Otto’s rocket ship to the cartoonish humans that populate each level, the graphics in this game do an excellent job of setting the mood. While the look of the game may be inspired by a classic film genre, the graphics remain perfectly Pangea in their execution.

Any gamer who has experienced even one of Pangea Software’s titles will immediately recognize Otto Matic as the inheritor of this visual lineage. Over time, Pangea has developed a visual style that differentiates their games from those of other game developers. That look comes from the fact that everything their games are rendered what can best be described as a kind of ‘whimsical 3D’ style that results in games that are interactive 3D cartoons.

From the main menu to the power-ups that litter each level, this game takes full advantage of the mature implementation of OpenGL offered by the Mac OS. Colorful is the best way to describe the 3D models and landscapes that make up Otto Matic. In any other game, such an extensive color palette would be considered gaudy, but in this game these over-the-top hues are perfect for creating a world for Otto to adventure about.

Otto Matic is without question a stylish game. By today’s standards, however, the 3D images in Otto Matic can appear somewhat visually simplistic when compared to other recent 3D titles. Part of this comes from Pangea Software’s own style, but performance and compatibility are also likely design considerations. The biggest advantage of not boosting the polygon count of the game’s 3D models or making extensive use of techniques such per-pixel shading is that Otto Matic can run very well on a wide variety of Macintosh systems. In the end, the game does not need these tricks to be visually interesting, but some gamers are bound to complain that Otto Matic is not on the bleeding edge of 3D graphic design.


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