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Holiday Buyer's Guide 2002
December 16, 2002 | IMG Staff
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Family Fun
Andy Largent and Matt Diamond

Freeverse Games (Andy Largent)
Many first-time game programmers seem to find a good challenge in trying to reproduce their favorite card game on the computer. The lack of complexity seemingly inherent in such games means there are usually a large number of mediocre and half-completed titles available for users to download, only to quickly become frustrated. Freeverse Software, a shareware company with years of experience under their collective Mac game development belts, takes a different tack. They spend a huge amount of time on their series of 3D-branded card games, and it shows. Rule sets are complete, the graphics and interface are clean and fun, and help text ensures you don't have to be an expert to play.

Beyond the basics of getting the rules right and providing humorous 3D animated characters, Freeverse also adds many other customization features to the games. If you don't feel like playing as Freeverse icons, such as Jen or Monty the monkey anymore, copy your own face into the program via an “iPuppet” and now you are even more "immersed" in the game. Freeverse also provides a way to show your handsome self to the world through their free internet gaming service, GameSmith. A few clicks are all it takes to create an account and get going.

From Spades to Hearts, Bridge to Cribbage, look no further than Freeverse for the card-game lover in your family this holiday. Demos of all their OS X-compatible 3D card games are available for download on the Freeverse site, or a handy CD sampler with every one of their demos can be purchased for just $5.

Much to everyone's surprise and delight, Freeverse also debuted a more action-oriented game this past year. When you need a quick pick-me-up between card games, consider giving WingNuts: Temporal Navigator a try. This top-down shooter puts you in the cockpit of a plane, hunting down the evil Baron Von Schtopwatch as he attempts to travel through time. The 360-degree gameplay is extremely easy to pick up and play, but the addiction can last for weeks. The demo for WingNuts is sure to leave you wanting more, so be sure to grab it now if you haven't already. If you think a gamer on your list would like it, WingNuts can be purchased for under $20.

Pop-Pop (Matt Diamond)
How does Ambrosia Software do it?! There aren’t many arcade games older than the break-down-wall-with-ball-and-paddle type, but Ambrosia has made it brand-new again with their head-to-head game Pop-Pop. This game allows players to duel against the computer, someone on the Internet, or side-by-side with a friend. Just pick one of seven distinctive “pops” to distract your opponent, while you frantically clear the bricks from your side of the screen. It sounds simple, but the game is rich with strategy, not to mention colorful sounds and effects. It’s a must-try download, and don’t be surprised to find that it’s worth every penny of the $25 shareware fee.



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