Since the apps article was so tightly focused on the iPad last week, I thought that it might be good to give you Mac gamers a full serving of games for OS X.
First up we have a port from iOS that is a spiritual successor to Marble Madness. The makers of Ridiculous Fishing have released an arcade shooter that’s equal parts 1942 and Dr Strangelove. If you love Metroidvania style games, we have one that adds in luchadores and an army of undead. Speaking of undead, a first person melee battle against a horde of zombies in a AAA title that finally came to the Mac. Finally, we have the expansion to one of last year’s biggest games.
Octagon – Mac
Classic arcade fans likely remember Marble Madness, which had a great premise. Users would guide a marble through tracks that played with momentum. Octagon draws a lot from the spirit of Marble Madness, but moving it to a 3D environment. The game places the marble on a 3D track that weaves between each of the eight directions. You switch between the tracks with the left and right arrow keys, or jumping to the opposite side with the up arrow.
If I were to complain about this game, it would be that it feels too twitchy. Most of your success is based around memorization and trial and error. The level designs are clever, and there are several ways they tweak changes in the track to trick your expectations.
What’s Good: Really neat looking visuals and easy to learn gameplay.
What Sucks: Values reflex and memorization over strategy.
Buy it?: If you like classic arcade action titles, Octagon is likely a game you should check out. Grab it for free on the App Store.
Luftrausers – Mac
Ridiculous Fishing was a game that I binged my way through in a weekend. Luftrausers shares that game’s design sense, but in a much more arcade focused experience. The premise is simple: you take off from an aircraft carrier and then kill as many enemies as you can before you’re killed. The enemies come in a few forms: you get swarmed by small planes, chased by jets, there’s rockets that streak by, or ships shoot at you from below. If you kill enemies in quick enough succession it creates a combo that increases your score.
As you play through the game you level up and get new challenges. These challenges range from easy tasks like killing a certain number of enemies, or more difficult tasks like killing a boat after getting a maximum combo. Completion of these challenges unlocks upgrades for your ship. The upgrades let you create different combinations that give the game variety.
If you played Ridiculous Fishing, you understand Vambleer’s design sense. Luftrausers draws the arcade feel of casual games, but keeps the collectibility and power increases from casual games. The game controls are a bit weird, it’ll take a few tries to get the hang of it. The game has a distinctive art style and color palette. The game’s design is interesting, but the
What’s Good: Fun gameplay, unique design.
What Sucks: Controls have a steep learning curve, and graphics are unique but may be off-putting to some.
Buy it?: Fans of arcade games, and Vambleer, will find a lot to like in Luftrausers. Grab it from Vambler’s website.
Guacamelee – Mac
The term Metroidvanaia came to describe games like Castlevania or Metroid that send you from one end of the map to the other as you get new items, expanding the areas you can explore as you navigate through the obstacle course of enemies. If it’s been awhile since you’ve played a game like Symphony of The Night, you explore the map to get items and then backtrack to find previously unreachable areas. Guacamelee recreates this style perfectly, and mixes it with the story about luchadores and the land of the dead. Your items to open new areas come in the form of supernatural wrestling moves that break open colored walls that allow you to explore new areas. It’s the day of the dead, and you play the only Man in town who isn’t a luchador. The President’s daughter is kidnapped, and you’re killed by the undead kindnapper. You’re reborn as a magical Luchador when you claim a magical mask from the afterlife.
The game is filled with references to geek culture and old video games, which adds a lot atmosphere. The game’s controls are easy to pick up, even the wrestling moves you unlock, but only if you’re using a controller. The game has a lot of side quests as well, though it doesn’t do well in telling you your progress on those quests. Completists will have to keep good notes, but other than that, this is a really fun game.
What’s Good: Fun action, lot of references and humor.
What Sucks: Side quests are not called out or tracked easily.
Buy it?: If you’re a fan of side scrolling exploration, Mexican wrestling, and classic video games, check this game out. Grab it for $14.99 on the developer’s website.
Dead Island – Mac
Dead Island is the story of what happens when a bunch of stereotypes stop being polite, and start killing zombies. Dead Island took a lot of people by surprise a few years ago because its trailer looked like it was going to give you an emotional version of the zombie apocalypse. It turned out that the game is actually the Zombie Apocalypse at Club Med directed by Michael Bay.That said, three years on the game has come to the Mac and the sting of that bait and switch has faded. Rather than deal with families sorting through their loss, you have a lot of basic stereotypes huddling in sheds screaming. The player takes the role of one of four characters, also stereotypes, each with a different weapon specialization. You then ostensibly start the business of escaping, all while revealing a conspiracy behind the outbreak. What you’re really doing is running between NPC’s gathering fetch quests and bashing zombies in-between.
I’m struck by the neat idea of a First Person Melee game that takes place in a zombie apocalypse. There is a bit of a story here, but like many open world games it’s trickled out between fetch quests. The attempts to flesh out characters and a larger conspiracy are wasted on gamers as this game is more about visceral fun.I’m not one to say that writing in games doesn’t matter, but in this particular situation it’s the case. The characters are flimsy. The plot seems to forget that Resident Evil was at it’s worst when it was trying to be serious. Instead take joy in scavenging weapons and bashing in former hotel guest’s heads with rusty weapons, tools, and anything else you can get your hands on. There is online co-op, you can even open up your game to the public. It does seem to cause your current mission to reset, so be weary if you’re working through a lengthy quest. The game’s biggest draw back is the weapon management. Your weapons break, in a play for realism, and you’ll need to replace them before they break. You end up simply collecting a lot of your favorite weapons, which are littered everywhere. To repair them you’ll need to find a workbench, which are in safe houses scattered throughout the island. While this is a bit of a chore, it also opens up custom weapons. The fun of smashing zombies with a nail bat balances out the chore of weapon maintenance.
What’s Good: Fun gameplay, custom weapon building.
What Sucks: Plot and characters are just in the way of the gameplay, and the weapon wearing system is unnecessary.
Buy it?: If you liked the realism and emotional nature of the Walking Dead games, run. If you like really stupid fun that happens to involve zombies, check out Dead Island. Grab it on Steam for $19.99. Note the DLC content is not available for the Mac.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Mac
Diablo III was doomed from the start. Its real world money auction house landed with a thud, and most people criticized that it was limited to story mode for multiplayer. Along with an additional chapter of story, Reaper of Souls brought a patch that improved the loot, removed the auction house and added Adventure Mode. Adventure Mode allows you to play through randomly generated challenges solo or with friends. The additional chapter of story and a new class are all that’s behind the paywall, but they’re worth it. The story picks up with Diablo Dead, and the black soulstone being hidden deep underground. A lost angel reappears as the grim reaper, and steals the soulstone in an attempt to use it to kill all of humanity. Your character is called back to battle to defeat him and his minions. If you haven’t finished the original story of Diablo III, you’ll see this inital cutscene, but will be unable to access the new content until you finish.
If you’re lost don’t worry about it, you’ll pick it up once you’ve gone through more conversation trees. Which may be one of the reasons that Diablo is so much fun, you can go as deep into the story as you want. The click heavy combat and loot are all in supply in the expansion. The new enemy types are all really interesting and look great. This is a nice cap to a great game, though the ending hints there may be more to come. The adventure mode finally gives this game the feeling of an end game beyond replaying the story.
What’s Good: New enemy designs, adventure mode, and better loot.
What Sucks: Adventure mode abandons all the new areas and enemies from the expansion.