So we may have gotten a free Mac OS upgrade today, but the lion’s share of the attention is still going to the iOS eye candy. So to defend our Intel powered boxes from the touch and swipe crowd, this week is going to be all about the Mac. We have a not-so-all-star game on the Tennis court. After that, we have a musical adventure game set in a little girl’s nightmare. Find exactly how thankless a job politics can be with our third game. Then we have a game that combines classic side-scrolling-platforming with a rouge-like-RPG. Finally, we have the next big adventure from Telltale Games.
If you weren’t sure that Angry Birds was slowly conquering the world, they have announced that they are making a Kart racing game, putting them firmly on the plumber’s turf. To promote the upcoming Arkham Origins game, Warner Bros. is releasing a free-to-play spin-off on iOS. Now, on to our game recommendations for the week.
Sega Superstars Tennis – Mac
Since the Dreamcast sent Sega packing up their hardware, their various franchises haven’t gotten the same kind of love that Mario has enjoyed. However, Sega has realized that they have some cache in their franchises. In addition to a racing title, they have decided what players really wanted was Tennis. Though as far as tennis games go, there’s a lot of simulation and skill required to do well in this game. To break up the game, there’s also mini games. These little games are pretty fun. In the House of the Dead levels, you’ll compete in games to knock down the zombie hordes using nothing but tennis balls. On the Jet Set Radio level, you’ll collect spray cans while avoiding cops marching around the court.
The game features Sonic and his pals, which are arguably the best known of Sega’s characters. Of course, there’s also a dozen or so characters from the plethora of lesser known Sega titles. Of course, casual Sega fans aren’t going to buy a Sega themed Sega game. The game features local multiplayer. You are going to need a controller to make this game work, as they keyboard and mouse controls are a bit of a mess.
What’s Good: For a game starring a speed freak Hedgehog, this is a solid tennis simulation.
What Sucks: Sega doesn’t have the big stable of characters to draw from. The game is pretty controller reliant.
Buy it?: If you’re into Tennis or nostalgic for Sega’s golden years, you can grab Sega Superstars Tennis for $14.99 on the Mac App Store.
Finding Teddy – Mac
When a game opens up with a giant spider stealing a little girl’s teddy bear, you know that it’s going to be a bit weird. The game looks like a cross between Coraline and Sword and Sworcery: everything is completely surreal. To chase down your lost teddy, you’ll need to placate monsters more than happy to eat you. About a quarter of the way into the game, you find out that there are puzzles that rely on a musical scale, and the game doesn’t give a good tutorial that lets you know that these correspond to letters.
You’ll still need an ear for music as some clues are entirely musical. That may present a steep difficulty curve for some players, but if you stick with it, you get a pretty nice little fable here.
The world is excellently designed, and some of the puzzles will require some pretty thoughtful solutions. The game has excellent sound design, and the music as language is well done as well. The mixture of simplistic graphics and advanced story telling is really charming.
What’s Good: Excellent design of the game’s world. Interesting story.
What Sucks: Game could use better tutorial, some of the puzzles will puzzle the tone deaf.
Buy it?: If you enjoy you games with a heavy dose of surrealism, or like tricky puzzles, grab Finding Teddy from the Mac App Store for $7.99.
Democracy 3 – Mac
If you ever doubted that politics was far more complicated than anyone on cable news would have you believe, Democracy 3 is the game for you. Think of this game as the hard part of Civilization. You have to balance an array of interests, while metering out your limited political capital. In addition to courting blocs of voters, you will need to make sure that you are keeping your cabinet happy as well. There are global problems that interrupt your domestic policies, as well as social problems you will need to address.
This entire game is played out on various dashboards, with major events occurring every year. You can destabilize the country, leading to discord and assassination attempts. Courting the wrong groups can easily cause a revolt in your cabinet, where you then waste a year rebuilding. This game isn’t easy, but is interesting. It takes a few play-throughs to get the hang of the way the game reacts to your choices.
What’s Good: Excellent management title, has a lot of in-depth tools to manage your country.
What Sucks: Getting the hang of this game is going to take time, and there isn’t a lot of action.
Buy it?: If you like politics, or just intense simulations, grab Democracy 3 for $24.95 from the developer’s website.
Rouge Legacy – Mac
Rouge Legacy is the story of an entire line of knights continually dying in the same castle. Trick is that with each passing generation, the castle changes and becomes an entirely different layout. It’s a nice frame for the game’s rouge like mechanics, but the generational aspects really do affect the way that your character’s change. They get flaws like color blindness, IBS, and near sightedness. These change the way that you play, you also can end up with gigantic characters, or dwarves that come with distinct advantages with certain areas of the castle.
The actual combat is a side scrolling action RPG, it seems to be a direct descendent of Wizards and Warriors. There are areas that you’ll rely on platform skills just as much as twitch swordplay. The game has a pretty steady difficulty curve, but you will die a lot. This might put off players not used to the genre, but the developers soften the blow with a system that allows you to unlock new skills and increase your beginning stats with your gold. You’ll lose what you don’t spend, so be aggressive in what you unlock.
What’s Good: A great combination of genres, with a good hook to keep you engaged for hours.
What Sucks: Sometimes when the three random characters come up, none are useful. Game can feel pretty overwhelming early on.
Buy it?: If the idea of a really retro, and difficult, gaming experience appeals to you; grab it for $14.99 on Amazon. (As long as you grab the Steam copy, you will get the Mac version as well as the PC version of the game.)
The Wolf Among Us – Mac
What happens when the creatures of our bedtime stories are exiled to modern New York City? Like its comic source material Fables, The Wolf Among Us gives you a pretty dark answer. The game opens with Bigby Wolf, formerly known as the Big Bad Wolf. He’s trying to keep the peace, even though his days as a villain still haunt him. Like Telltale’s The Walking Dead game, you get to choose how the game perceives your character. The game is a bit less binary then most moral choices, but that doesn’t mean that the game is going to be light regardless of how hard you try to be nice.
The game has some seriously good writing. The game manages to channel the feel of the comic so well. The voice acting is all really well done, maybe even better than The Walking Dead. If there was a problem with this game, it would be that it’s another big licensed title from Telltale. They have some good internal IP, or the creative juices to come up with something new, and they’ve stuck to chasing the success of the licensed titles. Regardless, this is a really good game.
What’s Good: Excellent writing, huge variability of choice tailors the game to your ideas.
What Sucks: Nothing with the game itself, but Telltale should really consider making another Puzzle Agent.
Buy it?: If you appreciate good writing in games, you should not only grab The Wolf Among us for $24.99 on Amazon(you get episode 1 now and the rest as they come out,) you should grab everything they’ve made on the Mac.