As all of you out there are aware, summer is here, and with it all of the fun that it brings. Great weather, sunny beaches, grassy baseball diamonds, picnics in the park, cool water in the swimming pool–all leisure activities with a fun factor of 100%.
With that idea in mind, we’ve decided to showcase two games that also follow that idea. Mars Rising, from Ambrosia Software, and Project Magellan, from Plaid World, are both awesome scrolling space shoot-em-ups with nothing but fun in mind. There are no mazes and maps to worry about, no puzzles to figure out before you can advance to the next level, and certainly no brain teasers. Just fly your ship and blast everything in sight. These games have a fun factor of 100%, too, so disengage your brain and enjoy!
Adam: Wow Mike, you really said it all there! So, no reason to ramble. Here we go…
Mars Rising 1.0
Company: Ambrosia Software, Inc.
Mike: I’ve been complaining since day one
about the lack of quality scrolling-shoot-em-ups for the Mac. There are plenty of good non-scrolling shooters (Space Invaders, Galaga, and Centipede clones, such as Ambrosia’s own Apieron and Swoop) out there, but they just aren’t the same. Does the notion of flying a spaceship that can’t travel anywhere strike anyone else as a little dumb?
Adam: It strikes me as very dumb, let me tell ya! Scrolling shooting games have the sense of adventure that still/fixed shooting games don’t. With scrolling shooters, you never know what’s coming next, what’s around the next corner, and, well, you get the point!
Mike: The awesome folks at Ambrosia Software have come to our rescue by releasing Mars Rising, a simply stunning vertically scrolling shooter that is sure to please. Adam, you want to set the story line for this game?
Adam: Of course not, Mike! It’s all you…
Mike: Whatever you say, Adam! In the year 2084, the Mars Colony has decided that it’s had enough of playing second fiddle to the folks back on Earth, and they’ve decided to do something about it. As usual, the task of repressing the entire rebel army falls directly on the shoulders on one or two individuals. Armed with the Vac-Fighter, one of the most highly advanced combat ships in existence, you have to fight through 28 levels or Martian uprising, emerge victorious, and play the part of the hero.
Adam: Bravo, well put, Mike. No game would be truly complete without its share of bells and whistles. In Mars Rising, after you kill certain enemies, stars are left behind which you can pick up for points/lives. And once you accumulate enough points, you will get an extra life, and believe me, you’ll need them. Also left behind after enemies are killed are items such as auto fire, rear fire, bombs, speed, etc., which all enhance your arsenal and make the game play that much more exciting.
Mars Rising also has its share of options. You can set detail, like shadows, music and sound options, and key sets, so different players can have different key combinations when they play two-player games. And all these key sets are saved, so you can recall them instantly.
Mike: The game supports all kinds of joysticks and game pads, so you aren’t restricted to using the keyboard or mouse, and as Adam mentioned, two players can also play the game at once in a cooperative fashion. The fact that only the first four levels are available without registering is kind of few of Ambrosia’s games have any “crippled” or “demo” features, and I was a a bummer–very little disappointed to see them take that route with Mars Rising–but once you finish that first quartet of levels, you’ll be itching to play the other two dozen.
Mars Rising requires a PowerPC processor (80Mhz 601 or 100Mhz 603 recommended), 7500Kb free RAM, a 640×480 monitor with 256 colors or greater, Mac OS 7.5.5 or later, and Sound Manager 3.1 or later. Ambrosia also recommends a joystick or game pad, especially in 2 player games, but I found I had much more control with the keyboard.
You can download Mars Rising from the special Mars Rising Web site, at .
Mike: Mars Rising is a winner in my book. It’s an awesome game because it does everything right. From downright gorgeous graphics–notice the shadows of the ships on the ground below, and the craters and marks left behind from bombs that have been dropped–to an excellent, crank-it-up soundtrack, Mars Rising has it all; it should be listed in the dictionary under the word “polished.” You’ve got to try it out to see for yourself, that’s all there is to it. My check for twenty bucks is already in the mail.
Adam: I haven’t played a game as downright stunning as Mars Rising in a long time. From the minute I launched the program I was impressed. Great music, graphics, story line, and game play make this game a winner, and it’s bonus items keep you on your toes. Though it uses a “crippleware” approach, four levels are enough to let you make the decision to pay your $20.00, an asking price that is somewhat modest for this top quality game.
Download Mars Rising 1.0.1
Project Magellan 2.0.2
Company: Plaid World Software
Mike: Project Magellan does for horizontally
scrolling shooters what Mars Rising does for vertically scrolling ones. This game is in the mold of such arcade classics as R-Type and Gradius, and it is simply awesome.
Adam: My first impression of Project Magellan wasn’t great, considering its first startup panel and game loading progress bar are a little less than eye pleasing, but once you are past them, the game play, which is what counts, is breathtaking. Mike, the story line please?
Mike: Of course, Adam. It’s 1000 years after Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the globe (which means the story takes place sometime in the middle of the next millennium; the exact date wasn’t in the Read Me, and I wasn’t going to look it up!), and so people thought it would be cool to commemorate the occasion by sending a fleet of starships out to explore the galaxy. Problem is, it seems like a bunch of aliens decided that was a bad thing for us to do, and so they attacked the fleet while it was on its voyage. Two of our fighter ships took the offensive, and the aliens escaped through a conveniently close wormhole. The two good guy ships followed them through the wormhole, and now they’ve found themselves in between a rock and a hard place… or a worm hole and bunch of angry aliens, whatever the case might be. Anyway, good luck in piloting our troops through the enemy forces and getting them out alive!
Adam: Project Magellan plays a little different, as you gain points when you pick up what is left behind after killing an enemy. But the concept is still the same. There are lots of bonus weapons, and like Mars Rising, Project Magellan is very customizable. You can set music and graphics options, controls for both players, and different skill levels.
Mike: This game, like Mars Rising, features stunning graphics and a great soundtrack. If you have the horses, playing the game in 16-bit color with all the graphics options turned on is quite an experience, as is the beautiful QuickTime movie intro. Project Magellan also has a two player option, several cheat codes, and a level editor.
Project Magellan requires a PowerPC or 68040 processor, a 640×480 monitor with 256 colors or greater, 8MB of free RAM for 8-bit color (256), 14MB of free RAM for 16-bit color (thousands), and QuickTime 2.0 for movies. If you choose to buy the full version you’ll need a 2X CD-ROM drive and 60MB of free hard disk space.
You can download Project Magellan at the Plaid World Software Web site, at . There a couple of download options, which is nice, because the full download is huge. (The full demo takes 22MB on my hard disk, the small demo clocked in at over seven, and the documentation says the full version takes over sixty and ships on a CD-ROM.)
Mike: There’s not much more to say; this is another game that must be seen to be believed. All Mac gamers should check out Project Magellan; it’s some of the best arcade action available.
Adam: There’s simply not much you can say about Project Magellan that isn’t good. It’s a well rounded game that I am happy to have had the opportunity to review. $29.00 may seem steep, but Project Magellan is worth every bit of it.
Download Project Magellan 2.0.2
What About Shooters for Lower-End Macs?
Mike: I realize that the system requirements for these two games are a little steeper than our usual fare; Mars Rising is PowerPC only, and Project Magellan should be also–I felt it ran unacceptable slow on my ‘040-based LC 575, but I also only have 8MB of physical RAM on that machine, so it may just be that it doesn’t work well with RAM Doubler.
Don’t worry that we’ve forsaken the lower-end crowd just because I jumped into PowerPC land this past month (see Wall Writings in this issue); we’ll be sure to continue to include some games that will run on any Mac in the future. The opportunity to review some amazing games that require a little more horse power is far too tempting to pass up, though; plus, we’d be doing a disservice to our readers who have new computers if we didn’t show them what was available. Now that we can choose games from all ends of the spectrum, more than ever we’d like to hear from our readers as to what games you’d like us to review.
Adam: We do have some exciting reviews ahead of us. We also hope to hop into commercial games very soon, so stay tuned.
Mike: As for this month, there aren’t many scrolling shooters for 680×0 Macs that I’m aware of. Last year we reviewed Foobar Versus The DEA, from Funner Software, and I think that it’s probably still your best bet for a less hardware-intensive winner. Otherwise, there are plenty of quality non-scrolling shooters (such as the ones I alluded to at the beginning of this article) that will run on almost any Mac. Besides, every good Mac gamer should have a copy of Swoop on their hard drive!
One final note before signing off this month: for science fiction fans who want a little more thinking and a little less violence in their games, Ambrosia has released a much-hyped sequel to one of the most popular Mac shareware games ever. Escape Velocity: Override should be available for download as you read this, and it promises to be even more immersive and addicting than the first one. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but I would expect nothing less than near perfection.
Well, you got a bonus portion of Game Guys this month; this is quite a bit longer than our usual column. So, we better let you guys quit reading and start playing your games, eh? Have a great summer, and see you next month!