I never knew that sorting and counting change could be so engaging. That is, at least, before I tried ChangeReaction and got hooked on its unique twist on the match-three formula. It’s an audio game — a video game without graphics — designed with blind people in mind, although sighted folks can certainly enjoy themselves too.
Unlike a regular video game, where you act on both visual and auditory stimuli, ChangeReaction is entirely predicated on what you can hear. You piece together the scene and gauge your progress, and do pretty much everything, solely by listening to sound effects and voice samples and pressing keys on your keyboard.
I thought I could outrace the sun. I knew it was impossible, that I was always going to lose, but still I thought that somehow this time I would actually make it — that I’d reach some kind of singularity where I’d somehow be past the sun, or that I’d find a way to keep it indefinitely up in the sky above me.
There’s no “winning” in Race The Sun, a game about endlessly speeding toward the horizon in pursuit of nothing in particular, but you’ll often be lured into the preposterous notion that your run will end in something other than a crash or the disappearance of your almighty glowing foe. This is its great strength — that you’ll want to keep battling the impossible — but ultimately also its weakness, as you become conditioned to crashing and losing all the time.
Some games go big. Not content to produce a tiny slice of virtual reality, they craft entire worlds for you to wander and inhabit. Bethesda’s latest Elder Scrolls title, the enormously popular — and just plain enormous — open-world fantasy role-playing game Skyrim stands as one of the best examples of this epic scope, and this appears to be what Crescent Moon’s Ravensword: Shadowlands tries to replicate.
Ravensword doesn’t have Skyrim’s hundreds of hours of questing and exploring, but it still manages an impressive few dozen hours — which is doubly notable for the fact that it was made on a budget a fraction of the size of Skyrim’s and it’s being sold at a fraction of the price. (more…)
Finding new music you like is hard. If you’re not completely enmeshed in a community that happens to perfectly match your taste, you’re sure to be missing stuff you’d like, and only Top 40 pop is reasonably represented in the mainstream.
That’s probably why big names like Amazon, Apple, Last.fm, Pandora, and even the top record labels invest heavily in tools that suggest songs and artists you might like, based on databases they piece together from your listening or buying preferences.
Walknote brings its own recommendation algorithm to the table, coupling it with your iTunes music library and an attractive interface. It’s unlikely to surface many obscure gems by artists you haven’t heard of before, but between its genre-sorted recommended mixes and tight integration with YouTube, Last.fm, Amazon, and the iTunes Music Store, Walknote brings just enough to the table to be useful.
Good apps for musicians that don’t cost an arm and a leg are hard to come by on the Mac — perhaps owing to the fact that Apple provides a fine one with every computer in GarageBand. But there’s no one-size-fits-all music creation apps, since we all have different needs and use cases.
Tabular bridges the two core prongs of creating music. It’s a composition and notation app, suited to writing and editing music for multiple instruments with both tablature and the modern stave/staff format. But it’s also a MIDI reader and a practice tool, specifically geared toward — but not limited to only — guitarists and drummers.
Before Halo rocketed to system-selling success, before Marathon showed how an intricate story could weave into an action-heavy first-person shooter, it was 1993 release Pathways into Darkness that put Bungie on the map. The company’s third game, PiD combined the first-person action of id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D with an exploration-focused adventure game.
It was a revelation, quickly reaching bestseller status and earning plaudits across the Mac-focused press. And now you can play it in OS X (without an emulator), courtesy of a port by Mark Levin and Bruce Morrison. I’ve spent the past few weeks struggling through its many twisty passages, and am pleased to report that it’s still a great game.
But boy is it hard — brutally so. Allow me to walk you through a little of Pathways into Darkness’s legacy and gameplay, and to explain why — difficulty aside — you should seriously consider giving it a try.
John Calhoun’s original Glider — dating back to 1988 — may well be my favorite game. Quintessentially Mac in style, it put you in charge of a paper airplane in a rundown, dilapidated house. You needed simply to stay afloat, lifted by air vents, and try to reach the window leading to freedom.
It was a game of wits, and patience, and it’s one of the most innately-charming pieces of entertainment I’ve ever encountered. The shareware series earned a dedicated fan-base and awards from Mac magazines through its five main installments, culminating in a commercial release (Glider PRO, 1994), then gradually faded into the background … that is, until Glider Classic for iOS was released in late 2011, which was followed up last year by a Mac version simply called Glider.
Let’s see how this throwback stands up — both to modern standards and to the nostalgia of Glider games past.
City-building games got complicated really fast after SimCity 2000 released nearly 20 years ago. They remain a joy to play, but the best ones tend to come with steep learning curves.
Not so for the Virtual City series, however, as it adopts a more casual tilt on the genre. Virtual City 2: Paradise Resort offers a compact city-building experience and a lengthy scenario-based campaign to dig your mouse into. Whether you’re waiting for the new SimCity to drop on OS X or looking for an alternative city builder with a different approach, it’s worth a closer look.
Barely a week after I reviewed the promising prototype release of Evernote viewing app Bubble Browser, we were sent code for its first major update. I’ve been playing around with it for long enough now that I can confidently say it’s a big step forward.
Bubble Browser 2 addresses many of my concerns with the previous version — with a more polished interface, improved filtering and navigation, and a few new features — but it’s not yet the app I hoped for. Let’s see what’s changed, what’s still lacking, and how the improvements stack up.
With two Macs on rotation — an iMac and a MacBook Air — plopped on top of 20 years on Apple’s side of the operating system fence, I’ve come to use a lot of apps. More even than I can think of off the top of my head, in fact. But some stick out as essential daily drivers, without which I’d struggle to get anything done.
Here’s a choice selection of the apps I use and rely upon nearly every day.