Pangea Arcade: Old School Gaming on the Mac

Video games have come a long way in the past twenty years. It went from dumping nickels and quarters into 6-foot tall machines in a smokey arcade to sitting in a living room in front of a HD TV with a wireless controller in your hand.

Although those advances make living in the future much cooler, there’s something to be said for taking it back to the old school; playing the games of the past, just updated a bit to reflect current technology.

Pangea Arcade fits into that category. It’s been on the Mac for years now, but with the birth of the Mac App Store came a spot in the top of the charts for the game. So what makes this 3-in-1 combo pack so popular? Let’s delve deeper and find out.

Roots

Pangea Arcade is essentially, three games on one platform – hence the whole “arcade” theme. Each one of these games comes from a concept rooted in the early years of gaming. Once the game is fired up, it hits you right away: this is old school.

Deja vu all over again.

Deja vu all over again.

Don’t read too far into that statement; old doesn’t mean bad, it just means that it’s not new. This isn’t the latest port of the Unreal engine on your Mac, it’s retro gaming with a new-school look. And that’s what makes it both fun and different.

Fireworms

First game up is Fireworms, a takeoff on the original Centipede for the Atari gaming console. You play as a spaceship tasked with shooting a snake-like figure (let’s just call it a Fireworm) that whittles its way down the screen at a startling pace. As an added bonus, there are these bubbles that can shoot out from side to side, making the game more interesting.

Look familiar? Yup, that's the plan.

Look familiar? Yup, that's the plan.

Where the original Centipede started off slow and stepped up the pace after that, Fireworms doesn’t follow that same pattern. Instead, it starts off frenzied, and the pace just gets more difficult. Just a few levels in and things get so hectic that you’ll find yourself punching on the keyboard furiously just trying to keep up.

Fast paced? You betcha.

Fast paced? You betcha.

The game is enjoyable to play though, and the extra challenge that the pace adds makes it even more fun to pick up. Although this wasn’t my favorite game out of the three, it was still entertaining.

Warheads

Now I’m positive that Warheads is an updated version of an older video game, but I can’t for the life of me figure out which one. Maybe it’s just that the concept seems familiar: You have three gunships positioned at the bottom of the screen, and you have to shoot missiles out of the sky with those guns.

Aim, point and shoot.

Aim, point and shoot.

So that’s fun, right? Yes it is, but what makes this one more fun is also the level of difficulty. You can’t just point and shoot at the missile, you have to lead it by an appropriate amount to compensate for the travel time of the bullet you fired. You also have a limited amount of bullets to fire, so you can’t just sit there and fire from one gun alone.

Fireworks are fun.

Fireworks are fun.

The only real frustrating part about this game was the lack of directions. It’s not easy to figure out which button controls which gun at first (control shoots left, option shoots middle and command shoots right, FYI), and it took me some tinkering to figure out how to navigate the game.  Even so, it was still fun to play, and the great graphics make it cool eye candy as well. I’d say this was my second favorite game in the bunch.

Nucleus

To complete the trifecta, we have Nucleus, a twist on Asteroids. What makes it different? Well to start, you’re not just shooting asteroids with your little ship (although at first, they sure do look like rocks floating in space), you’re shooting objects to reveal particles that you need to collect. Each of these particles is called an electron, and you need them to build an atom.

It's Asteroids, but with pretty colors.

It's Asteroids, but with pretty colors.

That’s right, this is a learning game of sorts. In the top left corner of each level is an element on the periodic table. You need to collect the correct amount of electrons needed for each atom using your ship. Then you drag the electrons to their nucleus, which you find via the arrow on the map.

Educational? Sure, we'll go with that.

Educational? Sure, we'll go with that.

This is my favorite one in the mix, because of its replayability. With each progressive element on the chart, the objects floating through space change and become more difficult to avoid. But it still has all of the fun physics of the original Asteroid game, and the same challenges as well.

Verdict

Gears of War, this is not. What it is though, is a lot of fun to play. And for $2.99, you’ve got a variety of games that will help you whittle away a few hours.

For older gamers, it also brings back visions of consoles gone by. It’s not a perfect game, but it’s worth the purchase price for sure, and one that I’m glad to have on my Mac.


Summary

Three retro-style games with new-school graphics, all for one low price. Pangea is a Mac classic that has received a well-deserved publicity boost through inclusion in the Mac App Store.

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  • Shadi Mirza

    Warheads is a re-imagining of Missile Command – or were you being sarcastic? Anyone who was born in the early 80s should know about Missile Command.

  • Ryan

    The game you’re thinking of with Warheads is Missile Command.

  • Jden Redden

    Wish they put more time into the 3D mode. Rather than just having red/blue offset.

    J.

  • SideshowBob

    Warheads is a updated version of Missile Command.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missile_Command

  • Dak Splunder

    You’re 18, you’ve never played arcade games, we get it. Just admit it — please don’t try act like you know what you’re talking about. (Yeah, I’m being an asshole old guy.)

    • These games *never* took nickels.
    • Fireworms is a takeoff on the arcade game Centipede, not the crappy version they made for “the Atari gaming console.” All three of these games are homages to classic arcade games, not “consoles gone by.”
    • As has been stated already a whole lot: Missile Command. Come on, a simple google search would have answered that for you.
    • “Gears of War, this is not. What it is though, is a lot of fun to play.” That’s like if you were describing beach volleyball: “NFL Football, this is not. What is is though, is a lot of fun to play.” Arcade gaming is an established and legitimate fun form of gaming. It’s not inferior to intricate campaign battle sims, it’s different.

  • http://therankmaniac2011.blogspot.com/ Nihar Sharma

    Tried it out. Not a bad way to spend an hour or two.

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