[Podcast] Ep 109: StarCraft II launch, Torchlight review, new Mac Pro

What’s inside this episode:

  • Omaha reviews Torchlight for the Mac by Runic Games. A lightweight 3rd person adventure dungeon crawl with fun monsters to defeat and cool swag to find. Comfort food for your Mac gaming habit.

Show Notes:

  • Omaha hosts alone as she talks about the StarCraft II launch, and whether it signals the beginning of the end of midnight launches.
  • Apple has announced a new Mac Pro for August. Is it worth it to upgrade? Will it compete with other gaming machines?
  • Other games for the Mac have been announced or released this past week, and Omaha talks a little about them all, including Ubisoft’s announcement of Assassin’s Creed 2 and Tom Clancy Splinter Cell: Conviction in their financial statements.
  • No Plants vs Zombies 2 this year, and say goodbye to the dancing zombie, and hello to the disco zombie.

Music Notes:

July 30, 2010 · Posted in Podcasts   
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Disco Zombie has arrived, says PopCap

Now that the Micheal Jackson dancing Zombie of PopCap Game’s immensely popular game, Plants vs Zombies, is no more, we have been waiting with baited breath for its replacement. PopCap has now revealed the new dancing zombie:
Disco Zombie

PopCap revealed the new arrival yesterday, confirming that he is now called the “Disco Zombie”.

‘I can confirm that there is in fact a new ‘disco zombie’ (see image attached) and I would really appreciate if you could ‘be nice to the new guy’…the disco zombie is starting to feel like a second class zombie citizen, which is really unfair considering the length of time he spent doing his hair! I actually managed to catch up with him earlier today and, while he’s a little adverse to public speaking, he gave me the following (badly) written statement:

“Dear Alive Peeples, I am pleazed too join the big brainz at PopCap and can’t wait to meat you all. And yes, I du my own heir.”’

July 30, 2010 · Posted in Games   
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EU Rome: Gold Edition is out

Europa Universalis Rome: Gold EditionVirtual Programming has been pretty busy lately. First a Hearts of Iron expansion, and now the Gold Edition of Europa Universalis Rome. The Gold Edition includes the original EU Rome, and the Vae Victus expansion pack, and can be downloaded from the direct2mac website.

Choose any date between 280 BC, the first Punic War, and 27 BC and lead one of ten different cultures, including the Roman, Celtic, Greek, and Egyptian civilizations. Decide to trade and negotiate with your neighbors, or turn aggressive and declare all out war. There are hundreds of provinces and more than 53 factions to play with, as well as historical characters that you can ban, imprison, execute, or promote, depending on how much caffeine you had that morning.

The Gold Edition includes upgraded military AI as well as online play, with up to 32 gamers in either competitive or co-op mode.

System requirements:

  • Mac OS X version 10.5.8 or later
  • Intel processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 128MB video card (Nvidia GeForce 7300 or ATI RadeonHD 2600/4850/4870 or better; Intel GMA integrated graphics chipsets and ATI X1600 and X1900 video cards are not supported)
  • 1.2GB of hard disk space
  • A broadband Internet connection for product registration and online multiplayer

Europa Universalis Rome: Gold Edition is available on the Virtual Programming site for $29.95US, £24.95UK, €29.95EU.

July 29, 2010 · Posted in Games   
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Wedding Dash 4-Ever, because who doesn’t love a wedding?

Wedding Dash 4-EverPlayFirst has announced Wedding Dash 4-Ever, a game based on the real-life ravages of brides-to-be everywhere. This sequel to the Wedding Dash game brings Quinn back to tackle more wedding details, quell more guest mayhem, search for wedding collectibles and otherwise survive the deadliest game in a bride’s life. The game will be released August 10.

In Wedding Dash 4-Ever, Quinn is gearing up for another hectic wedding season when her mother, Lynn, arrives to aid in the planning on Quinn’s own wedding. Except Quinn hasn’t told her mother that the wedding is off (oops) and now there’s “dramady” as Quinn tries to sidestep her mother while dealing with all of the other weddings she is working on.

In the game, you will be not just tackling the reception festivities, but leading the wedding ceremony itself, as well as guiding conga lines, accommodating special requests, and preventing outrageous wedding disasters. Each level will also have hidden collectibles to search for that will unlock objects to decorate Quinn’s ultimate dream wedding venue.

Wait a minute, folks. So, here we have a game that focuses on turning a tragedy into fun. I mean, what happened to this wedding of Quinn’s that’s been called off? Will we have a mini-game where Quinn confronts her drunk groom in a local pub? Or maybe there’s a puzzle where you have to put all the pieces of glassware back together after Lynn broke them when she finds out the truth. Seriously, what were these designers thinking??

Y’know, I avoided all of this crap. We walked up to a justice of the peace and said our thing, then told all our relatives, “Hey, we thought we’d let you know we got married today.” Should have seen their faces…

Wedding Dash: 4-Ever will be available for both PC and Mac for download on August 10, 2010.

July 29, 2010 · Posted in Games   
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Box Battle shoots cannon steam punk style

Box BattleMaxNick has announced Box Battle for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. A castle crasher type game with some interesting twists, you operate a steam-powered artillery cannon and blow your way through 130 different puzzles.

The game has a Steam-Punk theme to the story and graphics, and seems to combine castle crashing with strategy gaming elements. You can unlock 10 types of ammunition, but the more destructive ammo costs more points, so you have to choose carefully. You also seem able to adjust the gameplay difficulty on the fly. Completing levels gain scores, and optional tasks gain multipliers that all contribute to global leaderboard rankings on OpenFeint.

The game includes 2 varieties of cannon, achievements, persistent military ranks, medals, and more. You can pick up the Box Battle iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad versions for $1.99 at the App Store. There is also a lite edition available for free with additional in-App purchases. Lastly, Box Battle HD for the iPad is available for $3.99 with 42 base levels.

I asked about the $3.99 price point for the HD version of the game and was told that the higher price was mostly for the better screen resolution and graphics. We’ll see if that bears the price out for less levels.

July 28, 2010 · Posted in Games   
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iOS Game Watch: Graveyard Watch, War of Eustrath

I haven’t done this in quite a while, but I thought I would bring back the iPhone Game Watch, where I take a daily look at the newest games on the iPhone and point out a couple of stellar possibilities. Only, because we have more than just iPhone and iPod Touch, but now iPad, I’ve decided to call it the iOS Game Watch, and bundle it all together. So, enjoy!

Graveyard Shift: a physics puzzler with the twist that you have to maneuver the skeleton back into his grave. Uses ragdoll physics, which I suppose is appropriate for a bony skeleton. You get 72 levels with some pretty complicated looking puzzles on both iPhone and iPad. The price tag of $2.99 is a bit higher than I was expecting, though.

War of Eustrath: Described as a strategic/tactical RPG, you control units, called GEARS, in semi real-time battles…which could mean that everything is turn-based until the battle itself is joined. Whatever the case, the game seems to have some serious production value and the art is definitely manga-inspired with a serious storyline with RPG elements. Could be very interesting, and quite extensive for the $2.99 price tag. Works on both iPhone and iPad.

July 28, 2010 · Posted in Games   
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He didn’t make this for YOU!!

Daily I browse through AppShopper.com looking for the latest games that have hit the iPad and iPhone to see if there is anything interesting to report on. Most of what is on there is pretty low quality, some decent games, a few shine, and every once in a while you find…this.

I really don’t know if the guy who created this hidden object game just wanted to throw the names “Brad” and “Janet” in for a laugh, or whether you’ll encounter Rocky in there somewhere. Did Janet get dismembered for meatloaf? Did the folks at Apple really play this game all the way through to determine how mature the content was? Seriously, exposing kids to “Your F%$&*ing Neck!” might not be the best way to advertise family-friendliness. Was Gameloft, the publisher, in on the joke?

Well, I don’t care how free the game is. If Brad starts singing after that car breaks down, I’m not playing anymore!

July 28, 2010 · Posted in Games   
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Next generation Mac Pro hits Mac 12

New Mac ProApple has announced today the new Mac Pro 12 core, to be released in August. Faster than any previous Mac Pro, you can go up to 3.6 GHz using six cores. This new machine will hold up to twelve cores of processing power, although you can custom configure it for as little as four. The machine holds up to eight TB of hard drive space, or a new option for Mac Pros…four 512 GB solid state drives. As for graphics, you can take the default ATI Radeon HD 5770, or upgrade to the ATI Radeon HD 5870, with dual support.

If all of that sounds incredibly top of the line, you’re right. This is meant to be a machine for professionals needing heavy duty graphics powerhouses for animation, 3D modeling, and motion graphics. And the price tag proves it. The Quad Core starts at just $2499, and the twelve-core tops out at $4999.

But is this a machine for the ultimate gamer? Let’s just do a comparison, shall we?

Alienware Area 51 ALXAlienware, the highest end PC game machine maker around, sells the Area 51 ALX right now for $3999. For that price, you get 3.86 GHz speed on an overclocked Intel i7 975 Extreme processor, and a choice of two ATI Radeon HD 5870 cards dual-linked through the ATI CrossFireX system, or two Nvidia GeForce GTX 295 cards dual-linked through the Nvidia SLI system.

The six-core Mac Pro, coming in August, doesn’t have an exact sales price, but considering that the quad-core is $2499, and the eight-core is $3499, the six-core will probably be $2999. This is the machine with the highest clocking speed of 3.60 GHz, on the new Intel Xeon “Westmore” processors. You also get a choice of the ATI Radeon HD 5770 or ATI Radeon HD 5870, with dual support only for the 5770. There’s no mention of Nvidia support, which is surprising and a bit disappointing.

The two machines, however, still seem pretty comparable, with the Mac Pro coming out just slightly slower and slightly lower in the graphics department with a bit decrease in the price department. The fact is that you probably won’t notice a difference between the two.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Snow Leopard can compare with Windows 7 in GPU support, because that’s where the future of graphics-based gaming is really at.

July 27, 2010 · Posted in General   
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Zombie Michael Jackson no longer

UPDATE: PopCap Games has issued a notice regarding an unintentional effect that the PvZ update has had to any iDevice using iOS4…there have been reports of crashes. From PopCap:

We can confirm that we have reproduced the reports of crashes with the Plants vs. Zombies update on iOS4 and iOS4.01. New installations of the game are not affected. Existing users who update the game may be affected, however. We are trying to identify the root cause so that we can release an update as quickly as possible.

At this time, we recommend against updating the new version (0.01) of Plants vs. Zombies if you have previously purchased the game. We hope to be able to provide some work-around steps later today that may help some users in the interim before we release an update to solve the problem. We will provide a new notice in the APP Store and on iTunes as soon as a solution is in place.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

Dancing ZombiePlants vs Zombies has many different zombies in the game, including one iconic dancing zombie that cannot be mistaken for anything other than a tribute to Michael Jackson. Dressed in red jacket/pants, white socks, and one white glove (as in Jackson’s Thriller video from years gone), the dancing zombie keeps going and keeps bringing up more zombies until you destroy the dancing zombie itself.

But now, according to MTV, the estate of Michael Jackson has decided that this tribute is, in fact, objectionable, and wants it gone. Despite the fact that this clearly falls under the venue of parody, and thus free use, PopCap has decided that it isn’t worth it to fuss. So they are in the process of making changes to the dancing zombie to produce a new “dancing zombie” that is more disco-themed, and will be available in a later update.

The Estate of Michael Jackson objected to our use of the ‘dancing zombie’ in PLANTS vs. ZOMBIES based on its view that the zombie too closely resembled Michael Jackson. After receiving this objection, PopCap made a business decision to retire the original ‘dancing zombie’ and replace it with a different ‘dancing zombie’ character for future builds of PLANTS vs.ZOMBIES on all platforms. The phase-out and replacement process is underway.

For iPhone and iPad, this means that the next time you plug your iDevice in for a sync, you’ll probably loose that original dancing zombie. But what about your Mac version? I contacted PopCap Games about this, but they said that they could not release any further information at this time.

Dancing Zombie is dead! All hail Dancing Zombie!

via GamePolitics

July 27, 2010 · Posted in Games   
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Ubisoft announces Mac games…in financial statements

Some companies have really interesting figures in their quarterly financial statements. My husband’s old company had enough interesting figures that the stock has now doubled in price from the first of the year. Then there’s Ubisoft, who apparently lists their quarterly release schedule for games in their financial statements. And, oh, what a wealth of Mac goodness the second quarter statement is, too.

Ubisoft intends to release Mac versions of both Assassin’s Creed II and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction for the Mac by September of this year….just about six months after each version has been released for the PC. That is a pretty damn fine turnaround. Further, Silent Hunter will be coming to the iPad (having been released for the iPhone earlier).

Assassins Creed 2 sits players in the role of an assassin in the time of the Italian Renaissance in an open world environment with non-linear gameplay. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction returns players to the role of Sam Fisher on a mission to uncover his past and prevent a terrorist plot. Silent Hunter is a mobile version of the game in which players hunt and destroy Allied ships during WWII as German U-Boat captains.

There’s no info yet on system requirements or pricing at the moment.

via InsideMacGames

July 27, 2010 · Posted in Games   
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