Video Game Thoughts: The Top Ten Mac Pack

The Top Ten Mac Pack was a collection of titles for the old Macintosh computers by Electronic Arts. I think it came out around 1993, but I got it around 1996 from my parents. It was an awesome collection of games, though some of them didn’t work right on our computer. I remember I was on a weekend Camp Fire trip. My mom was busy the first day, but she came on the second day. While on a hike, she told me my dad had gotten a new game for our computer. I wanted to be home right then. Luckily, the trip was ending that day, so I didn’t have to wait too long. When I got home, I was delighted to find out it wasn’t just one game but ten full games!

Electronic Arts included a wide variety of games in the Top Ten Mac Pack. Several of them were game genres I had never played before. This package was just so fun. None of the games were amazing, but many of them were extremely fun for a while. Some of them I look back to with lasting nostalgia. I love the memories I have with some of these games. I also really appreciate now that I had this collection because it put me in the know about many game genres I never played again. It’s not that I didn’t like them; I just liked others more. Playing these games let me understand what other players were talking about even if I hadn’t played the game.

Around the World in 80 Days

This game never worked right on my computer. Most of these games were made for older Macintosh models than the model that we had. This game for some reason kept crashing. Sometimes it would crash instantly. Occasionally, I got to see the short introduction movie. I was never able to get much further than that. The game would just freeze. This wasn’t all that bad though, because it was one of the more educational games in the package. The few parts I was able to access seemed to have difficult puzzle solving. Back then I wasn’t very good at puzzles. I had no patience to figure them out either.

Chuck Yeager’s Air Combat

I really got into this flight simulator. It’s still the only flight simulator I’ve played aside from a few demos here and there. The game took place during World War II. Several fighter planes from Allied and Axis forces were available to pilot. Along with that, there were several scripted missions based on the events of the war. They had two campaigns: one for Allied forces and one for Axis forces. There were also a few tutorial missions to learn how to fly. The last feature was a free flying mode. I always got stuck early on in the campaigns, so the free flying mode was my favorite way to play.

Like a true flight simulator, there was no goal in the free flying mode. I just used my imagination to make up reasons to fly around. Sometimes I just had fun stalling or crashing the plane. The game came with a huge manual, and I read every bit of it. I wasn’t interested in becoming a real pilot, but I wanted to know everything I could about flying in this game. I may have even spent more time reading the manual then playing.

Eagle Eye Mysteries in London

I initially passed over this game because it was kind of educational, but it ended up being a fun game. Gameplay was split up into a series of mysteries. Each mystery would have a short introduction from two kids, who were the hosts of the game. They would direct the player to areas to find clues and people to talk to. At any time the player could open up the “evidence chest” to read up on the evidence they had collected. After gathering evidence, the player had to figure out who wasn’t telling the truth and then confront them.

The game was pretty hard at times, but the player could never really lose. If the player failed, the kids would tell them what really happened. The player could just repeat that mystery again until they got it right. It was really fun seeing all the various locations in London. Some of them I still hear occasionally in the news. These days I wish there were more games like this. I would love to explore a new location by solving mysteries.

PGA Tour Golf

This was the favorite game of my dad. I had fun with it too, but most times I just watched him play. We only had one chair in the computer room, so I had to sit back on a sleeping bag and look up. Good thing my eyesight was good then. I didn’t know who any of the pro golfers were, but I knew the basics of golf. The game helped me learn even more about how golf worked. After playing it, I understood how players were cut during each round, which clubs were best on each terrain, and how to read the greens. I loved the short flyovers of each hole. My dad and I found the sound effects to be funny. They didn’t always sound like what they were supposed to be. In particular I remember we could hear the crowd clap and cheer, but due to technical limitations there was no actual crowd on the course. Overall, PGA Tour Golf wasn’t my favorite game out of this collection but still entertaining.

Populous II

I loved the whole premise of Populous II. It was one of the first “god” games. Each level pitted the player against another god. Each player had to grow their followers while at the same time reducing the other god’s followers. The followers would reproduce on their own, but the player needed to flatten the land to make space for them to build new houses. At the same time, the enemy god could remove land, destroying the player’s houses in the process and possibly drowning the player’s followers. At a certain point, players could start Armageddon. All the followers would turn into soldiers for one final battle to determine the winner.

The player as well as the enemy god could also use special powers like lightning strikes and tornadoes. These powers could both destroy houses and kill followers. I had a blast with this game for a while because it was so different from any other game I had played. Unfortunately, the computer player quickly became too difficult for me to beat. It could just move too fast for me to keep up. I eventually got bored playing the early levels over and over.

Power Poker

Poker is a pretty simple game, but it can still be a lot of fun. I especially liked this version because the player didn’t need any money to play. When a new game was started, the player started out with maybe $100. The player had to ante up maybe $5-10 for each game. I’m not sure if the game had difficulty levels, but I found it fairly easy to win. I usually could at least maintain my starting balance. Sometimes I was able to win a lot of money. The game would keep track of this with high scores. I think there were settings to change the betting amounts, number of players, and a few other things. Poker computer games these days come with tons of variations, but not in Power Poker. It only had one version of Poker: Texas hold’em. It was good enough for me. I didn’t know anything about poker before playing this game. Texas hold’em is known to be an easier version to play.

Power Monger

I never really understood Power Monger. Well, at first it wouldn’t even run. For years I couldn’t play it. My dad got a memory upgrade on the computer, however, and then it started working. I was excited when I saw that Power Monger worked, but the excitement ended fast. The game sounded cool on paper, but I just couldn’t figure out how to win. The player started out with a leader and a small army on each level. The player then had to slowly go to towns and villages, recruiting more troops, and crafting equipment for the troops. Eventually, the player would run into a rival clan and have to fight them to beat the level. I only got past the first few levels before I was stuck. I couldn’t figure out what to do to beat the enemy troops. After several tries I just gave up. The game had a lot of promise, but it was too difficult for me.

Syndicate

I probably played Syndicate the most out of all the games. It didn’t really fit in to any game genres. Instead, it was a combination of turn-based strategy and real-time tactics. The game was pretty dark. It took place in a futuristic world run by corporations. Soldiers were no longer just human but cybernetic, full of computer circuits that gave them superhuman powers. Each level the player had to command a small squad to complete objectives. Usually, it was assassinating a civilian target, but another objective I remember was eliminating an enemy squad. For completing each level, the player got money which they could put towards research of new technologies for the squad to use.

The research part of the game was basically turn-based, with turns advancing when the player completed missions, but one day I found out that it sort of wasn’t. Around every five to ten minutes, the time would update. The corporation would provide a tiny bit of money. The enemy corporations and squads were frozen during this time but not the player. I think the player was supposed to play missions to pass the time, but I cheated. I ended up leaving the game open for several hours, slowly collecting money. Then I upgraded all the squad members to the maximum possible. They basically turned into Terminator robots. It made the rest of the game super easy, but I still had a blast. I’m not sure if I would have finished the game otherwise; the levels ramped up in difficulty fast.

The Labyrinth of Time

Labyrinth of Time was fun but very hard. It was an adventure game. Somehow the player got trapped in an alternate dimension. It was the Labyrinth from mythology, but with locations from all times. There were modern areas, ancient areas, and everything in between. The goal was to find a way out of the Labyrinth. I really enjoyed exploring all the areas, but figuring out what to do was really hard. The game never told the player what to do. I was able to figure out a few things, but it was too confusing. A switch pulled in one area might affect something in another area. Unless I manually wrote everything down, I would never know what changed.

My mom got into this game too. She liked mysteries and puzzles, but even she couldn’t figure out what to do. Eventually, I was able to get her to call the hint line. In the old days, players could call a pay-per-minute phone line to get hints on how to progress in a game. They were usually expensive, like $1 per minute, but many kids took advantage of them. This was before the internet. If a person didn’t have any friends playing the game, calling the hint line was usually the only way to finish the game. We got all the tips we needed from that phone call.

I remember it was Super Bowl Sunday when I first beat the game. I didn’t care about sports then. Super Bowl was always a fun time. It promised several hours of uninterrupted video game playing. Everyone was in the other room watching the game. I could play for hours with no one making me stop. Some time after, I think my mom also finished the game using the hints. I don’t remember now. I may have just told her what happened. I thought it was cool that, for once, my mom was actually interested in one of my games. That was pretty rare.

Theme Park

Theme Park was probably the first simulation game I played. In this game, the player got to take the role of the manager and owner. The player started with a certain budget to spend on rides, restaurants, bathrooms, and other infrastructure. Then, it was a matter of meeting the demands of the customers. Little pop-up bubbles above the customers’ heads indicated what they wanted. Sometimes they couldn’t find the bathrooms, indicating that the player should put bathrooms nearby. Sometimes they thought the prices were too expensive, telling the player they should lower prices. Other times they thought the theme park was too dirty; the player had to hire more clean-up crews.

I found this game pretty hard because there was an element of competition. There were other theme parks. I had to make my theme park better than the competition, but I was never any good at it. I would have some success early on, but sooner or later, I just couldn’t attract the crowds anymore. My theme park would become empty and run out of money. I played several games trying different things, and I never figured out a way to win. Still, I had a lot of fun playing this game for the short time it lasted.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s