Voodoo Castle on Commodore

A long time ago when my brother Chris and I were kids, we played a text-based adventure game on our Commodore 64 computer. Prior to owning a Commodore 64, we had an even older computer, the Commodore VIC-20. I am uncertain which computer we played this game on, as it was available for both machines. The game was called Voodoo Castle and it was released way back in 1980. At the time, there were no graphics or special effects to speak of. As I said, this game was text-only. We had to use the power of our imaginations to create the imagery in our minds. In many ways, it was like participating in a “choose your own adventure” book.

This past Christmas, in 2010, my brother and I recanted tales of this long lost game. At first, we struggled to even remember what the game was called. After doing some online research, we are now certain the game we once enjoyed was indeed Voodoo Castle. I don’t exactly know the time-frame in which we originally played it, but it was popular in our household at some point around 1983-1984. This game is probably where I mastered my typing skills as a young lad.

Voodoo Castle was released on a plastic cartridge that you plugged into the back of the computer (image below). As such, there was no way to save the game! Once we turned off the computer, all progress was lost. If you’re too young to have used a computer in those days, I’m sure you can’t even imagine what that was like. Well, that was the reality for games that were released 30 years ago. We simply didn’t know any better!

I have no recollection of how the game ends. I do vividly remember repeatedly reaching a point in the game where it told us, “You are lost in a maze of passages.” At that point, you are virtually screwed and no exit can be found.

I’m excited to announce that the complete game is now available on the Internet for free. You can play it in its entirety in your browser via a Java applet. I have played it, and it really took me back. Try it yourself!

Voodoo Castle cartridge

Voodoo Castle cover art

Plants vs. Zombies on the iPhone

The awesome game Plants vs. Zombies was recently released for the iPhone! I once blogged about the desktop version of the game and how much I love to play it. That was in mid-2009, and it is still true today. Now, they finally released an iPhone version of the game.

The iPhone version of Plants vs. Zombies is absolutely fantastic. It is likely the best iPhone game I have ever played. The desktop version is perfectly recreated on the iPhone. The touch interface fits the game like a glove. I played for hours last night. If you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, this game is a must-have.

Plants vs Zombies

Playing Spore on a Mac Mini

I have a 2007-model Mac Mini Core Duo 1.83GHz with 2 GB RAM. I adore my Mini, but I am limited in the gaming department due to my Mini’s integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics chip. Newer generations of Minis use the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor. Using the NVIDIA graphics, newer Minis can play more complex games than I am able to with my hardware.

A favorite game of mine is Spore. I don’t think Spore got the best reception from PC gamers, but I personally enjoy playing it. EA Games generously provides both a PC and Mac version of the game on the Spore install DVD. Unfortunately, the system requirements for the game strictly forbid Mac Minis using the GMA 950 graphics chip. I did a lot of online research and found people who said they were able to rig it to work, and others who disputed that.

Frustrated at all of the conflicting information, I decided to try it myself. After a lengthy install, the game updated with patches from EA, but when the actual game launched, it failed time and time again. Therefore, I’m here to say once and for all, you cannot play Spore on a Mac Mini that uses Intel GMA 950 graphics. Period!

With that being said, you can run Spore on the very same Mac Mini if you boot Windows via Boot Camp. Within Snow Leopard, I activated Boot Camp and installed Windows XP SP3. From the Windows side, Spore is indeed playable with the same hardware. Go figure.

So now I am enjoying the fun of Spore, only I’m doing so running Windows on my Mac machine. Doing so, Spore runs just fine using the lowest graphic quality settings within the game, at 800×600 full-screen resolution. I hope this clears up all of the Spore/Mac Mini uncertainty that is all over the web.

Spore

Boosting in Sky Odyssey

One of my favorite games for the Playstation2 is Sky Odyssey. It was one of the first PS2 games I ever bought. I’ve started playing it again and had a very hard time trying to find out how to boost. I did countless searches online for a key combination to activate the boost feature. My searches didn’t turn up any helpful solutions. I have finally figured it out, and am posting it to my blog in hopes that other players will have it spelled out for them.

Boost must be earned through aircraft upgrades. It isn’t available immediately. To enable boost, enter the Customize Aircraft menu, then add boost to the inventory. If you win unlimited boost, it will be labeled Boost 4. Once boost is enabled, during gameplay there will be a thin vertical green bar next to the throttle indicator at the bottom left. To boost, simply double-tap the square controller button (same button used for accelerate). Bam. It’s that easy. I hope this helps.

Sky Odyssey for PS2

Plants vs. Zombies

I recently heard about the insanely fun game Plants vs. Zombies, from PopCap games. I downloaded the trial, and loved it. It’s available for Mac and PC, and I’ve played it on both systems. Your goal is to squash an oncoming zombie raid using a barrage of plants and other clever weapons. This game has proven to be very addictive. Try it!

Plants vs. Zombies

Mafia Wars on Facebook

My favorite application on Facebook at the moment is Mafia Wars. It’s pretty addictive. I stumbled on it by clicking an ad while playing in another app. In the game you start a virtual crime family with your friends. You earn money and respect buy doing virtual crime jobs, fighting other mafia families, and buying property. Your money is spent building and maintaining your arsenal of weapons and defenses. Mafia Wars is a detailed, well thought-out game, and a simple and fun way to pass the time. Check it out!

Spore

Last week, I got my hands on the new hit game Spore. I’ve been playing it all weekend and I’m completely hooked. It’s so much fun! If you’re a fan of the SimCity and Sims games, then you’re sure to enjoy this title.

I was worried that it wouldn’t play on my computer. My Mac Mini has an integrated Intel graphics processor, and the Mac version of Spore doesn’t allow that configuration. The fastest Windows PC that I own is a Dell laptop with a Pentium M processor at 1.7 Ghz, 1 GB RAM, and ATI Mobile X300 graphics card. Despite being below the system requirements laid out by EA, the laptop seems to play the game with ease. All of the settings for audio and graphics are set to a minimum by default. Despite being set low, I’m still very impressed with the graphics.

So far, I’ve worked my way from the ground up by passing the Cell stage, the Creature stage, the Tribal stage, and now I’ve reached the Civilization stage. The game gets more impressive and complex as you evolve into higher stages. Watch the videos of Spore on YouTube that showcase the Tribal, Civilization, and Space stages of the game. After watching those clips, I was wowed at the possibilities that lie ahead.

I’m having a ball playing Spore. Two big thumbs up!

Mouse Hunt on Facebook

One of my favorite Facebook applications is a game called Mouse Hunt. The concept sounds pretty silly when you try to explain it to someone. Essentially, it’s a game where you set a virtual mouse trap and earn game points and gold for every mouse you find in your trap. There are several virtual “towns” to hunt in, and you spend your gold to buy better traps and cheeses. There are many varieties of mice to catch, and the mice evolve as you increase your hunting status. I started as a Novice user, then worked my way up past Journeyman status to reach Master status.

In the big picture of life, this game is meaningless, and really serves no purpose whatsoever. But it is quite fun to check in on, and can become quite addicting. If you use Facebook, try adding this app. Mouse Hunt was rated 4.9 out of 5 stars after over 1000 votes on Facebook. That makes a pretty good case for giving it a try.

Mouse Hunt

MiniClip Games

I really enjoy playing MiniClip Games. They have a huge collection of free Flash-based games to play. Some of these games are amazingly complex. I’m truly stunned at the quality and depth of some of these Flash games. In fact, the MotherLoad game that I recently mentioned is from the MiniClip site. Today, I’ve come to visit MiniClip a lot more often than Pogo. MiniClip has more games, and best of all, they’re free. So go play! You’re sure to get hooked.