Sorry! Isn’t So Sorry

I’ve found myself recounting this story countless times over the years. Let me say, before I even begin this tale, that the technical name of the game I am writing about is called Sorry! (with an exclamation mark.) In the context of this text, using the exclamation mark when I write the name looks crazy, so I’m not going to.

The sight of the board game Sorry always takes me back my days of being a kid. It’s not that I have fond memories of playing it when I was growing up; quite the opposite. As a kid, I’d never played it at all. Sorry wasn’t in our family game collection. It was, however, in every other persons home that I could remember. My brother can probably back me up on this. It seemed as though every household had this game at some point or other.

Despite that level of penetration into the masses, no one ever wanted to play it. Ever.

I can still recall my childhood days, hanging out with other kids in the neighborhood. When we’d sit down for a board game and Sorry was mentioned, it was consistently shunned. “That’s an awful game,” they would say. This has been the consensus with most everyone I’ve ever met — to this day. It has always baffled me that the same people who have repeatedly shunned the game actually own it themselves. Why did they buy it in the first place, I’ve often wondered?

Many moons ago, I coaxed my girlfriend at the time to play with me. After the game was over, I agreed that the gameplay of Sorry wasn’t all that fun. Still, it was momentous to have finally gotten the chance to play it after a lifetime of wondering what it was all about. It’s funny, I’d seen the Sorry game box at friends houses all my life but didn’t get to actually play the game until I was in my mid-twenties.

I’m bringing this all back around again because my friend Agnes has Hasbro Family Game Night on her Nintendo Wii. One of the games in the Hasbro package is Sorry! I told her my Sorry saga and we laughed. We played. And we have since played the Wii game a few times now. Once I got the hang of it, I found it not to be sorry at all. Dare I say, it’s fun! At least the Wii version of the game is fun. Perhaps I’ve been swayed by the catchy special effects in the game, but looking past that, the premise of the game itself and rules of Sorry do indeed make for a fun experience.

Whether you have a digital version of Sorry or the old fashioned board game, I suggest pulling it out and giving it another go. If you don’t own Sorry, chances are you know someone who does. Play it. Who knows, you might actually enjoy it.

Sorry! Game

Jetpack Joyride

I’ve become hooked on a new iOS game called Jetpack Joyride. It is made by Halfbrick, the company who brought Fruit Ninja to the masses. Jetpack Joyride is an addictive side-scroller. Gameplay, graphics, and sounds are all top-notch. I love that there are gobs of achievements to unlock. It works with both GameCenter and OpenFeint. The game is a universal app that plays on both the iPhone and iPad. Jetpack Joyride is certainly worth the 99¢ price tag. Play it now!

Jetpack Joyride Screenshot

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

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

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!

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.