Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Harpoon II Review for Macintosh OS 9

Title: Harpoon II
OS: Mac OS 9, 64k and Power PowerPC plus Windows.
Year: 1994
Producer: Three-Sixty Pacific
Setting: Combat Simulation
Number of players: 1
Rating: ★★★★★

One of my favorite games from the 1990's is Harpoon II, by Three-Sixty Pacific. 



If you've ever played Civilization and said, "Hmmm... I wish there were more micromanagement in this game..." then Harpoon is the series for you. The initial offerings for the series were simple 2d images of a simulated radar screen, more recent updates use 3d graphics. Personally, I like to the simple 2d. More natural for a simulation, in my mind. 

The game presents a series of scenarios, each of which allows you select your level of realism, control and side. The scenarios hop around the global from Greenland to Antarctica. Each force has specific victory conditions and you receive a ranking in for each condition.

When the game opens, you have a strategic map and a tactical map. You can create as many as you like. You can create formations and CAP patrols, activate ECM/Radar/Com, determine speed and altitude/depth, and a myriad of other functions for each unit. The group command allows you to keep assets together and a waypoint editor allows you to send them off to battle. Or you can leave it the AI. 

Never leave stuff to AI, it isn't that bright. One of the limitations of the game is that the AI only deals with certain parameters, the objectives and can be faked out far too easily. Be careful as you can easily issue orders that will result in losses for stupid reasons, such as planes running out of gas or subs tooling up to a battleship on the surface. The AI happily does that to your opponent.

One of the tricks to this is the time compression settings. You can slow things to a crawl or even pause, then leap to real time or faster to get to the meat of the action. By slowing moments before an important event happens, you can save, proceed to the event and if you don't get the desired result, quit and reopen the game for another chance.
All and all, Harpoon II is very much a tabletop counter game perfectly adapted for the computer. If you like Avalon Hill games, you'll love Harpoon II. It works under Mac and Windows and best of all it's always willing to play with you. 

As this product and equipment ages, I have noticed some bugs. I have a Performa 475 which runs the game very slowly, as it did back in 1994 with no issues. The Performa has OS 7.5.3 and 32 MB of memory, which is about the most it can have. When running the software on a G4, 450 mhz sawtooth, with 512 mb of memory under 9.2, the program hangs on launch. I've tried every solution that comes to mind to fix this but nothing works. One work-a-round is opening a saved game, which allows you to exit that scenario and pick another. There is something about the video file that launches on start up. 

This brings to mind another funny thing about Harpoon II. On a Mac, the Harpoon II folder has a folder called resources, which contains videos used at various points in the game. If you can match the size and name of the old video, you can replace it with something else. Anything else. 

I seem to recall using movie clips at one point...

2 comments:

  1. OOOOOH! This looks fun. My wife is a huge civ fan. I've still got an old dual g4 at work just sitting around. (keep coming up with random ideas) I got my old dell that was running XP, running dosbox now so its old games all the time! Honestly there is nothing better in teh world than playing that stuff.

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  2. I do love the older stuff. Purer ideas and implementations when they don't go all 3d MMO.

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