Showing posts with label Power Mac. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Power Mac. Show all posts

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...

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Hardware Review

I am parring down my hardware greatly for 2017. On the Macintosh side, I aim to get down to 6 machines. Let's review them in order: 

Macintosh Plus: 

This machine is a workhorse. It arrived in my hands back in 1986 and has worked nearly continuously over the past 30 years. Back in 1987, the machine has a meltdown which was caused by heat. As you can see from the picture, I equipped it with a fan. 

The Macintosh Plus is a 8 mHz machine with 1 MB of ram. I hesitate to upgrade it further due to the previously mentioned heat problem. The Mac Plus has a 400 K internal floppy drive, an external 800 K floppy drive and an 88 MB Syquest drive, all in working order. 

Since I have only one 88 MB disc, I intend to hack the Syquest hardware into a hard drive case. 

The Mac Plus is running system 3.0 and Finder 4.0. I plan on finding some more recent software for the system. In theory, it can jump up to System 7. 

iBook Tangerine:

This is a relatively new addition to my home. 

The Tangerine is running System 9.2, Finder 9.2 and has the ability to run OS X, but only up to 10.3.9. It has 32 MB of RAM, a 6 GB hard drive and runs at 300 mHz. 

Currently, it is loaded with educational software and is often used by my children, as you can see from the picture to the right. 

Ideally, I would upgrade the hard drive, but taking these machines apart is a monster. I think I will settle for a low profile USB thumb drive for auxiliary storage. It could also use an airport card and new battery. 

I hope to do a review of each and every piece of software on this machine. 

iBook Blueberry: 

My Blueberry iBook is my go to machine. It has been through a lot and it is starting to show. I have it paired with a Wacom Bamboo tablet for artwork. 

The CD-ROM no longer works, owning to the fact that the System has been borked twice with the wrong disc. I purchased this item off of eBay for all of $15.00. It appeared that someone attempted to load OS X on it and utterly failed. Additionally, the installed OS was a crylic based language. I managed to get it working, only to screw up and delete it. Since I lacked the original discs, it took some might big hoops to reinstall OS 9.2.2 and Finder 9.2. 

The machine runs at a peppy 366 mHz, owing to the 320 MB of RAM. It isn't worth the effort to turn on Virtual Memory as the machine only has a 12 GB drive. It has an Airport card which still works in a great number of places and Classilla for a web browser. I also have the ability to switch to OS X, but it is Kodiak, OS 10.0.3. It's weird, so I don't do it. 

Very often, this machine comes with me to camp. I have a relatively new after market battery and use a RAM disc to get the most of out a single charge. It will last about 5 days of light use.   

Power Mac Graphite: 

This is a stock picture of a machine very much like my G4. Currently, it has been pressed into service as a parts holder and media center. It has 5 hard drives: a 20 GB, 3 40 GB and a 128 GB drive. It has a 450 mHz processor. I have one 256 MB, 128 MB and two 64 MB chips in there for a grand total of 896 MB of RAM. Obviously, I this machine is holding too much stuff. 

The G4 is a Sawtooth, so unfortunately, it cannot run anything less than 9.2.2. One hard drive holds copies of old operating systems for my older machines. Another boots 10.0.3 and a second boots 10.3. The last drive is used purely for backup. 

I do like this machine a lot but don't have time to keep up with it as much as I would like. In the future, I may upgrade the speakers with something better than the standard one. 

Power Mac 7100/80:

Ah, Carl Sagan. I haven't turned this machine on in a decade. I mean to have this one up and running in 2017. 

The Performas: 

I have two Performas. a 6300 CD and a 475 LC. Neither are in good shape. The 475 is my survivor. It met a terrible fate after being loaned to the Buffalo Museum of Science. It was left in an open top tote, in the back of a pickup truck from November to May, in Buffalo. It had been covered in mud, submerged and frozen several times by the time it came back to me.
Surprisingly, the 475 still boots. I don't know why or how, but it does. 

The 6300 CD is not so lucky. I don't know what happened to it, but it is actually rusting in some spots. I didn't think that could happen. It will be cannibalized for parts, as will my snow white iBook and white iMac. 

The iBook has the classic logic board problem and the iMac met a fate stranger than fiction. 

I took my daughter to see the movie Wall-e and Wall-e happens to make the same sound as the iMac on boot. My daughter decided to "go to the movies" and inserted her movie ticket into the slot drive. Surprisingly, the machine took it. What it objected to was all of the loose change she fed into it. 

There should be a service issue for this. The first time this happened, I found that sitting crosslegged on a bed and placing the iMac on my lap, then bouncing gently cause the offending movie ticket to fall out of the slot. You should not bounce so hard that the machine leaves your lap. The slot should be positioned over the space between your legs. (Did I just say that? I'm sorry, I don't have other words to describe something so stupid.) 

It worked for playing cards and credit cards and the odd coin. It did not work when my daughter put $4.00 in assorted change inside the slot. I would have to say bouncing the machine on my lap in this over-full state did it no good at all. 

In 2017, I will be saying "goodbye" to three machines and "hello" to six old friends.