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MacEdition Pro News : May 21, 2003
Gadzooks, a gaggle of games and gadgets!

by MacEdition Staff (feedback)

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In this issue

Get in the game

Those who have been longing for a massive multiplayer gaming experience for the Mac will have the wish come true this fall when Blizzard Entertainment releases World of Warcraft, an on-line role-playing version of its hugely popular Warcraft III game.

Blizzard showed a preview version of the OS X game at the recently completed E3 gaming event in Los Angeles. The on-line game will require a subscription in order to sign onto Blizzard’s server and the game will feature new races, new maps, a bevy of new tools and armor and modes of transportation ranging from wolves to zeppelins. Payers will also have the ability for players to build their own characters and join in quests with other players.

“Supporting the Mac platform has always been a priority for us,” stated Mike Morhaime, Blizzard Entertainment president and cofounder. “We’re dedicated to building a diverse gaming community around ‘World of Warcraft,’ and by bringing the game to Mac users, we hope to achieve that goal.”

According to a late note on the Blizzard site the game is expected to go into beta testing in August and be released sometime after the process is completed in October. Pricing for the game and the monthly subscription have not yet been established.

Grab yer gun and go

Aspyr Media will be teaming up with TransGaming Technologies to port PlayStation II title SpyHunter to both the Mac and Windows.

SpyHunter on the Mac and PC challenges players to make split-second decisions as they engage in offensive attacks and defensive counterattacks, while behind the wheel of the slick new G-6155 Interceptor loaded with incredible high-tech weaponry. While navigating high-speed, mission-based racing in exotic locales, the SpyHunter Interceptor is relentlessly pursued by hordes of air, ground and water enemies while morphing into a deadly, high-velocity speedboat, a turbo jet watercraft or a supercharged motorcycle. Ultra-realistic 3D graphics, explosive weaponry and impressive defensive mechanisms combine intense speed and strategy to distinguish SpyHunter from routine combat racers and traditional action racing games.

Aspyr is currently taking pre-orders for the US$30 game, although a firm shipping dates has not yet been set. The company is also working on a port of Law & Order: Dead on the Money which it expects to retail for US$40. The game is based on the long-running television show.

All the toys for girls and boys

New software with built-in brand recognition, that pretty much sums up Scholastic Inc.’s view as it preps a new line of educational software for release this fall.

Coming up this fall, scholastic will be rolling out three titles, two of which will be its Math Missions series aimed at the K-6 set. Math Missions: The Race to Spectacle City Arcade will present math and logic problems to children up to Grade 2 through activity based play. The more senior title Math Missions: The Amazing Arcade Adventure will see the kids use their math skills to protect local businesses and earn enough money to run their own arcade.

The company will also release Clifford Phonics, an early reader title using the big red dog of cartoon fame as the main character.

Scholastic has another four titles in development which it hopes to have on the market in time for Christmas.

I Spy Fantasy, based on the book series, is aimed at elementary school kids and will see them focus on logics as they try to uncover buried treasures, command missions to alien planets and rescue the princess from the fire breathing dragon. Nickelodeon Cartoon Creator will also be aimed at the same group of kids and allow them to build cartoons using such lovable characters as SpongeBob SquarePants, Jimmy Neutron, the Rugrats and Fairly OddParents.

Parents of younger children will be offered Dragon Tales: Learn to Fly with the Dragons, another math and logics title featuring another cartoon favorite. Also coming is Little Bill Thinks Big, which is based on a Bill Cosby character who invites kids to help him make surprises for his family.

All titles are expected to sell for US$19.95 and will come on hybrid CDs.

Pow, Bang, Spiff!

If your seven-year-old boy isn’t overamped already just wait ’til he gets his mitts on River Deep’s action-packed offerings due to roll out this fall.

The company will bring an action adventure title featuring the caped crusader – Batman – who will team up with little Johnny to foil the fiendish plots of noted ner’do-wells like the Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face and the Penguin.

In a more techie vein, River Deep will also release two titles based on the PBS series Cyberchase. Both Cyberchase Casablanca Quest and Carnival Chaos will require the kids to use their math and problem solving skills to outwit the villains and save cyberspace.

For the girls, River deep will be offering Strawberry Shortcake Fantasy Cookie Factory. This cartoon-based activity titles is intended to build thinking, listening and reasoning skills in young ladies aged four to six.

Also coming for the younger set is Hamtaro: Wake up Snoozer. This activity based title will see the kids hang with their favorite Ham-Hams and use their basic math, geometric shapes, phonics and letter recognition skills to find Penelope, the youngest member of the Ham-Ham clan. The program is aimed at kids from four to seven years of age.

The robotic hub

In his younger days, Apple CEO Steve Jobs once mused about one day building computer-controlled factories crank out armies of computers.

While just a wild dreamer in 1984, that futuristic vision has now become one one of those things that’s within the grasp of your basic garage tinker.

The German firm of Bönig and Kallenbach have released a new driver for its Service USB interface device to interact with 4D database files, Macromedia Director MX and Max/MSP.

The Service USB device is an external controller unit that connects the Mac to eight other digital devices and two analogue appliances.

One of advantages of the 4D sample included (with the new driver) is that it allows you to easily record long-term value measurements such as temperatures. With Director MX you can implement complex multimedia systems with external switches and lights; Max/MSP, the graphical programming environment for the music sector, can be used to control stage lights and fireworks in time with the music.

The driver also supports AppleScript, FileMaker, Project Builder and Codewarrior, with built in hooks to support the full line of Fischertechnik model robots and Cornelsen Experimenta modeling products.

Killing cable clutter

Anybody who owns a computer probably understands the term “cabling spaghetti” as it applies to that rats nest of wiring dangling behind a computer desk. The problem gets worse for road warriors who must untangle that mound of spaghetti whenever they haul their laptops out of their bags.

It’s an annoyance Keyspan clearly wants to confront with its recent release of a new line of Zip-Link retractable cabling products.

“Mobile computing is on the rise”, noted Mike Ridenhour, president of Keyspan. “Many computer users need to have USB, FireWire, Phone and Ethernet connectivity when traveling – yet the tangle of cables can quickly fill their laptop bag. Our ZIP-LINQ retractable cables are quite small, about the size of a quarter, yet expand to 30" or more. They are easy to carry and convenient to use.“

The cables are housed in a small unit which can be expanded to 30 inches in length. To put away the cable the user pulls on the connector and the cable recoils back into the unit.

Keyspan’s Zip-Link line includes for iPaqs and Palm handhelds.

Say Cheese!

Fanciers of those ultra thin digital cameras will be please to know that Logitech has added OS X support for its Pocket Digital camera.

“Logitech is pleased to offer OS X support for our most popular digital camera,” said Spencer Johnson, director of product marketing for Logitech’s Video Business Unit. “Our Pocket Digital is an ultra-stylish product that’s easy to use and beautifully crafted. We believe the design-conscious Mac community will appreciate its form factor and enjoy using it with popular OS X applications, like iPhoto.”

The wafer-thin camera holds up to 52 photos at 1.3 megapixels and carries a suggested retail price of US$99.95.

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