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ATPM 13.02
February 2007


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Software Review

by Ellyn Ritterskamp,

Arctic Quest 1.0


Developer: Exclusive Games

Price: $20

Requirements: 800 MHz Mac with Mac OS X 10.3.9, 32 MB of VRAM. Not Universal.

Trial: Feature-limited (60 minutes, no bonuses)

I love shape-puzzle games. I played the original Tetris game for hours at a stretch on my Macintosh Classic in the early 90s. Black-and-white, tiny screen, it didn’t matter. So when any of these kind of games come across our review list, I ask for them.

I explored Arctic Quest site for Windows. I played the online version a few times and thought it was cute. The islands are icy, and we have to complete the puzzles to melt them. There is a Snow King, but you don’t battle him until many levels later, so I never met him. He has set up these challenging puzzles where you rotate objects to complete a shape. If you use all your large pieces too soon, you’ll have to drop the extras in the ocean. If the ocean fills up, you lose. There is a fire on one end of the island, so you can melt some of the extra pieces to hold off losing. All very cute.


The artwork is very pretty.

I downloaded the game from the Alawar site, and saw it was an .exe file, and wondered what was up. Then I looked at my Review Editor’s information, and realized I had gone to the wrong site. Uh-oh, I thought. I am getting a game from someone other than the original developer. And this turned out to be true. The developer on the Macintosh Arctic Quest game is Exclusive Games, LLC. I went to their site and saw this message:

Exclusive Games, LLC is the game development and publishing company. We specialize in 3D-games development for Windows, and recently has successfully started porting to Mac OS X platform.

I did not mind the two grammatical errors. They alerted me the text was written by someone for whom English is not the first language, and I am not elitist about this but curious about the company. Curiosity is fine, but I am wary of programs ported from Windows. They tend to have been written with Windows in mind, and thus tend to be smell funny once they are rewritten. Not every piece of software in the history of software has had this problem, but we all run into programs that run smoothly and those which do not. In my limited experience, software that began life on Windows just doesn’t do all that well when someone tries to rewrite it for Macs.

So I was predisposed to find this software mediocre. I allowed for that. I liked the drawing, and I liked the music. I began the game, and played for a level or two, and then I got bored. The shapes were colorful and interesting, and varied with level. But I was bored. Maybe it was too soothing. Maybe the ice made me sleepy. Whatever the reason, I was not fired up about it, so I thought I would investigate the bonus material. I clicked on Register and the game croaked. The music kept playing, but the game went away. I thought maybe I could register from a fresh start-up of the game, but no matter how I tried to register (three different paths), it killed the game. The bonuses appear to be various critters: a snail that slows down time, etc. But I will never know for sure; I am going by the Help screen from Alawar’s online game.

The game is generally sluggish to load. The cursor takes a few seconds too long to become functional. Possibly my Mac does not meet the system requirements, though I have doubts. I am sure my Intel-based Mac mini does meet the system requirements, so the crashing when I try to register is not because of anything systemic I can identify.

A download from Exclusive Games gets you 60 minutes of free trial, minus bonuses, so you have ample time to decide if you want to pay $20 for this game. I would not pay $5 for it, because I would rather play a 22-year-old Russian game of Tetris on a 7-inch black-and-white screen. That game had no fire and no ice. The music was cheesy. The blocks didn’t change with level. But it did not crash, and it was never boring. It just played and played and played.

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