Ferazel’s Wand

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
July 30th, 2003 • 11:05 pm

I never got a chance to go very far in this game when I first purchased it a few years ago. When that game came out, Mac OS X was still in the developing stages, and the game was Mac OS 9-only. Ambrosia has not released a Mac OS X native version of the game so far.

Today, I wanted to try it again. I had found an application called “Ferazel’s Wand X Launcher” a while back, which I thought was a hack enabling the game to run natively under Mac OS X. I had never actually tried it.

Well, it turns out that this hack is only a resolution switcher. Ferazel’s Wand requires a 640×480 resolution and can do the resolution switching itself, but allegedly this X Launcher hack helps prevent Mac OS X from shuffling windows around because it thinks it doesn’t have enough room to display them on a 640×480 screen (obviously).

Unfortunately, in my set-up, the X Launcher application simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t prevent Mac OS X from moving windows around, it doesn’t automatically hide the Dock, etc. So it’s pretty much useless. It might be because the hack is old and was never updated. Or it might be the fact that I have two monitors side by side.

The amazing thing, in my opinion, is that the game can run under Classic in Mac OS X and still provide a satisfactory gaming experience. On my dual 1.25 GHz G4, there are no performance issues. There are some problems with screen artifacts, as with most Classic applications, but if I hide enough stuff before launching the game, it’s not so bad. The only unslightly thing is the menu bar at the top, which simply becomes a mess of coloured pixels. (The game also requires a more limited colour setting for the monitor, of course.)

Of course, on a flat panel display where 640×480 is not the native resolution, the game doesn’t look as good as it would on a multi-resolution CRT. But it still looks good enough. It doesn’t use any fancy graphics. It’s just a classic 2D scrolling game where you have to jump, shoot, and perform all kinds of other acrobatics. It does have nice visual effects, but they are of the stylized type that those familiar with older video games (either old console games or early computer games) will be familiar with.

I really enjoyed playing the game today. I didn’t get very far, but at least I got farther than I remember ever getting. Fortunately, Ferazel’s Wand lets you “save” your game at various stages during your progression — although I wish it would let you save at any time. (I don’t take my gaming activities so seriously that I really want to repeat the same thing a dozen times until I finally get it just right with enough health and ammunition to continue…) I will be coming back to it in the next few weeks to try and go as far as possible.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, but I’ve tried a number of demos for more recent games, mostly of the 3D shooter variety, and I find them too difficult to master to be really enjoyable. It might be because I am not enough of a “hard-core” gamer. Still, games like Ferazel’s Wand prove that there is still room for original content within the constraints of a simpler gaming experience.

(The closest I have found to this kind of experience using more recent 3D technology is Pangea Soft’s Otto Matic. Again, it’s a stylized environment, with no ultra-realistic gore, and it’s not too hard to master.)

The only real problems that I have with Ferazel’s Wand is that it occasionally crashes (although this might be fixed in the 1.0.3 update that I’ve just downloaded). And I really wish that it could be played in a window, without requiring a resolution switch. But those are minor quibbles… It’s a great game, and the fact that it runs more or less flawlessly under Classic demonstrates that Ambrosia knows how to program Mac-friendly applications.

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