Across Lite 1.2 (free), from Literate Software Systems (www.litsoft.com): Across Lite 1.2 is a Mac OS X 10.2 version of Literate’s crossword client. It works fine, and it’s tough to beat the price ( June 2003 ).
Active Lancer ($20), from Freeverse Software (www.freeverse.com): Like many shooters, Active Lancer is tough to beat but very rewarding if you make it all the way to the end. It’s more proof that there’s a lot of life left in this genre ( March 2004 ).
After Dark X + Fish ($10), from Infinisys (http://en.infinisys.co.jp): This update on the classic screen saver offers few new graphics, underexploiting the power of the modern line of Macs ( November 2003 ).
Age of Mythology ($50), from MacSoft (www.macsoftgames.com): Age of Mythology’s impeccable credentials and flawless Mac conversion make this an instant classic for real-time strategy fans ( March 2004 ).
Aliens vs. Predator 2 ($50), from MacPlay (www.macplay.com): This shooter took plenty of time to arrive on the Mac, but it was worth the wait — Alien vs. Predator includes frightening effects and varied game play ( December 2003 ).
America’s Army: Operations ($6), from America’s Army (www.americasarmy.com): A recruitment tool from the U.S. Army, this first-person shooter is quite passable, especially for something you can download for free. Both the 300MB download and the online game play require a high-speed Internet connection ( November 2003 ).
Barrage (free), from Derek Arndt (www.macgamefiles.com): Simple, repetitive fun can be a great stress reliever every once in a while. That’s what this shooting game provides. And what’s more, it’s free ( September 2003 ).
Bloodrayne ($30), from Aspyr Media (www.aspyr.com): It’s got lousy graphics, poor sound, a lame story, and tepid game play — so you may wonder whether there’s anything good about Bloodrayne. There is. It works with game pads ( September 2003 ).
Burning Monkey Casino ($20), from Freeverse Software (www.freeverse.com): Burning Monkey Casino offers cute, lighthearted fun for players looking for some quick-and-dirty Vegas-style action ( March 2004 ).
Burning Monkey Solitaire 3 ($25), from Freeverse Software (www.freeverse.com): With Internet rankings and tons of variety, Burning Monkey Solitaire 3 is a worthy successor to a great set of card games ( December 2003 ).
Crazy Golf ($19), from Danlab Games (www.danlab games.com): This is a miniature-golf action game full of creative course designs and traps. It’s a competent, hardy little shareware offering that will challenge minigolf enthusiasts ( December 2003 ).
CrosswordMaster 1.1.2 ($25), from Yin Yan Software (www.yinyansw.com): If you want help creating crossword puzzles, then this little app is for you. CrosswordMaster displays a list of words that could meet the space-and-letter-combination requirements of a given horizontal or vertical space within a grid design of your choosing ( November 2003 ).
Cube It ($10), from Dracosoft (www.dracosoft.net): This take on the classic Collapse is an unimpressive replica and could use some performance tuning. Still, it is a competent little puzzle. Plus, it’s cheap and tiny ( August 2003 ).
Deluxe Board Games ($20), from Freeverse Software (www.freeverse.com): This gaming software answers the call for simple, well-crafted, online-capable board games. A great value, it may also draw new players to online gaming ( July 2003 ).
Dr. Blob’s Organism ($10), from Digital Eel (www.digital-eel.com): If you’re looking for a complex game to immerse yourself in, Dr. Blob’s Organism isn’t it. But if brainless arcade fun is more your style, give this game a try ( February 2004 ).
Dungeon Siege ($50), from MacSoft (see Editors’ Choice 2003: Best Game”).
Enigmo ($25), from Pangea Software (www.pangeasoft.net): In this beautifully detailed puzzle game, you must clear a path for dropping liquid before time runs out ( October 2003 ).
EverQuest ($50, plus $13 monthly subscription fee), from Sony (http://eqmac.station.sony.com): The extremely popular, massively multiplayer online role-playing game has nineties-era graphics but is still highly addictive and fun to play. The Mac version allows you to interact only with other Mac users, which is either a good or a bad thing depending upon your point of view ( November 2003 ).
Freedom Force ($40), from MacPlay (www.macplay.com): Oozing charm and cheese, Freedom Force is an incredibly fun and well-executed game that’s sure to appeal to strategy gamers, role players, and comic-book fans ( July 2003 ).
GameRanger (free), from GameRanger Technologies (www.gameranger.com): GameRanger is a chat service that is an indispensable resource for Mac gamers looking to play online, even if public chat can get unruly. The premium service is a bit overpriced at $50 per year ( ).
Ghost Master ($50), from Feral Interactive (www.feral.co.uk): This is a strategy game with a twist — the more you scare folks, the better. In Ghost Master, you’ve got a great game with great execution, especially for fans of horror movies ( March 2004 ).
Halo: Combat Evolved ($50), from MacSoft (www.macsoftgames.com): By any measure, Halo is an absolutely fantastic game. Westlake and MacSoft truly pulled out all the stops to make this one of the best first-person shooters the Mac has ever seen ( February 2004 ).
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ($40), from Aspyr Media (www.aspyr.com): Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets offers casual gamers a fun tie-in with the book and movie. It’s better than the game that went with the previous Harry Potter movie, but the save feature is inconvenient ( September 2003 ).
Hollow Ground ($19), from Aescapia AB (www.aescapia.com): Hollow Ground combines the classic appeal of coin-op gaming with Quake-like violence. It’s an interesting blend if you can stomach the gore ( February 2004 ).
Imaginext Battle Castle ($20), from Vivendi Universal Games (www.vugames.com): Imaginext Battle Castle is a great tie-in for kids who already play with Medieval World toys. It’s also a fun romp for kids who want to be a knight for a day ( March 2004 ).
Imaginext Pirate Raider ($20), from Vivendi Universal Games (www.vugames.com): Just the thing for wannabe Captain Sparrows (ages four and up, that is) looking to hoist the mainsail and weigh anchor, Imaginext Pirate Raider is a ton of fun ( December 2003 ).
Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer ($30), from Aspyr Media (www.aspyr.com): Although it’s highly reminiscent of the Tony Hawk series, Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer is well executed and fun to play ( March 2004 ).
MacMAME 0.60A (free), from The MAME Project (www.macmame.org): If you’re a fan of old arcade games, the MacMAME simulator should be the centerpiece of your collection — along with a drawerful of ROM chips ( June 2003 ).
Marble Blast ($15), from GarageGames (www.garagegames.com): Marble Blast is a refreshing bit of arcade fun; you roll through a maze from the point of view of the marble. It’s got a lot of challenging levels, but it may be too difficult for younger players ( June 2003 ).
Momo Racing ($100), from Logitech (www.logitech.com): The Momo Racing wheel adds realistic effects to force-feedback-compatible racing games — all two of them. It’s worth the money if you’re a true racing enthusiast ( June 2003 ).
NASCAR Racing 2003 Season ($30), from Aspyr Media (www.aspyr.com): This version improves on its predecessor with an updated driver, a team and sponsor roster, all 23 real-world NASCAR tracks, and a dramatically reworked physics engine ( January 2004 ).
Neverwinter Nights ($50), from MacSoft (www.macsoftgames.com): This game is a fun role-playing romp that can cause enough sleepless nights and missed work to make it a worthwhile purchase ( December 2003 ).
Noiz2sa (free), from Kenta Cho (www.victoly.com/ ~adam): Noiz2sa is a shoot-’em-up game that’s a visual extravaganza in motion. You have to see it to believe it ( January 2004 ).
Orbz 2.0 ($20), from GarageGames (www.garagegames.com): Version 2.0 is this game’s debut on the Mac, and it was definitely worth the wait. Its simple mechanics, nonviolent play, and cartoonish graphics make it a hit for families who want a game everyone can play ( August 2003 ).
Payback ($30), from Freeverse Software (www.freeverse.com): Violent subject matter, cheap and amateurish graphics, and bad level design make this crime-spree game one to miss ( June 2003 ).
Pocket Tanks Deluxe ($16), from Cornerstone TSP Games (www.ctspgames.com): Pocket Tanks is a 2-D battle-strategy game. While there’s room for improvement, it’s phenomenally fun to play, and the Deluxe version is well worth the modest fee ( June 2003 ).
Power Chips & High Roller ($20), from MacPlay (www.macplay.com): If you’re intrigued by action puzzles, this disc may be worth a look. It’s not especially original, but it does offer nice graphics, music, and sound effects ( August 2003 ).
rRootage 0.22 (free), from Adam Green (www.victoly.com/~adam): This game has fast-paced action, pulse-pounding sound effects, and a great soundtrack, but it may not appeal to everyone because of its spare, minimalist design and lack of Mac documentation and tech support ( August 2003 ).
SimCity 4 ($50), from Aspyr Media (www.aspyr.com): This updated version of the Mac classic allows users to reach new heights of obsessive micro and macro city management. Watch out for sluggish performance as cities grow ( November 2003 ).
Snood V3 ($15), from Snood (www.snood.com): Snood is a bona fide Mac classic, now native on Mac OS X ( October 2003 ).
SpyHunter ($30), from Aspyr Media (www.aspyr.com): This is a good game that was ported rather late. Despite some stability issues, it’s still a fine example of a genre we should see more of on the Mac ( October 2003 ).
ThinkTanks ($20), from GarageGames (www.garagegames.com): This game retains what’s best about Combat and has new elements that bring the game up-to-date. It’s a steal at its price ( September 2003 ).
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 ($50), from Aspyr Media (www.aspyr.com): This is a superlative golf game that looks beautiful, especially with optional levels of detail activated; it’s a new standard for golfing on a Mac ( October 2003 ).
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Desert Siege ($35), from Aspyr Media (www.aspyr.com): This expansion of the squad-based tactical action and strategy game is perfect for folks who’d rather be in Tom Clancy thrillers than read them ( January 2004 ).
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 ($40), from Aspyr Media (www.aspyr.com): There are new skating challenges and improvements, but Pro Skater 3 is incomplete (no multiplayer or force feedback) and old news. Mac gamers can opt for version 4 instead ( July 2003 ).
Unreal Tournament 2003 ($50), from MacSoft (www.macsoftgames.com): Evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, improvements make Unreal Tournament 2003 a solid game that definitely belongs in the arsenal of any Mac first-person-shooter enthusiast ( September 2003 ).
Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne expansion pack ($35), from Blizzard Entertainment (www.blizzard.com): This expansion pack adds new heroes, buildings, characters, units, and single-player missions to Warcraft III. It’s well worth the somewhat lofty price ( November 2003 ).
Warrior Kings ($50), from Feral Interactive (www.feral.co.uk): Warts and all, Warrior Kings is a lot of fun to play. It will particularly appeal to real-time-strategy fans looking for new challenges ( February 2004 ).
Worms Blast ($40), from Feral Interactive (www.feral.co.uk): Beguilingly simple, yet extraordinarily challenging, Worms Blast hides a demonically difficult game behind cute graphics ( July 2003 ).
X-Plane 6.5 ($60), from Laminar Research (www.x-plane.com): X-Plane is the king of the hill in Mac flight simulators. It’s not a game, so expect to spend a few hours learning the basics and the interface. It’s worth the effort ( June 2003 ).
Zoo Tycoon ($50), from Aspyr Media (www.aspyr.com): This real-time strategy game lets you build, stock, and maintain your own zoo. It combines the voyeuristic thrill and strategic planning of Sim City with a nice dose of learning ( January 2004 ).