Occasional thoughts on diverse subjects

It came from the eighties

By Dave Menendez
Saturday, October 15, 2005, at 8:55 PM

Summary: My quest for a Mac OS X–compatible Tetris uncovers a pleasant surprise.

Sometime Friday evening, I suddenly felt like a game of Tetris. Since I don’t have a copy on my laptop (except for the version apparently built-in to Emacs, which didn’t appeal to me), I started looking around for a version of Tetris for Mac OS X. This is surprisingly difficult, and before I came across one I found one of its descendents, Trisection, from Stick Software.

The name was familiar. “Stick Software,” I thought (approximately), “is that the same guy who made Solarian II?” You’ve probably never heard of that game, but it was one of the first color Macintosh games I ever played, probably on a Macintosh II (the first color Mac).

I remember being particularly impressed by how detailed everything was. This was because Solarian ran at full 640×480 resolution, instead of the 320×420 that one saw on contemporary MS-DOS games. The sound effects were a blast as well; instead of the usual synthesized bleeps and blips, it used samples of actual sounds. (When you died, it played a frustrated “Damn!”—unless that offended you, in which case you could set it to “Praise Jesus!” Did I mention the game’s sarcastic attitude?)

So, it turns out that not only is this the same Stick Software that released Solarian II fifteen years ago, but they have a re-written, OS X–compatible Solarian II. I downloaded it, played a few rounds, and sent off my $10 shareware fee.

I also sent a further $15 for Trisection, which is pretty fun, and quite a bit more involved than Tetris.

Thank you, Ben Haller, for this unexpected bit of nostalgia.