September 26th, 2011


Toxic Ravine!

Just before I started medical school, I bought a Macintosh Plus. It was the best possession I’ve ever owned, including all my other computers to date (I’m on my fifth, 23 years later). Each new computer I’ve bought was more than ten times powerful than the last, but somehow less amazingly cool and magical. The Mac Plus kept me sane through my one year of medical school.

While I was visiting my family in Utah a couple months ago, the brother gave me a Macintosh Plus emulator, called Mini vMac, and a whole raft of games, and since then I’ve been floating neck-deep in a sea of nostalgia.

Here’s a semi-pictorial essay about Toxic Ravine—one of my very favorite games for the Mac Plus. (Warning: I may also cover one or two other notable games later on, just for posterity.) The game has a perfunctory Wikipedia entry, and a couple Mac reference sites mention it, but nowhere on the Web could I find a review that does justice to the game’s wonderfulness.

Your goal in Toxic Ravine is to clean out a canyon full of toxic waste, including discarded genetic experiments, and save the little genetically-engineered people trapped there. The people are called PANG Clones because they carry a recombinant Politeness And Niceness Gene, and they’re the most annoying creatures in the universe. Cloyingly cute and friendly, they’re like the biotech equivalent of Anne Geddes photos.

You pilot a dirigible, as an employee of Orlando Poon, Jr.’s Cleanup and Rescue Service, from which you destroy toxic objects and rescue the PANG Clones. You are armed with a rescue robot, an endless supply of bombs, and a few airborne “smart bombs” you can control.

I really like this guy’s smirk on the title screen. Is he Orlando Poon, or the player? Also chuckleworthy is the “Poon” menu—an unhelpful and vaguely suggestive name.

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