Retro Game Review – Pararena 2

Publisher: Casady & Greene
Platform: Classic MacOS
Release Date: 1992
Media: Floppy Disk
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* Pararena 2 will only run on older systems capable of 16 color mode.

Created by John Calhoun of Glider fame, Pararena is one of the great hits that never was. I don’t understand why this game was not more popular. It featured clean graphics, memorable characters, and elegantly simple game play. Pararena was certainly one of my favorites. When Casady & Greene released the commercial version, now in color, I was one of the few that actually bought it.

Pararena is an interesting mix of soccer and basket ball, with hover boards thrown in for good measure. The object is to skate around a giant dish, grab a ball as it spins around the rim, throw it into a goal, all while trying to prevent your opponent from doing the same. (long breath) Sound simple? It is, but only after much practice.

The most interesting feature of Pararena is its control system. This had to be one of the best uses of a mouse as a controller until the advent of true 3d first person shooters. Your character reacts as if it were tethered to the mouse with a bungee cord. Hold the mouse button down and navigate to the ball rushing around the dish to pick it up. Once you have picked it up, release the button to hold on to the ball. Click the button once more to release the ball. To score a goal, you must align your character with the blue goal path and then swing back and forth to gain some momentum before releasing the ball into the goal.

Game play is simple, the first player to score 5 more points than their opponent or 15 points total wins. One can also win by forcing their opponent to throw the ball out of the dish a few times. This is best accomplished by knocking them out of the dish when they are carrying the ball. A word of caution, if you swing around your mouse too violently, you will end up flying off the dish yourself.

Before starting a game, an announcer addresses the crowd. Yes, there is even a crowd, albeit obscured from view. They cheer your goals and boo your opponent’s. It’s good to feel loved. Anyway, the announcer begins his long heartfelt schpeel: “Ladies… and… Gentlemen . . . Pare . . . A . . . RENA!” He’s a man of few words, but he never calls in sick, and the crowd seems to love him. When the game begins, the two players materialize in the dish like something out of StarTrek. Presumably, the game takes place IN THE FUTURE. Did I mention that the dish is floating in outer space? Dead giveaway.

For those who want more than the simple one time game, Pararena offers a tournament mode. The goal of tournament mode is to kick the crap out of every adversary in the game. There’s no real order to it, you just pick one at a time. So, presumably, you could start off against the hardest players and work your way back. Don’t ask me why it works this way. Another feature (bug?) of the opponent selection screen is that you can pit computer players against other computer players, WarGames style. It’s fun to watch for about 2 minutes but it makes a really cool screen saver.

All I have to say is, give Pararena a shot. If you don’t have a classic Mac, get one. A nice IIci goes for less than ten dollars on ebay. But I digress, Pararena has solid controls, a fun premise, and challenging game play. Its innovative use of the mouse is reason enough to play it at lest once. I’d love to see more computer games that take advantage of the mouse. I’d hate to see this game fade away into oblivion. Pararena deserves better.

– Matt

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