Black Box

The Low-End Mac Portable Gaming Page

GENERAL TIPS: Above all, remember that 1400 series was really a low-end one. Even back in 1997 the 603/166 MHz was no speed demon, not to mention 117 MHz and 133 MHz. What's worse, slow bus (33 Mhz) is the actual speed bottleneck in 1400, making the 166 MHz CPU almost insignificantly faster than the 133 MHz one. Speed benchmarks give 1400/166 something between 80 MHz and 120 MHz equivalents of desktop Macs. The first tip is: when a game mentions 603/166 as a 'minimum requirements' bear in mind, that this particular 603/166 simply does not qualify. Look for the games requiring no more than '120 MHz PowerMac'.


SCREEN: All the older powerbooks have a fixed resolution. In powerbook 1400 it's 800*600, never less, never more. A properly written game can open its 640*400 on your 800*600, but it will look hopelessly. The 11-inch screen is already not exacly a panoramic one, and if the game uses only a small part of it, it looks like some freakin'  gameboy.
Another screen related problem is the brightness adjustment. Powerbook 1400 allows to adjust brightness and contrast. Many games ignore this feature. They offer their own brightness adjustment... that does not always work. Sometimes (MDK) this can make a good game totally unplayable on a powerbook.

CD: Powerbook 1400 was The First Laptop Ever with a built-in CD-ROM drive. Cool, but there are many reasons for the user not to use it in travel. First, it's the battery life - it is always better to read the same file from harddrive rather than CD. Second, you might not have a CD-ROM drive in your expansion bay just because it is occupied by extra battery, ZIP, floppy or whatever. Or because your powerbook is even more low-endian than mine and simply never had one.
A Black Box friendly game should allow a complete harddrive installation. The bad news is that most games do not allow. The producers think that the CD in drive can act as an antipiracy measure. Well, what a stupid way to think. In fact, they encourage piracy acting this way. For powerbook user a *cracked* game is simply more feasible than the original, because cracked games are fully HD-installable.

SLEEP: The 'sleep' mode is one of the coolest features of your Black Box. Many peecee portables lack it. Unfortunately, many games dislike it. Their odd behaviour vary from changing screen colors to some unreadable pattern (Civilization II) to strange slowdown after waking up from the sleep (Doom series).

KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD: And you thought that Powerbook controls can replace desktop keyboard and mouse? Well, what you gonna do if a game requires some buttons available only on numeric keypad your portable lacks? Pageup, home, forward delete, gray plus, keypad direction buttons? Good games are portable-aware and offer special keysettings for powerbooks. Bad games - they don't.

Return to the gaming page or to the main page.