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What, More Money?

by Mark H. Anbinder, News Editor -- mha@baka.ithaca.ny.us

Director of Technical Services, Baka Industries Inc.

Early Newton technology adopters have paid quite a bit of money for the distinction of owning a Newton. The opportunity to spend more money seems a scary one! Not this time; Casady & Greene's Silicon Casino software lets Newton owners win or lose "fake money" (and even borrow more as needed) through a series of fun casino-style games.

"Silicon Casino," which works just fine on the new MessagePad 110 as well as the MessagePad 100 and, for lack of a better name, "MessagePad Classic," includes blackjack, baccarat, craps, poker, and slot machines in its gaming room, which is conveniently laid out around the MessagePad screen. When the user selects a particular game, the display switches to a closer view.

The graphics are naturally neither as colorful nor as detailed as some Macintosh casino or card software, because of the small, monochrome MessagePad screen. For users in need of a quick diversion, though, the fancy graphics won't be missed.

Despite the relatively simple graphics, this is a complex program. It includes lots of sound (which can be disabled at the user's option) and clear explanations of each game's rules. As a result, the program takes up almost 600K of user memory space, and won't fit in a MessagePad without an extra PCMCIA RAM card. (Not even the MessagePad 110 has that much available user space.) The package includes both Macintosh and DOS formatted floppies, from which users may download the program to their Newton using the Mac or Windows Newton Connection Kit or the free Newton Package Downloader.

Silicon Casino takes advantage of the Newton user interface, allowing the user to drag coins and cards about with the stylus, but allows shortcuts in many situations for those who tire of the clever dragging metaphor.

Just as a MessagePad is a one-user device, Silicon Casino is designed to be a one-player game. Once you start playing, you can never "start over" with no debt and a good chunk of money. If you fall behind, you must borrow money to bankroll yourself until you're back on your feet.

The single-user philosophy explains Casady & Greene's copy protection as well. The company explains that it has tried to protect its software from piracy in as unobtrusive a manner as possible, and we believe they've succeeded. Users must enter the software's serial number the first time they run the program on a given MessagePad, and never need to again, if they use it on the same MessagePad. Fair enough.

Silicon Casino is available through Apple's StarCore distribution group, and retails for $59.95.

Information from:
Casady & Greene -- 800/359-4920 -- 408/494-9228 --
d0063@applelink.apple.com