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Video Game: Pararena
Ladies ... and ... gentlemen! PARE ... A ... RENA!
— The announcer

Pararena was an early nineties Macintosh game by John Calhoun. Its premise could be summed up as "one-on-one Rollerball with Hover Boards, on a satellite dish In Space."

Version 1.x (1990) was a Shareware title on Calhoun's "Soft Dorothy" label, with registration unlocking more features, opponents, and rulesets. Version 2.x (1992) was a boxed retail product from Casady & Greene, adding color graphics, a tournament mode, and head-to-head network play at up to 60 frames per second. Rules, physics, options, AI, graphics, and sounds were tinkered with over multiple updates.

As to fan requests for an iOS version, the Word of God is "Maybe" (with an acknowledgment that Pararena would be perfect for tilt controls).

Contains examples of...

  • Alliterative Name — Mad Mara and Clever Claire.
  • Announcer Chatter
  • Automatic Level — The AI characters can be set to duel each other.
  • Bland-Name Product / Incredibly Lame Pun — The game clock is branded "Bowl-of-a" (Bulova).
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard — For once, inverted! No matter which size of target you select for your own goal, the computer will resolutely play with the smallest and most difficult size.
  • Copy Protection — The shareware version had a uniquely convoluted scheme involving snail mailing the author, receiving back a serial number, and choosing a password that you would occasionally have to re-enter when the game intentionally de-registered itself. (You could lock the app to prevent this, with the side effect of blocking high scores from being recorded.)
  • Cosmetic Award — Trophies are awarded for tournament performance, with the highest achievement being to shut out all six opponents.
  • Creator Cameo — John Calhoun is the announcer.
  • Dark Is Not Evil / Light Is Not Good — In the original game's monochrome art, your skater wears black and your enemy white. The commercial release flips this.
  • E = MC Hammer — One of the splash screens has the actually quite relevant "F = ma" tucked upside-down in the corner.
  • Fedora of Asskicking — Mister Eaze wears one over his hockey mask.
  • Fictional Sport
  • Genius Bonus — Earth's rival in the sport is "the central commerce colony of Taygete in the Pleian cluster."
  • Giant Mook — Heavy Otto has twice the mass of any other character, allowing him to knock opponents off the dish without even trying.
  • Home Field Advantage — In most versions, the crowd will cheer your successes and boo or grumble at your setbacks.
  • Hover Board — Make that Grav-Board.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels — Little League, Junior Varsity, Varsity, Minor League, and Professional.
  • In Scene Title Text — The letters of the game's title lose formation as they skate around the arena.
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art — The Soft Dorothy logo, an 1889 engraving of a topless fairy, caused problems with Compuserve and gave CD-ROM compilers pause. Calhoun says he even got "all of two pieces of hate mail" and muses that that's still more eyebrows than the original art probably ever raised in Europe.
  • Just for Pun — Mister Eaze and Miss Teak.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition — Parodied by the "limited edition" splash screen in some of the freely distributed versions.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance — Calhoun once called this the game of which he was proudest, but estimated that it had one-tenth or less the popularity of his smash hit Glider due to its steeper learning curve. Still, every now and then "someone from Chicken, Alaska" would contact him to say that "Pararena was the best game ever written."
  • The Merch"I don't know what this shirt is selling...but I'm buyin'!"
  • No OSHA Compliance — Averted. Your armor cushions you from all injury, the transporter is flawless at recovering players flung into space, and there's a helpful "Caution!" sign above the ball return (even though it's impossible for anything to go wrong there in-game).
  • Palette Swap — All characters use palette swaps of the same sprite, even the one who weighs twice as much.
  • PortmanteauParabolic arena.
  • Race Lift — Otto went from white to black in version 1.2.
  • Repeat Cut — The picture-in-picture instant replay feature.
  • Some Dexterity Required — Getting anywhere at all meant mastering diagonal mouse movement while controlling an onscreen sprite that moved like a swinging pendulum. According to the author, fan mail about Glider always seemed to include the aside, "Oh, and I tried Pararena too, but I couldn't score a goal so I trashed it."
  • Tattoo as Character Type — Mara has a large "M" on her upper arm, apparently signposting a rough-and-tumble nature and no small degree of self-regard.


JauntTrooperCreator/Casady & Greene    
Panzer DragoonScience Fiction Video GamesThe Perils Of Akumos
Otto MaticUsefulNotes/Apple MacintoshPathways Into Darkness

alternative title(s): Pararena
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