Retro Gaming on the Mac

A lot of people go on and on about how “great” their PS4 is or their Xbox one, and many of these people missed the start of it all! The Commodore, the Sinclair Spectrum, the Atari, etc. It’s when computers started becoming more interesting and fun to use, when you were eager to actually get home because the latest QBert or Dizzy game were sitting waiting for you.  I personally had fun with a Commodore 64 and a ZX Spectrum +3, and these machines at the time where quite something, even if you did have to wait for it to load while a tape played loud squeaky noises at you.

puzzleAt the start, the Apple Macintosh got the sharp end of the stick, as Apple really didn’t want its machines to be seen as a toy.  It was a business machine, a tool for creating, not for people to play with.  In fact the first ever game for the Mac turned out to be a little creation by Andy Hertzfeld, who created a desk accessory know as Puzzle.  This game took an amazing 800 Bytes of memory.  Apple deemed it a suitable size for it to be included in the operating system, and it was shipped with the Mac when released in 1984.  Puzzle was a staple on the Mac for a whole decade, before being replaced by a different game, Jigsaw, in 1994, another puzzle game that was included as standard with System 7.5.

Dark Castle title screen

MystMany other games from 1986 onwards started being developed, including classics like Dark Castle and Sim City. Some were obviously not Mac-only games, and were eventually ported to the Mac and other systems as well. The classic Myst, released in 1993, was purely developed on the Mac (some of it using HyperCard) and only afterwards was it ported to other machines.

Apple was the first manufacturer to ship CD-ROM drives as standard equipment (Apple was very clever, wasn’t it?) with the Macintosh IIvx and, later, Centris and Quadra models.  Many of the early CD-ROM based games where first developed for the Mac, especially since it was era of confusing PC standards.

Apple Pippin logoThe Apple Pippin, which was also known as the Bandai @World, was a PowerPC- based multimedia player that ran a cut down version of the Mac OS designed to play games and multimedia.  It was sold between 1996, and 1998 in Japan and the USA. Unfortunately it was not a success, with less than 42,000 units sold and fewer then 1,000 games and software applications supported.

Where does that leave us today?  Yes ,you can play spangly new games on your Mac, but it has to be pretty special to be able to cope. Old machines can’t run today’s newer software, and you need to be running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or newer to be able to download them from the Mac App Store.

Want to play some of your old favourites on your Mac again? Relieve the memories you had, whether you had a Mac or not? Well, you can.  Providing you have a reasonably decent machine, some of these emulators have been developed for PPC-based machines, as well as newer Intel Macs.  There are many emulators out there, whether it is MAME, which emulates the ROMs of the real arcade machines, or Snes9X which is a pretty fantastic SNES emulator.  You can pretty much emulate and play any machines you want! Check out, which lists a huge array of different platforms a Mac can emulate.

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