What are Mac Games?

Mac games, like PC games are electronic, interactive activities played by users on a computer or video game console. Unlike PC games, which were designed to run on a Microsoft Windows platform, Mac games were produced by Apple, Inc. to run on Apple’s Mac operating system. Their development began in the 1980s and grew to the surprise of many as an alternative to the IBM computer games.

Over the next few decades, Apple incorporated its Mac operating system into newer gadgets, from desktop computers, to laptops, and eventually into portable devices such as iPhones, iPods and iPads. Playing a Mac version game on a portable device proved to be quite different from playing it on a laptop or desktop computer. Mac games had to be redesigned to run faster with technology that was more complex. The Mac OS X operating system for these gadgets had to allow game interactivity with a user to be accomplished through touch screen technology, and/or through movement of the gadget. Using a keyboard or a mouse would not be feasible in this case.

A Brief History of Mac Games

Apple’s first computer was created by Steven Wozniak and his friend Steven Jobs in April 1976. Wozniak was a former employee of Hewlett-Packard, while Jobs worked as a basic circuit designer for Atari Inc. in their games engineering department. Steven Wozniak had a talent for creating electronic gadgets and with the help of his friend, Steven Jobs, they created their first computer, the Apple I. They showcased their new computer at the “Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto.” Unfortunately, no one took their computer creation seriously. While most computers were using the Intel 8080 chip, the Apple I used a MOStek 6502 chip. Steven Wozniak said they chose this type of chip because it was a lot cheaper than the 8080 Intel chip and could be purchased over the counter versus from a distributor. This would make it readily available to the average person.

Later on, both Stevens decided to re-create their Apple I computer for company use. This computer consisted of only a circuit board and did not have a monitor, keyboard, or any computer casing. It was sold in a few small stores as a kit for $666.00 marking it as the beginning of the first low-cost personal computer.

In 1977, the Apple II microcomputer was created. This new version was programmed with the BASIC computer language and allowed users to create their own computer programs, by attaching a cassette recorder to the computer’s built-in cassette port. Users could now save their program data on inexpensive cassette tapes.

When Steven Jobs was offered a paid opportunity to create the Atari system’s version of the Breakout game, he let Steve Wozniak do the work for him. As Wozinak worked on the project, he got an idea of how make his computers more user friendly by improving his graphic cards and creating a new speaker system. The first Mac-platform games were created back in the 1980’s. Crazy Climber, Pac Man, Mission Command, Rogue, Artillery, Mystery House, Ultima I and Zork I were some of the games that were introduced in that time.

More games became available for the Apple II computer and the Apple III version. These games were:

As time progressed, the Apple computer evolved into newer versions as the Apple IIe, the Lisa (Local Integrated Software Architecture; it was also the name of Steve Jobs’ daughter), the Lisa II and the Macintosh XL or MacXL, for short. The MacXL was developed in 1984 and became the first computer with the Mac name. This proved to be a trying time for the Mac as it was in competition with the IBM computer, which had a loyal following due to its fun and entertaining games. Apple needed to do something.

Apple decided to add a game to its computers as a desktop accessory. It was added to the computer’s accessory list alongside the calculator and other accessories. This new Apple game was called Puzzle and only used 600 bytes of memory. It involved moving puzzle shaped pieces up, down, left or right to complete the puzzle. This simple game ended up remaining in the accessory list for 10 years. Over time, new games were eventually created for this new Mac computer.

The Birth of Mac-Supported Games

The most popular version of the Apple Macintosh computer was introduced to the world in 1984. It was the first personal computer that was commercially successful, and that utilized a mouse and graphical user interface. It surpassed IBM’s simple blinking DOS prompt that sat on a blank screen. Advances in the Mac‘s Unix-based operating system, as well as its intuitive graphical user interface, made the Mac computer a popular alternative to the IBM computer. Hence, Mac supported video games were born. Games designed to run on a Mac OS evolved from basic graphics and monotone sounds to sophisticated concepts with spectacular graphics, supreme special effects and stereophonic sounds.

Initially, game development for the Mac was very slow because Windows PCs were more prevalent. However, as the popularity of the Mac grew, so did the availability of Mac games. Following is a list of some of the games, which came out over the next few years.

1984 (these games were usually cloned versions of the arcade games)










Other well-known classic games such as Dark Castle (1986), Crystal Quest (1987), and Shuffle Puck (1989) were released around this time also. Following is a list of a few more classic Mac games that have been introduced next:

Over time, many video games became cross-platform games and were playable on both the Mac and the PC. In 1989, screen savers were introduced to Apple’s Mac computers and later for Microsoft Windows PCs. Developed by Berkeley Systems, “After Dark” was screensaver software, which featured animated flying toasters and pieces of toast floating across the computer screen. It also allowed third-party applications to be integrated with the software, to create additional animated-character screensavers.

In the 1990’s, only a few video games were introduced on the Mac platform. Companies that continued to create games for the loyal Mac user were Broderbund, Lucas Arts, Maxis, and Bullfrog. Ambrosia, another Mac game maker, developed higher quality Mac-only shareware games such as its well-known game, Maelstrom.

In 1993, Myst, a popular CD-ROM Mac game, was originally only created for the Mac system. Marathon, the first Mac “first-person shooter game” was released in 1994 by Bungie (the creator of Halo). Marathon gave characters the ability to brandish double weapons during game play and allowed users to interact via real-time voice chat. This concept of a first-person shooter game sparked a slew of successors, making first-person shooter games very popular today.

PC and Mac games were generally sold separately, as they each were designed for two separate gaming platforms. However, Blizzard decided to try something new. They were the first company to include a PC and Mac version of its games, all inside the same box. This special release feature was introduced with the Diablo, WarCraft and Starcraft games. This great idea finally gave Mac users an easy way to find popular Mac games in stores and moved the games from secluded Mac game display sections. Today, many popular games can be played on a Mac operating system.

In 1999, the Mac almost got exclusive first rights to Bungie’s super popular game, Halo, which was to be released on the Mac OS system in 2001. However, Microsoft beat Apple to it by purchasing Bungie, and released Halo exclusively on its Xbox gaming system in 2001. Halo was eventually released for the Mac in 2003, but as a cross-platform game.

Types of Mac Games

Gamers have different skill levels and various preferences when it comes to playing online and offline games. That’s why there are so many different game genres. Puzzle games, card games, hidden object games, arcade type games, role-playing games and action games are just a few genres that exist. The categories these games will fall into can be classified as casual games, core games, and free or paid downloadable games from the internet.

Casual Games

Casual games were designed for people who want to play games with simple rules that do not require a very long period of time to play. Players can reach the end of a game quickly. This type of game is usually a free online game or a free downloadable game. It may include some shareware (try-before-you-buy) type of games. Casual games do not require a whole lot of computer mouse movements, keyboard interaction or cell phone keypad use. Examples of casual games are puzzles, hidden objects games and card games such as Microsoft's Solitaire. Older adult game players tend to play casual type games. Casual games can be found online, in major retail stores or are usually included with Windows or Apple computers. Here are a few internet websites that offer casual games for the Mac.

Gamehouse - http://www.gamehouse.com/mac-games - Gamehouse.com offers a huge selection of games with high-quality graphics, dazzling visual effects, and energizing soundtracks. They carry classic puzzle games like Bejeweled and Super Collapse. Gamehouse also features a new free game every day.

PopCap - http://www.popcap.com/allgames.php?os=2 - Popcap.com is another popular game website for Mac games. Although they do not have as many Mac games as Gamehouse.com, they do carry popular titles such as Bejeweled, Zumas Revenge, Bookworm and a few hidden object mystery games.

Mac Game Store - http://www.macgamestore.com/listing/Digital-DL/ - Macgamestore.com is another website which hosts downloadable Mac games. Demos of the games can be downloaded free and full versions of the games are available for purchase. It’s not as flashy of the other game sites but they do carry a nice assortment of games for purchase.

Apple - http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/games/ - This official Apple website provides links to Mac version games. The games are not Apple owned games. There are tremendous amounts of games for a player to choose from. Game categories include action and adventure, cards and puzzles, kids and learning, and simulation and sports. Some of these games are free downloads and others are shareware games where you either download the free demo version of a game or pay for the full unlimited version.

Core Games

Core games are designed for the dedicated and serious game player who also likes to compete against other players. Professional gamers, software testers and people who devote much of their time playing games are candidates for core games. Core games have more detailed rules and require a lot more strategy and intense playtime. Many first-person shooter games, action games and role-play games are classified as core games.

Some core category games are the Call of Duty series of games, the Counter-Strike games, Assassin's Creed, and World of Warcraft. The following sites offer core games for the Mac.

Steam - http://store.steampowered.com/browse/mac/ - Steampowered.com is a very detail oriented site that has many of the top, popular core games available for purchase as digital download versions you save on your computer. Games include high-quality screenshots or a video trailer to give an in-depth view of what the games are like. It also includes the game details, user reviews, update history, and even a user forum where players can discuss the particular game. They also feature games in various genres.

Mac Game Store - http://www.macgamestore.com/listing/Boxed-Games/ - Macgamestore.com features boxed top-seller core games available for purchase. These games are shipped to you and not downloaded to your computer. Their selection of boxed games is quite small.

Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Mac-Games/b?ie=UTF8&node=229647 -Amazon.com carries a pretty good selection of Mac games that can be purchased and shipped to you. Gamers will find new and used versions of games available through Amazon.com, along with customer reviews.

Apple Store - http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_mac/software/games -Apple.com has a few core games to choose from such as Starcraft II and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare available for purchase. Apple offers free shipping on all its games.

Direct2Drive - http://www.direct2drive.com/buy-mac-download - Direct2drive.com has a smaller library of core games. Customers can purchase games which are then downloaded to their computer.

Online Games

Online games are games that are played through a web browser. Some online games require software to be downloaded while others are played directly within the web browser. Most of these games are flash browser games in that they do not require any downloaded software in order to play the game. Flash games use Macromedia Flash software owned by Adobe to allow users the ability to interactively-play games on the web or through a mobile device. Examples of flash games are action and adventure games, simulation games, role-playing games, and first-person shooter games.

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) are a special type of online game. These games allow large numbers of players to interact with each other, within a virtual game environment and often require some form of subscription payment. MMORPGs are very popular and are hosted on the game developer’s server. Players connect to this virtual world through the developer’s software that is installed on the player’s computer. The virtual environment continuously evolves and at certain times, players must join together to complete different tasks within the game.

Popular Genres

Mac games come in many genres to accommodate all types of game player styles. Some popular genres of Mac games and game titles are listed below.

Classic Mac Games

Classic Mac games are nostalgic games that Mac users classify as timeless favorites. These games are over 10 years old and were originally made for apple computers and then later for the Mac. They were addictive and fun games that people still like to play today. In fact, some classic Mac games have been ported to the present Mac OS X. Apeiron is one of those classic games that Ambrosia re-released to be playable on the Mac OS X. Maelstrom, another game from the Ambrosia team, was also updated to run on the Mac OS X. This game was one of Apple’s most acclaimed Mac games. Some games designed to run on the Apple II computer were released to be playable on the Mac computer. Araknoid, a cloned version of the Breakout game, and Columns of Macintosh, a cloned version of the Tetris game, were two of the games that were updated from their predecessors in the 1980s. In 1991, the Mac game Puzzle, was updated to a newer game called Jigsaw.

If you are in the mood to play some nostalgic Mac games, you will find many are available as downloadable games from the internet or can be played online. Ambrosia Software Inc. (http://www.ambrosiasw.com/games/old/) has a few older Mac games on their website that can be played on the Mac OS X. Free trials of the games can be downloaded while full versions of the games must be purchased. The available games are Redline, Aki Mahjong Solitaire, Uplink, pop-pop, DEFCON, SketchFighter 4000 Alpha, El Ballo, Darwinia, GooBall, Apeiron X, Bubble Trouble X, EV Nova, and Deimos Rising.

There are many other websites that feature classic Mac version games. Gamehouse.com (http://www.gamehouse.com/mac-classic-games) has an entire section of classic games for the Mac. You can download limited versions of the games for free. If you’d like to play the full version of the games, you’ll have to purchase it. They do offer discounted prices if you sign up for their FunPass subscription.

Mac Game Store (http://www.macgamestore.com/freewebgames-category/4/Classics/) hosts a few popular classic Mac games that can be played on their website for free. Pac Man, Space Invaders, Centipede and Astroys are sure to bring back memories.