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The next time some hater tells you that “Mac gamer” is a contradiction, fire back with these best-ever Apple-platform titles. Sure, Apple’s systems have had their gaming downs; the short-lived Pippin had few worth playing, and the most fun we had on a Newton was “Find Elvis.” But the Apple II and Mac have had a vibrant ecosystem of games that stood out among all titles.
We had a hard time settling on 10. In no order, SimCity, Oni, Glider, Bolo, Crystal Quest, Out of This World, Deus Ex, Diablo, Civilization, The Secret of Monkey Island, Starcraft, Lemmings, Spaceward Ho!, Ultima, Myst, and World of Warcraft, were all significant but didn’t quite make the cut.
You’ll have a hard time finding copies of most of our top games. Some are available online , while eBay and local computer stores might carry old copies of others. But if you do have the floppies or CDs, the game isn’t likely to run in OS X. Try an emulator like Basilisk II to trick the old software into thinking it’s running on an old Mac or Apple II.
10. Future Cop
This excellent, pulp shooter earns our nod partly because its 1998 release echoes the scrappy days of the Mac platform. Players control a walking vehicle from an angled, overhead perspective, able to jump obstacles and shoot at villains. But the walker can transform into a nimble hovercraft, which moves quicker, although more recklessly. A small development team within EA used Macs to create the Playstation version of Future Cop, wanted to make a Mac version, and twisted a few arms to release a hybrid Mac/PC disc. But even without the Mac-fan backstory, the game excels for its well-crafted controls, fun multiplayer, and L.A.-wasteland setting.
9. Unreal Tournament
The choice between Unreal Tournament and Quake III is the choice between Coke and Pepsi; when you like one, the other just doesn’t taste right. In late 1999 and early 2000, these two first-person-shooters unabashedly emphasized multiplayer teamwork over single-player story, leading the trend for most followers. Both include a set of explosive weapons that are copied in most other action-shooters. And both come from nerd-turned-rockstar developers who like the little guy—Macs and Linux—almost as much as the PC. Why’d we choose UT over Quake III? Because we have taste. Look for MacSoft to publish last year’s PC game, Unreal Tournament 3 sometime soon.
While RoboSport carried the basic mechanic to a multiplayer level in 1991, ChipWits gave us cute, programmable robots in 1984. Using a graphical language, gamers place tiles with simple commands that mean “move forward,” “turn right,” or “if there’s a cup of coffee, drink it.” Then the programmed robots totter through semi-random mazes full of traps and bonuses. The most efficient robots earn the highest scores. At its release, ChipWits was a standout game on the nascent Macintosh. ChipWits lives again in its recently developed—and still in beta—sequel. The $20 shareware game closely follows the original’s design.
7. Battle Girl
Combine beautiful vector artwork and a two-joystick-style control scheme where you move and shoot independently. Add a perpetually repayable electronic soundtrack. Mix in low system requirements. Several games include all of these elements, but no Mac game nails the pacing and control just like Battle Girl. In this arcade homage shooter, you fly a spaceship through centralized levels, upgrading weapons, and blasting powerful baddies. Battle Girl came out for Macs before PCs—always a winning point with Mac gamers—back in 1997. While it’s not compatible with OS X, Classic gamers might be able to buy a copy from Feral Interactive if they ask nicely.
6. Marathon series
Yes, the Marathon games make an obligatory appearance in any Apple fan’s list, but they’re here for a reason. In 1994, about the same time PC players were fixated on Doom, we Mac gamers took to the good ship, Marathon. This proto-first-person-shooter has no jump, but the ability to aim up and down rocked the FPS genre. Marathon: Durandal and Marathon: Infinity include extensive networking modes, from straight-up deathmatches to team-driven conditions. Many office-, school-, and improvised-home-networks were touched by Marathon’s magic, and a fan-base still plays. Or console gamers can re-live it on the Xbox 360.