The secret history of Mac gaming

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I was an OG Mac user. I can remember when the very first games out, and blew away the PC market. But then Apple kind of quit competing. When they were down to a 5% market share, companies just stopped porting games and put everything into PC. It made me sad.


I remember CrystalQuest from the Plus era, where the movements of the mouse affected the acceleration of the thingy. And Three in 3, the puzzle game. And Spaceward Ho!, the first addictive networked game I remember.


I could say much, but I’d pretty well ignored Mac out of spite for Apple killing the Apple II line in favor of Macs, especially the IIGS which in many ways was actually better than Macs of the time (built in soundchips wanting to say sixteen voices but I dunno, but you can get t to play music CDs.) They artificially underclocked the processor, and scrapped the ‘mark Twain’ edition that likely would have been a GS+ variant (internalized hard drive and floppy with slightly faster clok speed and more built in ram. Would’ve been a good educational computer for schools.

Fun fact, there was actually a video card made for it that would let it use standard VGA monitors verses the propritary monitor that uses a really wonky refresh rate.

So much that it could have been and apple quietly killed it in favor of what i saw as an inferrior and costlier product… all because Jobs got put in the Mac division and Jobs wanted more power in his company in spite of being fired from its head position.

I apologize. I’m simply bitter.

That said Mac gaming? I applaud anyone that programmed for the early mac due to the limits even compared to other systems of the day.


And apps as well. In the early 1990s, Macs were very popular in molecular biology and every lab needed at least one to run needed programs that were Mac exclusive. By the late 1990s, not only were there no longer very many Mac-exclusives, companies stopped porting things to it either. It really looked like the Mac was going to die like the Amiga did. OSX certainly revitalized the Mac, although even then it wasn’t so much new exclusives but the (relatively) easy way to port Linux programs over.


I LOVED playing Dark Castle and Dark Castle 2 as a kid. Sadly, the only place I could play it was on a neighbor’s computer, so I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time playing it as I would have liked. I have seen some emulators (is that what they’re called?), but I’m not computer savvy enough to figure out how to get them to work.


They did something similar with the Pippin. Apple management was concerned about the low-cost Pippin cannibalising Power Mac sales, so they insisted its capabilities be reduced. And it never got much attention or priority. What could have been a great low-end, living-room-friendly multimedia-focused Mac that would get more people into Apple’s ecosystem instead turned out to be a horribly-crippled machine that could barely run anything at an acceptable quality (or so I’ve been told — never had the chance to try out the Pippin for myself).

Poor Bandai, meanwhile, had given the project its full attention — decisions escalated straight to the top company execs, lots of resources available, etc — and thought the Pippin would reshape their future.

(Book author Richard Moss here, by the way. I’ll keep an eye on this thread for the next couple of days.)


It was on the Mac that mouse gaming got explored, which paved the way for mouse-driven modern PC gaming.

And now there’s a bit of a renaissance, despite Bootcamp - iPhone development is obligatory for mobile publishing, plus the PC game dev tools popular with indie developers make Mac ports trivially easy, so they’ll do so for a few percent more sales. AAA gaming is still a shit-show, though. I notice that many of the few games “ported” over weren’t ported at all - they’re running in emulation wrappers, so they look terrible and sometimes have literally twice the system requirements of the PC version (i.e. twice the memory and clockspeed required).

up until their newest game, Overwatch, Blizzard was a long-time mac supporter. from Diablo to World of Warcraft to Hearthstone, they have always released mac clients of their games, but not this newest one. bums me out, and while they maintain they will continue support for them, i worry about their future plans for their Warcraft releases.

I had a IIGS purchased shortly after intro - my first personal computer. It was awesome. But what happened is the software introduced for the new IIGS operating system was mostly crappy and buggy, meanwhile Desktop Publishing emerged on the Mac platform, and that launched it to the position where it is today.

Meanwhile the IIGS had mostly small publishers with weak applications that did not produce professional work. One of the few exceptions of the day was WordPerfect that made a IIGS version that was strangely locked in a netherworld between DOS and IIGS - menus and Mac like graphical interface, but with single color video interface and monospaced non-WYSIWYG screen representation.

It was vexing. I bailed for an SE30 several years later. I really gave it a shot tho.


Mouse gaming was being explored at the same time on PCs. Flight Simulator 2.0 was the big one for me, released a couple months after the Mac.

CrystalQuest ate up so much of my time my first year in college…

I’ve been trying to remember the name of another old Mac Plus game I wasted hours on. It was a tricky move-left-to-right martial arts game with a complicated menu of special attacks using the keyboard. I can’t seem to google it successfully. Anyone?

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Looks like the makers were taking advantage of the iigs’s ability to mix video modes…

The 640x200 video mode was just ugly. Rectangular pixels-- blech!


The mouse did come out on the PC side at the same time (though it was only because Microsoft was putting out both the mouse and flight sim that it got used at all), but it remained pretty obscure for a few years. I can’t recollect another game that actually depended on it for a while on the PC side.

You might be able to find it on mobygames.

True. The mouse pioneering on the PC side was mostly on the business side.

VisiCorp’s Visi On GUI and suite, and Microsoft Word came bundled with mice in 1983 for example. Even Flight Simulator was a bit more than what most people considered games.

I loved Dark Castle, Beyond Dark Castle, Enchanted Scepters, and Deja Vu. And I would pay a lot of money to be able to play The Ancient Art of War. That game was fantastic.

For me it was Airborne, StuntCopter and later Dark Castle and Prince of persia.


There’s lots of great games for the 1 bit Macs. The creativity I saw with only one bit of color was amazing.

Dark Castle, Shadowgate, Shufflepuck, Crystal Quest, Thexder, Sim City, Leisure Suit Larry, and many others.