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The 20 Mac Games that Mattered Most
February 24, 2004 | IMG Staff

6. Spaceward Ho! (1991, Delta Tao)
While other strategy games pride themselves on requiring hours (or days) to finish a single game and thick manuals in order to get started, Spaceward Ho! was a Mac-first title which succeeded precisely because of its lack of complications and just plain fun. The title's simple graphics bely an amazing variety of gameplay and strategy required in order to move from planet to planet and conquer the rest of the galaxy.

Spaceward Ho! also brought an immense amount of personality to the normally stuffy strategy games, with goofy error messages and planets wearing cowboy hats giving you the thumbs up for a job well done. Throw in a remarkably good computer AI to (ally with you or fight against you) and easy-to-configure networked multiplayer and you've got a winning space strategy game on your hands! - Andy Largent

"Empire-building made fun. The sense of humor of the Delta Tao boys really shown through with this classic that I still play today! "We gotta get outta here!" - Bart Farkas, Strategy guide writer and former IMG Editor-in-Chief

7. Hellcats over the Pacific (1991, Graphic Simulations)
Hellcats over the Pacific, a World War II air combat sim, burst onto the scene in 1991. In its day the game featured state-of-the-art color graphics that even the legendary Falcon couldn't match (a color version of Falcon wouldn't appear on the Mac until 1993).

Unlike any flight sim before it, this Mac only flight sim just felt and played different than anything else. What made it so appealing was that it was incredibly easy to get into and just fly. Anyone with a mouse or a Gravis MouseStick II could get up and flying in no time. And, of course, blowing things up and downing Zero's was also fun too. - Tuncer Deniz

"Easily the best flight sim ever in my opinion. It had the best flight controls, and was easy to play. No need to figure out 20 keys just to get the engines started. You'd fly, shoot, and crash. What more could one ask for?" - Brian Greenstone

8. Myst (1993, Cyan)
Few games ever felt as magical as Myst did for many Mac users when it was released in 1993. Using an simple HyperCard stack and pre-rendered 3D graphics, Cyan hooked gamers by the millions and give the adventure genre a fresh start. Single-handedly driving the computer industry towards the CD standard with it's disk-hogging (and fantastic-looking) environment, Myst also featured a captivating soundtrack that many companies tried to imitate since. - Johan Hansen

"For years this was the game that I used to justify the Mac as a platform for game development. This game took the old Sierra Adventure game genre into the modern era with amazingly detailed 3D renderings. The game lacked much depth, but it made up for that in visuals." - Brian Greenstone

9. X-Wing (1993, LucasArts)
X-Wing was the first true 3D space combat game to hit the gaming world (Wing Commander was only 2.5D up to this point, and yes, I do remember the 3D vector based Star Wars arcade game) and as a bonus, it was based in the Star Wars Universe. Five campaigns and a training simulator gave players a ton of missions to hone their dogfighting skills leading up the assault on the Death Star and beyond. This is the game that turned my Nintendo console into a coffee table conversation piece.- Joel Davies

"Next to Dark Forces, this is probably the best Star Wars computer game ever made. For someone who grew up idolizing the films, playing the role of Luke Skywalker was just surreal. And, oh yeah, the game was just plain fun." - Tuncer Deniz

10. Marathon (1994, Bungie)
By the time Bungie Studio’s Marathon series hit store shelves, id Software’s Castle Wolfenstein and Doom had long since introduced computer players to the world of 2.5D (almost 3D), first-person shoot-em-up games. However, a game genre that id merely sold as level after level of non-stop enemy henchmen, Bungie turned into an art style.

Marathon, and its sequels, Marathon 2: Durandal, and Marathon Infinity, told the story of a single human marine who, as it turned out, was being paraded around the galaxy at the whim of his ship’s benevolent, yet ultimately twisted central computer. As the tale unfolds over the series’ three instalments, players follow the story of the mal-aligned cpu, presented in little snippets on computer terminals placed strategically throughout the game’s maps, and watch, helpless, as the computer’s brain slowly yields to madness.

Story alone does not a great first person shooter make, and Bungie made sure the fighting bits in between were just as engrossing. Gameplay in the Marathon games was second to none. Featuring well-designed maps, brutal enemies, balanced weapons, a thorough physics engine, and, at the time, the most advanced graphics engine to grace the Mac’s screen, Marathon was unlike anything else to have hit the Mac. Most importantly, however - the game contained an eerie, uneasy mood, fitting for the games’ setting, that permeated every aspect of the game, from the brooding hand-drawn sketches at the beginning of every level to the creepy alien sound effects announcing the arrival of the next foe. Marathon sucked players in, worked them over, and spat them out, nerves shattered, brains fried, and fearful of every creak or bump in the night. And if that isn't persuasive enough, let me put it this way - Marathon was the series that turned many of us into hardcore gamers. - Jean-Luc Dinsdale

"The last of the great Mac-original titles. This game marks the apex of the Golden Age of Mac gaming, and it was easily the best of its genre. The Mac game business has never been as good as it was when Marathon hit the shelves." - Brian Greenstone

"This is the game that fueled Mac cloner Power Computing. Many a significant decision was reached only after killing each other in the hallways of Marathon.

In fact, we liked Marathon so much we once created a special custom version, replacing the "Bobs" of the game with images of me. We burned 10,000 CDs and gave 'em away at Macworld Expo one year.

Marathon was one of the first and still one of the most enjoyable solo (non-team) multiplayer games." - Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus


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