Before digital downloads, finding the best Mac games wasn’t always easy.
They were out there, but the Mac section of the computer game stores (they used to have those) seemed to stock nothing but “Mario Teaches Typing,” and the games that included Mac and Windows versions would inevitably be scattered around the “PC” sections of the store.
As such, compiling a list of the best classic Mac games is pretty tough.
That didn’t stop us from doing it. And because we want you to actually play these games, we made sure you can still buy them all in either their original form or as enhanced editions (not remakes). It also means some of our favorite old Mac games—such as Myth, Red Baron, and Fallout—didn’t make the list.
By the way, if you want to take your retro gaming to the next level, these are the best Mac emulators on the market.
The 10 Best old games for Mac: Revisiting the classics
For the record, old-school classics are not exclusive to older gamers. These classics are famous and still supported for a reason. You’ll be surprised how much fun these games can even after all these years.
Avernum: The Complete Saga
When this turn-based fantasy RPG from Spiderweb Software arrived in 2000 it already looked and played like throwbacks to RPGs of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. But it did so in the best ways possible.
Avernum is an underground prison, and of course, your adventure begins when you’re exiled there from the surface world, known as the Empire. But Avernum isn’t simply a prison; an entire culture exists in this subterranean world, presenting you with myriad options on what to do next. With numerous quests, spells, and party members to customize and control, Avernum unfolds with the freedom of pencil and paper adventures.
Avernum: The Complete Saga gives you a ridiculous amount of content and a cohesive story arc that’s tremendously satisfying. The graphics are rudimentary, but Avernum is very satisfying if you can overlook that.
Escape Velocity Nova
Another name synonymous with Mac gaming back in the ‘90s was Ambrosia Software. You simply didn’t know a Mac user who didn’t have at least one Ambrosia game on her PowerPC.
Perhaps their most fondly remembered title is EV Nova, the third game in the Escape Velocity series. A space exploration and combat game, EV Nova is set amongst warring factions scattered throughout the Milky Way. Consider it Divergent amongst the stars, as you will select your faction then find your role in it.
Gameplay involves jumping between star systems to accept and execute missions, upgrade your ship, and wreck havoc. There are six major storylines and plenty of branching missions, and how you get involved is up to you. That leads to plenty of replay options.
It’s still easy to get overwhelmed by EV Nova despite its age, but Ambrosia offers plenty of resources at the company’s website.
System Shock 2
Our second sci-fi first-person shooter to make the list finds you waking from cryostasis to a ship full of unknown aliens, a screwed up AI, and your now zombified companions. Fair enough. We’ve been through this before, so pick up the weapons and health packs and have at it, right?
Wrong. System Shock 2 doesn’t give you a lot of weapons or health packs. Rather, it gives you an RPG-like system of upgrades that forces you to use strategy, stealth, and the environment to survive.
What really separates System Shock 2 from its peers is the ship itself. It’s creepy and oppressive, and you’ll be more afraid of what could be around the corner than what actually is. Story elements are revealed through logs left by the crew, limiting your knowledge of what’s going on in a manner that reinforces how alone you are.
Star Wars: TIE Fighter
I gave up on the Star Wars movies about 25 minutes into Return of the Jedi, and I’ve never been able to get back into it. I still quite enjoy the games, however, and my all-time favorite is 1994’s TIE Fighter from LucasArts.
This is because of the excellent story that drives the mission-based flight-sim combat, because of the smooth graphics, and because it was the first time I got to serve the Empire. The missions are what you’d expect from any competent flight sim, asking you to engage in dogfights, take down freighters, protect your own vessels, etc. But because you’re now facing off against the whiney Rebellion, there’s a certain evil glee that goes along with it.
I’m also impressed by TIE Fighter’s staying-power. The gameplay is every bit as intense (and difficult) as it was in the mid-90s, and the space combat graphics are still very cool to view. Just make sure you play it with a joystick. Trust me on this. In that sense, Star Wars games, and Star Trek games too, often age well.
There was a time when Bungie Studios was the shining light of Mac gaming. With Mac-only (or at least Mac-first) games such as Myth and Oni, they were the one company that made Windows owners jealous of Mac gamers.
But then Microsoft bought them to claim Halo, and that shining light was snuffed out forever.
Mac gamers can still see what made Bungie so special by playing the Marathon Trilogy. This revolutionary series of sci-fi themed first-person shooters introduced features such as real-time voice chat and the ability to wield two weapons at once. The multiplayer options may not do you much good today, but the action and the story are every bit as entertaining as they were in the ’90s.
Honestly, Marathon would be higher on this list were it not for the steps required to grab it. The games are free, but you’ll need to install Aleph One (the free, open source continuation of Bungie’s Marathon 2 FPS game engine) to run them.
“But what if this was set in space?” is a valid question for every video game ever made…even games that are already set in space. That’s because space makes everything so much bigger and more imaginative. And the time this worked best was when Sid Meier took Civilization interstellar with Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.
The turn-based strategy elements all remained. You choose from seven factions, then research an unexplored planet, build new technologies and customize your units, and conquer anything hostile (or friendly, if that suits you) to claim victory.
The fun thing about Alpha Centauri is that none of the factions are bad guys. No matter which you select, you feel like you’re doing the right thing when you conquer the others.
Still, why bother playing this when there are many modern alternatives available on the Mac? Because the only thing missing in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri arethe flashy graphics. The writing, voice-acting, and depth of gameplay options are still among the best the genre has ever seen.
For our next game, we go all the way back to the ’80s with Bullfrog’s Populous from Peter Molyneux. If it’s not the first “god” game out there, it’s the first that made god gaming so gleefully fun.
In Populous, you’re given an isometric view of your world and tasked with manipulating this world to help your “followers” wipe out the enemy. More followers lead to more mana, more mana leads to more powers, and more powers mean earthquakes, volcanos, and all kinds of fun ways to punish the non-believers.
There are many similar games available now, most of which are much more involved and rewarding. So, why bother going back to 1989 for the original Populous? Because it’s still fun. It also contains a whopping 500 levels, and the rudimentary graphics create an odd connection with your followers. It’s more like developer and programs than God and subjects.
Those looking to relive the original adventure in this real-time fantasy RPG are in for a treat. The enhanced edition—released in April of this year—comes with the original version from 1999.
No matter which version you’ll play, you are the Nameless One. A name like that means life isn’t good, and the horrors of lives you can’t remember are coming back to haunt you. Worse, a floating skull named Morte is leading your adventure that will take you to the very depths of Hell.
The characters you can recruit in Planescape: Torment are highly non-traditional, including a crossbow-wielding cube and a haunted suit of armor. You’re free to change your class and alignment throughout the 50+ hour adventure, so you’re not stuck with one way of thinking as with most RPGs of this time.
Baldur’s Gate 2:
Here’s a case where the enhanced edition of a game expertly accomplishes its goal; it reminds fans of why they loved the original while making the game accessible to modern gamers.
Why? To start, the remastered graphics lovingly reflect the look of the original, serving mainly to make them look sharp on today’s much larger monitors. The enhanced edition also adds four new characters you can simply ignore if you want to remain faithful to the original, and it builds Shadows of Amn and Throne of Baal right into the package. There’s now a multiplayer option, too.
The reason Baldur’s Gate II is so fondly remembered is because of the excellent story and well-balanced combat. As you’d expect from a Forgotten Realms-based game, you can play through as the good guy, the bad guy, or someone in between. Your actions affect how NPCs and members of your own party see you and will open and close quests and other options.
Good RPGs create worlds you don’t just want to play through, but live in. And in that regard, Baldur’s Gate II is one of the most successful of all time. Plus, this game is so accessible, it can even be enjoyed on mobile devices!
The thing about putting together a list of the best classic Mac games is that it’s constantly changing. More games become “classic” each year, but it’s more than that. Countless games bubble just under the surface, waiting to be rediscovered or to get their “enhanced” edition to lift them back into the consciousness of Mac gamers. And with the ease of digital distribution, don’t be surprised if we’re soon talking about more of our favorites.
In the meantime, can someone remind me why the Mac versions of Fallout and Fallout 2 disappeared again?
Disclaimer: Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission (this is how we pay the bills). This commission comes at no additional cost to you.
Please understand that I only mention games because I believe they’re interesting, good, and/or fun. Never because I received a free copy or to earn a small commission.
Melangell ATCon July 28, 2017 at 7:09 am
Sorry, Ambrosia is no longer answering mail nor will the website allow you to buy…
- (Video) Top 10 Mac FPS Games 2021
Stephen Beaton July 28, 2017 at 1:54 pm
Really, that’s sad. I always hoped there might be an EV2. I still install EV every so often. 🙁
Ricon September 18, 2017 at 10:38 pm
It is sad, I guess we should try to find another game to replace it guys?
deanon March 25, 2021 at 2:20 am
that IS sad. The EV series was one of the best games ever.
Sean Witheron June 12, 2018 at 3:25 am
Does anybody remember colobricks? I could not even find it when I googled it but I know it existed because I played it a ton when I was a kid. Let me know if you know where to find it…
poyanon August 22, 2019 at 4:22 pm
Andrew clarkon May 18, 2020 at 6:11 pm
A couple of my favorite games on the Mac from the mid-90s were the Journeyman Project Trilogy (Pegasus Prime, Buried in Time, and Legacy of Time) and the Myst series…
Both game series were very immersive with their elaborate scenes/layouts and soundtracks. Maybe not the top games on everyone’s lists, but the were fun in my day!
Donon April 2, 2022 at 1:51 am
COMMENT Both Myst and Marathon are classics and are well deserved to be in the Top 10. What is not on the list (and maybe it should be?) is Spaceward Ho! Ho was rated the best network game by MacWorld in 1997. Very addictive. My personal Mac favorite is still Chaos Overlords, a dark, seedy, turn based strategy game. The Blizzard stuff should probably be on here too but they were so over the top popular maybe its best to leave them off. Ambrosia had some real fun casual games but nothing I’d say is ‘Top 10.’ Thanks for the list! Great to get other perspectives.(Video) When You Visit Your Old Minecraft World...
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With Puzzle—the first computer game specifically for a mouse—the Macintosh became the first computer with a game in its ROM, and it would remain a part of the Mac OS for the next ten years, until being replaced in 1994 with Jigsaw, a jigsaw puzzle game included as part of System 7.5.What can I do with my old Mac Classic? ›
- Keep your Mac running the latest macOS with OpenCore Legacy Patcher.
- Make your Mac a network-attached file server (NAS) ...
- Run Plex on your old Mac.
- Use your old Mac to watch or play media.
- Use your Mac to run classic apps and games. ...
- Use your old Mac as a Chromebook.
- Install Linux on your Mac.
With Puzzle—the first computer game specifically for a mouse—the Macintosh became the first computer with a game in its ROM, and it would remain a part of the Mac OS for the next ten years, until being replaced in 1994 with Jigsaw, a jigsaw puzzle game included as part of System 7.5.What games can Mac run well? ›
- Disco Elysium. (Image credit: ZA/UM) ...
- Sid Meier's Civilization VI. (Image credit: 2K) ...
- Hades. (Image credit: Supergiant Games) ...
- The Sims 4. (Image credit: EA) ...
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider. (Image credit: Square Enix) ...
- Final Fantasy XIV. (Image credit: Square Enix) ...
- Diablo III. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment) ...
GOG.com (formerly Good Old Games) is a digital distribution platform for video games and films. It is operated by GOG sp. z o.o., a wholly owned subsidiary of CD Projekt based in Warsaw, Poland. GOG.com delivers DRM-free video games through its digital platform for Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux.Is it worth keeping old Mac? ›
Perhaps it will buy you a few more years of use. However, we'd be inclined to suggest that if your Mac is older than seven years it really isn't worth it (and, you'll notice, the MacBooks that can have their RAM upgraded tend to be older than that).Is an old Mac worth anything? ›
Are old Macs worth anything? Old Macs hold value and are worth something as long as they are functioning fine and less than 10 years old.How much is a 1984 Macintosh worth? ›
Priced at $2,500, it featured a nine-inch black-and-white screen, two serial ports and a 3.5-inch floppy disc slot. Although Zufi has seen some sell for more than $2,500, he estimates that “an original 1984 Mac will generally go for anywhere between $1,500 and $2,000.”
Early history (1948–1970)
Spacewar! is credited as the first widely available and influential computer game. As early as 1950, computer scientists were using electronic machines to construct relatively simple game systems, such as Bertie the Brain in 1950 to play tic tac toe, or Nimrod in 1951 for playing Nim.
macOS was first released in 1999 as Mac OS X Server 1.0. It was built using the technologies Apple acquired from NeXT, but did not include the signature Aqua user interface (UI). The desktop version aimed at regular users—Mac OS X 10.0—shipped in March 2001.
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However, Macs are not designed for gaming. Instead, they are designed for simplicity, creativity, and work efficiency. The graphics cards used in Mac that are essential to play games are not up to the mark, and at the same time, you do and have the choice to upgrade them either.Why don t most games run on Mac? ›
Most games aren't optimized to run on macs so they perform poorly on Mac hardware. The amount of money you put into buying a mac could be used to build/buy a beastly gaming pc with higher specs than the mac, while running Linux or windows and you would still want have enough to buy a couple games.Do Apple take back old Macs? ›
Purchase any qualifying Apple computer or monitor and receive free recycling of your old computer and monitor — regardless of manufacturer.Is my 2014 Mac too old to update? ›
The 2016 MacBook is supported, and if you have a 2014 Mac mini or a 2013 Mac Pro you are in luck, but those are basically the oldest Macs that can support macOS Monterey. And when Big Sur launched in 2020 compatibility was limited to the 2014 iMac, 2013 and 2014 MacBook Air, 2013 and 2014 MacBook Pro, and 2015 MacBook.Can you turn in your old Mac for money? ›
Apple. The trade-in process with Apple is quick and easy. Apple asks a few questions about your machine's condition (you need to provide the serial number), and then the offer can be applied to a new purchase. Apple will contact you if it needs to revise its offer after inspecting your Mac.What is considered vintage Mac? ›
About vintage products
Products are considered vintage when Apple stopped distributing them for sale more than 5 and less than 7 years ago.