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Item Getter
Dec 14, 2015

It's so nice whenever people bring up old Mac shareware games, you hear so much nostalgia on the internet about old console games and even old PC games but pretty rare to find people who share the same Mac nostalgia.

For a very brief period in the early 90s, Macs had the superior versions of a fair number of games with more high resolution graphics, better quality sound and music and more intuitive interface. And without having to do things like buy and configure a sound card. Of course there were many more quality titles on the PC that never got ported to the Mac at all thinking back on it.

OneEightHundred posted:

Mac shareware was actually really loving cool. The Mac in the early 90's had high-resolution, colorful displays, PCM sound standard, and an OS that provided a ton of multimedia functionality, which gave it a lot of opportunities that didn't really exist elsewhere.

System's Twilight and 3 in Three are some awesome and unique puzzle games. You can download a ready-to-play emulator+game combo pack of System's Twilight here.

Worth mentioning that 3 in Three (and the same guy's earlier game The Fool's Errand) can also be played on a ready-to-play emulator+game combo.

Though they had simultaneous PC ports, Myth really deserves a more detailed mention as one of Bungie's pre-Halo greats from the time when they were known as a Mac studio. It's a shame that the series is pretty much unique as far as I know, since it would have been an interesting turn for the overall RTS genre to take and it's one game I would love to see remade with modern technology (though the chance of that happening is basically 0). It cut out the resource-gathering and base-building elements of the more popular RTS like Starcraft and Command & Conquer to just focus on delivering a great pure tactics experience with realistic 3D terrain and physics that was really ahead of its time for 1997. Myth was also one of the best examples of early Bungie's gift for evocative storytelling, as much or maybe even more so than Marathon. Without going into massive lore dumps they used sparse but evocative writing to give you small and tantalizing glimpses into its on-paper somewhat generic but very atmospheric fantasy setting.
Also everyone loves Dwarves even though they will sometimes kill half your force (and themselves) with friendly fire. ("Sorry about that").

Several people brought up Realmz. A funny anecdote in its history is that, though not exactly rare for the time, all the game mechanics were cribbed directly from 2nd edition D&D (and possibly specifically the Gold Box games) and the game caught the attention of the litigious TSR. The creator responded to the legal threats by keeping all the cribbed-from-D&D game mechanics exactly the same but just changing all of their names. (So for example "Strength" became "Brawn" and "Experience points" became the very silly sounding "Victory Points"). Particularly noteworthy is that he had to change "Halflings" to the sillier sounding "Furfoot" even though TSR themselves used "Halflings" instead of "Hobbits" to avoid legal trouble with the Tolkien estate. In later versions a few of the more egregious terms like "Victory Points" were walked back.
While one of the only solid shareware RPGs on the Mac, Realmz had a pretty tacky aesthetic and a fun aspect of the game is its extreme overuse of sound effects, where doing many things would unleash a barrage of goofy and barely appropriate sound effects. If you launched the game when unregistered you would always be greeted by the sound of shattering glass, monster growls and a woman loudly screaming when the "Unregistered Copy" dialog box appeared. The main menu had a loudly constantly erupting volcano, and quitting the game would always give you an evil laugh sound for some reason.

Ambrosia Software was the king of Mac shareware and published many of the games that people here already mentioned (Escape Velocity, Avara, Harry the Handsome Executive etc.). Most talented shareware game developers had their games published by Ambrosia even though they apparently didn't get a very good deal there, just since it provided good exposure in the age before Steam and the indie games boom of the 2000s. After which they quickly devloved into selling only a handful of iOS shovelware games and went out of business. A couple of their other titles no one has brought up that are worth mentioning:

Ferazel's Wand, by the creator of the earlier mentioned Harry the Handsome Executive, is possibly the best and most technically impressive Mac shareware platformer. It gives you an open-ended world to explore with a lot of hidden secrets and magic spells to learn. It's also quite good in terms of graphics and music. Not sure how it compares to the best console platformers as I haven't really played them.

Cythera was the only traditional RPG released by Ambrosia, other than the forgettable Pillars of Garendall. It's a decent though pretty thorough clone of Ultima 6/7 in an ancient Greek inspired setting, and shares most of the same strengths and weaknesses as its inspirations. Meaning that its high points are exploration in a fairly interactive world, talking to NPCs, uncovering mysteries and sidequests etc., while combat and character development are not really its strong suit. Weirdly, probably since
Weirdly, maybe since the Mac never got the later Ultima games, during Cythera's development Ambrosia was trying to talk up its engine and interactive capabilities (like the ability to bake bread, etc) as unique and never done before even though they are copied from Ultima. I didn't realize it at the time having only a Mac and only afterwards when I got into the Ultima series many years later.

Not really related to games, but anyone else remember MacAddict CDs and their surprisingly great music?


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