There are some good games for Apple Silicon Macs running both natively and through Rosetta 2, but there’s no doubt that the selection is limited. Fortunately, it’s never been easier to play some of the best old games on Mac while enjoying modern improvements and visuals.
Play Older Games with Native Mac Source Ports
All of this is possible using source ports, which are community-led efforts to maintain modern ways of playing games. These are often derived from the source code of a game that receives open source releases years after the game’s original release.
Often, source ports are built from the source code for the game’s engine, excluding the content that made up most of the original game. The engine refers to the technology that powers the core of the game, while the content makes up most of the in-game experience, including levels, textures, music, and other copyrighted material.
The developer behind such classics as id Software Torment has open-sourced the source code to most of the engines used to power its games over the years. Despite this, Torment (the game) is not open source because you still have to buy the game to play it (even with a source port).
Playing these games (and others like them) using a source port is the best way to enjoy them on modern hardware. In addition to being playable natively on various platforms (such as the ARM-based M1 and M2 Apple computers), many source ports fix bugs, introduce graphical improvements, new rendering methods, and more options for multiplayer gameplay.
There are many source ports available today, including gigabytes of free content for independent projects Freedom It aims to recreate the first-person shooter experience, from completely free and original assets to mods for existing content like blood puddles. Cruel Doom. And so far we have only touched Torment!
You must bring your own information
Many source ports are only available as game engines, meaning you have to bring your own data to play commercial games. This is not difficult and usually involves moving a few files or folders to the source port folder before you can play.
In the case of free projects, it’s a simple case of downloading what you need from the website and putting it in the right place. Some source ports include the ability to download projects within the program without any copying and pasting on your part.
But when it comes to classics, like commercial titles Torment or Earthquake, you will need a legal working copy of the game to copy the data. You can provide this using the original disc or use a version purchased from a digital storefront such as Steam. If you’re looking to buy older projects for use on modern hardware, DRM-free retro game store GOG.com is probably the best place to go.
Even if you buy a game from GOG made for Windows (rather than Mac), you still have a good chance of extracting files from the game. You can do this using a free tool like Extractor, designed with GOG-based Windows installers in mind. If you’re out of luck, GOG offers a full refund within 30 days.
Fortunately, not all games require data to run. Some source ports are essentially all open source games.
Some of the best Mac Source Ports
Many of the builds listed below are made possible by Tom Kidd’s work on the MacSourcePorts project. Their work builds on the mountain of work already done by the original source port authors. Thousands of hours have already gone into creating these great recreations of faithful classics, and the MacSourcePorts project has spent even more time adding many native Apple Silicon builds not found in the official releases.
Not all builds below are provided by the MacSourcePorts project, but many are. Some have already been included alongside official releases, while others will follow once Apple Silicon hardware dominates the Mac ecosystem. These projects use Universal 2 software, which runs on both modern Apple Silicon machines and older 64-bit Intel models.
Having a native Apple Silicon build means that the full power of your M1 or M2 chip (and their variants) will be used when playing these games. No need to go through Rosetta 2 for compatibility and potentially leave performance on the table or run into games that simply refuse to run. More information and downloads can be found on the MacSourcePorts games list.
Doom, Doom II, Final DOOM and more
To play Torment, Hexen, A heretic, and more on your modern Mac with full support for OpenGL, user-created mods, and advanced mapping and scripting features. The project includes improving movements such as jumping, swimming, flying; badge, online play, gamepad support, free view, etc. cross marks for. Powered by GZDoom.
id Software’s moody follow-up to the original Torment games, vkQuake is a source port written to allow the engine to use Vulcan rendering so you can enjoy the original at high resolutions and smooth frame rates.
Duke Nukem 3D, Ion Fury
Play the 3D Realms classic Duke Nukem 3D using hardware-accelerated OpenGL with advanced scripting, code and stability improvements, and support for new control methods. You can also use this project to play a modern BUILD Engine shooter Ion FuryReleased in 2019. Powered by EDuke32.
Earthquake III: Arena
Play and watch the original arena shooter Earthquake 3: Team Arena plus Q3 based mods with high resolution textures on modern Apple hardware. Powered by ioquake3.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
id Software’s 2001 first-person shooter Wolfenstein A license to justice with an all-new modernized shooting experience based on a modified version of the Quake III engine. equipped with iortcw.
One of the best games of 1998, a sim building the city of Rome Caesar III never received a sequel, but is still playable today using two source ports, one improving the experience and the other aiming to stay true to the original. Furnished by Julius and Augustus.
Roller Coaster Tycoon 2
Few games quite like the joy of managing your own theme park Roller Coaster Tycoon 2. Despite the release of numerous sequels, RCT2‘s timeless aesthetic and simple isometric design are a pleasure to return to over time. Powered by OpenRCT2.
Marathon, Marathon 2: Durandal, Marathon Infinity
Most people know Bungie for their popular Microsoft work Hello franchise, but the company earned most of its reputation marathon Games for Mac. Now you can play them on modern systems with the Aleph One source port.
Gaming on the modern Mac
While a high-end Mac like the MacBook Pro might be a bad choice if gaming is your top priority, that doesn’t mean you can’t still let off steam once in a while. Modern source ports allow you to relive old games on modern hardware, and there are plenty of titles released with Mac-specific versions that you can enjoy.
If you’re looking for more ways to play games on your modern Apple hardware, check out the best emulators with native Apple Silicon support.