There are some good games for Apple Silicon Macs that run both natively and through Rosetta 2, but there’s no doubt that the selection is limited. Luckily, it’s never been easier to play some of the best old games on your Mac while enjoying modern visuals and enhancements.
Play older games with native Mac source ports
All of this is possible through the use of source ports, which are community-driven efforts to maintain modern methods of play. These are often derived from the game‘s source code, many of which receive open-source builds, years after the game’s initial release.
Most of the time, source ports are built from a game’s engine source code and exclude content that makes up a large part of the original game. Engine refers to the technology that powers the foundations of the game, while content forms a large part of the gaming experience, including levels, textures, music, and other copyrighted material. author.
id Software, the developer behind classics like Loss has open sourced the majority of the engines used to power its games over the years. Despite this, Loss (the game) is not open source in that you still need to purchase the game to play it (even with a source port).
Playing these games (and others like them) using a source port is arguably the best way to enjoy them on modern hardware. In addition to being able to play them natively on a variety of platforms (like Apple’s ARM-based M1 and M2 computers), many source ports introduce bug fixes, graphical improvements, new rendering techniques, and more. options for multiplayer games.
There are gigabytes of free content available for many source ports that exist today, including standalone projects like Freedom which aims to recreate the first-person shooter experience from completely free and original assets, to those that modify existing content like the bloodbath that is brutal fate. And so far we’ve only scratched the surface Loss!
You may need to bring your own data
Many source ports exist only as game engines, meaning you’ll need to bring your own data to play commercial games. This is not a difficult task and usually involves copying only a few files or folders to the source port directory before you can play.
In the case of free projects, it’s just a matter of downloading what you need from the website and placing it in the right place. Some source ports include the ability to upload projects into the app, with no copy-paste required on your part.
But when it comes to classic commercial titles like Loss Where earthquake, you will need a legitimate working copy of the game to copy the data from. You can either provide it using an original disc or use a purchased version from a digital storefront such as Steam. If you’re thinking of buying older projects to enjoy on modern hardware, the DRM-free retro games storefront GOG.com is probably the best place to go.
Even if you buy a GOG game designed for Windows (rather than Mac), there’s still a good chance you’ll be able to extract the game files. You can do this using a free tool like Extractor, which is designed for installers Windows based on GOG. If you’re unlucky, GOG offers a full refund for 30 days.
Luckily, not all games require data to run. Some source ports are basically entire games that have been open sourced.
Some of the Best Mac Source Ports
Most of the versions listed below are possible thanks to the work of Tom Kidd of the MacSourcePorts project. Their work builds on the mountain of work already done by the original authors of the source port. Thousands of hours of work have already gone into creating these stellar recreations of faithful classics, and the MacSourcePorts project has contributed more time by adding many native Apple Silicon builds that are missing from the official releases.
Not all versions below are maintained by the MacSourcePorts project, but many are. Some have already been included alongside the official releases, and more will follow as Apple Silicon hardware becomes dominant in the Mac ecosystem. These projects use “Universal 2” applications that run on both modern Apple Silicon machines and older 64-bit Intel models.
Having a native Apple Silicon version means that the full power of your M1 or M2 chip (and their variants) will be used when playing these games. There’s no need to go through Rosetta 2 for compatibility and potentially leave performance on the table or encounter games that simply refuse to run. You can find more information and downloads on the MacSourcePorts games list.
Doom, Doom II, Final DOOM and more
To play Loss, evil spell, Heretic, and more on your modern Mac with full OpenGL support, user-created mods, and advanced mapping and scripting features. The project includes movement enhancements like jumping, swimming, flying; crosshairs for aiming, online play, gamepad support, free look, etc. Powered by GZDoom.
id Software’s moody sequel to the original Loss games, vkQuake is a source port that was written to allow the engine to take advantage of Vulkan 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 support for advanced scripting, code and stability improvements, and new control methods. You can also use this project to play modern shooter BUILD Engine Ion Furyreleased in 2019. Powered by EDuke32.
Quake III: Arena
Play the original arena shooter and follow Quake 3: Team Arena as well as Q3-based mods with hi-res textures on modern Apple hardware. Powered by ioquake3.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
id Software’s 2001 first-person shooter made the Wolfenstein license justice with a brand new modernized shooting experience, based on a modified version of the Quake III engine. Powered by iortcw.
One of the best games of 1998, Roman city building simulation Caesar III never received a sequel but can still be played today using two source ports, one that enhances the experience and another that aims to be faithful to the original. Powered by Julius and Augustus.
Roller Coaster Tycoon 2
Few games capture the joy of running your own theme park like Roller Coaster Tycoon 2. Despite the release of many sequels, RCT2The timeless aesthetic and simple isometric design make it a pleasure to come back to time after time. Powered by OpenRCT2.
Marathon, Marathon 2: Durandal, Infinite Marathon
Most people know Bungie for its work on the famous Microsoft Halo franchise, but the company earned much of its reputation by doing Marathon games for mac. You can now play them on modern systems with the Aleph One source port.
Play on a modern Mac
While a high-end Mac like a MacBook Pro is a poor choice if gaming is your main priority, that doesn’t mean you can’t still let off steam once in a while. Modern source ports allow you to relive games of yesteryear on modern hardware, and there are plenty of titles released with Mac-specific builds for you to enjoy.
If you’re looking for even more ways to play games on your modern Apple hardware, take a look at the best emulators with native support from Apple Silicon.