December 21, 1994 Mac players get their hands on it Marathon, a first-person sci-fi shooter designed in response to the huge success of PC titles Doom.
Created by Bungie, a team to make later Hello games, Marathon introduces important features in the FPS genre. Equally important, it is not available on PC. Marathon it is fast becoming a favorite among Mac players.
A brief history of Mac games
In the 1980s, the Apple II was the computer system for players. Many who later became players in the video game industry, including co-founder of id Software John Romero, began playing and developing games for Apple’s first mass-market computer.
However, as the decade wore on and the 1990s began, PCs gained an advantage. While some games ran on both Apple and Windows PCs (and previously on DOS PCs), many never made it to either the Apple II or the Mac.
Marathon stood out as an exceptional exception. The game sprinted from the starting line about 10 weeks after the PC launch of the acclaimed Doom II: Hell on Earth (which hasn’t been ported to Macs until next year).
While today Doom is certainly better remembered than the two franchises, Marathon encapsulated much of what made Macs different at the time. More cerebral than “ball against the wall” action. Doom, the game showed a slower, more atmospheric pace. His interesting science fiction story offered a multitude of puzzles to solve.
Puzzles and sci-fi storytelling
Unlike Doom-action style games that only required you to reach the set exit point to advance to the next level, Marathon he based his 26 levels on goals that needed to be met in order to progress.
Today headlines like The last of us have shown that the plots of games can be just as interesting as those told in other media. But two decades ago, storytelling remained largely subordinate to action in video games. And, at least in my experience, it didn’t usually extend far beyond the exposure, Star Wars– Style crawling style on home game screens.
Marathon was different. The plot unfolded to players gradually as they accessed various computer terminals through the game, hinting at an element of gaming that would later be used very successfully in Resident Evil.
The story itself was like a crossover Aliens i 2001: A Space Odyssey. You played a security officer trying to defeat an alien invasion on a colony named Ship Marathon. AI called Leela and Durendal helped you in your mission.
Mac users might secretly prefer to halve monsters with a chainsaw. But Marathon provided a different experience with his own merits.
Marathon: A game ahead of its time
As was standard with Macs, Marathon it also introduced features that were ahead of their time – and soon became the standard. These included dual-weapon weapons, secondary fire, an impressive physical machine that changes gravity, and a networked multiplayer mode with (remember it was 1994!) Real-time voice chat. This last feature proved to be particularly massive. At the time, many of my computer friends were just buying their first sound cards.
After its publication in December 1994. Marathon it became a critical and commercial success. That gave Mac players a title to be proud of. And that established Bungie as one of the biggest developers for the platform. After the end of the trilogy from Marathon games, Bungie continued to develop Hello franchise. (These hit games again use some of the ideas developed for Marathon.)
Do you remember playing Marathon for Mac? What was your favorite experience playing retro Macintosh? Leave your comments below.
(Oh, and if you’re looking for a little more nostalgia, you can check out the original Marathon manual (.pdf) or download the original Marathon iOS game.)
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