Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby Pabloz » 2018-3-08 @ 13:38

Someone offered me a Power Macintosh G3 (desktop horizontal model) with 233mhz cpu
the price is 25dollars, includes original mouse + keyboard + VGA adapter. (no monitor)

Case is slightly of yellow but seller says it works. It has an apple soundcard inside, and it has a USB card on one of the pci slots.

Is a mac good for retro gaming? i thought that games from the 90s were not common on the mac, but i saw ports of wolfenstein3d, quake2, civilization, descent, many lucas arts games.

I was not aware that many DOS games reached the Mac, but not that many.

I even saw that you are able to connect a voodo2 card on the mac because it has pci slots and drivers for mac.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby Pabloz » 2018-3-08 @ 13:42

Another question i have

On the Mac world ther must be some kind of minimum and maximum OS right?
for example many games on pc requires a win98 or lower, or winxp or higher for them to work.

On mac you need MacOS 8 for older stuff?
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby derSammler » 2018-3-08 @ 13:56

I have a similar spec'ed Mac as well. I even got a Voodoo 1 installed for games like Quake and Unreal. Now the thing is, many Mac versions are quite different to their PC counterparts. Wolfenstein 3D for example (as you already meantioned it anyway) is almost a completely different game on the Mac. LucasArts games are upscaled and look quite odd, also they use QuickTime for MIDI music, which isn't the best thing either, as every version of QuickTime gives different results (newer versions tend to sound worse). Then there are games that are monochrome but hi-res. It's simply a different experience playing these games on a Mac.

One option is a add a PC card so you can run PC games natively. I own one for PCI Macs and another one for my 6100, but never found the time to install them...

Best OS for older Mac games is 7.5.5 (68k) or 7.6.1 (PPC). Many older games refuse to work on MacOS 8 and higher. For a G3, however, I recommend 8.6 or 9.1, as those are the most stable ones.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby PTherapist » 2018-3-08 @ 14:37

There's lots of games available for the Mac, ports of games available for both Windows & DOS. As mentioned above, sometimes games are radically different from their PC equivalent versions. Some Mac ports can be poor or lacking features when compared with their PC equivalent also.

With regards to OS. I have a similar spec Mac and the minimum OS it can run is Mac OS 8.0 (but not the retail disc version). Latest official supported OS is OS X 10.2 Jaguar, but it is possible to get 10.3 Panther & 10.4 Tiger running.

There may be compatibility issues with the onboard graphics in OS X though and if you did go with OS X you wouldn't be able to use a Voodoo card. Plus you'd also need a decent amount of RAM, at least 512 MB minimum for OS X decent performance (256 is still doable though). Your best bet would probably be to stick with Mac OS 9.2.2 unless you particularly want to play OS X era games.

You will hit compatibility issues if you're wanting to play really old games from the pre PowerPC era, many will point blank refuse to run on Mac OS 8 and above, some will fail on 9 but work on 8.0 or 8.1 etc.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby Pabloz » 2018-3-08 @ 15:29

thanks for the explanation. I might get it just to try out old mac software and games, besides is kind of cheap
I got lots of other questions for you all. because i have zero knowledge on Mac upgrades.

1) Power Macintosh G3 " PC CARD" to play DOS games? What is it? can you share an image of such card? is it a PCI card?
2) can you upgrade the HDD drive using a IDE to SD adapter or IDE to sata adapter? (to make it run faster)
3) the floppy drive i think has a different power connector, can the floppy be replaced with a PC floppy drive? or need to buy a mac one?
4) the CDrom drive night be apple branded? can it be replaced with a PC cdrom drive or needs to be apple cdrom?
5) What is the lowest version of MacOs cdrom (but not the retail disc version iso that the Power Macintosh G3 is able to boot and format the HDD?
6) the memory uprades need to be special? because if the memory is tall it wont fit and touch the upper part of the case?
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby derSammler » 2018-3-08 @ 15:41

1) It's a PC on the PCI card, which shares mouse, keyboard, disk drive, and monitor from the Mac but is a full PC otherwise. I own this one: https://modelrail.otenko.com/apple/powe ... ility-card

2) yes, but then you can no longer use the Apple software to init the drive, since it will only work with Apple-branded drives. You can either hack the HD Setup tool, or just use a third-party one.

3) A PC floppy drive can not be used. You need one made for the Mac. Not only the connector is different. Due to the way the Mac works, a volume must be unmounted befor ejecting. A Mac floppy has no eject button because of that. You unmount the floppy disk, which is then ejected automatically.

4) Same as 2. You need to use a CD driver then that works with non-branded drives.

5) Depends. The original beige desktop model works with 8.0 and up.

6) As long as the memory physically fits, every SDRAM module should work, given it's withing specs. They don't need to be Apple-branded or something.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby PTherapist » 2018-3-08 @ 16:19

I can answer a couple -

You should find any generic IDE cd/dvd reader or writer will work, so long as it will fit and the eject button is in the correct place etc.

Never tested an IDE to SATA adapter in my Mac, but it might work. I've used random generic IDE hard drives on many Macs and never had a problem with regards to setting it up.

I'd try and find a non-retail version of 8.0 if you absolutely want the earliest on that Beige G3, like a system disk from that computer or later model. Mac OS 8.1 should be fine though, I'm not sure if 8.1 introduces any incompatibility issues over 8.0.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-3-08 @ 17:12

I will agree with the claims that most IDE hard disks should work with this machine, without the need for additional drivers or initialisation/formatting software. This machine could use IDE drives up to about 128 GiB, I think. PCI controller cards (IDE or SATA) were available to get around that size limitation. I can't comment on compatibility with SD adaptors, as I have never tried them with any Mac. SCSI drives are sometimes a little different, and software like Silver Lining is needed.

Optical drives aren't always so simple. Just about any CD/DVD drive should work, but may not be bootable, depending on brand and model. CD/DVD writers should also be generally usable, subject to similar restrictions. Additionally, recording may not be supported by Apple-provided software, if the drive isn't deemed "Apple-shipping". Third-party software, like Adaptec/Roxio Toast should allow writing with most drives. At the time, Matsushita drives were very common in Apple machines.

That isn't an Apple sound card, but what is known as a "personality card". They are almost always installed in custom slots. Depending on the particular card, different features may be available (S-Video out, A/V input, or just audio). They are interchangeable with personality cards of the same generation and slot type, if you can find them, but it likely isn't worth the effort.

As already mentioned, almost any SDRAM DIMMs should work. They will have to be low-profile for this design. It is also worth pointing out that in some cases, Apple machines may be somewhat picky about timing, which may result in "sad Mac" or "stoned Mac" crashes in extreme cases, if particularly low-end memory is used (that wasn't really capable of the claimed timing, for instance).
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby Jo22 » 2018-3-08 @ 17:42

Pabloz wrote:Is a mac good for retro gaming? i thought that games from the 90s were not common on the mac, but i saw ports of wolfenstein3d, quake2, civilization, descent, many lucas arts games.

Quite the contrary I would say. :)
The Macintosh was quite popular from the early 80s to mid 90s.
Macs with System 7 and M68040 or PowerPC were quite popular in the early 90s.
Comparable to PCs running DOS and Windows 3.11, I believe.

Games like Myst, Robot City and many of these early Virtual Reality/CyberPunk-style games
were available on Macintosh. In terms of graphics, Mac games even were superior *sometimes*.

Games that were ports of DOS games, supported FMVs in higher resolutions (640x480 or 512x384 vs 320x200).
Windows 3.x games were usually on par with Mac games.

Anyway, the mid-90s to late-90s were a different matter.
In the "Windows 95" era the PC really took off and the Macintosh platform was declining.
But in the early 2000s, with the iMacs, PowerMac G3 B/W things changed for a short time again.

Pabloz wrote:Another question i have

On the Mac world ther must be some kind of minimum and maximum OS right?
for example many games on pc requires a win98 or lower, or winxp or higher for them to work.

On mac you need MacOS 8 for older stuff?

It depends. There were "Old World" Macs and "New World" Macs.
That was essentially a firmware thing (early iMacs could be updated). I could be wrong, but I believe Mac OS 9.0 was the best allrounder,
since it is supported by several emulators, also. In comparison to Mac OS 9.1 or 9.2x, it can still run on Macs without a MMU.
In case of doubt, just try. You can also have two Mac OSes in the system. The second on a CF card, for example.
Classic Mac OS is very flash friendly, just like DOS/Win31. No need for "fixed-media" cards.

In practice, a CF card is even better suited than an SSD, because Mac OS up to 9.2.2 uses an odd alignment, because of legacy reasons.
It emulates the layout of the tool box and other ROM stuff. Because of this, the partition can't be aligned to modern 4K boundaries without breaking the system. OS X is fine, though. It can be aligned with GParted afterwards.

Also, there's something to keep in mind: Mac OS programs were very picky about the OS number.
A program compiled to, say, Mac OS 8.6 would refuse to run on Mac OS 8.5,
even thought the older system has all features / API calls that are required.

No idea, if there exists any tool that reports a fake OS number (like lieversn.exe on Win 3.1).

That beeing said, I'm no "Macintosh Guru". I'm still learning, too. :)

Edit: I forgot.. Mac OS 8.0 didn't support FAT/FAT32 yet.
I belive support for that was introduced in 8.1 or so.

Speaking of file systems, there's somehting else to keep in mind:
OS8 (and 9) doesn't really care about file extensions (*.jpg, *.doc).
It's the Macintosh user software that does if you're lucky (QuickTime, IE5, etc).

Instead, it looks for meta data in the resource fork.
That means you can't download an *.smi file on your Windows 10 PC,
copy it to your FAT32 pen drive and expect it to work out-of-box on the Macintosh in OS 8.
(Okay, technically you can, if you use somehting like FileType and fix the type code by hand.]

Instead, as a workaround, you either need to download the file on your Macintosh,
or you have to transport that file inside of a disk image (*.dmg,*.dsk,*.sit,*.hqx,..)
and extract it on the Mac side. Id did the first when I got my first iMac.
I told the whole story here: viewtopic.php?p=535815#p535815

Edit; There's a Win32 utility called HFVExplorer. The core program itself will run on x86-64 still.
It can read/write older Macintosh disk images and display them in a Windows Explorer-style GUI.
so you can drad'n'drop files in and out of the disk images. It's quite useful for emulators like vMac, too.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby creepingnet » 2018-3-09 @ 05:15

I did the power-mac thing for awhile in the mid-late 2000's. Had a Power Mac 6100/60, 7100/80, 5200/LC, and later a 6400/180. Out of all of those, the 6400/180 was the easiest to deal with (USB, VGA converter, PCI bus).

Besides what people mentioned here, the biggest problems I had were with getting the darn games ON the bloody Macintosh.

For starters, you have the whole chicken/egg problem with Stuffit Expander (think of it as sort of like a unzip utility for Macintosh files). You can download it to the computer but if you don't already have Stuffit to unstuff Stuffit, then you're up the creek. Find some arcane utility to unstuff stuffit on your PC? Well now it's pretty much dead bytes because the handles have all been lost in the "unstuffing".

Then once you HAVE a working Stuffit Expander....then the next problem is getting the actual GAMES on there. Some games (Diablo, Sim City 2000) came on hybrid discs that worked fine on both and will work fine if they come off ISO, but if they were on FLOPPY disks and need to be installed or have something special done with one, you have to copy the floppy images over to the mac, then write them from there or unstuff and write the data to the diskettes.

I gave up my last mac in 2008, and since then have been PC only.

Another thing I've noticed is older Macintosh tend not to be as happy to try and do modern things or go back in time nearly so much as my PC's do - I have a 286, 8088, and 486, all three have networking, connect to my broadband internet without much trouble, and the 486 can even act as a DAW with it's almost period correct hardware. A Mac by comparison? Internet is often a struggle (NU-bus/PDA/non-standard NICs and having to open a case with a lethal CRT inside to install the bloody card), and if I wanted to DAW with the Macintosh I'd still need all the old external SCSI hardware like DATs and a Mixer board to go with it - while my 486 is content with it's PIO-3 hard disk and SoundBlaster AWE64 and Cakewalk 5.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby luckybob » 2018-3-09 @ 06:51

Macs are OKAY. Using them when they were new was easy and practically fool proof. Compared to dos machines, it really was a superior experience. Once win98 came out, that all changed.

I have one of those G3 macs. (several actually) and they are quite good performers. I put a voodoo2 sli in mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HPytbZ7fdU

One of the biggest annoyances is the lack of a right mouse button. Get a mac compatible usb card is like 100% required to actually game.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby Byrd » 2018-3-09 @ 10:34

Vogons Mac bashing: it's like I've stepped into a PC forum from 2003 :D

Like building a retro x86 rig, you need to choose the right system and architecture for the games you want to play. Yes, Mac OS 8/9 does not play well with older games designed for compact B&W Macs running System 6 or 7. Older games run under a fast CPU sometimes run too quickly ... heard this all before?

- If you want to run older Mac games (most of which are unique, high res and of high standard - very few crappy PC ports) ... seek out an SE or SE/30 for this.

- For colour 486 era games (... with ports of varying standard - the good ones make the most of higher resolutions under Mac), a fast '030 or any '040 Mac will be fine

- For later Pentium era games, a G3 or any description will do a grand job. Keep in mind OS 9 is crazy fast and snappy on a G3.

If you want to run older games, I'd recommend a bridging Mac to copy your files over - something like a small PowerBook with PCMCIA (for a CF card adapter), SCSI will make copying files downloaded online much easier.

Macs can be upgraded just as cheaply as generic PCs ... in my experience.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby derSammler » 2018-3-09 @ 12:51

creepingnet wrote:For starters, you have the whole chicken/egg problem with Stuffit Expander (think of it as sort of like a unzip utility for Macintosh files).

Actually, it's on every MacOS CD starting with 8.0 (somewhere buried in the internet add-ons folder), so that's not really an issue when having a G3, which needs 8.0 or higher anyway.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby Pabloz » 2018-3-09 @ 13:00

luckybob wrote:Macs are OKAY. Using them when they were new was easy and practically fool proof. Compared to dos machines, it really was a superior experience. Once win98 came out, that all changed.

I have one of those G3 macs. (several actually) and they are quite good performers. I put a voodoo2 sli in mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HPytbZ7fdU

One of the biggest annoyances is the lack of a right mouse button. Get a mac compatible usb card is like 100% required to actually game.



Yesterday i powered it on, and booted right away. but then i noticed:

1) on boot it gave an error msg saying that the clock was out of date (so probably need to find out what kind of battery it has and where to buy a new one)

2) on second boot it gave an error saying something about pressing a key to disable extensions and kept giving the error. then i changed one of the ram sticks and booted without a problem.

2) then after that i played a little on the desktop basics, drag and drop a folder actually drives me nuts because it makes a copy. older owner had lots of folders on the desk nor ordered and took a while to learn that to actually move a folder to another area you have to press control key.

3) then changed the monitor resolution to a lower resolution, worked ok, but after a reboot it kept switching to the higher resolution

4) then tried to type on a sticky pad and all keys were giving hieroglyphics, and it was because the option key was being pressed all the time.

Im fine with how it works now, it does have a USB PCI card connected on the back. so you mean any USB mouse should work? any USB keyboard should work? What about newer MAC mouse and MAC keyboards? would those work? and USB flash drives?


I Need to look online on how to backup all the drivers it has, because i want to put a macOS9 cd and boot it and erase the HDD and have a fresh start. It has lots of photoshop software in it and other graphics tools that i dont want (and don´t know hot to uninstall those on a mac), it even has msn messenger. Besides is the USB PCI card is installed i dont want to loose those drivers.

this only works with Apple design keyboard and mouse then?
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby derSammler » 2018-3-09 @ 13:26

Date, time, screen resolution, and other settings are stored in what Apple called PRAM. You need to replace the 3.6V lithium cell (should be compatible with a modern CR2) to make it remember those again.

I've never used USB mice/keyboards on my G3-upgraded 7500. However, you can use *any* ADB mouse and keyboard with it. You don't need to stick with the Apple Design Keyboard, which is quite bad anyway. The Extended Keyboard II is nice, if you like heavy, clicky keyboards. :) As for the mouse, the Desktop Bus Mouse II is a good one.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby PTherapist » 2018-3-10 @ 09:12

Yes any USB keyboard or mouse will work, including regular 2/3 button + scroll mice without any extra drivers.

You don't have to strictly use an Apple USB keyboard either, any regular USB PC keyboard will work, with a couple of issues to be aware of - several keys may be in different positions on a PC keyboard, eg. @ # \ " plus the Alt/Option & Command keys will be the "wrong way round" when compared with their placing on an Apple keyboard, with the Windows key becoming Command.

Just be aware also though, in the Classic Mac OS you won't be able to use any USB device until the OS has loaded the extensions to support it. So if you hit an error during boot and it happens before the extensions have loaded, a USB mouse or keyboard won't help you to pass the error. So probably best to keep a spare ADB keyboard lurking about somewhere for any such emergencies. Mac OS X won't have these issues, as it loads any necessary extensions long before you reach the GUI.

USB flash drives should certainly work on Mac OS 8.6 and above, not sure about Mac OS 8.0, 8.1 or 8.5x though.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby dr.ido » 2018-3-10 @ 11:52

If you want the DOS PC experience, no Macintosh with or without a PC card is really going to cut it. I'm not bashing old macs here, I've owned them - it's simply a different experience. If you want to play with old mac stuff on OS 9 grab the G3 you've been offered - for $25 its a decent deal (at least based on local prices here). You'll still need a PC for the DOS side of things.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby Jo22 » 2018-3-10 @ 20:28

I agree with that. It's also a matter of preference. For a few non-Mac games, a G3 with 350MHz or higher *might* be fast enough.
I'm thinking of running NES games in Nestopia 1.41 on OS X 10.4.11 or Windows 3.x gaming in SoftWindows 2,3 in OS 9.2.
Windows 9x gaming is a magnitude more CPU-intensive, however. Even with the power of 3dfx magic, performance is still poor
on a G4 of the same speed. And last, but not least, DOSBox f. G3 will run, too. Albeit not as fast, as the older SoftWindows9x would..
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby derSammler » 2018-3-10 @ 20:41

Emulation of other systems was not even considered, as far as I can see. The question was about playing native Mac ports of DOS games.
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Re: Macintosh instead of PC for retro gaming?

Postby luckybob » 2018-3-10 @ 20:53

And the answer is, get a usb keyboard and mouse. The apple made ones are made of suck and ass. Oh they are okay, if you don't have fingers, or only use the thing for a few minutes a day. I had these frustrations in my video I posed. I also went over how to upgrade the hard drive to sata. (or at last fast IDE)
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