Free Mac games: My top ten

Games are an area where Windows fanboys love to gloat over the Mac. It’s true that Windows has a much bigger range of games available (although thanks to Boot Camp and the like this isn’t such an issue these days). However there are some pretty decent games for the Mac too, and many of them are even free!

Here are the top ten best free Mac games currently available – in my humble opinion. I hope you enjoy reading, and playing the games!

10. SuperTuxKart

SuperTuxKart screenshot

This racing game is an homage to the classic Super Mario Kart game. For those not familiar with the basic theme, you race a go-kart on a series of wacky tracks, picking up various specials along the way such as speedups, rockets to blast other karts, and so on. This game is at pretty early stage of development so graphics and levels are fairly basic, but it’s still great fun to play, and is a great game for kids!

9. Armagetron Advanced

Armagetron Advanced screenshot

If you’re old enough to remember the early 80′s movie Tron, you’re sure to remember the light cycles sequence. With Armagetron, you can ride your very own light cycle and do battle with other cycles, much like in the movie. The idea is that, as you ride around, you leave a coloured “wall” or trail behind you. Trap your opponents so that they end up hitting a “wall”, while avoiding getting trapped yourself. And no, there’s no way to stop! The graphics in the game are pretty much as good as the ones in the movie, and it’s great fun (if nerve-wracking) to play.

8. l1neum

l1neum screenshot

A somewhat surrealist affair, l1neum’s heritage lies in the ancient arcade game Qix. The basic idea is to fence off parts of the playing area, which contains enemies roaming around it. If you fence off 80 percent of the area, you beat the level. You can also score bonuses and get extra features by fencing off the enemies themselves, as well as coloured bricks within the area. The concept is simple enough, but l1neum gets pretty hard to play after the first couple of levels. It looks beautiful though, with glowing, spinning graphics aplenty, and the drum-and-bass soundtrack keeps the pace moving. The “gamescape” addition adds a further artistic element by letting you visualise other players’ games as 3-D “buildings”. It’s surreal all right, but pretty cool with it!

7. Black Shades

Black Shades screenshot

This 3-D first-person shooter (FPS) game was actually an entry in a game writing competition (it was one of the winners). The concept is simple: You’re a bodyguard protecting a VIP (in white) who walks around a randomly generated city. Meanwhile, various knife, gun and grenade-wielding assassins attempt to kill him. You have to kill or otherwise “incapacitate” them first. The graphics are ridiculously simple – blocks, basically – but the movement of the people in the game is uncannily realistic, and the game itself is maddeningly addictive. Check out the “psychic aim” mode too – deeply cool. This game is in a mould all of its own!

6. SuperTux

SuperTux screenshot

Another variant on the Super Mario theme, this is a side-scrolling run-and-jump platform game in the style of Super Mario Bros. Great graphics and funky music make it another kiddie favourite, though later levels are also challenging for adults (well, for me, anyway!). A built-in level editor, along with plenty of downloadable levels, helps with the replay value of this game.

5. Vega Strike

Vega Strike screenshot

This is an open-source space trading/arcade game, quite similar to Wing Commander: Privateer. The game is fairly complex – just learning how to control and navigate the ship takes the best part of a day – but it’s worth the learning curve. It’s constantly in development, so it’s sometimes a bit rough round the edges, but it’s a huge game with a vast universe to explore, tons of missions, lots of aliens to interact with and many different ships to try out. Gorgeous graphics and a passable soundtrack add to the fun.

4. FlightGear

FlightGear screenshot

This open-source flight simulator has been around for years. It finally made it to version 1.0 at the end of 2007, and it’s great to see a supported Mac version. It’s a fully fledged affair, comparable to Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X (though not quite as slick). Choose from hundreds of different aircraft (some of them, like the Ogel and Santa claus, are somewhat silly), strap yourself in, and take off. It’s hard to get the hang of to start with, unless you happen to be a trained pilot, but perseverance rewards you with some spectacular scenery and great flying moments. One for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

3. Freeciv

Freeciv screenshot

Ever played Civilization? Then you’ll be right at home with Freeciv, which is an open-source strategy game along very similar lines. If you haven’t played Civ, then you’re in for a learning curve to rival Vega Strike’s, but again, it’s well worth the effort. The online documentation does a pretty good job at explaining everything, though the info is sometimes hard to find. The object is to control an entire civilization from ancient times through to the space age, helping them learn and discover new technologies along the way. Your civilization will also need to do battle with other races in order to survive. This is a very absorbing game that you can play in lots of different ways.

2. Oolite

Oolite screenshot

If you were ever a fan of the classic space arcade/strategy trading game Elite, you will seriously enjoy Oolite. It’s pretty much a faithful clone of the original game, but with graphics and sound brought into the 21st century. However, with the addition of Oolite Expansion Packs (OXPs) you can take the game to a whole new level, with new ships, sounds, missions and planets. Highly addictive.

1. Battle for Wesnoth

Battle for Wesnoth screenshot

This fantasy strategy game is almost the poster child for quality, free open-source gaming. It’s an extremely well-written game; something that I’d pay good money for in the stores! Graphics and sound are of a high quality, and gameplay is excellent. I found some of the campaigns to be a bit too tough, but they’re constantly improving them to get the balance right. With lots of extra campaign scenarios to download, this is a game you can lose yourself in for days!

Well I hope you liked my top ten free Mac games. Do you have any others to add to the list? If so please add your comments!

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41 Responses to “Free Mac games: My top ten”

  1. anon Says:

    You left out Nexuiz. Items one through ten should all be Nuxuiz.

    http://www.alientrap.org/nexuiz/

  2. rprebel Says:

    Really? We’re starting the ‘you left out [insert your lame favorite game]‘ already? I figured there’d be at least a few non-troll remarks before this happened. Also, I checked out Nexuiz; it was left off this list with good reason.

    Great list, BTW. Stumbled.

  3. sikanrong Says:

    DUDE! thanks! I’ve been on the free linux versions of some of these, but assumed that any actually free mac games didn’t exist. You rock

  4. Matt Says:

    @anon: Thanks for the suggestion – I’ll certainly give it a try.

    @rprebel: Thanks for the compliment! And I guess everyone always has their personal favourite game that they like to shout about.

    @sikanrong: Glad you liked the list. I was amazed at how many free Mac games there are too! I’ve found even more good ones since I wrote this post, so I might do another top ten soon…

  5. Rich Says:

    hey hey, Nexuiz is awesome. I agree that it should have been here

  6. Clifford Says:

    Most games that run on FreeBSD will run on OSX with a little work. This is basically because OSX is based on FreeBSD. Fink or Macports helps cut this workload down.

  7. Matt Says:

    @Clifford: That’s interesting, I’ll have a browse through fink and see what games are available. Thanks for the tip!

  8. nils Says:

    Great list. My suggestion (and personal favorite free OS X game) is Gridwars 2. No game has been able to keep my attention more consistently since Diablo 2.

    Stumbled!

  9. Matt Says:

    @nils: Thanks for the Gridwars 2 suggestion – I’m off to check it out now! Thanks for the stumble also. :)

  10. muhahahah Says:

    So this is the top 10 free mac games, please google the top 10 free PC games and make a comparison.

    Please install windows on you Mac (which is really a PC now) and play proper games.

  11. Eric Says:

    How can you not put Americas Army on the list. The best free game for mac that has ever existed. Deuch

  12. Matt Says:

    @muhahahah: Nice troll. :)

    @Eric: Thanks for the suggestion – I’ll take a look!

  13. Sean Says:

    America’s Army was left off the list because they no longer support it for mac or linux which is a crying shame since it was amazing when you could play it.

  14. Matt Says:

    you can now download Wolfenstein Enemy territories for mac for free. its a fun WWII multiplayer FPS.

  15. Eac19 Says:

    the best thing hands down is to get the sixtyforce emulator. then all u have to do is download n64 games as a .zip file and ur in business!

    btw to anyone out there who likes supercars and exotic cars, i have a new blog i just created. its url is http://theexoticautosclub.wordpress.com. this is my first blog and i just created it today, so please bear with my mistakes. feel free to message if u see anything that needs pointing out

    thanks

  16. Alan Says:

    Oooo, you have some I have not tried, thanks! I like GLtron (light cycles) as well, will have see how it compares. Parallel Realities has some nice free games that have been ported over to Mac as well.

  17. Matt Says:

    Thanks for all your wonderful comments and suggestions!

    @Matt: I keep meaning to try Wolfenstein ET. Wish it had a single-player mode though. (I tend to prefer single-player games for some reason.)

    @Alan: I’m off to check out Parallel Realities right now – thanks!

  18. website design Says:

    Ugh, just pay for a real game. I mean seriously, $20 for Starcraft, maybe UT2004, Warcraft 3, Age of Empires 2, Battlefront. Come on, it s not that expensive, and much much better.

  19. JG Says:

    Cool list! I didn’t know about most of these!

    cheers!

  20. Matt Says:

    Another fun free game for mac is Urban Terror

  21. toine Says:

    you forgot sauerbraten!

  22. Coyote Says:

    ADOM is extremely addictive ASCII graphics game http://www.adom.de (rogue-like category of games).

  23. taktu Says:

    you forgot to mention Cube 2 (or sauerbraten) and Frets on Fire.

  24. Six more Mac freeware lists [1] « mensonblog Says:

    [...] Reality Distortion has another 10 free Mac games — in his opinion the [...]

  25. Resun Says:

    don’T for get Urban Terror (counterstrike-like fps ) pretty well finished mac windows and linux

  26. Dan Says:

    what about sauerbraten? its the only good free fps, so check it out. for all the haters, its improved a lot in the ’09 edition, so please don’t post your hate comments. Also, i really, REALLY hate nexuiz, and other shitty quake remakes. The original quake and sauerbraten are the only good fast paced fps. But really, free mac fps are so easy to find, that nobody should bother posting.
    http://sauerbraten.org/

  27. Matt Says:

    Thanks to all those who mentioned sauerbraten. I’ve been meaning to check it out for a while – downloading now!

  28. Dan Says:

    what did you think of it?

  29. Matt Says:

    @Dan: It looks and feels great, although I found the single-player game hard!

  30. Robby Says:

    dude thanks .. i’ve looking for free mac games .. thx again

  31. Dan Says:

    thanks for the reponse Matt . Did you try the editing on coopedit? you just scroll the wheel along with button combos. I thinks its pretty cool :)

  32. Matt Says:

    @Dan: Thanks, I might give it a go sometime.

  33. lalo Says:

    I love love love love love my mac. But the games are crap crap crap crap crap

  34. Matt Says:

    @lalo: Thanks for your honest opinion. :)

  35. Connor Says:

    Cube 2, Glest, Neverball and Neverputt are pretty awesome also (: Thanks for the list!

  36. Matt Says:

    @Connor: Thanks for the suggestions. I’m going to try out Glest now!

    Great photos on your site BTW.

  37. HackyPunk » Blog Archive » Six more Mac freeware lists [1] Says:

    [...] Reality Distortion has another 10 free Mac games — in his opinion the [...]

  38. Mac Freshman Says:

    Each and every single of these games sucks. Honestly. If you’re a fan of 1990 GFX, extreme crashfests or super convoluted games featuring a single map/track and 3 functions to be operated with 26 keystrokes for Unix-grampas you will like them all of course. Everyone coming from a PC though will have a hard time getting anything serious for free on the Mac. Hell there’s not even anything you could buy for real money on the Mac that gives you a real gaming experience. Tux Racer is probably the one and only highlight here and still that’s a game for kids or kidlike minds. Oh well, just like the host platform isn’t it.

  39. Matt Says:

    “Hell there’s not even anything you could buy for real money on the Mac that gives you a real gaming experience.”

    Erm… http://store.steampowered.com/browse/mac

  40. Abbie Hunt Says:

    i used to play Mario Kart a lot last year but suddenly lost interest coz i got busy-*-

  41. Simon R-N Says:

    Good list but have you tried king arthurs gold? Its very fun.