This article is for games released on Mac operating systems before OS X. Believe it or not, there were games developed on Mac OS back then. Not quite the selection Windows and DOS had, but there's a good handful worth giving a try if you've got something to run them.
Earlier versions of Mac OS X had the "Classic mode", which could run pre-OS X applications; this function was removed with Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard". If you're on a newer version of OSX, or another operating system, there are emulators which can act like a Mac OS of your choice. However, with most of them you need to have a ROM image of the required computer, and either a CD or disc image of the OS you want it to use.
Mini vMac is a virtual Macintosh Plus, and can run OSs from 1.1 to 7.5.5. It's for the games with black-and-white graphics.
Basilisk II a virtual 68xxx Macintosh, that runs OSs from 7.x to 8.1. You can try it with the earlier Mac games that were in color.
SoftMac is a windows-only emulator of 68xxx based Macintoshes.
Executor is a Windows/Linux emulator for 68xxx Macintoshes that used to be for-pay, but the owners released a special reg key to the public so anyone can use it now. Does not require the ROMs from the original Macintosh.
SheepShaver is a Windows/Linux/OSX emulator that works as a virtual PowerPC, and it runs OSs from 7.5.2 to 9.0.4. This might be the best replacement for Classic mode if you're on an OS X installation that doesn't have it, but it requires a ROM image and a copy of Mac OS.
The List Edit
|3 in Three||Puzzle||During a power outage, a number 3 fell off the spreadsheet and into the guts of the computer. She has to find her way back to the spreadsheet, solving puzzles in a very Alice In Wonderland story. From the dude that made The Fool's Errand.||200px|
|BeamWars||Tron-like||Like the light cycle battles from Tron, but you're just steering one of four laser beams, trying to make the others crash before you do. A match goes for as many rounds as it takes for the Board Energy to tick down to 0. The edges of the screen gradually close in, but every round starts with them at full size. The lower the Board Energy is, the faster the walls close in.|
|Brickles||Breakout||Simple graphics, but it has modes where you control paddles on the floor and ceiling, or on all four sides of the screen, steering them all with the mouse to keep the ball from going off those sides.|
|Bugdom||Platformer||3D platformer featuring cartoon bugs almost like A Bug's Life. You play as a heroic pillbug who can curl up to roll around like Sonic for a limited time, or just punch enemies.|
|Cyclone||Shoot-em-up (Asteroids-like)||In this non-scrolling shooter, you fly around an evil space station and try to destroy it by blasting through its layers of shields, while avoiding the smart mines it sends out, along with its high-powered plasma gun.|
|Desert Trek||Adventure||A simple Oregon Trail-like game where you cross the Gobi Desert on your camel. You choose whether to travel fast, slow, or rest for each period of the day, and you have to choose when to eat and drink. Events happen randomly as you go, like sandstorms, discovering travelling caravans or trading posts, and getting captured by berbers. A band of cannibals starts a certain distance from you, and you have to make it across the desert before they catch you, but going too fast tires out your camel and you risk getting injured.|
|Diamonds||Breakout-ish||Instead of controlling a paddle, you steer the ball as it bounces vertically. The game's a bit tricky, considering there are red and blue bricks you have to change your ball's color to break, and diamond bricks you can only break when the ball has no color, as well as skull bricks which you must avoid.|
|Exile (series)||RPG||The original versions of the Avernum games, a series of Western RPGs where you create your characters and use skill points to give them abilities. Battles are fought in turn-based tactical style, moving each of your characters across the grid to attack enemies and cast spells.|
|Firefall Arcade||Shoot-em-up||Centipede-like shooter from Pangaea Software, with abstract pre-rendered shapes for the enemies, plenty of power-ups, and catchy music by Eugene Koh. There's an OS X remake, and the original game is now freeware.|
|The Fool's Errand||Puzzle||Award-winning puzzle game from the dude that made those "solve the puzzle to find out where in America we buried a gold duck" books that were a big hit in the '80s. Lots of wordplay, spacial arrangement puzzles and tarot symbolism.||200px|
You guide a paper airplane through all the rooms of a house, using the rising air from vents, candles and lamps to stay afloat, and avoiding hazards like dripping water, toasters, basketballs, and the floor. Surprisingly chill, and it includes the capability to make your own levels. It had one of the largest modding scenes of any Mac game, with levels taking place on the Titanic, a space station and an art museum.
Ported to Flash and, amazingly, the NES on a physical cartridge.
|The Incredible Machine (series)||Puzzle||At the very least, The Incredible Machine 3.0 has a Macintosh version. In these games, you have to place objects in a preset puzzle to make something happen, like turning on an appliance or knocking something off the screen. There's all kinds of objects that interact in many ways, and knowledge of these effects is key to solving each puzzle. You can also make your own puzzles using all of the available objects, choose the parts the player is allowed to use, and set up whatever goal conditions you want.|
|Marathon (series)||Firth Person Shooter/Sci-Fi||While many think of it as just a Doom clone, it's much more than that. Epic story, atmosphere, and plenty of fun and carnage! Free since Bungie open-sauced the engine. Original Mac version and modern PC/Mac/Linux version here.||200px|
|Mario Teaches Typing||Education (typing)||What better way to learn touch-typing than with Mario and the gang? The meat of the game is the three visual typing courses, with Super Mario Bros. levels as the setting. You type single letters going through World 1-1, whole words in an underwater stage, and whole sentences in the castle level. Mario Teaches Typing 2 is mostly the same game, except with a simple story and cutscenes, as well as a weird CG Mario face who talks to you between typing sessions, with his voice by Charles Martinet possibly before Super Mario 64.|
|MOVOD 2||Versus shooter||You and an opponent control two hovercraft things that move along tracks, and the goal is to shoot the other guy till his hovercraft crashes. You can reverse your direction, toggle the tracks between a figure-eight and two circles, and aim your gun in 8 directions. Power-ups appear often, but you have to shoot them to get them.|
|Nanosaur||Run n' gun||3D shooter included on some iMacs. You are a dinosaur from the future, sent to retrieve a set of dino eggs before the 65 million B.C. asteroid wipes everything out. While searching for the eggs to bring back to your time portal, you'll have to defend yourself from the other dinosaurs. When you shoot them with your guns, they explode into polygons.|
|Oxyd||Puzzle||Roll a black marble around with your mouse, and bump the Oxyds in pairs of the same color so they all open up. Tons of levels, regularly introducing new kinds of obstacles and puzzles to solve. There are sequels in Oxyd Magnum and Per Oxyd, and an unofficial adaptation called Enigma.|
|Patriot Command||Shooter/Defense||Totally not Missile Command. Copyright skirting aside, this version includes lots of power-ups. Don't forget to click on the developer's head in the About screen.|
|Quagmire||Platformer||You control a robot who rolls and jumps around on one wheel, navigating tricky one-screen levels to teleport to the next.|
|Quest of Yipe! (series)||RPG||A series of tongue-in-cheek RPGs with silly enemies and funny names for all the items and magic spells, along with comedic sound effects.|
|Spin Doctor||Puzzle||You're a spinning white rod that latches onto dots and swings around on them. All you have to do is get to the goal dot, but stuff like enemy rods, sentient puddles of acid goo, dynamite and fuses, and door switches all get in your way.|
|Starrunner Plus||Shoot-em-up||A Defender-like game with black-and-white visuals. Includes Smart Bombs, rescuing humans, and a set of funny voice bites.|
|Stunt Copter||Casual?||A black-and-white game where you drop a guy from a helicopter and try to land him in a horse-drawn wagon full of hay. You get five tries in one game, and score more points for a longer fall, but if you hit the wagon driver or the horse, the game ends.|
|System's Twilight||Puzzle (traditional)||In a computer world where programs are living things represented by abstract shapes, you advance the plot by solving many types of puzzles that almost immediately become impossible without lateral thinking or a guide. Puzzle maniacs might get a kick out of it, though. Now available for free from the author.||200px|
|Treasure Mathstorm!||Education/Puzzle (math)||Part of the Super Solvers series. In this one, the Master of Mischief has covered Treasure Mountain in snow and ice, and scattered its treasures all over the place. You've got to find the treasures by solving math problems, catching elves in nets, and making piles of snowballs, and get to the top of the mountain using ice axes, ladders and...a catapult?|
|Unicycle!||Platformer||A game from Brian Kendall, the guy behind The Demented Cartoon Movie. You control a clown on a unicycle, jumping and changing speed to get over gaps and walls, and grab all the smileys you can.|