Games is one area where big names have taken longer to arrive on the Mac than on other platforms. Despite that, at the free and shareware end of the market there are still plenty of real gems to be found. iPod games are also available to anyone with a recent iPod 5G, classic or nano.
Anyone with a PowerPC-based Mac should also be able to run OS 9 games in Classic mode, and as these tend to have low requirements the performance hit is usually bearable. Whether it's puzzles, shooting or sports, there's plenty to be found for your Mac. We've rounded up our favourite 12 titles.
$15, Mac OS X 10.4+
A fast-paced puzzle game for OS X, Frenzic is dangerously addictive. As coloured pieces appear in the centre, you have to place them into the outer circles to win points. The key is only to put them in circles with a corresponding open slot. You're against the clock and power-ups are available to boost your points.
$20, Mac OS X 10.1+
An arcade action game suitable for players of all ages, MarbleBlast Gold involves you racing a marble through a series of landscapes and obstacle courses, collecting power-ups and avoiding hazards as you go. You follow the marble, steering and jumping as you go, and as well as the 100 built-in levels you can also create your own. Be warned: this is furiously addictive.
Freeware, Mac OS X 10.2+
Sometimes simple is best. Solitarus, by its nature, is a straightforward game in which you'll find no complex options, features or online modes – it's just a simple card game. That said, it's surprisingly addictive, and it also makes Windows' built-in version look rather crude and sterile by comparison. You'll have trouble dragging yourself away from this one.
$20, Mac OS X 10.4+
If you enjoy solving puzzles, you'll love this game. Tangle requires you to untangle the mess of lines presented to you; it's an almost mathematical (but fun, we promise!) race to uncross increasingly complex networks of lines by dragging circles. Simple to look at but harder to complete, it supports online play so you can compare your best times to those achieved by other players.
Pocket Tanks Deluxe
$16, Mac OS X 10.3+
You might remember this little gem from long ago… Well, now Pocket Tanks Deluxe is available for Mac OS X, so you can relive countless hours spent bombarding your enemy with a battalion of bizarre weapons and factoring in the wind shear. Simple but addictive, like all the best games, two tanks sit at either end of a landscape and blast seven bells out of each other. The highest score wins, so get started now!
$25, Mac OS X 10.1.5+
ToySight Gold is a great collection of games that uses your built-in or FireWire iSight camera as an input device. Once calibrated – which is done by you standing in front of the camera and following a simple set of instructions – you're able to use physical gestures to control and use games without a mouse, keys or a joystick. It's a brilliant one for parties.
Islands Mini Golf
$21, Mac OS X 10.4+
Bored at work? Maybe you need a change of scenery… With Islands Mini Golf you can explore a colourful 3D island world as you pitch and putt your way through a series of increasingly tricky landscapes and obstacles. There are 90 holes and you'll find yourself at the mercy of wind, fans, moving platforms, gaps in walkways and all manner of clever devices designed to put you off your stroke.
$20, Mac OS X 10.4+
Fancy a game of pool on your Mac? MacPool is a simple recreation of a pool table that sits invitingly on your Desktop, and its online game mode lets you play against other users over the net. Billiards and snooker are also available as add-ons if they're more your thing. Small and easy on your computer's resources, MacPool is a great way to kill a few hours. There's even a narrator to keep you informed.
Freeware, Mac OS X 10.4.2+
Most people remember Tetris, first on the Nintendo Gameboy. Quinn is an excellent, lightweight and pure version of Tetris with configurable keys, optional network play, custom pieces and smooth graphics. I love the retro feel!
Freeware, OS X 10.4+
A version of Windows' Minesweeper, but updated with a typically slick and attractive Mac-like interface, HexAddict requires you to negotiate your way across a minefield one step at a time and avoid running into any hidden mines. You'll lose count of the number of times you almost make it and then fail, infuriatingly, just before completion.
$20, Mac OS X 10.3+
Desktop Poet is a digital version of those fridge magnets you can buy in shops with hundreds of words. Here, they appear as if the Desktop was the fridge door, and you can shuffle them around for as long as you like, making informative, hilarious or nonsensical sentences. It's customisable and can connect to thesaurus.com.
Sonic the Hedgehog iPod game
£4, iPod 5G, nano 3G or newer
One of the most advanced games released on the iPod, Sonic the Hedgehog will take users of a certain age back to their youth spent on the Sega MegaDrive. It's as addictive as ever, with certain bonuses such as unlimited continues, saving and two styles of control. This one's not on the DVD, but you'll find it at www.apple.com/games/ipod/sonicthehedgehog.
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