Is Putt-Putt out of gas?
February 18, 2007 2:48 PM   Subscribe

How do I get OSX to run old Mac games?

I've tried to find this on Apple sites, the web, and here, but I'm a new Mac owner and perhaps I'm using the wrong terminology. We have just purchased an iMac/Intel core duo and it's pretty spiffy. But I'm puzzled by the apparent incompatibility of old dual-platform software, such as the offerings of Humongous entertainment (Freddie Fish, Putt Putt, and so forth), which purportedly run on both Windows and Mac -- but in the latter regard are marked for System 7.0 and higher.

Is OS X not backward compatible (this far)? Does one install patches or emulators to cope with this? I have looked at Humongous's site (now Atari), and they have a patch for purposes of OS 9, but not later . . . and I was wondering whether the latest OS, or maybe the new chips, changed everything. Sorry if this is a newbie blunder.
posted by Clyde Mnestra to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Only PowerPC OS X can run Classic applications. Intel Macs can't. Intel Macs can emulate modern PPC binaries, but not the whole Classic environment.
posted by floam at 3:03 PM on February 18, 2007


2nding what floam said, and adding that your best bet may be to run parallels with windows 2000 and just run the windows version in there.
posted by chairface at 3:06 PM on February 18, 2007


On PowerPC Macs, there's an integrated Mac OS 9 emulator called Classic that allows you to run old programs. This has been ditched on Intel Macs, and in the upcoming Mac OS X 10.5.

SheepShaver posits itself as a replacement for Classic on Intel Macs, but I have zero experience with it.
posted by cillit bang at 3:06 PM on February 18, 2007


Previously on Ask Metafilter.
posted by xiojason at 3:26 PM on February 18, 2007


Sorry for overlooking that -- I must have been searching for OS X as opposed to OS 10.whatever. It looks like I am hosed without an earlier version of the OS, and even if I could get one, installing System 7 on the Intel gives me the heebie-jeebies . . . can't imagine doing that on Windows.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 4:56 PM on February 18, 2007


they have a patch for purposes of OS 9, but not later . . . and I was wondering whether the latest OS, or maybe the new chips, changed everything.

To answer this part of the question: OS X is a radically different OS in almost every way from OS 9/8/7/etc. It is built on top of BSD unix and descended from "NEXTSTEP", a really-ahead-of-its-time unix/window-server from the late-80s/early 90s with objective c as the main development language. Around 1997, Apple bought NeXT (which incidentally had been Steve Job's startup after Apple kicked him out in the mid-80s; this is when he came back to apple, and it was probably one of the best things they ever did). Apple's switch to OS X amounted to completely scrapping OS 9 (well, I doubt that is really true, since probably a lot of the OS 9 developers' expertise went in to modernizing NEXTSTEP). Many G3s and some G4s could dual-boot the two (in the same sense you might have windows and linux dual-booting), and most powerpc machines (all?) supported the "classic" environment which emulated OS 9. The emulation wasn't perfect and didn't tend to do well on system 7/8 games. But with the intel macs, they've dropped that support (not too surprising really, given that OS X is 6-10 years old now depending on how you count, and it must have been getting more and more painful to keep classic working, especially with the new chips). Turning an OS 9 app into an OS X app was not trivial, despite various compatibility layers, so there were a lot of developers, especially for already-released games, who didn't bother.

Here's some information about the history of Apple's OSs if you want to read more.
posted by advil at 4:56 PM on February 18, 2007


installing System 7 on the Intel gives me the heebie-jeebies

It won't work on an Intel Mac anyway.
posted by oaf at 5:39 PM on February 18, 2007


You can play Putt-Putt and Freddie Fish specifically on your computer with the ScummVM emulator.
posted by marionnette en chaussette at 6:19 PM on February 18, 2007


Purchase a used iMac, you can probably find one for less than $50, and play away!
posted by HuronBob at 7:22 PM on February 18, 2007


Yes, the best way to do this is to purchase a Mac old enough to have a PowerPC processor, and either run Classic, or install OS 9.2.2 native on it.

SheepShaver isn't at a level of polish that I'd recommend it to someone who would ask this question.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:03 PM on February 18, 2007


Another blog entry with a bit of a SheepShaver how-to if you want to put a little geek elbow grease into this.

Also, a little searching of some Bittorrent sites shows some pre-made disk images for SheepShaver might be out there for downloading. The disk images should be usable across platforms under SheepShaver, I'd think.
posted by xiojason at 8:09 PM on February 18, 2007


Very educational, everyone -- many thanks. And here I thought that Macs were so legacy-friendly! Once I develop the courage, will try the ScummVM.

P.S. "SheepShaver isn't at a level of polish that I'd recommend it to someone who would ask this question." Man, that's cold, but fair enough.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:43 AM on February 19, 2007


I didn't mean it that way, C.M.! I just meant that it doesn't look quite ready for prime-time, although there are probably a bunch of professional coders using it quite happily right now. I certainly couldn't get it to work when I tried.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:24 AM on February 19, 2007


Once I develop the courage, will try the ScummVM.

ScummVM probably doesn't require courage -- it is very easy to use and install. (Though I've only used it for lucasarts games.)
posted by advil at 2:13 PM on February 19, 2007


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