How to Play Classic Mac Games Like ‘Bugdom,’ ‘Nanosaur,’ and ‘Cro-Mag Rally’
These days, the only pre-installed game you’ll find on Mac is an exciting, strategy-based war simulator pitting royal factions against one another. And by that, I mean Chess. But now you can get unique, fun, classic games like Bugdom, Nanosaur, and Cro-Mag Rally. I thought these titles were lost for good, but as it turns out, you can still play them.
I grew up with the iMac G3. To the outside world it certainly wasn’t a gaming machine, but to me it was a premiere PC. I was able to play the games I wanted to play, which were usually the Mac’s two Harry Potter ports (those soundtracks, though), but my favorite part of the G3 was the pre-installed titles: I didn’t have an N64, PlayStation, or GameCube, but I had Bugdom, Nanosaur, and Cro-Mag Rally. And that was alright with me.
What happened to Bugdom, Nanosaur, and Cro-Mag Rally?
In case you don’t have the fond memories of these titles, here’s a quick summary: Bugdom has you playing as a pill bug traversing 10 levels to save your world from an invasion of enemy ants. (It’s great, I promise.) In Nanosaur, you’re a dinosaur armed to the teeth, outrunning other dinosaurs in an effort to steal their eggs. (Again, it’s great.) And Cro-Mag Rally is a kart racer game that’s set in the ancient world, complete with “time-appropriate” karts and weapons.
These games wouldn’t be a sell in 2022, but they did push some boundaries for Mac gaming and 3D development back in the day.
It doesn’t end there, though: The iMac G5 also shipped with two unique titles: Nanosaur 2, a sequel to the original dino shooter (this time starring a murderous pterodactyl), and Marble Blast Gold, in which you controlled a marble through a series of progressively challenging race tracks to the finish line. To give credit where credit’s due, Pangea Software developed most of these games, plus plenty of other games you could purchase separately, while Marble Blast Gold was developed by GarageGames.
The problem with these old games is they were written for Mac hardware (PowerPC) that is no longer supported. The original game files exist, but if you download them to your Mac today, you won’t be able to open them. With the exception of mobile ports (which I’ll cover below), I thought most of these games were essentially lost forever. Luckily, there’s a way to replay them on your current hardware, through both mobile ports, as well as total rewrites of the games’ original code.
How to download classic Mac games, or play online
The two titles available as Mac downloads right now are Bugdom and Nanosaur. These games have been rewritten by developer Jorio for macOS, Windows, and Linux, which allows you to play the original games as they were on your current machine. To install these games on your computer, follow the links above, then choose your particular OS from the list of download links. It’s a nostalgia trip, for sure. Do I miss playing these things on that classic CRT display with the matching keyboard and hockey puck mouse? Sure. But after years of not being able to play Bugdom outside of my own memories, I’ll take it.
The easiest one to play, though, is Marble Blast Gold. The game and its sequel were ported by developer Vanilagy as web apps, meaning you can play right in your browser. Head to this site, then click the marble in the top left to choose Marble Blast Gold. You’ll find all levels already unlocked, plus over 2,000 custom levels designed by other players.
Cro-Mag Rally and Nanosaur 2 haven’t been rewritten for modern Macs, unfortunately, but you can play the games’ ports on iOS and iPadOS as a $1.99 download (there’s also a free version of Nanosaur 2 with ads). Nanosaur 2 is mostly how I remember it, but I’m a bit disappointed with the Cro-Mag Rally situation. Don’t get me wrong—I’m thrilled this game is ready to play in 2022 in any form, but this version isn’t the one I really want. Cro-Mag Rally on Mac OS X came with additional game modes, plus a settings pane that let you adjust the physics of the game. I’d love to experience those parts of Cro-Mag Rally again, but it doesn’t look like that’s happening anytime soon.