Gaming on a G3 iMac

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Gaming on a G3 iMac

Postby Matchstick » August 3rd, 2022, 11:59 pm

This might run on a bit - as many of my posts do - but it has been a long time coming.

Decades ago, when I attended college for the first time, I was lucky enough to earn a scholarship to Indiana University. It wasn't a full ride ($5000) but it was enough to get me settled in for a few semesters. I was pursuing an art degree, and decided to take a few upper-level design classes as a freshman.

The roadblocks piled up fast. For starters, I was broke, and struggled to make enough at my minimum wage job to afford my off-campus apartment. Once classes started, I quickly learned that I couldn't depend on having access to the computer lab for my assignments, and would need a computer of my own.

I would also need a copy of Photoshop, but thankfully, that came cheap - $10 at the campus book store. I still have that same registered copy of Photoshop 6 to this day. As far as what to run it on, I needed something I could afford that also met the minimum system requirements. My professor recommended we all try to learn to work on a Macintosh, as that's what most professional employers were using.

I took a look around at what my options were, and settled on this bad boy:


(Not my photo, but I wish it were!)

For $200 on the secondhand market, I was in business! I had all I needed to run Photoshop under Mac OS 9, and despite the wonky "hockey puck" mouse, I did pretty well with my assignments.

That is, of course, until the scholarship ran out.

I realized pretty quickly I couldn't continue going to school unless I took out a student loan - which I refused to do. So, me and my 3-ish GPA took some time away from school to keep working and live life a little.

It was around this time that I realized my aging iMac had more value than just school and e-mail. I would often see Macintosh versions of older software marked down in shops, and found some killer prices for older titles online. I took a pretty big dive over that Summer and bought dozens of games, including plenty of point-and-click adventures and some simulations. By the end of it, I had a nice stack of LucasArts titles as well as some other classics from the 90s, like Myst, Riven, The 7th Guest, and the latter two Wing Commander games.

And they all installed and ran without a hitch on that damn iMac.

Granted, the system requirements on Wing Commander 3 weren't particularly demanding for a computer made in 1999, but I was amazed at the wide range of titles I could play from the early CD-ROM era of computer gaming, rarely running into any sort of driver issues or installation problems. While my friends were having Halo LAN parties, I was stumbling through Day of the Tentacle, or playing through Riven for the sixth time.

Unfortunately, I sold many of those games a few years later - for next to nothing - in preparation for a cross-country move. I nearly sold the iMac, as well, but was wisely talked into leaving it with my parents, instead.

Zip ahead to today, and I'm getting that same Tangerine Orange iMac set up again in my new house, after years of storage in my parents' basement. It's needed a bit of work - as old computers do - so I've had some fun this Summer taking it apart, cleaning it up, maxing out the RAM, installing a new hard drive, and overclocking the processor speed. I've gotten it looking almost like new, and have been slowly re-installing software on the new drive. Once it's up to speed, I plan on using it in my music studio as a jukebox, as well as a way to digitize records and record cassettes.

As far as gaming, it's still the champ it always was! But - and stop me if you've heard this one before - I can't believe what some of the older titles I used to have go for these days. Riven and The 7th Guest were pretty easy to track down in their big-box format, but Day of the Tentacle? Or Sam & Max Hit The Road? Forget it!!

I've been shopping around, though, and have found some great deals on some other Mac-formatted LucasArts titles, some even still new and sealed. From eBay, I managed to pick up copies of The Dig as well as the Heaven / Hell simulator Afterlife for less than $20 a piece. I also scored a copy of Star Wars Rebel Assault for $10 in the box, and snagged a complete copy of Full Throttle for $25. The new collection is really shaping up!

There are still deals out there, but you have to dig pretty deep to find them these days.

Aside from those titles, I've been toying with the idea of installing VirtualPC. I have a copy of Version 4, which came bundled with a copy of Windows 98. I've never tried installing it (it was another $10 IU bookstore purchase) but I've heard it works great with games under DOS, or Windows 95 / 98 titles that don't need a 3D card. I also kind of just want to use it for Paint, which is still my preferred way to print images at their correct sizes and proportions.

Anyway, I have been having a blast dabbling in some mid-90s Macintosh gaming again, and have given myself quite the list of audio projects to tackle in the coming Fall / Winter months. As a retro gaming computer, i think the original iMac falls into a real sweet spot - not too old and not too new to support classic titles.

Did anyone else do any iMac gaming back in the day, or play any adventure or point-and-click titles on a PowerMac? I'm sure I'm not alone :D

EDIT: eBay links for the new and sealed LucasArts titles, for anyone wanting to add to their collection:


The Dig:

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