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Mac gaming on the cheap: Our favorite low-cost Mac games

With the release of Myst Online for the Mac* (and our own nagging, monthly World of Warcraft bills), we TUAW bloggers got together to discuss our favorite low-cost Mac games. Sure, those MMORPGs are fun, but $14.99/month (Warcraft) and $6.95/month (Myst) isn't. So, in the name of gaming cheapskates everywhere, here's our list of great, inexpensive Mac games (in no particular order).

SketchFighter 4000 Alpha by Ambrosia Software. Cost: $19US. Requirements: Mac OS 10.2 or later.

By Ambrosia Software, this shoot-em-up game features upgradeable spaceships, mean bosses, challenging levels and even a level editor. But most of all, we love the dead-on, retro, "hand-sketched" graphics. SketchFighter was designed to look like the very images that young geeks like me spent all of Jr. high school scribbling on notebook paper, and the developers at Ambrosia really nailed it. As an 11 year old, I could only imagine my creations coming to life. Ambrosia made it actually happen, and as a result SketchFighter is wicked fun to play.

More after the jump.
Quinn by Simon Haertel. Cost: Free! Requirements: Mac OS 10.4.2

I can distinctly remember taking my first "real" job in 1994. On the desk was a Macintosh Quadra, and I wasted hours upon hours playing the old, black and white copy of Tetris on that machine's drive. Eventually I started dreaming of descending shapes, and had to take a bit of a break (sadly, that's a true story). Since then, other manufacturers have released their own versions of the game with slightly modified gameplay, but to me those are all "better mousetraps." There's no sense in trying to improve on the original because it just works so well.

Enter Quinn. It behaves just like Tetris is "supposed" to behave, with no terrible "enhancements." With my favorite keys set up the way I like (on the number pad, thank you very much), I'm transported back to 1994. OK, 1994 with color. Now you're just being picky.

Glider Pro
(Originally developed by Casady & Greene, ported to Mac OS X by John Calhoun, the game's original author). Cost: Free! Requirements: (Not listed, but it works on Mac OS 10.4).

Let's step back aboard the nostalgia train for just one more game, shall we? Glider Pro was a simple game back when it was released: Pilot a paper airplane successfully through a house, propelled by heating grates, fans, warm candles and what not, all the while avoiding dangerous obstacles like clocks and those fan blades. Doesn't that sound great?

Well, it is. Back in the day there was a level editor, but sadly it wasn't ported to Mac OS X. Pity. Still, it's a fun time-waster, and free to boot.

Mummy Maze by PopCap games. Cost: Play online for free, download the "deluxe" version for $14.95. Requirements: Mac OS 10.2.8 or better.

Mummy Maze is a simple puzzle game that pits you against ancient mummies and worse. You begin on the bottom of a map and travel, Mario-style, from pyramid to pyramid. Once inside, you must escape each pyramid, one move at a time. Your combatants respond to each move you make with a counter-move, so planning is the name of the game. Each pyramid's puzzle is more difficult than the last. It sounds simple, but if you enjoy a good puzzle game, check out Mummy Maze.

So there you have it, four Mac games that are easy on the wallet and fun to play. The next time you receive a bill from Azeroth, consider these gems. We're sure you'll have fun.

*Speaking of which, I tried out Myst last night. You can download the game and have a limited experience (solve one puzzle and visit certain regions) for free. I've got to say it was fun. The gameplay was smooth on my MacBook Pro and the puzzle I solved was fun. What I liked about the original Myst was a part of the online experience, too: You're simply plopped in the middle of nowhere with no hint as what you're supposed to do. Just start walking around and figure it out.

The social aspect is fun as well, as you can chat with any of the players at anytime, team up and even invite people to your own "age." Myst Online requires a Intel-based Mac.

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