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Play It On A Mac: Transistor

transistor screenshots

In this weekly series I'll show you how to get your favorite Windows-exclusive PC games running on OS X. For more information on the programs used, check out the Play It On A Mac explainer. For suggestions and/or questions about any game, feel free to contact me on Twitter.

If you're a fan of the gorgeous indie RPG Bastion, there's a really good chance you've been looking forward to the next game from developer Supergiant Games. It's called Transistor, and it just came out for Windows and PlayStation 4 earlier this week. I've played the game on both PS4 and on my Windows gaming PC, but now it's time to get it running on my beloved Mac mini. Let's do this!

CrossOver

The game is brand new, and as such it has not appeared on the official CrossOver compatibility list yet. I attempted to install it using the default settings in CrossOver, but was met with simply a black screen. There may well be a way to get it running with more customized settings, but as of yet a custom bottle has not been released.

Parallels

Transistor isn't a particularly graphically intensive game. It's very pretty, but it consists of mostly 2D art with 3D models on top. Because of this, I wasn't anticipating having any issue running the game in Parallels. I mean, if I could get Dark Souls to boot up, Transistor should be no problem, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong.

It installed through Steam as planned, using the highest Parallels virtual machine settings I had available, but upon first start-up, it seemingly froze. I was left with a full black screen for several minutes, and eventually hit ESC to back out. I was met with an error telling me Transistor had stopped working... yeah, no kidding.

I restarted the virtual machine, but that didn't change anything. I ran the game directly from the executable file, tweaked some Steam launch settings, and tried some other light troubleshooting before venturing online in search of a solution. I found many, many Steam threads complaining about Transistor failing to run even on high-end gaming PCs. Nobody complained of it not running through Parallels -- probably because I'm the first to try it -- but the fact that the game was having issues on the machines on which it was meant to run wasn't a good sign.

Some users were able to get the game running through compatibility mode, so I tried launching it with settings for XP SP2, XP SP3, and Vista, to no avail. Things weren't looking too good.

transistor screenshots

Boot Camp

My last hope was Boot Camp. I installed it once again, and clicked "Play" with very little hope. To my surprise it started immediately, and played decently right from the start.

At 1080p resolution, I get about 25 frames per second. That's not bad for a game like this, as it doesn't often require twitch reflexes, but it's not ideal. Bumping the resolution down to 1280 by 800 -- which still looks fantastic, given the game's 2D nature -- and I can reach 50fps with little issue. This is the prime way to play it on the Mac mini test computer I use, and the game is just as epic as it is on its native platforms.

Verdict

For the first time we found a game that didn't agree with Parallels whatsoever. I have no idea why it wouldn't work, and you may have better luck with different Mac hardware, but if you don't want to mess around with troubleshooting, install it via Boot Camp for a smooth experience from start to finish.

Pick up Transistor on Steam for US$19.99.

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