Best Arcade Games for Mac

You can still find them in some places, but they're pretty anachronistic these days. You'll find the occasional coin-op game at the movie theater and elsewhere, but mostly it's a thing of the past, now that everyone has a device in their pocket or on their desk that's a great gaming system. Fortunately some developers have kept the spirit of the arcade game alive.

Air Attack

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If you're fond of classics like 1942, you'll love Air Attack. Fly airborne missions deep in enemy territory and take out targets in the air, on land and in the water. The game was developed using the popular Unity game engine, so it sports stellar 3D modeling and texturing effects.

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Dragon's Lair (Daring Edition)

Back in the 80s we had to use our imagination a lot when we were playing video games. Computer processors were still slow and small, and while game developers did the best they could to provide us with bright graphics and sound, it still wasn't very realistic. All that changed with a unique game called Dragon's Lair. Using video laserdisc technology and cel-drawn animation from ex-Disney animator Don Bluth, Dragon's Lair presented us with the adventures of Dirk the Daring, an errant knight on a quest to save the princess from an evil dragon. It isn't your normal run-and-gun shooter: You need to make decisions at key moments to keep the action going, or face certain doom. Since there's often only way way to go, people who played Dragon's Lair over and over again would learn the patterns to joystick and action button movement, but it's still fun.

Jets 'n' Guns Gold

This side-scroller has dozens of levels, hundreds of enemies, boss monsters, tons of upgrades to collect and all the trappings of the side-scrolling action genre. If you're a fan of classics like R-Type or Gradius, you'll love it. Great soundtrack, too. I first encountered Jets 'n' Guns almost a decade ago, and still haven't gotten tired of it. It's just a lot of fun to play.


Originally developed in 1993, NBA Jam was an enormous hit back in the day — while the basketball gameplay was straight up ridiculous and over the top, it featured real teams and players and an outrageous Marv Albert-like announcer with catch phrases like "He's on fire!" and "Boomshakalaka!" NBA Jam was a hugely successful home arcade game too, so it's no wonder that EA has continued it with a Mac version.


Bandai Namco has resurrected one of the definitive coin-op characters of all time: Pac-Man. This is a faithful recreation of the original Pac-Man game in all of its glory: One maze, four ghosts, and one yellow mouth with an insatiable appetite for dots and power pellets.

Pangea Arcade

Pangea's been a Mac game developer since the "bad old" days of the Mac; some of their games were included with the Mac back when Apple was still turning out beige Performa-era boxes. So it's no wonder they have a flair for the old school, and Pangea Arcade is a three-in-one collection that includes games reminiscent of classics like Missile Command, Asteroids and Centipede. But every game has been updated with modern graphics, sound and gameplay, so it's not a pure walk down memory lane — these are modern games with old school appeal. If you have red/blue anaglyph glasses handy, you can even get 3D support.

Pinball Arcade

No coin-op arcade is worth a damn without plenty of arcade games to play, and FarSight Studios delivers here. The developer has licensed classic real-world pinball tables from Williams, Bally, Stern Pinball and Gottlieb for this game. This free download only includes a single table: Tales of the Arabian Nights. But others are available as downloadable content, for a fee.

Raiden Legacy

Raiden was a collection of very popular arcade shooters back in the day, and they've been resurrected in this collection from DotEmu. Raiden Legacy combines Raiden, Raiden Fighter, Raiden Fighters 2 and Raiden Fighters Jet. Features include two-player support, different game and difficulty modes, Game Center support and more.

Space Ace

The same team that developed Dragon's Lair followed up their successful effort with Space Ace, a wacky animated adventure in outer space in which you must keep Commander Borf and his legions from taking over the Earth (and save the beloved Kimberly in the process). It features the same style of gameplay as Dragon's Lair, and remains a fan favorite decades later.

Syder Arcade

A nod to the classic side-scrolling genre, Syder Arcade reminds me of an updated version of the games I used to play on my Commodore Amiga, back in the day. It combines that old-school sensibility with updated 3D graphics. Three different ships to choose from, four difficulty levels, six different areas to play and a bonus survival mode.

What did I miss?

These are my favorites, but I imagine there are some of yours that didn't make the list. Tell me about your favorite Mac arcade games in the comments!

Peter Cohen