Joystiq tour: GameTap Mac client

After missing its target date for two weeks in a row, GameTap for Mac has finally arrived. Though it's only the ad-supported, albeit free Lite client, there's still a mountain of games for Apple fans to tackle until the Deluxe client is released later this year. Being fans of both classic gaming and all things Mac, we've torn into this release with a ferocity matched only by children on a Christmas morning.

What awaits the glorious splendor of your Mac? Dig in after the break as we take you from installation to domination: Pyscho Soldier style.

Behold! The installation screen! If you're seeing this, that means so far, you're doing it right! The installer itself can be found on their website and comes in the standard, DMG format. Nothing terribly fancy going on here, but the process is as painless as can be. After we're done here it's just a double-click of an icon and ...

Ah, one of the quirks of the Lite client. Seeing as it was designed for both non-subscribers and members on the go, it doesn't actually feature the library function. Instead, you must go to the GameTap website and select a game compatible with the Lite client, such as those from the free play section, should you not be a subscriber.

So we hopped on over to and scoped out the games available. Using their handy search function, we narrowed down their entire library to compatible games. Well, imagine that! The 1986 SNK release, Psycho Soldier, is playable! A click in our browser (we successfully used both Safari and Camino) and the GameTap client booted up automatically, downloading our selection. This is probably where we should tell you about some of the limitations of the client itself.

First of all, it can only run in windowed mode. Secondly, you can't change any of the default control. After mashing at our keyboard in a sad attempt to find the right buttons (note: "z" through "b" seem to be a safe bet), we soon realized that documentation could be found on each game page. Desperately in need of a controller, we snagged a driver for our Xbox 360 controller. Aside from having to press the "return" key for start, it has thus far worked flawlessly. As for the games themselves?

Fantastic. Now, you're probably thinking to yourself, "Hey Joystiq. I really don't think Psycho Soldier is a good example of what GameTap can do on a Mac." We've tried out plenty of titles, including the underrated Neo-Geo shooter Blazing Star, the 32X tragedy otherwise known as Knuckle's Chaotix and much, much more. Thus far, the performance has been equal to our PC's running GameTap, which means that now, outside of illegal emulation, Mac owners have access to arcade perfection.

When it comes to PC perfection, however, the Mac client can't even be bothered. Finding a few DOS and Windows titles hiding in the library, we attempted to boot them up with a huge grain of salt. Said grain proved useful as the client downloaded our games, then immediately rejected them in a crashing blaze of glory. This was, of course, totally expected, but we were really looking forward to some Willy Beamish.

A few minor quirks aside, the first release of GameTap for Mac is solid. The titles that support online play perform just as well as they do on the PC, which means that now everyone can appreciate the multiplayer joy that is Twinkle Star Sprites.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.