As new game consoles continue to come out, users often want to re-experience old games they played when they were younger. Stella for Mac allows you to play Atari games on your Mac, although its controls are problematic.
Available as a freeware program, Stella for Mac installs quickly without any problems. The program immediately prompts the user to designate a location where Atari game files are to be stored on the computer. Users should note that the program is an Atari emulator. There are no games included with it and users will have to find their own sources of ROMs to download; these are easy to find with a quick Internet search. Once the games are placed in the designated folder, the program finds them quickly. A menu is easy to locate for loading the games. Unfortunately, fine-tuning controls and other game options are less intuitive and require much trial and error. This is especially problematic since the default keyboard controls are hard to use. But the actual graphics of the games match their original Atari counterparts and play as smoothly as expected. A small collection of games to accompany the program would have been a nice addition, as would instructions or a more easy-to-use interface.
For those users who want to play Atari games on their Mac, Stella for Mac works as intended, although its confusing interface may prove problematic for some users.
For many years, the Atari 2600 reigned supreme as the most popular game console on the market. Years later, Atari's stranglehold on the market would dissipate as the Nintendo Entertainment System redefined 8-bit gaming, but die-hard fans and collectors still continue to support the Atari. One would think that the weak Atari 2600 should be simple to emulate, because of its primitive architecture. However, the Atari programmers employed many devious tricks to get such an early machine to run; therefore, a working, efficient emulator is very difficult to write.
What's new in this version:
- Ported Stella to SDL2, which brings many new features. Among the largest improvements is native hardware acceleration support for Windows (Direct3D) and Linux/OSX (OpenGL). It is also now possible to port Stella to iOS and Android devices using OpenGLES. Hardware acceleration is now required, which means up-to-date drivers are needed. Software rendering is still present, but is somewhat unoptimized and unsupported going forward.
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