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Right when I was wondering yet again if I'd be able to think of anything to write a post about to break up the commentary on Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, I saw news that the long-running project working on the open-source version of the Marathon games had at last reached its "1.0" release. What mattered a bit more to me, though, was that self-contained package versions of the three Marathon games had also been updated and released. It does sort of bring me back.

Right when Doom was making the "third-person shooter" a controversial but popular kind of computer game, Bungie Software made the first Marathon game to give Macintosh users their own shot at the phenomenon. (To be fair, Doom was ported to the platform not that long after.) While the computer my family had at the time was getting rather underpowered and had to switch off every graphic option that could be switched off to do nothing more than struggle through the game, it did catch me up. There might have been more of an emphasis on "atmosphere" rather than "visceral thrills," but that was good too, especially when the "terminals" of the game were factored in and what started as briefings turned into a rather complicated and at times even affecting story. (The story might have mattered more to me because I was never quite able to try out network play.)

If there's one thing about these new packages that's going to take getting used to, though, it might be "control schemes." I grew used to playing Marathon using the keys on the numeric keypad, but with the computer I now have (vastly more capable than the one we had back then), the numeric keypad is a third-party add-on I have switched off most of the time to save its batteries. Adjusting the trackpad settings and using keys I admit to having already put to use with Halo and Portal seems to be a little tricky.

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