A reprint of Bruce Morrison's blog at Freeverse from the original source code.

Super Marathon - The other console Marathon
By Bruce on June 16, 2010 11:47 AM

My obsession with Marathon began in 1994. My family had just gotten a new Macintosh (LCIII). I remember when the MacMall and MacZone magazines arrived and I began to circle Christmas wishes. There tucked in between the Spaceway 2000 and F-18 Hornet games was a postage stamp screenshot of a game called "Marathon".

Years later I bought Marathon 2 on a whim while furniture shopping with my family in Nebraska. And Marathon Infinity came bundled with a new Mac some years later.

All of this fueled my love for Marathon.

Then in 2006 something magical happened. I was offered the opportunity of a life time. A chance to bring Marathon to the Xbox 360. To this day, I'm asked why I chose Marathon 2. I've always stood behind the decision, but I can't help but to feel that we neglected Marathon 1.

In 2007 I finished Marathon: Durandal for Xbox LIVE Arcade. This was the first time Marathon had moved from the Computer to the Console... or was it?

I had heard tale of a game called "Super Marathon" a console version of Marathons 1 and 2. Thus started a new obsession of mine. To play the only other Console Version of Marathon.

I would check eBay from time to time for Super Marathon. Sometime in 2008 it showed up. I failed to bid on it, and the game vanished from the internet as fast as it arrived. I would continue to check for 2 more years. This past spring I began to feel that my goal to play the game would never happen. So I decided to kick my search into over gear.

I started my search for Super Marathon by contacting former Bungie employees. I got a few leeds, tracked down employees who had since moved on to Blizzard, or Wideload, or teaching. Each search was a dead end.

I then discovered a forums at http://www.digitpress.com/ where an extremely knowledgeable and exciting classic games community lived. I carefully waded into this unknown world, not sure if they would shun me as an outsider or laugh at my insane request.

The community at Digitpress helped me with 2 things. First they turned me onto another classic games site, http://www.assemblergames.com/forums/and 2nd one of their members helped me learn all there is about the Apple Pippin.

Yes, you heard me the Apple Pippin. What is that? It's Apple's entry into the home Console Market. From what I can tell (because I don't remember it happening at all) Apple put a modest Mac inside a console and licensed it out to other companies. I believe there were 2 different companies selling the Pippin. Bandi and Atmark. Super Marathon exists only for the Pippin.

A nice member at the Digitpress site helped me acquire a Pippin and verity that a copy of Super Marathon I had received from a former Bungie employee worked. He had sent me a rip of the Disc, but sadly did not own the original game.

I eventually purchased a Pippin, and booted up a copy of Marathon. Low and behold, it worked. But I was not satisfied. I wanted to play the real thing.

This past week while attending WWDC, one of my good friends and former Bungie employee Alex Okita found a sealed in box copy of Super Marathon. I got the game from him in SF and have been guarding it with my life. Don't worry I intend to take care of this game, it's value to me far exceeds any street value it might have.

But enough back story. Let's hear about the game proper!

When you boot up the Pippin, each game has a full copy of the OS, tuned (I assume) for that game. Marathon begins and takes you to a screen to choose to play Marathon, or Marathon 2: Durandal.

Like all good stories, I began at the beginning. I quickly discovered while playing Marathon 1 that the game could not quite cope with all the graphics settings turned on. So I downgraded the quality and sounds and the frame rate went up dramatically. I would say the frame rate varies between a solid 30 and mid 20s. Marathon can't do over 30 FPS. The game logic is tied to 30 ticks a second.

The controls are interesting. I think Bungie did the best with what they could on the Apple Jack controller. Dual stick controllers hadn't really been invented, nor had the good FPS on a console. The Apple Jack's D-Pad is a bit clunky, reminding me of the Xbox 360 D-Pad. Still it didn't take long to get into the game. I found Marathon 1 to be rather easy to play. Remember when Marathon 1 was created Doom did not exist. Nobody knew of the twitch shooter. The slow pacing and simple levels make it easy to navigate and play. The game does not feel modified to me. I think it's the original Marathon 1 levels. The game is however running in some kind of bizarre 1 player Network mode.

In Marathon when you play in Network mode, the game functions almost like normal. The exceptions are:

1. All pattern buffers (save points) are disabled
2. When you die, the game world does not reset
3. You have a chance to drop all of your gear.
4. Network only items appear in levels.

I could verify all but item #4. I just didn't remember Marathon well enough to find a network only item.

Now since there are no pattern buffers, how do you save? What happens is between each level, a Pippin OS level dialog box appears allow you to save. This forces you to beat each level without saving. But thanks to item #2, dying isn't a big deal.

I played up to Couch Fishing before I just had to see what Marathon 2 was like.

I immediately found differences. Online I found Bungie employees saying Super Marathon uses the Windows Marathon 2 levels. It does not. It uses some kind of modified Mac levels. The first level Waterloo Waterpark seemed to be just as I remembered it. However this is a network only pistol that I could not locate. Leaving me to question exactly how the game is running. It still behaves like a network game, but not all of the network rules apply.

I pressed on, finding the game more challenging. The open rooms left me vulnerable to attack from all sides. A shot gun helped a lot.

I played on to Charon Doesn't Make Change. There the terminals that are supposed to teleport me to a new area of the level caused the game to glitch out and return me to the select which Marathon to play.

I rebooted the Pippin and loaded my save. I found it was corrupted, but it referenced the Flechette. What version of Marathon is running this? Infinity? If so, why isn't Infinity on the disc? Infinity artwork is on the box. So many questions.

Ultimately I could not get past Charon Doesn't Make Change. Each time one of the inter level teleporters glitched out on me. But I am confident I could of beaten the game. Perhaps another weekend when I have more time I will get to the end of the each game.

If you want to play Marathon on a console, you can easily do so on your Xbox 360 with Marathon: Durandal. You can hit me up for some Co-Op or Deathmatch. My GT is Hippieman