Review: Aleph One (Marathon)


Aleph One is an open source continuation of the classic science fiction FPS series Marathon. Released in the 90’s and popularised on the Mac platform, Aleph One is faithful to the original series including the sleek menus, dark futuristic graphics, eerie sound effects and thrilling gameplay. Our own Pandora port was compiled and packaged by Pickle, with all three episodes and datafiles nicely wrapped up into a single PND.

The story begins on spaceship U.E.S.C. Marathon, which has been taken attacked and breached by an unknown alien race. All you are equipped with at the beginning is your trusty regulation .44 magnum and the two fists you were born with. This game throws you right into the middle of the action, and in the commotion and confusion you fight your way to computer terminals, where the storyline slowly unfolds through instructions from the ship AI.


Aleph One is easily installed using PNDManager, and once installed is listed under “Action” games. The package contains the original Marathon and both sequels Durandal and Infinity. Clicking on any of those will bring up the main menu for that game where you can set up options exactly as you like it or start gaming! Note: network game options are listed, I haven’t tried that functionality yet.

Aleph One Title Screen
Aleph One – Marathon Main Menu.


As far as configuration goes, I play mostly with default settings with a couple of tweaks listed below.

Brightness: Really Light/ Lightest
Key configuration: Primary Attack = R Shoulder; Secondary Attack = L Shoulder (makes more sense for dual weapons)
Movement configuration*: D-pad = move forward/backwards and strafe; Right nub = mouse look

*Aleph One only appears to support one Mouse/Joystick control at a time, therefore you cannot use dual nubs for mouse look AND character movement.

Graphics config
Controls config


Aleph One’s motto is Never Stop Running, Never Stop Firing, this couldn’t be truer: you will be constantly fighting your way past squads of spear-wielding alien forces just to make it to the next AI or health terminal  Beware backtracking into previously explored areas, those regions may be repopulated with hostile forces, chances are you will hear them before you see them on your HUD or radar.

Game performance is very smooth, my classic Pandora handled levels with numerous enemies simultaneously attacking me with melee and ranged attacks, as well as explosions without any noticable slowdown at 800MHz. Aleph One support the original MIDI sountrack, giving the game a real retro SCI-FI feel, and sound effects play great without any distortion.

One of the unique aspects of Marathon is that you can wield dual weapons for melee and small arms attacks, if you’ve set up your controls as above its quite amusing to have a punch-up using the L/R shoulder buttons, especially on the weaker enemies. In later levels you pick up a secondary sidearm and really let fly with dual pistols!

Engarde! Shiet, sorry I think I dirtied your console panel.
How rude, hogging the console like that!

Level Design

A couple of words about level design – unique level designs add a puzzle-solving aspect to the gameplay, which makes getting to the next terminal or area of the map much more rewarding. There are also plenty of secondary areas to explore, with hidden ammo caches and secrets to uncover as well. Levels are three-dimensional with moving walls and platforms, some levels contain water as well which you can enable transparencies in the preferences.

Marathon Map Display
Press ‘M’ to bring up the Map. Don’t you love having a keyboard on the Pandora? 🙂


Back in the day, the Marathon Trilogy was one of the top FPS series for Macintosh. This excellent port of Aleph One brings the same experience on to your Pandora, so you can play a little Marathon on the go or really get immersed into it at home on the couch. The control system brings its own challenges, but its nothing that you can’t get used to or learn to adapt to. If you haven’t played it and you’re an FPS fan or even first person RPG gamer, I’d highly recommend you give Aleph One a try!

There are also numerous mods available for Aleph One, one of the best original Marathon mods Tempus Irae also received an Aleph One port, I’ve yet to give it a try but please comment if you have and let us know how well it plays.

Marathon Scene
Ouch, hit by a bolt!
Marathon Scene
R.I.P. player

Where to get it

Repo link
Official Aleph One Site
Tempus Irae Mod

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Man, I used to play the Marathon trilogy on my old Macintosh Performa. Back then FPS were played without mouse look. And the default key for shooting was Space. Great times. It’s nice that old games like these live on thanks to ports and emulation. I’ve already installed Aleph One on my Pandora but haven’t really played it much. You probably know that there’s also a Duke 3D port thing available for the Pandora?


Yeah, the Duke3d port is excellent; by the way!


I’ll give it a try then. I’ve got the version of DukeNukem3D.