Your Favorite Computer Games from the 90s

popRemember spending countless hours of your youth playing Zelda Classic, or convincing your mom that The Oregon Trail is an educational tool so you could play it instead of doing your homework? Of course you do.

For those of us craving a little MS-DOS (aka floppy disk) game nostalgia, the search is over. The Internet Archive has just made available over 2000 of these classic computer games, all in one place, for free. Some of the most memorable games included in the archive are Street Fighter, Prince of Persia, Sierra’s King’s Quest series, Wolfenstein 3D, and Lemmings. They also have quite a few movie-based games that you probably forgot existed (such as Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusade), but definitely will want to play. The platforms supporting these games have been obsolete for years, so this new database is an exciting playground for those who grew up when these games were released.

The ability to play these classic games in your browser for free is not just exciting for those of us in our mid-to-late 20s. Anyone with access to a computer during the birth of at-home gaming, when there was little awareness about the dangerously addictive qualities of this new technology, would likely be excited about their old obsessions. I’m sure many can testify to catching their parents glued to a marathon game of Sim City on more than one occasion. It’s mind-boggling to think that we can now play these games on our laptops, adding them to an already overly-long list of (home)work distractions.

Seemingly every new game released requires a special account, thousands of choices when building your character’s look and personality, complicated game controls, and memorization of a new vocabulary to go with a complex in-game world. There’s something to be said for the simplicity of computer games 20 years ago. Developers somehow had a perfect balance between overcomplicated gaming and the mindless simplicity of many of the most addicting game apps these days.

wolfenstein-3dThe Internet Archive has a goal of cataloguing the evolution of digital development, an admittedly daunting task. The new library of MS-DOS offerings are not the first blast from the past that the Internet Archive has given us in terms of classic gaming, and probably won’t be the last. They’ve uploaded hundreds of old console games and even arcade games to their site, allowing users to play them in their browsers. These projects were supported by a flexible Javascript system called JSMESS. The new MS-DOS library is powered by EM-DOSBOX, which works only with DOS games.

I personally haven’t tested out any of the new game downloads (yet), but others have reported some glitches, such as inability to save progress or lack of game instructions. The Internet Archive does maintain that the program still in Beta. I think these issues will matter to few who are ready for a taste of old-style computer gaming. The first thing I’m going to do is name the members of my Oregon Trail party after all my best friends, and watch them slowly die of dysentery, just like old times.


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