Play retro DOS games in a couple of clicks, thanks to The Internet Archive. The site, in an effort to help preserve the fading games of yesterday, is offering over 2,300 classic DOS titles, without the need to download anything. You’ll be playing in two clicks.
Head to the collection right now! Version 2 of the Archive’s interface gives you a quick way to browse and search games.
You can also use the old-school Archive interface, if you prefer.
This collection comes mere months after the Archive brought 900 classic arcade games to your browser.
Does every game work? Some of them are slow, and sound is glitchy at best, but overall the experience is a good one – and a team is working to keep making it better. Archivist Jason Scott:
Some of the games will still fall over and die, and many of them might be weird to play in a browser window, and of course you can’t really save things off for later, and that will limit things too. But on the whole, you will experience some analogue of the MS-DOS program, in your browser, instantly.
If you’re excited for some retro gaming, but don’t know where to start, here’s a quick roundup of games you might remember (they that are worth trying even if you don’t).
The Oregon Trail, 1990
Relive those happy childhood memories, like dying of dysentery! In this educational game you lead a party of pioneers across an untamed America, but why I’m I explaining this? You remember this game. Remember: bison give you the most meat, but squirrels are more fun to shoot.
There’s also the deluxe version, if you grew up in a rich enough school to be nostalgic for that.
Before the PBS gameshow, there was this. Use your knowledge of geography to solve crimes and capture the bad guys. Bonus: because this game is almost 30 years old, the outdated geography – from the Soviet Union to Yugoslavia – adds to the challenge.
One of a handful of titles that arguably brought gaming to the mainstream, Sim City is an absolute classic. People who’d never played a video game before spent hours on this simulation, trying to get their cities to grow.
No sane person would argue this game is just as good as SimCity, but it’s a worthy diversion nonetheless. Protip: grow strawberries. That’s where the money is.
Prince Of Persia, 1994
Run! Jump! Fall onto spikes! A classic diversion that includes the first instance ever of motion capture in a video game. Sure, that running motion can be hard to control, but you have to admit: it looks great.
Castle Wolfenstein 3D, 1992
The granddaddy of modern first person shooters. Explore a maze of rooms supposedly representing a Nazi prison, and ultimately take on Hitler himself.
Golden Axe, 1990
This is pure side-scrolling, beat-em-up madness. Play alone or with a friend (if you’re comfortable crowding around the keyboard). Remember: it’s not useful to cast your spells right when you get magic, but it is hilarious.
Tank Wars, 1990
Ready. Aim. Fire! Take control of inexplicably stationary tanks, picking the angle and force at which to fire missiles. The terrain is damaged with every shot, meaning it’s possible to literally bury your opponents if you try hard enough.
Commander Keen 5, 1991
The fifth game in a series of classic platformers staring an eight-year-old. Save the galaxy!
This DOS version of this USSR puzzle game spread throughout the Western world, crippling productivity everywhere. Was it a conspiracy? Thirty years later, we can’t be sure – but also can’t stop playing. Note that this version of Tetris uses the number pad, not the arrow keys.
Sure, there are other places to play Tetris online, but this is a chance to see what one of the first versions of the game looked like.
It’s a tale as old as time: frog crosses road, jumps onto the backs of turtles, and gets the girl. Or insect. Whichever is there, really.
Keep digging, then squash the innocent creatures who live in the earth! Classic.
Learn the (very) basics of flying a plane in this, the first in a long series of flight simulators from Microsoft. What do all those dials mean?
Alley Cat, 1984
It’s a bunch of minigames involving cats. You do cat things to win the love of a girl cat, because video games in the 80s didn’t need much of a premise.
Is This Even Legal?
You may be wondering: can Archive.org, a legitimate organization, really offer all of these commercial games for free? As it turns out, yes. As explained on their legal page, The Internet Archive has a few exemptions to the DMCA:
- Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete.
- Computer programs and video games distributed in formats that have become obsolete and which require the original media or hardware as a condition of access.
So don’t worry: Archive.org won’t be shut down for letting you play these games, and you won’t get in trouble for playing them. This is all above board.
More Fun With DOSBox
These games are all powered by DOSBox, an emulator that lets you run any DOS program on your modern computer. If the games don’t run well in your browser, and you have an original copy, you might have better luck getting them to work using the desktop version of the software.
We’ve got a guide to setting up DOSBox on your computer, if you’re interested in learning more. Mac users should check out Boxer, an OS X version of DOSBox with a really nice interface. You can even run DOSBox on your Wii, if you really want to. It’s that flexible.
Which Games Did You Find?
This is just me scratching the surface of this 3000+ game collection. I want to know: which gems did you find in this collection? Share links to your favourites.
I've gone through the entire MS-DOS game archive and I did it…I found the most boring computer game ever made. pic.twitter.com/IRxmNvtNmn
— Pete Gaines (@petegaines) January 7, 2015
Alternatively, you can try to find the worst game – but you’ll have competition.
Image Credits: Blake Patterson Via Flickr