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October 16, 2019 2:32 PM   Subscribe

2500 Classic MS-DOS Games Are Now Free To Play [Internet Archive] “The Internet Archive has been building a growing collection of old PC games over the years, with a batch of DOS games added in 2015, and Windows 3.1 games in 2016—all of them playable in your browser. This month another update has hit the collection, and now 2,500 more games (often with their manuals) have been preserved for the ages. Highlights of the latest set include Street Fighter 2, The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard, Loom, The Lost Vikings, Magic Carpet Plus, Robotron 2084, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Queen of Krynn, King's Quest 1 and 2, The Lords of Midnight, The Incredible Machine and its sequel, the first three Bard's Tale games, and plenty more.” [via: PC Gamer]
posted by Fizz (52 comments total) 88 users marked this as a favorite
 
Those 2,500 were added recently to an already large collection. Overall there are now 6,938 games playable in your browser! This is such a dangerous, alluringly nostalgic timesink for me!
posted by Glow Bucket at 2:44 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]


The Incredible Machine and its sequel

"The Quite Impressive, Really, Machine"
posted by Chrysostom at 2:48 PM on October 16 [7 favorites]


Bard's Tale probably had the best ratio of time-played per byte-in-the-binary of any game I've ever played. I had it on the C64 and it was one disk (maybe 2?), so it was about 170 or 340Kb. But hours upon hours of playtime.

Of course, life is a lot easier now that you . can google a map rather than having to spend hours just charting everything by hand on graph paper.
posted by GuyZero at 3:03 PM on October 16 [7 favorites]


Those 2,500 were added recently to an already large collection. Overall there are now 6,938 games playable in your browser!

From Archive.org's blog post on this:
Since our initial announcement in 2015, we’ve added occasional new games here and there to the collection, but this will be our biggest update yet, ranging from tiny recent independent productions to long-forgotten big-name releases from decades ago.
This is such a dangerous, alluringly nostalgic timesink for me!

More from Archive.org:
The usual caveats apply: Sometimes the emulations are slower than they should be, especially on older machines. Not all games are enjoyable to play. And of course, we are linking manuals where we can but not every game has a manual.
...
The update of these MS-DOS games comes from a project called eXoDOS, which has expanded over the years in the realm of collecting DOS games for easy playability on modern systems to tracking down and capturing, as best as can be done, the full context of DOS games – from the earliest simple games in the first couple years of the IBM PC to recently created independent productions that still work in the MS-DOS environment.

What makes the collection more than just a pile of old, now-playable games, is how it has to take head-on the problems of software preservation and history. Having an old executable and a scanned copy of the manual represents only the first few steps.
Over 7,000 titles* came from eXeDOS, and "a percentage of these games" [on Archive.org?] the came from Jason Scott, who copied them "into the Emularity system on the Internet Archive for research, entertainment and quick online access to the programs."

* It sounds like Archive.org is still loading games, as eXoDOS "version 4" has 7,000 titles to download** that are all "in English or or are fairly easy to play without a knowledge of the native language," but Archive.org has less than 7k, per Glow Bucket above.

** A HUGE bonus feature of Archive.org's work is making these games playable (more or less) online. eXoDOS made the games available, but Archive made them available to more users.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:24 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


My mom made me uninstall Might & Magic: Clouds of Xeen due to lingering satanic panic paranoia. Glad to play it now and see that it was just kinda shitty.
posted by HeroZero at 3:31 PM on October 16 [7 favorites]


No impugning of Xeen games! They were my first introduction to CRPGs. I still have a very soft spot for hiking through the Dwarven mines avoiding cave-ins and collecting gold.
posted by andraste at 3:54 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


I continue to be curious what form of copyright law they are operating under. I'm guessing at this point it's just put it online and then wait for the DMCA complaint to take it down? Stuff like Street Fighter 2, Lost Vikings, or Elder Scrolls seems particularly dangerous since those franchises are still actively being developed by very busy game companies.
posted by Nelson at 3:55 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]


I'd like to play Might & Magic too, I also was banned due Satanic panic, but who can find the time? I've got this pile of goat skulls that need sorting and bloodstains to scrub out od these robes.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:56 PM on October 16 [5 favorites]


I was a bit surprised to see XTreeGold among the games listed, but I suppose I spent hours playing that one, so it counts?
posted by bonehead at 3:59 PM on October 16 [8 favorites]


Ha, this archive is wonderful. I'm playing "President Elect - 1988 Edition" now.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:00 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


I was disappointed to see that Ween: The Prophecy is not a forgotten foray by Ween into video gaming.
posted by ryanshepard at 4:10 PM on October 16 [11 favorites]




I've been wanting to replay The Incredible Machine and The Even More Incredible Machine for years! This is awesome.
posted by biogeo at 4:30 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


The knockoff names are SO wonderful. Brokeout! Super Angelo!
posted by lokta at 4:35 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know how to search for which games are downloadable? Most of them are stream-only, but I'd like to know which ones I can download and enjoy offline. The only way I can see is to open up the page manually and take a look.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 4:44 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


Bard's Tale on the Amiga was awesome. But I think the only DOS games I ever played was DOOM and Heretic.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:46 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


Sadly, the archive only has the demo version of Master of Magic, with only two fixed player characters, a fixed difficulty level, and no save/load function.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 4:52 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]


Fizz is a national treasure. These gaming posts are seriously appreciated.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:02 PM on October 16 [8 favorites]


The Even More Incredible Machine game is the German version! For anyone as confused as I was, it starts with a password screen, where you have to select three objects. Note the "Seite" number in the yellow box, and look at that page in the manual to see which objects to enter into the boxes.
posted by oulipian at 5:06 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


So many good memories there, lol. I played many of these when I was 7.

Ancient Art of War (1984) is there! Amazing. One of the early RTS games. It modeled your troops "condition" which is basically their fighting capability. It gets degraded by having them march too fast, through difficult terrain, or if they lack food. So you often had to make the choice of force marching them overnight through a swamp and arrive tired to the battle, or take the long way around slowly but get there too late. You had to plan their routes - this way has better access to food, perhaps. No RTS game so far has this interesting mechanic.

Defender of the Crown (1987) as well! One of the early 4X games, you played one of the Saxon knights defending England against the Norman invaders. You had to conquer land, raise armies... the random events like jousting (gambling) for land were funny too. I recall you could marry the princess of another player and create an alliance. Or maybe you raided and stole her, I'm not sure any more.

Karateka (1986) is there too... I remember finally making it to the end to rescue the "princess" and didn't change out of fighting stance, so when I approached her she killed me with one hit. I was so disappointed I never played the game again after that.
posted by xdvesper at 5:07 PM on October 16 [10 favorites]


Glad to see Art of War and the original Wizardry are there in all their four-color CGA glory. Sad that Sentinel Worlds 1: Future Magic (aka Mass Effect 0) still hasn’t made the cut (I still have the original floppies, dangit). Ditto Future Wars/Adventures in Time.

They’ve got One Must Fall 2097, XWing/Tie Fighter, MOO, Dungeon Keeper, Sim City 2000 Syndicate and SimAnt, so that’s most of the important stuff covered. Cool to see some of the high quality one-offs like Centurion and Castles 2: Siege and Conquest in there. Elite and Wing Commander Armada made it, looks like Privateer and Ascendancy didn’t.

Really hope their DMCA exemption allows this to continue.
posted by Ryvar at 6:18 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


Space Vegetables remains tempting but terrible. The Red Baron will steal your soul.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:21 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


Hey, Magic Carpet!

A lot of these games were bundled on disks that came with editions of PC magazines in the UK. As kids, we’d try to load them (starting with the most interesting / violent first) and find that maybe 40% worked, of which maybe half were demo levels. None had a manual or any further explanation of what they were.

I have abiding memories of Magic Carpet, or at least the shareware / beta version that appeared on one of these disks, because it was a flight simulator (medium cool) in which you could shoot fireballs if you somehow worked out the keyboard controls (cool), and we could never progress because while the enemy mages were clearly hostile, it wasn’t at all obvious what the point of the manna and the hot air balloons was supposed to be. It was just hours of swooping around mostly empty islands in what looked like a minecraft version of a nordic archipelago (unclear how this related to, y’know, places that originated the idea of magic carpets) and occasionally seeing a cryptic purple hot air balloon.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 6:31 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


LOOM!!!!!!
posted by agregoli at 6:31 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


I have some questions about Loom.
posted by This time is different. at 7:21 PM on October 16 [4 favorites]



Karateka (1986) is there too... I remember finally making it to the end to rescue the "princess" and didn't change out of fighting stance, so when I approached her she killed me with one hit. I was so disappointed I never played the game again after that.


WHAA??
you mean all i had to do was stand at ease and I win the game?!?!?
oh man.
oh.
i think i died a little inside just now

sooooo many times I made it to the end just to die there..

you gotta understand .. YOU ONLY GOT 1 life!!! one! that's it! (I dunno I think you got an extra maybe at some point but it was very stingy, very costly game to lose if you made it that far).

One life... and all I had to do was stand at ease.
fml
posted by some loser at 7:27 PM on October 16 [7 favorites]


I think I lost patience with the CGA palette On my computer before I got that far in Karateka
posted by wotsac at 8:01 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]


What does that mean? I must be missing something.
posted by agregoli at 8:04 PM on October 16


(post title is unclickable in RSS readers, BTW)
posted by scruss at 8:51 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


I continue to be curious what form of copyright law they are operating under. I'm guessing at this point it's just put it online and then wait for the DMCA complaint to take it down?

Certainly in an earlier wave of games I remember still-solvent developers Epic Games and 3D Realms being all "wait what, you didn't ask us if you could do this with these materials we're still trying to make money off of." The internet archive has a deservedly good reputation in general, but it sure feels like this is just the latest piracy site like Home of the Underdogs and so on.
posted by one for the books at 9:44 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]


Agregoli: No worries. It was just a setup for a joke.
posted by This time is different. at 9:47 PM on October 16


Bard’s Tale! I’m excited!
posted by corb at 10:47 PM on October 16


Dinosaur Detective Agency! Looked like you'd be out there solving pre-historic crimes, and actually... it's mostly platform-based. There is a dinosaur 'granny' who you have to solve a crime for though which is worth the graphics...
posted by sedimentary_deer at 1:22 AM on October 17


AHHHHHHH Betrayal at Krondor! Man, I loved that game.
posted by andraste at 1:50 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]


Yesss, they have Sleuth! https://archive.org/details/msdos_Sleuth_-_A_Murder_Mystery_1983
posted by halcyonday at 6:01 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]


"They’ve got One Must Fall 2097..."

That brings back fond memories. It was really good. I bought my first Gravis Gamepad to play it, IIRC. (And then later, the Gravis Ultrasound which was, for me, as important a tech advance in gaming on par with hardware 3D acceleration.)

It and Jazz Jackrabbit made Epic Games (then Epic MegaGames) and put them into the position to develop Unreal and its engine. I remember when news started leaking about Unreal and it seemed hard to believe someone could have jumped engine-wise so far ahead of Id seemingly out of nowhere. I was skeptical until I saw the first gorgeous demo...in software rendering mode. But One Must Fall 2097 was very fast and responsive with really good graphics and Jazz Jackrabbit was a very well-designed platformer. I wouldn't then have predicted Epic would be what they are today, having been an Id fanboy who checked Carmack's .plan file every day. But the signs were there.

It looks like playclassic.games has the full Master of Magic playable in the browser. I've actually spent more hours playing it than any single iteration of Civ. It was 20 years before Endless Legend scratched that same itch for me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:13 AM on October 17 [4 favorites]


I had to find the previously and in there are hints at the url hackery needed to download the game files (to play outside your browser). Unsure if the archive has managed to block those now or not. (Can't test from my work connection )
posted by k5.user at 10:19 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]


This is great.

I see a King's Quest lost weekend in my near future.

Also, on preview: there's a lot more...just walking around in King's Quest I than I remember from back when I played it on a 5 1/4" disk.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:01 AM on October 17 [2 favorites]


Prince of Persia 1 and 2? I will be out of contact for the next week!
posted by YoungStencil at 12:22 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


Master of Magic fans: several assembly hackers have worked on the game over the years, to produce the 1.4 "Insecticide" and 1.5 patches, which greatly improve the game over the last official version.

Or if you fancy a more changed experience, one of those hackers has produced a patch called "Caster of Magic," which aims to adjust some of the dramatically unbalanced features of the original.

I'm not sure if any of these are available to play in-browser, but if you played the original back in the day you're probably up to getting them working in DOSBox.
posted by dgr8bob at 12:55 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


I remember when DosBox came out, and I was SO EXCITED, even though I was still running dos at the time (or an early version of windows? Who can remember). Why, you might ask? Because I, as a much younger person, was trying to write my own boot sector to start up my computer. Everything was working, up until I tried to get my computer into protected mode. (Protected mode was the technical term for "be a real 386, stop emulating an even older processor".) Anyways, it crashed, of course, and I couldn't figure out why.

But finally! Finally! DosBox! It was an emulator that would run my boot sector! And look, the crash! I could look at it, and find out what my stupid error I couldn't figure out was!

Reader, it was a one character typo. I fixed it and never worked on that little side project again.
posted by Phredward at 1:00 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]


It is amazing how much more content games have now. Like it feels like all of Betrayal at Krondor probably has as many quests and side-quests as one of the towns in Skyrim. The downside of all of the extra content is that it makes it much more likely that I'm not going to finish a game - I've played Stellaris on and off for years and I don't think I've ever played a game to completion because it takes so long to play.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:35 PM on October 17 [2 favorites]


Everyone excited for Bard's Tale should check out the remasters they did in preparation for the new Bards Tale 4. Automap feature, updated gfx, and more.
posted by Marticus at 2:17 PM on October 17 [4 favorites]


I always think of Bard's Tale to the tune of "Jane Says."

🎶 Bard's Tale
I'm through with Sergio 🎶
posted by Chrysostom at 2:23 PM on October 17


Railroad Tycoon!! Yaay!!
posted by Artful Codger at 4:51 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


I got Ancient Art of War (one of my favourite games of all time.... AAW at Sea was pretty good too) working in some emulator, or maybe under WINE, once on a 2010s macbook pro. You'd start the game and then WHOOSH you've lost.
posted by pompomtom at 4:52 PM on October 17


🎶 Bard says I ain't never cast a spell
I don't know what it is
He only knows if someone wants a light source 🎶
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:08 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]


They do have Bouncing Babies.
I'm still terrible at it.
But I did find this lovely article about Bouncing Babies.
posted by nat at 1:39 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]


there's a lot more...just walking around in King's Quest I than I remember from back when I played it on a 5 1/4" disk.

We put up with a lot more then. I try to imagine the uproar if a modern game did a 'sorry, you've already crossed this bridge a couple times in the beginning of the game when you were exploring, now your game is unwinnable' and I just..can't.
posted by corb at 8:19 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]


WAIT YOU GUYS I found the Department of Justice Ethics Training Game. I've been playing it for half an hour and it appears to be both serious and FASCINATING.
posted by corb at 10:32 AM on October 18 [3 favorites]


I just, for example, got dinged points for not realizing I could buy my subordinate the 35$ paperweight instead of the 10$ paperweight.
posted by corb at 10:49 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]


Oh wow corb that ethics game is great. I played an INS officer named "Donald Trump". I got one guy to pay me $50 to help with his immigration application, a lawyer to give me a job offer in exchange for expediting his client's applications, and another immigrant to fix my TV for free. I also faxed some secret invasion plans to my congressman and ratted out my beloved housekeeper of fifteen years to la migra. My boss took me out for lunch and paid, then I spent most of the afternoon hanging around the coffee machine.

The game kept telling me I was doing it wrong but if helping out myself, Donald Trump, while doing a government job is wrong I don't wanna be right.

This game is more or less Papers, Please but even more soul-destroying.
posted by Nelson at 11:20 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]


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