For the holiday weekend, we wanted to provide you with some more ways to have fun. The following sites allow you to play and download classic and retro games, such as DOS games, classic adventure games, and old console games.
Anonymous Game Developers (AGD) Interactive
AGD Interactive is a game development group that has committed to bringing back classic adventure gaming by remaking the classic Sierra On-Line adventure games, such as King’s Quest. They’ve remastered them with enhanced graphics, polished voice acting, and more, and now offer them as free downloads.
They also have a commercial adventure games company called Himalaya Studios.
VirtualNES offers hundreds of vintage Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games you can play online. They also offer some special games, such as unlicensed games by enterprising developers, unreleased games that were left unfinished, and excellent homemade games by people who love video games and decided to make their own. The NES brought home console gaming back to life when it came out.
Nintendo8.com offers hundreds of classic 8-bit Nintendo games from the eighties and early nineties available for online play. It’s a link site that does not actually host any ROMs. All games linked to on the site are assumed to be “abandonware or copyleft.” The games use the vNES emulator from the VirtualNES site mentioned above.
They also have some sister sites that offer other classic console games you can play online.
- Snessy (SNES games)
- c64i (Commodore 64 games)
- DOSDose (DOS games)
- MasterSystem8 (SEGA games)
- GBemul (Gameboy games)
DOSBox offers a full DOS environment that runs ancient DOS apps on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and other UNIX-like operating systems. It emulates an Intel x86 PC, with sound, graphics, mouse, joystick, etc. necessary for running many old DOS games that can’t be run on modern operating systems.
They also offer frontends to DOSBox, such as D-Fend Reloaded (discussed below), to make it easier to use DOSBox.
See our article for more information on using DOSBox.
D-Fend Reloaded is a graphical environment, or frontend, for DOSBox. The installation and configuration of DOSBox can be complicated. The D-Fend Reloaded installation package includes DOSBox, so there is only one installation to be run. You do not have to install DOSBox manually first before installing D-Fend Reloaded.
For more information about installing and using D-Fend Reloaded, see our article about it.
MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator)
MAME is a non-profit project whose purpose is to preserve many historical arcade games so they don’t disappear once the hardware on which they run stops working. In order to play games on MAME, you must provide the original ROMs, CDs, or hard disks from the arcade machines. There is no original game code inside the MAME executable.
There are also frontends to MAME (available at the link above) that make it easier to use, or you can use MAMEUI, which is a desktop-oriented GUI front-end for MAME. See our article about playing classic arcade games on your PC for more information about MAME and MAMEUI.
Some game developers have released some of their games for free, which you can download from the MAME developer site.
Abandonia offers downloadable, classic abandonware games for DOS. Abandonware games are discontinued game programs for which no product support is available and whose copyright ownership has expired.
Most games on the site have a review, screenshots, an editor rating, and a user rating. Browse and download old PC games by name, year, rating, and category.
Abandonware Games offers a large selection of abandonware DOS games that are no longer supported by anyone. You can download games in categories such as action, racing, RPG, and strategy. Most games have a star rating, status (freeware, shareware, etc.), screenshots, and facts and trivia about the game.
Classic Arcade Games
Classic Arcade Games offers free online arcade games you can play online or even add to your own website or blog. They have a lot of retro games such as Super Mario World, Galaga, PacMan, Donkey Kong Classic, and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Free Classic DOS Games offers about 200 free games, most of which are accompanied by a review, description, screenshots, and a download link. The types of games available include action, adventure, arcade, role playing, shoot-em’ up, and strategy. You can browse through each category one by one or use the search feature to find a specific game.
RGB Classic Games
RGB Classic Games offers a large combination of classic games, previously unreleased games, and even a few “modern” DOS games. RGB Classic Games is “devoted to preserving classic games for defunct PC operating systems (DOS, CP/M-86, OS/2, Win16, Win9x) and making it easy to play them on modern computers.”
Almost all the games on RGB Classic Games were originally distributed commercially, except for a few shareware games that were extremely good. RGB Classic Games concentrate on quality, not quantity and they also attempt to include every version of each game listed on the site.
From the site: “The highest ideals of this site are to support the authors by providing links to their web sites and ordering information for the full versions of games that are still sold, and to encourage the authors of classic games to preserve their games for future generations by making them available for sale or as freeware. If you enjoy a shareware game, please consider buying it from the author.”
All the games on RGB Classic Games are “freely distributable because they are shareware, freeware, or because the copyright holder has officially and legally released all rights to the public domain (abandonware).”
DOS Games Archive
DOS Games Archive offer an archive of 275 DOS games from the eighties and nineties that can be downloaded for free. They are shareware, freeware, playable demos, and full versions of games that are released as freeware or into the public domain.
Free Game Empire
Free Game Empire offers classic games you play directly in your Firefox or Internet Explorer browser. The in-browser emulator is powered by DOSBox. They also have many forums dedicated to discussion of the games, a blog, and a My Games section, where you can log in and find all your active games. They also offer some old games for purchase that are still being sold for reasonable prices.
You do have to download each game to your computer, but game play takes place in your browser. Each game only has to be downloaded once. After that, you can return to the site and play it any time. The emulator can be uninstalled from within the Control Panel. The games on Free Game Empire can only be played in Windows.
Play.vg offers classic DOS games you can play online, such as PacMan and Sonic the Hedgehog, without downloading anything to your computer. Simply use your arrow keys and spacebar to play games like Zork, Asteroids, and Tetris.
Abandonware at Free Game Downloads
Free Game Downloads offers a large collection of free abandonware games. Their site is not very exciting to look at, but it’s easy to navigate through the categories and search for specific games. Their list of games also includes some remade versions of classic Atari games.
Remain In Play
Remain in Play offers commercial DOS and non-DOS games that were deliberately released as freeware. They have plenty of new and old games for download. You can sort the games by name, genre, OS, and even game data type. If you want to search by rating, refer to their list of Top 10 Games in the left sidebar.
Bgames.com offers free classic games in Flash format, such as RetroMash, Warning Foregone, and Alley Fighter. They update their list of fresh, free games daily. You can also browse through other games you can play online, games available for download, massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) games, and Multiplayer games.
Free Classic Games at Online Flash Games
Online Flash Games offers classic games for free in their classic/retro category, such as break-out games, Tetris games, Mario games, Sonic games, Arkanoid games, and Invader games. You can also find Flash remakes of old consoles, or platforms, such as Commodore 64.
Online-Games-Zone offers free classic games, retro games, and old-school games for playing online, such as Tetris and PacMan. The thumbnails of the games in the middle of the page are not listed alphabetically. However, you can find an alphabetical list on the left side.
All the Oldies
All the Oldies offers free classic games found all over the web that you can play online. All the games, except for multiplayer games, require no registration. They are of high quality and are always free.
GamezArena offers a collection of free online classic games, such as Ludo, Connect 4, Solitaire, and Battleship. You can also license or purchase these games if you want to add them to your website.
Free Classic 80’s Arcade Games
Free Classic 80’s Arcade Games offers classic 1980’s Atari 2600, Nintendo (NES), Intellivision, and Colecovision games and even the Pong Game Console game for playing online. They also have Shockwave, Flash, and Java games and classic DOS games.
Pogo.com offers a collection of classic games you can play online, such as Monopoly, Chess, and Cribbage. You can register for free so you can enter daily for chances to win prizes and earn tokens that you can keep and redeem for fun gifts. Join Club Pogo to gain access to premium classic games and to play games ad-free. Club Pogo also allows you to download more games on the download page. Until September 10, 2012, you can join Club Pogo for $29.99 per year, which is $10 off the normal price.
You can also browse their collection of free games.
GOG.com offers 100% DRM-free games for sale, a lot of which are less than $20. Once you buy a game, you own it. There are no limits on how often you can download your games off the GOG.com cloud. You can also install them on as many PCs as you want and back them up without limits. They also bundle exclusive content as free bonus downloads.
Wikipedia’s List of Commercial Video Games Released as Freeware
Wikipedia has a list of commercial video games released as freeware. These games were not freeware when originally released, but were re-released at a later date with a freeware license, sometimes as publicity for a forthcoming sequel or compilation release. The list is kept fairly up-to-date.
There is also a list of games originally released as freeware. For a list of FOSS (free and open-source software) or FLOSS (free/libre/open source software) games, see the list of open source video games on Wikipedia.
In addition to our article about playing classic arcade games on your PC, mentioned earlier, we’ve also covered how to play retro video games on your PC. You can also learn how to use your Nintendo DS to play old NES, Gameboy, and even arcade games.
Also, learn fun video game trivia at “Did You Know Gaming?”. For reviews of games, interviews, features, previews, cheats, and forums, see Adventure Classic Gaming. There’s even a site that allows you to play word search games online.
Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.
- Published 09/1/12