Earlier this week, I published an article about all of the old games you probably played at school or at home on your dad’s beat up computer back in the day. It turns out that trip down memory lane really struck a chord with you all, so I figure, why don’t we take it a step further and see if we can still play some of them?
Some of the classics are still kicking around in some form or another, some have been completely remade for modern hardware, and others have been lost to the sands of time forever. While there are plenty of dodgy sites you can visit to play old titles, I simply can’t recommend it because, well, they’re dodgy. Along with the obvious issue of piracy, many of these sites are packed with malware, so I’d avoid them if I were you.
In other words, let’s look at the best legitimate ways to play old games.
Good Old Games
GOG.com is a website where you can legally purchase good old games, just like it says on the tin. It has an impressive selection of classic titles, like Sim City 2000, along with more recent ones, like Bioshock and Half-Life, at reasonable prices.
The site accepts Australian dollars as well so you don’t need to piss around with an exchange rate or anything. It also runs sales fairly often, so it’s worth checking in from time to time to see what’s on offer.
When you buy a game, it simply downloads to your computer, leaving you to run the install file and get down to playing. Just make sure you check the game details section to the right of what you’re after to make sure it’s compatible with the system you’re using.
Valve‘s online marketplace, Steam, is a platform for all kinds of PC game releases but packs a pretty impressive back catalogue of classics. It even has Zoombinis and the Freddi Fish games if you’re really keen on revisiting that primary school-era shit.
One thing to note here, though, is that Steam recently transitioned to Australian dollars, which is great news, but it also means that some titles, Zoombinis included, are not currently available to purchase. This isn’t necessarily a Steam issue, but more an issue with individual game publishers/developers not setting a default price for the region, which seems to remove the buy button completely.
Most of these have been resolved, but some are still waiting for attention.
A ton of old games can be played on your smartphone these days. Hell, you can even play GTA Vice City or San Andreas on your iPhone now.
Jump into whatever app store your phone maker uses and search for the game you’re after. I did this recently for Lemmings and found a half decent free version of the game. The good news is it’s well modernised, but the bad news is that it’s filled to the brim with microtransactions.
If it’s a paid app, you might have to pay a little more than you would for a run-of-the-mill smartphone game, but it’ll be worth it, particularly if you can play it on the go.
A lot of the classics you loved were probably built to run on MS-DOS, an old Microsoft platform which was controlled with text-based commands. DOSBox is what’s referred to as an emulator of MS-DOS, which is essentially an application that mimics that old software. Think of it as running an old computer inside a new computer.
The thing with DOSBox is you gotta be somewhat familiar with the commands needed to launch games, as well as have a copy of the old games themselves. You might be able to find physical copies on eBay or downloadable online, but be careful with the latter and that you’re not getting it illegally.
You can find more details on DOSBox, including user guides, right here.
If you’re after a true recreation of your gaming past, you can’t get any closer to the real thing than using the hardware it was originally created for. The effort required here is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum, so I’d wager this option is for the hardcore fans out there.
There are a few stores in Australia who collect and sell retro hardware, like The Gamesmen, but places like eBay or Gumtree may also have what you’re looking for. Alternatively, you can grab one of the new re-released mini consoles, like the NES Classic, SNES Classic, or PlayStation Classic.
Check for ports, sequels, or remakes of old games
When all else fails, have a quick Google search and see what you can find. For example, a quick search for the classic game, Bugdom, shows there’s a Bugdom 2, which looks a lot like it’ll scratch the itch you’ve got for the original.
Other times, you might come across information on where to play the game, any remakes or re-releases in the works, or similar fan remakes. For example, Nintendo is gradually releasing classic NES games on the Nintendo Switch via its new online service.
Whatever old game you’re looking to play, I’d say there’s a way out there to play it, and if there isn’t, there’s probably a spiritual successor to it somewhere nearby.