The recent spat of "classic" consoles offer nostalgic gamers an easy way to experience their favorite titles from the 8- and 16-bit eras. Unfortunately, finding one can be a bit of a pain, not to mention they can command more coin than you might be willing to part with.
Of course, one could always install RetroPie or RecallBox, but configuring them can be time-consuming. Luckily, if you've got a retro gaming itch you can scratch it immediately. In recent years a number of websites have popped up that are dedicated to preserving old video games. The best part is all of the games are playable directly within your browser.
The mission of Archive.org is to keep an online repository of all things for posterity. From music to magazines to movies to everything in between, Archive.org has an extensive collection of artifacts on a wide variety of subjects in its database. Gamers young and old will be happy to learn that Archive.org also maintains libraries of classic video games.
Archive.org organizes its collection of games into two libraries called Console Living Room and Internet Arcade. Console Living Room is home to the game libraries of numerous consoles. Here you'll find favorites like the Sega Genesis and the Atari 2600. In addition, you'll find more obscure consoles like the Bally Astrocade. Just pick your favorite console, select a game and play it in your browser, no emulators or roms necessary.
If you've got a desire to revisit the arcade, you're in luck. Archive.org's Internet Arcade has a huge library of coin-operated games from the 70s, 80s and 90s. The best part is, no quarters needed! Finally, if you were more of a PC gamer, you can check out Archive.org's DOS Collection. The downside to Archive.org's massive collection is that the emulation can be a bit hit or miss. Additionally, control documentation is noticeably absent from a lot of the games. Unfortunately, this means that you'll be tapping keys on your keyboard until you can work out which ones work with the game you're trying to play.
2. Classic Reload
Speaking of classic computer games, Classic Reload is home to over 5,000 DOS and Windows titles. You'll find games from the 80s and 90s in a variety of different genres. There's something for everyone here, from real-time strategy games like "Command and Conquer" to first-person shooters like "Duke Nukem 3D" and "Doom." The emulation is pretty spot on, and unlike Archive.org, the controls for each game are documented, so you can jump right in without hassle.
One of the more interesting features of Classic Reload is the ability to change sound cards, graphics cards and more when emulating a game. This is because the games on Classic Reload come from a time when games ran on different PCs with vastly different hardware specifications. This allows users to truly capture what their individual gaming experience was like from back in the day!
Retrogames.cc isn't the prettiest website out there, as it is riddled with somewhat intrusive ads. However, the site does have a fairly large collection of games. Most of the titles featured on Retrogames hail from the 8- and 16-bit era; however, you will find some newer games from consoles like the Playstation 1 and Atari Jaguar. In addition, Retrogames has an impressive library of coin-operated arcade games. They even have multiple versions of arcade games so you can see what the game was like in other regions around the world.
An interesting feature of Retrogames is the ability to embed a game directly within your own website. It's not a feature everyone would use, but it's a welcome addition. Finally, it should be noted that the in-browser emulation of the more demanding consoles can be spotty. During testing we found that some of the games crashed, while others simply wouldn't load.
4. Retro Games Online
Retro Games Online does not categorize its library of playable games as well as the other sites on this list. You can search by system, new additions, most played and top rated. Unfortunately, the titles in each category are not listed in alphabetical order, making browsing the games a bit tedious. Luckily, there is a manual search bar you can use to find specific games that you want to play.
Like Retrogames.cc, Retro Games Online has quite a few ads peppered throughout the site. In addition, you'll have to sit through an ad or two before you can start the emulation of your chosen game. One unique feature of Retro Games Online is that it gives users the option to emulate the games using Flash or HTML5. Most of the other sites require the use of Flash, so it's nice to have the option.
Do you know of any other websites that allow you to play your favourite games of yesteryear directly in the browser? Let us know in the comments!
Image credit: Super Mario Wallpaper
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