Ready to relive some retro games directly in your web browser? If you’re bored at work and your mind suddenly drifts to those hours you spent punching a Nintendo Power Pad as a child, don’t worry. You can warp back to your youth without ever having to leave your desk. Check out some of these amazing web sites that let you play all the classics right in your browser – no emulator apps or ROMs needed.
Screenshot: David Murphy
Screenshot: David Murphy (https://archive.org/)
Taking top honours on our list is the digital library over at Archive.org, which has two different sections dedicated to online games: The well-organised Console Living Room and the Internet Arcade. (Ah, the days when token-based arcades were a thing.)
Though it can sometimes be a little tricky to figure out a game’s controls, it’s a small price to pay for a huge archive of classics you can play directly in your browser.
You can also check out Archive.org’s DOS Collection for some classic PC titles (including some Sierra classics such as Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards). And if you aren’t feeling like gaming at the moment, you can even play around with some old-school Windows 3.1 or Macintosh apps.
(Speaking of, Sarien.net is an excellent, but smaller alternative if you just want to waste an afternoon playing legacy Sierra games.)
Screenshot: David Murphy (ClassicReload.com)
Second verse, same as the first. If you can’t find it on Archive.org – or the controls or quality of the game you’re trying to play just aren’t working out – check out ClassicReload. The site boasts over 5000 different retro games for PCs and consoles that you can play directly in your browser, including some decently modern titles such as Command and Conquer: Red Alert and Duke Nukem 3D. (Well, modern-ish.)
Retro Games Online
Screenshot: David Murphy (http://www.playretrogames.com/)
It’s tough to find great web sites that allow you to play games in your browser without having to install Adobe Flash. Retro Games Online has a great HTML5 player that loads quickly and feels responsive. The site isn’t as well-categorised as its peers, and it runs ads before loading emulated games you want to play, but it’s a great option for some classic console gaming – including the greatest Super Nintendo game ever, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
Screenshot: David Murphy (https://emulatoronline.com/)
Like Retro Games Online, Emulator Online is a bit ad-heavy, but it at least offers categories for the various games it hosts to make your browsing a bit easier. The HTML5 web-based emulators also load quickly, but boy can it be a pain to try to switch between the many buttons and joysticks of a Nintendo 64 controller on a computer keyboard. That isn’t going to stop us from playing Mario Kart 64; it’s just a big learning curve.
Scumm in HTML5
What fond memories I have of the boxing mini-game. Screenshot: David Murphy (http://clb.demon.fi/html5scummvm)
You can’t do a lot on clb.demon.fi’s website, but its faithful HTML5 port of the Scumm engine is one of our favourite time-killers. Said Scumm engine, if you didn’t know, is what you used to play those ancient “click on a word, click on an item, perform action” LucasArts adventure games, and you get seven to choose from on clb.demon.fi’s site. We especially love that Day of the Tentacle is fully voiced – subtitles just wouldn’t do that game justice.