We’re a bunch of (mainly) millennial-aged, extremely nerdy people at BugHerd, so when I asked in our #random Slack channel, “What was your favorite classic PC game?” things blew up.
It turns out that many of us have fond recollections of attempting to beat the clock on DOS games late at night when we were kids and teenagers.
What was hip once will undoubtedly be cool again if fashion trends, the revival of the polaroid camera, and Stranger Things are any indication. So, after deliberating with the team about the hours we spent attempting to defeat the final boss, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite classic PC games, as well as where you can play them.
HOW DO YOU PLAY CLASSIC COMPUTER GAMES?
Before we get started on the game list, there are a few different ways to bring classic games for free or for a small cost. We constantly suggest investing in fantastic software that you enjoy!
GOG.COM: There’s a good chance the game you’re looking for has been remastered and is available on GOG.
STEAM CLASSIC: Steam, like GOG, has a large library, including many classics that are often cheaper than GOG.
FROM THE PUBLISHER: If the game has gone through several editions, the publisher is likely to have made the original version available for free. It’s worth a look!
DOSBOX: Try this DOS emulator if you wish to relive the glory days of DOS commands. You might want to refresh your memories by visiting the PC Gaming Wiki!
IN EMULATORS FOR BROWSERS: You may load and play the game on a browser-based emulator for free at Classic Reload, Classic Games, and Arcade Spot sites. It isn’t easy to save game progress, and games can take a long time to render.
We’d never be able to agree on a top ten or even top twenty games. Instead, we’ve divided our favorites into genres so you can jump to the one you want. We’ve also completed the assignment and compiled all of the activities and resources in the help below. Let’s get this party started!
Classic PC Games and Where to Play Them Spreadsheet
ADVENTURE / ROLE-PLAYING GAME (RPG)
Within our crew, this was by far the most popular category. We have a soft spot in our hearts for games like Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island, and Sam n Max Hit the Road…
KINGS QUEST (1984): The fantastic series Kings Quest is at the top of the list. It’s a point-and-click adventure with a storyline and thousands of items to click on (and die from clicking on). The series is available on GOG.
MYST (1993): At the time, the game Myst had stunning visuals. It’s both divinely gorgeous and wonderfully difficult to look at. There are so many complicated riddles and components to discover in this non-linear sandbox game that it’s a real-time suck. The developers have made a free-to-play version available here.
LEISURESUIT LARRY (1987): A goal to get Larry bedded in this incredibly non-PG game. Larry died a lot, and he died quickly. In terms of sexual health, treatment of sex workers, and well… anything, the game hasn’t stood the test of time, but it sure does bring back some memories of playing it (probably) far too early. Larry is available on Steam.
ARCADE / RETRO PLATFORM
We chose them because of the skill level required to finish them or how much skill you’ll need to grow to complete them. Mortal Kombat, for example, has continued to evolve from selling new versions today. We wish some of these had decided to join them…
COMMANDER KEEN (1990): This is a massively popular series based on this highly addicting, colorful side-scrolling game. With a makeshift starship, rayguns, and a pogo stick, you must protect the Earth and the cosmos against unknown dangers. Simple! On Steam, you may play Commander Keen 1.
JILL OF THE JUNGLE (1992): In 1992, a shareware (free) version of this arcade-style Nintendo game was released. To hook you or spike you (which happens a lot during gameplay). Jill was an entertaining and challenging game that was eventually abandoned in favor of the cult classic Jazz Jackrabbit. Here you can play Jill of the Jungle.
DIGGER (1983): Digger is incredible. The game’s purpose, which is similar to an updated Pacman, is to dig horizontal and vertical tunnels to retrieve wealth while avoiding monsters. It’s a lot of fun. Here you may play Digger for free.
THE ORIGINAL 3D FIRST-PERSON SHOOTER (FPS)
The classic Wolfenstein kickstarted the 3D evolution of the FPS genre. Anyone who has played some of these classic games understands the feeling of being on the verge of something new. What dangers will be present? Is there enough ammunition for me? Is it necessary for me to save the game first? Yes is always the answer.
DOOM (1993): The first time I played this immediate gaming hit, I was terrified and stunned. With visual textures mapped onto 3D objects, tension-raising music, and monsters that moved around and interacted with each other for the first time, the game introduced a completely new vision for 3D gameplay.
It was colossal and completely enthralling. It is still the case. On Steam, you can get the original Doom.
RISE OF THE TRIAD (1995): This Wolfenstein sequel is on the list mostly because it is completely strange. While games like Duke Nukem 3D and Rise of the Triad deserve a genre mention (there is one), Rise of the Triad was weird from beginning to end. “Dog Mode” transforms you into an unstoppable dog, “Shrooms Mode” puts everything trippy, and “Elasto Mode” causes you to bounce off walls. Here you can play the Rise of the Triad shareware edition.
BUILDING / SIMULATION OF AN ANCIENT CITY
This is a genre that you may lose yourself in for days. Conquering the world takes time. As a result, playing a simulation game on a simulator is unlikely. Fortunately, many of them are available for a low price on GOG or Steam.
SIM CITY 2000 (1993): Maxis published a Sim City game in 1989, followed by the strangely occupied Sim Ant and Sim Life. Sim City 2000 was the franchise’s greatest and best improvement. The graphics were improved, the controls were more complex, and the game was a lot of fun to play.
Also, why was the transportation advisor so irritated all of the time? Sim City 2000 is available on GOG.
THEME HOSPITAL (1997): Electronic Arts’ Theme Park was a smash hit, following in the footsteps of the wildly famous Roller Coaster Tycoon, but Theme Hospital has a strange power that contributes to its longevity. It’s a little bit wacky, a little bit morbid, and you’ll need a sense of humor to play it. On Origin, you may purchase Theme Hospital.
THE ORIGINAL REAL-TIME STRATEGY (RTS)
The pinnacles of this ever-evolving game genre include gathering resources, establishing bases, and improving technology. Although older RTS games might not meet modern standards, they are nevertheless a lot of fun to play.
DUNE (1992): The forefather of numerous real-time strategy games, this first installment of the Dune series spawned a hugely popular sequel. The goal is to destroy opposing fortifications and take over spice production in the desert in real-time, based closely on Frank Herbert’s books (against the clock). The narrative’s strangeness rivals that of the book. Here’s where you can play Dune online.
COMMAND AND CONQUER (1995): The massive game Command & Conquer was another early foray into the RTS genre. The campaign missions were exciting, the graphics were futuristic, and the multiplayer gameplay was outstanding. To win the game, you must build a base and gather resources typical of the RTA genre. Here you may play C&C for free online.
STARCRAFT (1998): Starcraft barely cuts despite having a notably later release date than the other games on the list (1999). The purpose of Starcraft, designed by the same team that created the famous RTS game Warcraft, is to defeat opponents by dominating them, but it’s seldom that simple. The original version of Blizzard’s game is available to play for free here.
PC GAMES FROM THE EARLY DAYS OF SPORTS
This is the last game type we’ve covered, and if you’ve read this far, you’re in for a treat! We’ve narrowed it down to our favorites because there are so many sports games to choose from.
CALIFORNIA GAMES (1987): The best part about California Games, like other Epyx game titles, is that it’s a collection of games in one. Here you can play California Games. Rollerblading, skateboarding, surfing, and other activities are available. You might even switch up the action and compete with up to eight friends. It was fantastic, buddy.
That bloody Yeti in SKI FREE (1991). SkiFree is a free online game. The purpose of a very easy play is to acquire the highest score for a ski down a mountain to a height of 2000 meters. The obstacles along the path are point deductions and traps, so avoid them. You’ll be rewarded with the abominable snowman eating you. Simple.