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Internet Archive Releases 2,500 More MS-DOS Games

by Paul Arnote (parnote)

Most of us here can remember the bunches and bunches of high quality MS-DOS games that were around in the late 80s and into the 90s. I know we all had our favorites. One of the very first games I got inextricably "hooked" on was Wolfenstein 3D, from id Software. I can't even begin to calculate how many hours I sat in front of that computer screen, much to the dismay of my then wife, playing that game.

Thus began my pseudo love affair with the games from id Software. I graduated from all things Wolfenstein to all things Doom. Then I moved from all things Doom to all things Quake. In between, I also found games like Descent and The Daedalus Encounter to also consume large amounts of my time.

I was never much good at any of them, but they were still fun to play. To this day, while I'm definitely NOT a gamer, I find them all still fun to play. Especially the Wolfenstein games, which fit nicely with my intense interest in all things related to World War II. Even while writing this article, it was hard to pull myself away from playing Wolfenstein 3D.

Wait. Did I say "playing Wolfenstein 3D?" Yep. I sure did.

On October 13, 2019, the Internet Archive released 2,500 more old MS-DOS games online, bringing the total number of MS-DOS games to just shy of 7,000. More may come at a later date, as they figure out ways to circumvent hardware dependencies and other limitations. All of the games are playable online in an online DOSBox window, in your browser. The games, for the most part, played exceptionally well in my installation of Firefox, on the PCLinuxOS Xfce community release.

So what can you expect to find there?

All of the Wolfenstein stuff is there, including the sequels Spear of Destiny, Spear Resurrection, and Spear End of Destiny. There is a lot of Doom stuff there, including the original, Doom II, The Ultimate Doom, and Final Doom. Another id Software game there is Heretic.

If you want to awaken the inner pilot in you, Microsoft Flight Simulator is also available. I remember trying it -- back in the day -- and I sucked at it worse than I did the run-n-gun games like Wolfenstein or Doom. Even though it's "Microsoft," this program was (and still is) a real gem. Many people have claimed over the years that this is as close as you can get to flying an actual plane without being in a plane.

Meanwhile, Interplay's Descent is available, along with its sequel, Descent II Vertigo Series. Or, maybe Donkey Kong is more of what you are looking for. Or maybe Pac-Man, or Ms. Pac-Man is more to your liking. One of my favorite arcade type games was Tempest. Another was Dig Dug. There is a PC/MS-DOS version of that game, called Digger.

Of course, who could forget the Leisure Suit Larry games, which are all also available. You can also find the original Tomb Raider. And who could ever forget the legendary Duke Nukem. There literally is something there for everyone.

Meanwhile, some of your favorites might have not yet been added. For example, I couldn't find any of the Quake games. I also couldn't find The Daedalus Encounter.

From the Internet Archive Blog, by Jason Scott:

The update of these MS-DOS games comes from a project called eXoDOS, which has expanded over the years in the realm of collecting DOS games for easy playability on modern systems to tracking down and capturing, as best as can be done, the full context of DOS games -- from the earliest simple games in the first couple years of the IBM PC to recently created independent productions that still work in the MS-DOS environment.

What makes the collection more than just a pile of old, now-playable games, is how it has to take head-on the problems of software preservation and history. Having an old executable and a scanned copy of the manual represents only the first few steps. DOS has remained consistent in some ways over the last (nearly) 40 years, but a lot has changed under the hood and programs were sometimes only written to work on very specific hardware and a very specific setup. They were released, sold some amount of copies, and then disappeared off the shelves, if not everyone's memories.

It is all these extra steps, under the hood, of acquisition and configuration, that represents the hardest work by the eXoDOS project, and I recognize that long-time and Herculean effort. As a result, the eXoDOS project has over 7,000 titles they've made work dependably and consistently.

So, if you're just wanting to take a trip down memory lane, or if you just have some time to fill, head on over and play a game or two ... or more.

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