What makes a game a classic?
Depending on your tastes, that could mean a great story arc, a satisfyingly complicated combat system, or a genre-defining concept. Since its inception, video games have given us hundreds of hours of entertainment through adrenaline-filled combat and touching cutscenes. Despite their disputed origins, video games have certainly come a long way from Tennis for Two, a tennis game from the 1950s that ran on a cathode ray powered screen, to the (near) photo-realistic textures we see today.
But with the technological advancements made in gaming, is there still a place on our devices for retro games?
Old Games Download, a website dedicated to creating a database of retro games from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s, certainly thinks so. Old Games Download has taken up the valiant effort of documenting and conserving the history of videogames by collecting and uploading games for public use. Available on the site is a selection of classic games from each decade, all of which you can play for free with just a quick download (and maybe a simulator for older operating systems or platforms).
Take a nostalgia trip down memory lane with these retro games that helped shape gaming as we know it today.
It comes as no surprise that one of the first retro video games was a Tennis for Two alike. Pong is a 2D arcade game released in 1972 by Atari. Atari’s name comes from the Japanese ‘ataru’, meaning ‘to hit a target’ and that’s exactly what Pong expects the player to do.
Pong features a black screen with white bars and dots meant to represent the players, a tennis ball, and a net. Players take control of the two bars on each side and pass a small, square ball back and forth, over the net. It’s minimalistic gameplay mechanics and design, while no longer particularly impressive, are nothing to scoff at. Pong remains dead simple and deadly fun.
Given that Pong is so similar to Tennis for Two, why not list that here instead? Well, Pong’s predecessor fell victim to that great destroyer of history: it was lost to time. Though Old Games Download currently has Pong available to play, it’s not the same Pong that Atari installed on their arcade machines either. Instead, the site has Emeritus Pong, a recreation of the original game, listed under its Pong page.
Emeritus Pong was created to be as similar as possible to the older Pong game so if you were a kid in the 70s, it’s still bound to give you the same experience as the original did. You can download Emeritus Pong here.
Now this is a game even I remember. It took a few minutes of staring at the screenshots provided by Old Games Download to notice that this is the same basic game I used to play as a child, Tank 1990. After a few minutes of ahem, ‘research’, for this article, I was able to confirm that Tank and its spiritual successor Tank 1990 are basically the same game where players control tanks and try to shoot enemy tanks down.
Whether you were a kid in the 70s, 90s, or in my case, the 00s, the original 1974 Tank is sure to make you feel like you’ve just shed a few years from your age. You can check out on this Old Games Download page.
3. Computer Space
Inspired by Spacewar!, one of the first video games written in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Computer Space was made after attempts to port Spacewar! to a more commercially viable device failed. Computer Space would prove to be a successful alternative to Spacewar!, becoming the first commercially available arcade game. By taking Spacewar! out of the labs of prestigious universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and putting it on the market, Computer Space has helped to create the modern video game industry.
You can get this historic, and still super exciting game, here.
Old Games Download approaches video games the way a museum curator would and no video game museum would be complete without what is arguably one of the most popular and universally enjoyed retro games, Doom. Together with Wolfenstein 3D, Doom defined the entire FPS genre to the point that early FPS games were called Doom clones.
Of course, Doom‘s bloody graphics and unabashed killing sprees did not escape the scrutiny of the Satanic Panic. Even greater backlash towards Doom came in the wake of the Columbine High School massacre as the shooters were supposedly fans of the game. This connection, despite being tenuous at best based on recent studies, contributed to the common misconception that video games make you violent.
While it’s unfortunate that many still hold a negative view of games, what is fortunate is that you can play the original Doom for free. Old Games Download has it available here.
On that note of genre-defining games, Sid Meier’s original Civilization inspired the large scale turn based strategy games we see today. Civilization, also known as ‘Civ’, was published in 1991 and offered a digitized alternative to the tabletop wargames that came before it.
Civilization presents players with a map that showed their empire which they are tasked to build and expand while combating other nations. Players make decisions regarding foreign policy, assigning military units to areas, and even the rate of technological advancement of their civilization. Players win by either conquest or progress, giving you the choice between colonizing other nations or winning the space race to Alpha Centauri.
Like Doom, Civilization remains a popular video game series and is currently on its 6th edition. While you can’t play Civ 6 for free, you can definitely get Civilization for free here on Old Games Download.
6. The Sims
And of course we can’t talk about simulation games without bringing up the Sims series. Originally released by Maxis, the Sims is a video game that simulates life at a personal level. Players can create families in the Create A Sim screen before assigning them to a lot on the map. The house on the lot can then be customized to your design tastes as the game lets you change both landscape and interior decoration.
The Sims was originally intended to simply be an architecture game that allowed players to create and design their dream home but its creator decided that for it to be a game, it had to be scorable in some way. And what better way was there to score a house than to have people rate it? Thus, the sims of the Sims came to be, giving us red-dressed Latina icon, Bella Goth.
You can get the Sims from Old Games Download’s website here.
Got any retro games you missed playing? Comment down below and let us know!