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Retro gaming with free abandonware games

To satisfy your craving for playing those great games from back in the days, you can actually find many of them for free! Yes, that’s true, they are available to download freely. Why is this? Well, the game titles have become abandonware. No longer being sold, but not necessarily forgotten…

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What is abandonware?

The term abandonware means that it is a piece of software, a game for example, that is no longer sold by its company, online or in physical stores. It has never been a clear category in software, like shareware or freeware. Sometimes the software editor or publisher simply got bought by another company, or closed down.

Although many games rise from the death of abandonware status, and are now available to purchase through GoG.com or Steam, and these games usually run without any hassle on most modern computers.

Great sites to find abandonware games

MyAbandonware is a great site, it currently holds over 14.000 games for you to enjoy. You can find the site at https://www.myabandonware.com/

They let you browse their archive by name, year, platform, genre, theme, publisher or developer. There is a large selection of different platforms.

I came across one of the games I bought as a teenager, visiting London on vacation a long long time ago. Jane’s Combat Simulations: AH-64D Longbow. A military helicopter simulation. Couldn’t wait to get home and try it! It is long gone now, disappeared from my archives. Back in the days the box containing the game also contained a lot of other stuff, like fat manuals, posters, extras and more. Fortunately this game is now available to download for free. Thank you internet!

Good Old Games is a digital distribution platform with a handpicked selection of

games, a “you buy it, you own it” philosophy, and great customer care. They say they are here to make a difference in how you buy and play your games, letting you have freedom of choice and avoid hassle trying to play them. They work with over 600 partners, like CapCom, ActiVision, Bethesda and many more. Visit them at https://www.gog.com/

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Abandonware DOS keep over 1800 titles for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft DOS on their site for you to download. Browse them by genre, title, keyword, year, company or designer. Charts show you the most popular ones. Visit at https://www.abandonwaredos.com/

Abandonwaregames have several platforms you can download abandonware games to, like Amiga, Mac, SNES, ZX Spectrum and more. Also, here you can search by alphabetical order, popularity, top ratings, trending, genre, year and publisher. Stop by them at https://abandonwaregames.net/

Best Old Games doesn’t look as polished as the others above, but is yet another alternative to search or browse through the golden oldies of games. You can browse categories or search directly. Currently one of the titles on their top 10 list is North and South. I remember playing this action/strategy title for many hours with friends. The site can be found at http://www.bestoldgames.net/abandonware

Games Nostalgia is all about just that, the classics. They have mostly DOS and Amiga games, but also stuff for Windows, Commodore 64 and Atari ST. Browse by year, developer, publisher, tag or platform. The site even looks somewhat nostalgic in design, using retro computer fonts. Check it out at https://gamesnostalgia.com/

Surely many of the games listed at these sites will be the same, they to not carry a completely different portfolio each. So visit them and find the one you like the best for your retro downloads. Personally I like MyAbandonware and Good Old Games.

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Issues trying to play the games

Unless you buy your games off the Steam or GOG platform, you can surely run into issues trying to run the golden oldies on your modern computer. Windows 10 doesn’t have MS DOS in the background, like earlier versions of Windows. But all is not lost, one thing you can use is DOSBox, an MS DOS emulator that will run many of the games for you without much hassle. Some games to not have a “speed limit”, they were made for the computers back then. Running them on a modern PC would go blazing fast, and be pretty much unplayable. Configuring sound is also a challenge for some, so best to rely on DOSBox or similar.

For other platforms than PC (MS DOS/older Windows), you need emulators to run the other stuff. Like an Amiga emulator for example, or maybe a Commodore 64 emulator for that matter. Remember Winter Games? Destroying the joystick in a frenzy trying to win?

Is it legal?

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You should check out if the title you are interested in is being sold at the major platforms, such as Steam or GOG. If you cannot find them there, nor by Googling it until your eyes and fingers are sore, well then it should be okay. Or just download them and play anyway, I won’t tell anyone, hehe. Like anyone would ever check what’s on your computer..

If you happen to like the game, and it is possible to buy, strongly consider supporting the creators/publishers of the game, to allow for more great games to be made.

Old but golden

It is not necessarily so that games must have cutting-edge graphics to be good. Far from it. Just think of our game hero Super Mario, it is still fun and challenging to play the first Mario game. Oregon Trail is still a pain. The most important thing is playability, and that the game is well written and replayable.

Abandonware is one way to use your old computer, it doesn’t take very much to run many of the games.

Browsing through the abandonware categories brings back memories, many of the titles were forgotten, but now live to see another day being played by nostalgic gamers. Titles like Prince of Persia, Lemmings, Dune, Transport Tycoon and many more. Transport Tycoon actually exists in an open source version now, with some tweaks to allow bigger maps and more vehicles in the game.

What to you think about these old games? Do you still play some of them? Which ones? Leave a comment below.

Tom-Inge Nilsen

4 Comments

  1. Oh my God! Bringing me back to the good ole days. I had no idea there was a thing called abandonware. I will have to introduce this to my son, so he can finally understand what I’m talking about.

    • Yes, those were the days. Kids nowadays have no clue what happened back then, they just poke away on their smartphones. Likewise, what is a VCR, cassette, floppy disk and more.. Happy to introduce abandonware to you. =)

  2. Hi there! This was a very cool thing to read about! Like James here I’ve never heard about abandonware, but always wondered if I would ever be able to play good, old games again… now I can thanks to you:D Just for fun I searched for «Michael Jackson moonwalker» on myabandonware.com and got a hit! It brings back memories from my childhood when I really enjoyed it! Didn’t think it existed today, so many thanks again! Look forward to try it and also other games that I used to play when I was slightly younger😉

    • Happy to help! It is great to have these sites, making all the golden oldies available to new (and not quite so new) generations of gamers. Let the classics not be forgotten.

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