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#1 MrFlibble

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 10:45 AM

I've always been a retro-gamer of sorts, and I'm glad to see that old game sites and forums are quite active these days. In the wake of the "abandonware" trend, there are still those who follow the rules and only host games that are legal to distribute, as well as start initiatives like petitioning to help liberate old games, i.e. ask the developers and/or current copyright holders to officially declare the game freeware. Luckily, shareware episodes of games released through the distribution model pioneered by Apogee Software are pretty much playable on their own, and so are many demos, not to mention a plethora of classics that have attained freeware status courtesy to their developers.

In an attempt to help consolidate the classic gaming community, I've compiled a list of the sites that keep up with the standard of providing only legally distributable content.

Freeware & Shareware Archives

Remain in Play
This is as much a database of commercial games that have been released into public domain as it is a gaming site. It provides info, screenshots and downloads of freeware games, but keep in mind that the database includes not only playable games, but also source code and raw data if those were the only things released to the public. There options to filter games by type of distributed content, and it's a good idea to look for binary executables if you want to get playable games and not files that are barely useful if you aren't a programmer or game developer yourself.

Theodor Lauppert's Game Gallery (mirror site)
Here you'll find interesting, insightful reviews of games, tons of related links, screenshots, demo/shareware/freeware downloads etc. You can browse games by genre, title, platform (featured games aren't limited to PC only), or country. There are also a few interesting related sites:
King Svatopluk's Court - a nice site dedicated to various RPGs like the Elder Scrolls series.
Svatopluk's Game World - various articles about games.
Svatopluk's DOSBox - a large, unsorted collection of screenshots from various DOS games.
Svatopluk's Arcade - a lot of info and screenshots about all sorts of arcade games.

Demu.org (formerly known as DOS Museum)
This is by far the largest archive of shareware episodes, demo versions, extras and utils for DOS and Windows games, as well as a selection of other programmes. Quite a few rare items can be found here, so it's a must see for everyone :) The only imaginable drawback is that original file names of archives aren't always preserved, and some games have been repackaged in RAR for better compression. Both playable and unplayable demo versions (and also preview slideshows, trailers etc.) are present. There's an option of ordering a DVD with the entire collection of the site per mail. Links to sites that offer full versions of featured games for purchase are present where applicable.

RGB Classic Games
Behind this site is an extensive agenda of preservation of old games (DOS and Windows), and thanks to the initiative of the site's author some old titles have been officially released into public domain by their respective developers following Internet petitions. RGB Classic Games is unique because it aims to include every existing version of each featured game, and the community members actively search for rare releases of old games. Each game on the site is accompanied by an brief but informative description that contains info on developers, publishers, current availability etc. Non-playable content is usually not included. The site also offers their complete collection on DVDs. Links to sites that offer full versions of featured games for purchase are present where applicable. There's also an extensive archive of emulators and other utilities you might need to play the games on modern machines, and comprehensive guides to successfully running old games on new hardware. In addition, there is an option to play featured games right in your browser.

Smush The Cat
A nice collection of shareware episodes, demo versions and freeware full versions of old DOS and Windows games. Descriptions and other info are scarce, but links to official and related websites for games are present if possible. There's an option to browse by multiple categories (platform, game type etc.). The site also offers utilities that might be needed to run the old games on modern systems.

dosgames.com
This is a popular site with a large archive of DOS games, offering playable demo versions and shareware episodes. Well-known classics are present alongside more obscure titles. There's also a community forum where people can get help with getting a game to run on a modern machine, or locating an old game they just can't find. A selection of utilities needed to run the games is also available.

DOS Games Archive
A sister site to dosgames.com. Non-playable content is also present, as are full versions of games that have officially become freeware. There's a multi-category browsing option (by genre, playability etc.), a number of selected screenshots for each game (unfortunately, they're not always from the demo version), cheat code listings and links to places where you can buy the full version if a game is still sold.

The DOS Multiplayer Archives
This site focuses on playing old DOS games over the net (through DOSBox). It offers demos of DOS games that have multiplayer capability, already bundled with DOSBox configured for online play. The collection of games isn't very large at the moment, but it can be expected to grow. Currently, the focus is on the less known games that have a multiplayer option, because they're not as easy to run on modern systems as those well-known classics (Doom, Duke Nukem 3D etc.) that have source ports to newer platforms, as well as large supporting communities.

Game Reviews

Hardcore Gaming 101
A dedicated old-gaming site with a huge database of detailed articles about PC and console games and game series.

The Computer Show
This is an archive of previews, reviews, walkthroughs and other articles about games that have been released in the nineties.

Ancient DOS Games

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Ancient DOS Games is a webshow dedicated to bringing to light many of the games made 10, 15, 20 or more years ago for personal computers using the Disk Operating System, aka DOS. Each episode generally covers a single game, shows a variety of gameplay footage, discusses how you might go about obtaining the game nowadays and how to run the game best using the DOSBox emulator on a modern computer.

Each video page also has additional information and corrections to cover any mistakes that creep into the videos or elements that get missed entirely. Information may also include links of interest or additional notes.
Thanks to Dogbreath from dosgames.com for finding this site! :D

HappyPuppy (archived copy)
This seems to have been one of the most active gaming sites in the nineties, with reviews and links to shareware and demo downloads. Definitely worth of checking it out! :D

FTP Archives

Gamers.Org has several old FTP file archives on their site:

Quote

Special Features and Services at Gamers.Org:

FTP Archive at the Polish Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematic and Computer Modelling
A nice FTP archive of shareware and demo programmes and games.

The following are mirrors of a certain old FTP site with shareware and demo downloads:
http://www.ftp.funet...ex/msdos/games/
ftp://nic.funet.fi/pub/msdos/games/

Sites Dedicated to Specific Games and Companies

El Zee's Amulets & Armor Forum
A fan forum for discussing Amulets and Armor, a first-person action/RPG game that runs on the Doom engine.

leileilol's Unofficial Amulets & Armor Shrine
A little site about the game, which aslo includes downloads of the shareware version.

Rise of the Triad Headquarters
As the name suggests, this is a site dedicated to Apogee's Rise of the Triad, and it contains extensive information about the game and everything related to it. The downloads section offers source ports, the shareware version, and various extras. There's also a forum.

The Sierra Help Pages
As the name suggests, the site is dedicated to games by Sierra On-line. There's extensive information about the games, hints and tips, and helpful information about running them on modern machines. The site also features and extensive collection of demo versions of Sierra games.

The Sierra Chest
An extensive database of Sierra games, with screenshots, downloadable demos, and various links.

SierraGamers - The Official Website of Ken and Roberta Williams
Exactly what it says on the tin, it's a site maintained by Ken and Roberta Williams and dedicated to Sierra games and legacy. A must visit for every Sierra fan, and anyone interested in the history of computer games.

The Chaos Regime
A site about games by Bitmap Brothers. Features demo downloads, screenshots and interesting info.

Interplay Official Website
The official website of Interplay Entertainment. They've got tech support for their old games, as well as demos, patches and other extras like PDF manuals and, in some cases, even music. Some links seem to be broken though.

Westwood Remembered
A tribute to Westwood Studios, this archive at CnC World is a copy of the company’s official site from 1996.

Miscellaneous Gaming Sites

A Force for Good
This website is about old PC games, and how to run them on modern systems. It offers detailed reviews of many games, both for DOS and Win9x, and general information articles about where to find old games, and what tools and tricks to use to get them running.

Videogame Music Preservation Foundation
A database of music from video games, regardless of platform. You can browse entries by games, by artists, formats or platforms. Also has its own Wiki.

leileilol's 90's Hunter
An interesting collection of obscure shareware and freeware games from the nineties. Also featured are largely unknown modifications for certain old games.

Leliork's Site
The site features a rather extensive list of old FPS games, organized by year of release, and contains screenshots and download links for demo/shareware/freeware releases of each game (if applicable). The content seems to exclude vehicle FPS games though, but it has quite a few rare titles so it's worth looking into.

S&F Prod.
A neat site about oldies, with various interesting and useful info about classic games (and, in some cases, utilities like game data extractors).

CuteFloor’s YouTube Channel
Has a large section of videos from unreleased DOS games, as well as alpha and beta versions.

Retro Game Forum
A promising forum dedicated to old gaming on various platforms, including home computer systems, consoles and game arcade machines.

Edited by MrFlibble, 20 March 2012 - 08:31 PM.


#2 Red Fortress

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 12:17 PM

Quote

In the wake of the "abandonware" trend, there are still those who follow the rules and only host games that are legal to distribute
There is no :) sadly simple answer when it comes to many old games.
I would not suggest not simply dismissing casual the problems that lead to the appearancee of the “Abandonware Movement”...
Just some of the problems and reasons behind the existence of “Abandonware”:

Many companies have vanished/gone out of business (and have not been acquired).

Games made for OS's (Amiga, Sinclair BASIC, Acorn MOS) that are no longer readily available.

Limited release game's with only a sold a few copies.

Foreign made games, many of who fall into the above category .

“One shot” game studios.

Lost or misplaced copyrights.

The designers/ip owners of some of the oldest games might have died.

Old games that were broken/very bugged and where fixed over the years by fans.

Lesser know “cult favorites” which do not have the popularity for a official rerelease. Most old games are not as well know as DOOM, Sim City, and Civilization.


This is just the tip of the iceburg.
There is ground for a lot of moral, ethical, and legal debate.

Even if you don't use Abandonware, its is easy to see why this is a very complex issue.

I personally would abstain from ether wholehearted condemning or approving of Abandonware.
Each case warrants a separate analysis...


Plus this is this topic may very well prove flame bait, considering the Historical Background of Reloaded.

Lets please stick to talking about the games that are simply :thumbsup: Freeware.

Edited by Red Fortress, 26 April 2011 - 12:26 PM.


#3 Red Fortress

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 12:26 PM

Okay having cleared that up, I would like to congratulate on  linking some :thumbsup:  great sites.
IMO a lot of the games certainly look like they deserve a review and addition to Reloaded, hope you don't mind if I later post suggestions on the ones that look most interesting to me  :) personally.

#4 MrFlibble

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 10:28 AM

View PostRed Fortress, on 26 April 2011 - 12:17 PM, said:

Just some of the problems and reasons behind the existence of “Abandonware”:

Many companies have vanished/gone out of business (and have not been acquired).

Games made for OS's (Amiga, Sinclair BASIC, Acorn MOS) that are no longer readily available.

Limited release game's with only a sold a few copies.

Foreign made games, many of who fall into the above category .

“One shot” game studios.

Lost or misplaced copyrights.

The designers/ip owners of some of the oldest games might have died.

Old games that were broken/very bugged and where fixed over the years by fans.

Lesser know “cult favorites” which do not have the popularity for a official rerelease. Most old games are not as well know as DOOM, Sim City, and Civilization.
This is just the tip of the iceburg.
There is ground for a lot of moral, ethical, and legal debate.

Even if you don't use Abandonware, its is easy to see why this is a very complex issue.
I agree that this is a complex issue, and you bring up some very valid points, but the problem as I see it is that many people are simply unaware of it. The notion that "it's okay to distribute old games that are no longer sold" is quite widespread, and many people seem to follow the logic that if something is up for download on a site, then it must be legal. Therefore, I believe that it is important to bring up the whole issue to public awareness, so that at least if people obtain abandonware, they do it as a result of conscious choice, not because they were unaware of what they were downloading, or outright misguided (there are sad cases when abandonware downloads are misleadingly presented as "demo versions" or even freeware, either intentionally or due to some mistake).

View PostRed Fortress, on 26 April 2011 - 12:17 PM, said:

I personally would abstain from ether wholehearted condemning or approving of Abandonware.
Each case warrants a separate analysis...
Well, it was never my intention to condemn anyone in the first place :thumbsup:

View PostRed Fortress, on 26 April 2011 - 12:17 PM, said:

Plus this is this topic may very well prove flame bait, considering the Historical Background of Reloaded.
Hopefully there isn't going to be any flaming, especially since the topic isn't about bashing abandonware, but about classic gaming sites in general. In fact, I've added the "no warez" line primarily to make it clear that I'm following the rules:

Quote

Do not discuss warez. Period.
Unfortunately, many sites dedicated to old games do not explicitly state if the nature of hosted content is legal, and I almost got into serious trouble once by simply posting a link to DOS Museum in a forum, as the there moderator thought it was some kind of abandonware site.

View PostRed Fortress, on 26 April 2011 - 12:17 PM, said:

Lets please stick to talking about the games that are simply :) Freeware.
I think that many old shareware games can be viewed as a "sort of" freeware: as someone pointed out, the Apogee shareware model where the first episode is released for free is, essentially, a free game with paid add-ons/expansion packs :) In fact, in some cases this is exactly what happened, as with the The Catacomb Fantasy Trilogy, where the second and the third episodes were eventually released as separate games, making the first episode, The Catacomb Abyss essentially a freeware game (the "registered" version of The Catacomb Abyss contains some built-in extras though, as compared to the free shareware version). That's what I find very attractive about those old shareware titles :)

Oh, by the way, I just wanted to mention that I'm using a forum skin with a white background, and it wasn't very easy for me to read your text in yellow (I guess it's much more readable in the default skin with the dark background).

#5 MrFlibble

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 02:24 PM

The Sierra Help Pages
As the name suggests, the site is dedicated to games by Sierra On-line. There's extensive information about the games, hints and tips, and helpful information about running them on modern machines. The site also features and extensive collection of demo versions of Sierra games.

#6 Nick

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 07:39 PM

Ah Sierra... used to love their games when I was a kid.  :thumbsup:
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#7 MrFlibble

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Posted 14 May 2011 - 01:09 AM

The you'll like the following sites :thumbsup: (at least, the two on the top :))

The Sierra Chest
An extensive database of Sierra games, with screenshots, downloadable demos, and various links.

SierraGamers - The Official Website of Ken and Roberta Williams
Exactly what it says on the tin, it's a site maintained by Ken and Roberta Williams and dedicated to Sierra games and legacy. A must visit for every Sierra fan, and anyone interested in the history of computer games.

The Chaos Regime
A site about games by Bitmap Brothers. Features demo downloads, screenshots and interesting info.

Interplay Official Website
The official website of Interplay Entertainment. They've got tech support for their old games, as well as demos, patches and other extras like PDF manuals and music (as in the case of Descent II).

Videogame Music Preservation Foundation
A database of music from video games, regardless of platform. You can browse entries by games, by artists, formats or platforms. Also has its own Wiki.

Edited by MrFlibble, 14 May 2011 - 01:10 AM.


#8 MrFlibble

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 02:07 PM

I keep forgetting to mention this excellent website:

Theodor Lauppert's Game Gallery (mirror site)
Here you'll find interesting, insightful reviews of games, tons of related links, screenshots, demo/shareware/freeware downloads etc. You can browse games by genre, title, platform (featured games aren't limited to PC only), or country. There are also a few interesting related sites:

King Svatopluk's Court - a nice site dedicated to various RPGs like the Elder Scrolls series.
Svatopluk's Game World - various articles about games.
Svatopluk's DOSBox - a large, unsorted collection of screenshots from various DOS games.
Svatopluk's Arcade - a lot of info and screenshots about all sorts of arcade games.

Oh, an by the way, could you guys please move this thread to the Your Favourite Games section? I think it would be better off there.

#9 MrFlibble

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 05:37 PM

I've removed the link to DOS Games Download as it turned out to be an unauthorized copy of dosgames.com, whose admin asked me to remove the links to it.

Edited by MrFlibble, 17 May 2011 - 05:37 PM.


#10 MrFlibble

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 09:35 PM

Here's a promising forum about old gaming (not limited to PCs) I've just been told about:
Retro Game Forum

#11 MrFlibble

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 04:22 PM

Gamers.Org has several old FTP file archives on their site:

Quote

Special Features and Services at Gamers.Org:


#12 MrFlibble

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 06:19 PM

Ancient DOS Games

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Ancient DOS Games is a webshow dedicated to bringing to light many of the games made 10, 15, 20 or more years ago for personal computers using the Disk Operating System, aka DOS. Each episode generally covers a single game, shows a variety of gameplay footage, discusses how you might go about obtaining the game nowadays and how to run the game best using the DOSBox emulator on a modern computer.

Each video page also has additional information and corrections to cover any mistakes that creep into the videos or elements that get missed entirely. Information may also include links of interest or additional notes.
Thanks to Dogbreath from dosgames.com for finding this site! :D

In other news, Demu.org has got a new look recently, check it out! In my opinion, this change is a definite improvement, as with the new design the site has become somewhat easier to read due to the new colour scheme, and definitely much more convenient to navigate.

#13 Nick

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 04:50 AM

View PostMrFlibble, on 04 November 2011 - 06:19 PM, said:

In other news, Demu.org has got a new look recently, check it out! In my opinion, this change is a definite improvement, as with the new design the site has become somewhat easier to read due to the new colour scheme, and definitely much more convenient to navigate.

LOVE the new design. :D
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#14 MrFlibble

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 05:23 PM

I've just been notified of this true gem of nineties' gaming:

HappyPuppy (archived copy)
This seems to have been one of the most active gaming sites in the nineties, with reviews and links to shareware and demo downloads. Definitely worth of checking it out! :D

Also, somehow I keep forgetting about this:

FTP Archive at the Polish Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematic and Computer Modelling
It's a very nice FTP archive of shareware and demo programmes and games from the nineties, with some rather rare stuff.

#15 MrFlibble

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 06:54 PM

A Force for Good
This website is about old PC games, and how to run them on modern systems. It offers detailed reviews of many games, both for DOS and Win9x, and general information articles about where to find old games, and what tools and tricks to use to get them running.



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