The best abandonware games

Do you ever feel like booting up one of the classic games from your childhood, just to enjoy a sense of nostalgia, or maybe to show it to your own kids for the first time? Welcome to the wonderful world of abandonware, where many of those beloved titles you spent hours on back in the 1990s and early 2000s are now available for easy download and play online! Take a look at our favorites and get ready for some sweet memories.

Note: Most of these are free to play, which is a key advantage of abandonware. We did throw in a few old favorites you can buy for a few bucks on platforms like GOG, or choose to play more limited versions for free to get a quick rush from the old days.

Further reading

Prince of Persia

A game that thoroughly redefined platforming titles, the original Prince of Persia features weapons, booby traps, secrets, and famously unforgiving gameplay. Like many of the games on our list, it was part of a franchise that continues to this day.

Note: This particular site includes a web emulator that allows you to play PoP online without the need to download anything — as long as your internet connection holds steady. Give the emulator a bit of time to load and you should be good to go, although controller support may be hit or miss.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2

Red Alert 2, released in 2000, helped upgrade and redefine the RTS genre with its excellent balance, interactive menus, and addictive gameplay that culminated in big victory rewards for those who could harness resources fast enough. We also like that the 13 missions are all around the right length to hop in for a little bit of fun without getting worn out by the admittedly dated graphics.

The Oregon Trail

This classic of classics has countless additions and was available on many of the first personal computers in the 1970s, but the game remains iconic. Thanks to its simple cycle of chance and decisions, the game relies very little on graphics and remains quite playable. The familiar notifications as your group inevitably succumbs to dysentery, snakebites, and drowning remain both infuriating and hilarious.

Diablo

For many, Diablo was the game that finally put the action in RPG. While it’s a far simpler experience than the Diablos that came after, the core of picking a class, navigating a dungeon with dangerous bosses, picking up loot, managing health/mana, and fighting Diablo are all intact and remain a rewarding experience.

SimCity 3000

The Sim games took a big jump with the release of SimCity 3000, which put players in charge of masterminding an entire city, including roads, power supplies, residential areas, business developments, parks, water treatment systems, and much more. It was an excellent experience for those who loved the details, but a lot of fun is still to be had in loading up a completed city and terrorizing it with an alien attack.

The Secret of Monkey Island

This famous adventure game still has the perfect balance of zany story and puzzles that made it such a hit in the beginning. Collect items, talk to the inhabitants of the island, and find all the various elements you can combine and use to make your way through the story as a young pirate. If you’ve never played it before, it’s worth giving a try.

Doom II: Hell on Earth

Doom II is like the original game, but with more DOOM. The gameplay remains very similar to the original classic but offers a different experience that long-time fans may enjoy if they haven’t tried it before. The environments are also a bit more varied and interesting, and there are plenty of secrets to find while mowing down demons.

Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth

Newer than more of our pics, this LOTR RTS hit shelves back in 2004. Those who have played it remember the thrills of summoning balrogs and wizards to aid your forces throughout massive battles around famous locations in Middle Earth. It was also one of the early RTSs to really put a focus on hero management to make battles even more exciting.

Heroes of Might and Magic II

One of the most famous early turn-based RPGs, this Heroes game offers two campaign options — the path of usurper claiming the throne, or the not-so-virtuous leaders of the land protecting their kingdom. It’s a significant evolution from the first game with many more story-based decisions, two much-needed additional heroes, and secondary skills to help battle a host of enemies.

Duke Nukem 3D

Yes, back in the mid-’90s, it really was an impressive thing to have “3D” in the title, as Duke Nukem upgraded from side scrollers to his own environmental adventure. The variety of level designs is impressive, the aliens remain fun to destroy, and this classic holds up well.

Twisted Metal

Twisted Metal spawned a cult-classic line of devilishly fun and destructive car games where the goal isn’t so much to complete a race as it is to absolutely destroy every other vehicle on the map, using unique sets of weapons. There are also multiplayer options to double the fun and relive the glory days!

Quake II

Quake II is groundbreaking, not only as a masterful example of an early FPS, but for its brilliant open-source code that has been used in many independent efforts throughout the years. That helps to give the game a timeless feel, and if you’re a big first-person shooter fan, you should probably try playing the big granddaddy at least once.

Resident Evil 2

While the first Resident Evil was certainly remarkable, the second game greatly improved upon the formula and gave players a larger environment to explore, with more twisted undead creations to destroy and more scares to discover. Work with Leon and Claire to escape Raccoon City once again — or for the very first time!

Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome

This expanded version of Age of Empires added four new campaigns focused on the Roman empire and four new civilizations from that era, make it the definitive version of the famous RTS. Long-time fans will love returning to the classic and playing around.

Super Star Wars

A memorable classic, this Star Wars game combined brilliant use of music and surprisingly fun gameplay (just wait until you get your lightsaber). While not quite as polished as the sequels that came afterward, it’s easy to see why so many fell in love with this game … and you may just learn to love it all over again.

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