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How To Find & Play 1980s & 1990s Console Games On Your PC

The modern landscape of video games is chock-full of exciting new releases, but sometimes the latest and greatest won’t scratch that retro itch. Every so often, the urge strikes for a quick round of Sonic the Hedgehog or Mortal Kombat, but we don’t all live in mansions lined with retro consoles or the appropriate setups to enjoy them with. 

But you’re likely reading this article right now on the very thing that can allow you to quench your thirst for all things retro console gaming: your PC. Yes, it’s very possible to play old console games from the ’80s and ’90s (and earlier!) on your PC, and you don’t have to go around the law to do so.

If you’ve got some time, a PC capable of handling rudimentary graphics, and a burning desire to go on a retro gaming bender, there are plenty of ways to do so, all without spending a dime. Get ready for a blast from the past. 

How To Find Classic Console Games Online

Ready to embark on your search? While there are plenty of dubious ways you can obtain games on the internet, we certainly don’t want to get you on the wrong side of the law.

Luckily, you don’t have to partake in any shady activities to play some of the games you miss the most from your childhood. There are plenty of them hiding in plain sight, but others you may have to dig a bit for. Here are a few great stops you should make on your quest to find classic console titles on your PC. 

The Internet Arcade (via The Internet Archive)

Thanks to The Internet Archive, you can play nearly 1,000 classic console games online without having to leave your browser. Head on over to The Internet Arcade, a massive emulation project that let you explore a wide variety of classic games without downloading any potentially malware-infested files or trying to find an emulator that will run the game you’re looking for.

From Burger Time to Lode Runner, there’s a ton of different titles you can jump right into in the blink of an eye. By using your keyboard to control each game, you can jump into a fantastically retro gaming session on a moment’s notice, and jump right off the page when you’re doing playing. No muss, no fuss, and you don’t even have to look very far to find it. 

ClassicReload

If you’re ready to ride the retro wave, prepare to hit the motherlode. ClassicReload is home to a wide variety of classic games across platforms like the Sega Genesis, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, TurboGrafx-16, ColecoVision, and more. There’s a wide variety of PC titles to level out the massive collection, too.

Each and every game is playable in your browser, so you don’t have to go out of your way or do any extra work to get them to run. Plus, the site is always adding new archived software for you to check out.

If you prefer to play with a game pad, it supports those as well. Perhaps the real challenge will be hiding it from your boss and pretending to be busy?

Abandonia

If you’re tired of console games and want to spend some time with PC games, check out the Abandonia archive, which is home to a massive repository of downloadable games released for the PC between 1980 and the late 1990s.

There are thousands of titles hosted here, all for your downloading convenience. Best of all, you can grab as many games as you want to your heart’s content, because they’re all covered under the “abandonware” free software clause. This means that it’s essentially computer software that has been “abandoned” by its owner and is no longer being supported or sold.

The Abandonia team ensures every game hosted on the site falls under these guidelines before uploading, and as such has created a massive collection of games for you to sift through. If you’re looking for that favorite childhood game you forgot the name of years ago or just want to browse, this is your best first stop.

Keep in mind however that you will need to download the free DOSBox emulator if you want to be able to play these games on your computer, as they are not optimized for modern PCs, and may require special tweaking to get to work properly.

Summary

By now, you should have a modicum of places you can head to online to both find and play your favorite console games from the ‘80s and ‘90s on a PC. While there are still others that exist in a legally grey area, we recommend sticking to those that are above-board. With so many titles out there available by legal means, how could you ever have time to do anything but that, anyway?

Just remember, the next time you have a hankering for blowing out that NES cartridge slot or cleaning the yellow grime off of that Super Nintendo, you’ve got alternatives. You’ve got the internet and your PC – what a time to be alive.