Feeling nostalgic for ’90s computer games? Play them for free in a web browser

I lost interest playing most console and computer games in the late nineties. Although there are some exceptions that I will explain another time, the high-level reasons are:

  • I never adapted well to using four additional remote controller buttons introduced on the Super Nintendo in 1991
  • Learning how to program computers began to spoil the enjoyment of playing games
  • New PC games seemed to use practically every key on the full-size keyboard, requiring a steeper time commitment and learning curve

In the nineties there were many enjoyable PC games available that used only a few keys on the keyboard to move, jump, and shoot.

A few years ago I discovered that many of these games are available to play for free, online in a web browser, at the Internet Archive website.

Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, and websites.


The Internet Archive website makes these games playable to visitors using an in-browser emulator named EM-DOSBOX. Once on the site, use the left-hand navigation menu to further refine the filter criteria.

The 6-year inspiration that drove the creation of Series-V: A game of space of space exploration

I’m out of the professional coding world for over fifteen years, but it hasn’t stopped me from creating a multi-player online game inspired by 80s/90s computer bulletin board systems (BBSs) in the spirit of TradeWars 2002 and Legend of the Red Dragon.

To try the game yourself, visit https://series-v.com. Or, watch the short narrated demo walk-through below.

Watch a short demo of Series V: A game of space exploration

I still remember the specs of my first brand-new PC in the fall of 1993 that cost me $3,000: an Intel 486DX2 processor with 8MB RAM, 340MB hard drive, SoundBlaster Pro sound card, and a USRobotics 14.4K modem. With that PC came the joy of exploring local dial-up BBS systems, namely the Trenton NJ area It’s All Rock ‘N Roll and the text-based multi-player games the SysOp offered his members.

During the winter of 2016-17 I felt nostalgic for the bygone era of personal computing. To kill some time in the evenings I installed a DOS emulator on a second-hand netbook and loaded a copy of the WWIV BBS system to see if I could get it to run: and it did. While I knew there was no merit to keeping that setup, I turned my attention to creating a multi-player, text-based space exploration game playable in the browser on desktop, laptop, and tablet devices.

Initially, I had little expectations that I would fully finish the project, but I saw the challenge behind building a proof of concept. As a bonus, I would learn PHP and MySQL to experience new-to-me technologies.

Because the game is text-based, players are encouraged to use pencil and paper to draft maps and to note the location of objects and obstacles.

The objective is to win the game by having the highest score among all players when time expires. Players earn points by exploring space and mining asteroids, but should be cautioned that points are also deducted for mischief.

Designed with casual gamers in mind, the short-duration “pop up” nature will allow me to activate the game during long holiday weekends. I can then focus on building out minor enhancements and features as time permits throughout the year. Because the universe is reconfigured at the start of each game, it encourages players to skip rounds and jump back in at a later date to explore a newly-configured universe with different players and objectives.