Abandonware DOS title

Browse abandonware and retro games by keyword

Abandonware DOS catalogues a wide array of vintage PC games, each categorized by specific keywords or themes that characterize their gameplay, graphics, setting, etc. These keywords, such as "cyberpunk", "fantasy", "turn-based" or "first person 3D", help users to navigate through the games collection and find titles of interest.

Over time, these keywords may be adjusted, with some being retired, renamed, or supplemented with new ones. This ongoing process ensures that the catalog remains relevant and complete.

To locate games matching your preferences, simply click on the relevant keyword. Whether you're drawn to the futuristic allure of cyberpunk or the strategic depth of turn-based gameplay, Abandonware DOS offers a curated selection of old video games for DOS, Windows, Mac and Linux.

generic

advergame

(16 games)
Advergames, short for advertising games, are video games specifically created to promote a particular brand or product. Advergames often incorporate the brand's logos, products, or themes into the gameplay, making the advertising message an integral part of the gaming experience.
The primary goal of advergames is to capture the attention of the target audience, increase brand awareness, and foster a positive association with the advertised product or service. Advertisers use these games as a non-traditional and interactive method to connect with consumers.

canceled game

(6 games)
Developing a video game is a difficult and long process. There's no guarantee that the final product will be successful. It's even possible that a project won't be completed. Companies go bankrupt, designers come and go, games can end up in a developement hell and it's possible that a game may not see nor reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Canceled games happened even in the DOS era.

coin-op conversion

(120 games)
Arcades were extremely popular in the 80s and the 90s. Before poker machines and things like that, people used to go to pubs or arcades to play video games called coin ops (coin operated machines). Almost all of them were converted to consoles or home computers.

command line

(6 games)
A Command Line Interface (CLI) is a type of software that allows users to interact with a computer or software application through a text-based interface, using commands entered via a keyboard. Instead of using a graphical user interface (GUI) with buttons and menus, users interact with the system by typing commands into a terminal or command prompt.

compilation

(10 games)
A video game compilation refers to a collection of multiple video games that are typically released together as a single package or to a single game that includes more then one mini-games. These compilations can include games from the same series, games developed by the same company, or games that share a common theme or genre.

demo

(62 games)

Let's begin with a crucial point: not every old game is abandoned. With the resurgence of "vintage," there's a renewed interest in all things retro, including video games. As a direct consequence, some companies have acquired entire back catalogs of old games and started selling them. That's why many interesting games on Abandonware DOS are marked as "NOT abandonware"; they are available for purchase online.

Enter demos. As you probably already know, game demos, short for demonstration, are limited versions of video games that are released by game developers or publishers to give players a taste of the gameplay before they decide to purchase the full game. These demos are often released ahead of the full game's launch or alongside it. Game demos typically showcase a portion of the game, allowing players to experience the mechanics, graphics, and overall feel of the gameplay.

Game demo versions are a relic of the past. You don't often see demos of recent games on platforms like Steam or GOG, but in the late 80s and 90s, demo versions of games were quite common. This trend was especially notable when video game magazines started including floppy disks or CDs, at a time when the internet was almost non-existent.

Building on this premise, I have embarked on a journey to collect old game demos and make them accessible online through Abandonware DOS, with a specific focus on commercial games. Enjoy!

educational

(68 games)
Educational software programs are a peculiar kind of programs of various genres made with the intent of teaching. Gameplay, graphics and sound are still important aspects of educationals, but the main goal of the developer is to teach the player something: math, history, ecology, anything! Some educationals are created with a young audience in mind, other programs are aimed to a broader audience and appeal to adult gamers too: The Oregon Trail, Mario Teaches Typing and the Carmen Sandiego series are perfect examples of educational games.

fangame

(26 games)
Fan-made games are video games created by enthusiasts or fans of existing franchises, often using tools and resources available to them. These games are not officially licensed or endorsed by the creators or copyright holders of the original franchises. Fan-made games can take various forms, including remakes, sequels, prequels, spin-offs, or entirely new creations inspired by existing intellectual properties.

These projects are typically driven by passion and a desire to expand upon or pay homage to beloved franchises. Fan-made games can range widely in scope and quality, from simple modifications or "mods" of existing games to fully-fledged independent releases with original assets and gameplay mechanics.

Fan-made games often operate in legal gray areas due to their use of copyrighted material without permission. As a result, they may be subject to takedown notices or legal action from the original creators or copyright holders.

female protagonist

(59 games)
Before Tomb Raider, not many games involved main female characters. Carmen Sandiego, Laura Bow, Elvira, Jill of the Jungle and eve Ms. Pac-Man were exceptions to the "male" rule followed by early video games.

for kids

(30 games)
Video games in the 80s and the 90s were mainly aimed at teens (or a young audience anyway). Educational games were sometimes designed with a younger audience in mind: kids. Those games were simpler, often involved some kind of educational purpose and were specifically marketed for kids.

open source

(20 games)
Open-source software refers to computer software whose source code is made available to the public. The term "open source" means that anyone can view, use, modify, and distribute the source code. This is in contrast to proprietary or closed-source software, where the source code is kept secret and only the compiled, executable version is provided.
Various licenses govern the use and distribution of open-source software. Common open-source licenses include the GNU General Public License (GPL), Apache License, MIT License, and BSD License, each with its own terms and conditions.

remake

(67 games)
Games developed for DOS and other defunct home computers (or Personal Computers) date back to the 80s of the past century. This means they are old and it's diffucult to make them run on modern systems. Graphics, user experience and sound made huge leaps forward over the years, but somehow these old games managed to be remembered by me, you and someone crazy enough to put a lot of effort into remake them.
Some of these old games have been remade from scratch to varying degrees of faithfulness, whether by the hands of big gaming companies, indie developers or simply by individuals who had enough free time and coding skills.

shareware

(178 games)

Shareware is a type of software distribution model that allows users to try a program before purchasing it. It's a marketing strategy and distribution method that was particularly popular in the early days of personal computing, primarily during the 1980s and 1990s.
Shareware games were released for free with limited functionality (for example: no saving, missing levels, time limit), often via a BBS (Bulletin Board System), a floppy disc or a CD included in a printed magazine or by direct download (when internet was in its infancy). If the user liked the shareware product, they could pay to obtain an upgrade and unlock the full game. When digital distribution started to become popular, shareware games slowly faded into oblivion.

special and deluxe editions

(14 games)
Special and deluxe editions of video games are enhanced versions of the standard release, typically offering additional content and exclusive features. These editions are designed to provide extra value and cater to the desires of dedicated fans and collectors.

sports license

(48 games)
Sports games, in the DOS era, were often sponsored by popular sports personalities (John Madden, Michael Jordan, Jack Nicklaus, to name a few) or, in some cases, even by institutions (FIFA, NHL, NCAA, NFL). Such a name on the game box was a sure way to boost sales even for low quality games.

applications

browser

(4 games)
It might seem strange that there's a "browsers" category for software this old, but if you think about it makes sense. Internet was in its infancy in the 90s, but there were developers that understood the potential of this technology and created software such as primitive browsers even in those years (and even for DOS!).

database

(5 games)
A database management system, is a type of software that provides an interface for interacting with and managing databases. Its primary purpose is to facilitate the creation, organization, retrieval, and manipulation of data within a database. Database software serves as an intermediary between the user, applications, and the physical database, handling tasks such as data storage, retrieval, security, and integrity.

emulator

(3 games)
An emulator is software that enables one computer system, known as the host, to behave like another computer system, known as the guest. This allows the host system to run software or use peripheral devices designed for the guest system. Emulators are commonly used for various purposes, including running software from different platforms, testing software on different environments, and preserving older hardware and software for historical or compatibility reasons.

file management

(7 games)
File management software, also known as a file manager, is a type of application that provides a user interface for organizing, accessing, and manipulating files on a computer's file system. It allows users to perform tasks such as creating, deleting, copying, moving, and renaming files and folders.

gaming software

(12 games)
Back in the 80s and in the 90s, game design wasn't something for the common gamer. There were a few programs to help creating games with a decent user interface, aimed at the non-developers, but to be honest there weren't that many.
Interpreters are programs that execute other programs without really emulating the system they were intended to run on. Interactive fiction interpreters, for example, are a must-have for text-adventure fans.

graphics editor

(9 games)
A graphics editor is a software application used for creating, editing, and manipulating visual images or graphics. These tools provide a range of features for working with images, such as drawing, painting, cropping, resizing, and applying various effects. Graphics editors are widely used in design, digital art, photo editing, and other creative endeavors. They are essential for tasks such as creating web graphics, designing marketing materials, retouching photos, and producing digital artwork.

programming

(14 games)
Back in the 80s, programmers didn't have software with a visual interface like Eclipse or Visual C# to help them writing code. Programming software ran in DOS and the user had to get used to a text-only interface and a black screen. No Windows and almost no aid of any kind. The Borland Turbo series was one of the most popular suite of programming software.

sound software

(5 games)
A sound editor software, also known as audio editing software, is a program designed for manipulating and editing audio files. These applications provide tools for tasks such as cutting, copying, pasting, and arranging audio clips. They also often include features for adjusting volume, applying various effects, and enhancing overall audio quality. Sound editors are used for a variety of purposes, including music production, podcasting, video production, and general audio editing.

spreadsheet

(5 games)
A spreadsheet is a computer program or software application that is used for organizing, analyzing, and manipulating data in a tabular form. The data is typically arranged in rows and columns, and the intersection of a row and column is referred to as a cell. Each cell can contain data, such as numbers, text, or formulas, and can be used for various purposes, including calculations, data analysis, and presentation.

utility

(20 games)
Utility software refers to a type of system software designed to help manage and tune computer hardware, operating system, or application software. Unlike application software, which is designed for specific tasks such as word processing or web browsing, utility software serves a more general purpose, focusing on system maintenance, optimization, and support functions.

word processor

(9 games)
A word processor is a software application or program designed for the creation, editing, formatting, and printing of documents. It is a tool commonly used for word processing tasks, such as writing letters, reports, essays, and other types of documents. Word processors provide a range of features that make it easy for users to manipulate text, including tools for formatting, spell checking, and grammar checking.

awards

Abandonware DOS favourite

(51 games)
There are underrated games, bad and good games according to critics, popular games according you gamers, and then there are my favourite games. Sometime the games I like are the same games almost everyone love and sometimes they're obscure games no one ever heard of. I'm sure you have a "favourite" list of old games and I'm equally sure that you like some of them for other reasons than "it was a great game!". It's the same for me, that's why in this list you'll find games that are not universally acclaimed (DreamWeb holds a special place in my heart).

amazing soundtrack

(41 games)
Let's face it: video games designed for DOS weren't famous for their soundtrack. Nonetheless sometimes a musician/programmer managed to produce very nice tunes to the point that we could call that music a proper soundtrack. Music in video games, back in the DOS era, often took form of either MIDI tunes or MOD tracks and some of those melodies are still available somewhere on the internet.

arcade classic

(50 games)
Back in the day, when going to the "arcades" was a thing, a quite a few exceptional games made video game history. Titles like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and later games like Bubble Bobble, Street Fighter 2, Dragon's Lair are known both to video game fans and people who never touched a joystick in their lives. These games often spawned licensed conversions, sequels, fan-games and clones.

beautiful graphics

(53 games)
The concept of beauty is often very personal. Beauty is in the eye of the watcher, even when we're talking about video games. A first-person 3D game could be a joy for the eyes of some gamer or a pain to others. Pixel graphics is often considered beautiful if the player grew up playing in a decade when games were almost entirely pixellated. Lots of old games are considered aesthetically pleasing even today: Another World is still a beautiful game to most of us, and so is true for Loom (those wonderfully colored backgrounds!) and many others.

best selling

(39 games)
It's not easy to compile a list of the best selling PC games of all time. Why? Because the video game market changed dramatically in the past decades and if a game that sold 100000 copies 30 years ago was considered a best seller, it's not the same thing for a game that sold that many copies just a few years ago. This is an (unordered) list of the best selling games according to Wikipedia.

underrated underdog

(69 games)
In order to be an underdog, a game has to be "not well known" to the public (not now, nor at the time of its release) or underrated, but worth mentioning and playing for some reason. There are plenty of games that won the love of gamers against all odds; some of them even had a cult following. By the way, this keyword pays tribute to Sarinee Achavanuntakul, the owner of the first version of Home of the Underdogs, the site that started and popularized the abandonware concept.

based on a source

based on a TV game show

(11 games)
Games based on TV game shows were popular in the early days of DOS video gaming on older PCs. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that every major game show of the eighties was translated into a video game: Family Feud, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and more.

based on a TV series

(31 games)
The 70s and the 80's were the silver age of TV series. It was inevitable that the early game companies decided to make games out of them. Let's forget a moment about Star Trek, which received a huge amount of adaptations and think about other TV series: Mission Impossible, Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues. Even Beavis and Butthead got their own videogame.

based on a cartoon

(25 games)
Old PC games based on a cartoon often get inspiration or direct licenses from classics by Disney or Warner Bros cartoons, but there are a few exceptions based on more recent cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Krusty's Super Funhouse.

based on a comic book

(40 games)
Comics aren't always about superheroes. Think about classics like Tin Tin, Asterix or even comic strips like Dilbert or Peanuts. There are mangas and, in general, comic books created in different countries than the superhero-centric USA.

based on a movie

(81 games)
In the 80s and the 90s we all saw a lot of good blockbuster movies come out. Some of them were good, some of them were bad. Unfortunately, most of video games based on movies (called 'tie-in') were really bad. Developers tried to put everything they could in those games and divided gameplay in different parts, each of them with a different gameplay: platform, driving sim, puzzle, etc. The best games based on a movie are those that focus on a single genre: Indiana Jones games, Star Wars games etc.

based on a novel

(73 games)
A lot of old games were based on a book, being it a novel or even a short story. Some novels that inspired developers to create video games are The Lords of the Rings (by J. R. R. Tolkien, Rendez Vous with Rama (by Arthur Clarke), The Mist (by Stephen King).

based on a tabletop RPG

(45 games)
Video games and tabletop RPGs (TRPG) players often share an affinity. Video gaming companies took advantage of that and the result is quite some games based on pen and paper RPG systems. The most popular of them all is Dungeons & Dragons, but it's not the only one. Megatraveller, Space 1889 and Realms of Arkania are just some of the licensed games based on a non D&D TRPG.

based on toys

(11 games)
Surprisingly, given the similarities, video games based on toys are not that many. Popular toylines that made it into the digital entertainment world are, as you can expect, well known to everyone: Barbie, Trolls, toy soldiers, Micro Machines and even Tamagotchi.

clones

Asteroids clones

(6 games)
Asteroids is a unique video game. It's a fixed-screen arcade shooter different from shoot'em ups that we are used to play these days. Its simplicity lead to a huge success. Like other classic arcades, Asteroids spawned quite a few sequels.

Donkey Kong clones

(7 games)
Donkey Kong was a landmark in the history of videogames. It still inspires clones, sequels and even movies (think about Wreck-It Ralph). It's no surprise that Donkey Kong clones and games "inspired by" were quite a few even in the 80s and the 90s.

Pac-Man clones

(17 games)
Pac-Man is so well-known that it barely needs any presentation at all. It is one of the most iconic games ever developed. Pac-Man spawned sequels, spin-offs, variants, cartoons, comics, and even a live-action movie. It's no wonder that there were a lot of clones even for DOS.

Q*Bert clones

(5 games)
Sometimes, classic arcade games of the golden age of coin-ops are really weird. Q*Bert (yes, with an asterisc, and I still don't know how to pronounce it) is a strange creature that jumps up and down a pyramid made of cubes in order to avoid being caught by even stranger enemies. Really weird.

Qix clones

(9 games)
Qix is that very old arcade game in which you have to draw rectangles in order to claim portions of the screen. Like other classic arcade games of the time, Qix was later ported to quite a number of platforms. A few developers took inspiration from the original Qix and created new games with the same gameplay mechanics (Volfied, Gal Pani X, etc.).

Space Invaders clones

(10 games)
Space Invaders was a milestone in video gaming history. As one might expect, the Space Invaders franchise received lots of attention by developers all over the world. A number of sequels, remakes, fan games were published across the last decades and are still being released, some of them good, some not and some plain awful.

Tetris clones

(13 games)
I think I can safely say that Tetris is the single most popular computer puzzle game of all time. Countless variants were developed for every imaginable system year after year. Tetris was developed by a russian engineer called Alexey Pajitnov and published for the first time in 1984.

epochs

19th century

(49 games)
The 19th century was the age of steam, railroads and remarkable discoveries. It was the age of literary masterpieces like the Sherlock Holmes novels and Jules Verne's sci-fi stories. It's easy to see why some developers chose the 19th century as the setting for their games.

Vietnam war

(11 games)
Surprisingly enough, there are quite a few old games set during a very specific conflict like the Vietnam war. Games set in Vietnam are mainly combat flight simulators and strategy wargames of some kind.

World War I

(12 games)
World War I (also known as The Great War) was the first of the two world conficts of the modern era. Quite a few video games are set during those years: combat flight simulations, naval simulations and even shoot'em ups.

World War II

(86 games)
World War II was one of deadliest wars in history and one of the most well known: everyone knows about Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Churchill and the horrors that happened during that conflict. A lot of games are set during that time and in the areas of the world where World War II took place, mainly combat flight simulators, wargames and strategy games in general.

american civil war

(10 games)
The American Civil War took place in the 19th century and saw the United States of America fight against the Confederate States of America. As you can probably imagine, US based developers that were into historical strategy games created more than one game based on the American Civil War.

ancient China

(9 games)
China's history is full of mysticism, wonder and folklore. In the 80s and the 90s China wasn't exactly an open country and videogaming wasn't the main attraction for the chinese population. It was a japanese company that took advantage of ancient China's history to develop some interesting games (i.e. the Romance of the Three Kingdom series).

ancient Egypt

(12 games)
Pharaohs, pyramids, gods with animal heads, the Nile. These games are all set in ancient Egypt in one way or another: realistic simulations or strategy games, platformers loosely based on Egyptian mythology, etc.

ancient Greece

(11 games)
Zeus, Apollo, Eros and the other olympian gods are perhaps part of the most popular ancient pantheon among video gamers. Just think about one of the most successful video games ever made for PC: Populous 2.

ancient Rome

(13 games)

Ancient Rome was a powerful and influential civilization that emerged in the Italian Peninsula around the 8th century BCE and lasted until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE. It left a profound impact on Western culture, politics, law, architecture, language, and more.

Ancient Rome's influence on human history is profound and continues to be studied and admired for its accomplishments, as well as its lessons on governance, power, and civilization. These games are all set at the time when the ancient Romans were known (almost) in every corner of Europe and beyond.

cold war

(32 games)
There was a time when the two major political superpowers on Earth were at war, but it was a strange kind of war. U.S.A. and the former U.S.S.R. used spies, subterfuge, blockades, political and military influence all over the world to gain power on a global scale. The so called "Cold War" era lasted decades and ended in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin wall. Games set in the cold war often include espionage and strategy elements.

medieval

(57 games)
These games are not of the fantasy kind: no dragons, no elves, no dwarves and absolutely no magic. These are all games set in medieval times. This means castles and villages, alchemy and saints, kings and queens, monks and abbeys, knights and tourneys.

prehistory

(18 games)
Dinosaurs and cavemen are featured in a number of prehistoric themed games. The prehistoric age is almost never depicted in a realistic way, but we don't care much... because we all like to fight against a giant t-rex or to time travel back at the dawn of civilization, don't we?

western

(16 games)
Surprisingly, western is not a common theme in the golden era of PC video games. Sure, there are some good games set in the old West of the United States (and some classics too), but not as many as other games with specific settings like fantasy, horror, sci fi, even cyberpunk games. One of the early classics "wild west" game that comes to mind is Gun Smoke, unfortunately it was never published for a PC.

game engines

AGOS

(6 games)
The AGOS engine was used by HorrorSoft (and AdventureSoft) to develop their adventure games. The AGOS engine is based on AberMUD V.

Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI)

(15 games)
The AGI (an acronym for Adventure Game Interpreter) engine was an adventure game engine developed by Sierra, used for their earlier games.

Adventure Game Studio (AGS)

(2 games)
The AGS (an acronym for Adventure Game Studio) is an open source development software used to create adventure games not unlike games made with SCI (Sierra Creative Interpreter), the game engine of Sierra Online.

Adventure Game Toolkit (AGT)

(3 games)
The AGT (an acronym for Adventure Game Toolkit) engine was a text-adventure game engine developed by Mark Welch first and David Malmberg later, and used mainly for DOS interactive fiction. It was based on Mark J. Welch's 1985 Generic Adventure Game System (GAGS).

BASIC

(8 games)

Games written in BASIC have a rich history in the world of computer gaming. BASIC (Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a high-level programming language that gained popularity in the 1970s and 1980s as a beginner-friendly language for writing software on early personal computers. During this era, BASIC was the go-to language for hobbyist programmers who wanted to create their own games.

Games written in BASIC varied in complexity, from simple text-based adventures to graphical games with rudimentary graphics and sound capabilities. As computer hardware and programming languages advanced, BASIC gradually lost popularity as a primary language for game development. The simplicity and accessibility of BASIC played a crucial role in sparking their interest in programming and game development.

Build engine

(7 games)
The Build engine is a game engine that was developed by Ken Silverman in the early 1990s. It is known for being the engine used in several popular first-person shooter (FPS) games from that era. The Build engine powered games that featured a combination of 2D sprites for characters and objects and 3D environments.
One of the most notable games that used the Build engine is Duke Nukem 3D, released in 1996. Duke Nukem 3D was a groundbreaking game at the time, featuring interactive environments, multiplayer capabilities, and a humorous and irreverent tone. The Build engine also powered other games like Shadow Warrior and Blood.

Delphine Cinematique

(3 games)
The Delphine Cinematique engine was created by Delphine Software to develop some of their finest point and click adventure games.

Doom engine (id Tech 1)

(5 games)
The Doom Engine is the graphic engine used for the first time for the game Doom, by id Software. It was later used by a number of similar shooters.

Dynamix Game Development System (DGDS)

(3 games)
The DGDS engine was developed by Dynamix and stands for Dynamix Game Development System. Dynamix used the DGDS engine for their point and click adventure games.

Freescape

(7 games)

The Freescape engine was a revolutionary graphics engine developed by Incentive Software in the mid 1980s. It was designed to create immersive 3D environments and was used in several notable video games of that era.

The Freescape engine was groundbreaking because it allowed players to explore three-dimensional environments in a real-time first-person perspective, which was a significant leap forward in gaming at the time. The engine utilized wireframe graphics, creating a sense of depth and immersion in the game worlds it generated.

One of the most iconic games to utilize the Freescape engine was Driller, released in 1987. In Driller players navigated through an underground complex using the Freescape engine, solving puzzles and unraveling the game's intriguing storyline. The success of Driller led to the development of several other games utilizing the Freescape engine.

The Freescape engine had a significant impact on the gaming industry and influenced the development of future 3D engines and games. Its pioneering approach to real-time 3D graphics and first-person gameplay set the stage for the evolution of the genre.

Genie

(3 games)
The Genie engine was developed by Ensemble Studios and mainly for the Age of Empires series and Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds.

Gold Box SSI

(13 games)
The Gold Box engine was used in a series of role-playing video games, all of them produced by S.S.I. and based on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The "Gold Box" name comes from the gold colored boxes in which the games of the series were sold.

ICOM MacVenture

(4 games)
The MacVenture adventure games are a series of peculiar adventure games developed by ICOM Simulations. MacVenture games were notable for introducing a menu-based point-and-click interface that allowed the player to manipulate items dragging and dropping them directly from the environment to the inventory. Deja Vu and Shadowgame were perhaps two of the most popular ICOM adventures.

Infinity Engine

(5 games)
The Infinity Engine was a game engine developed by BioWare for Baldur's Gate and later used for Baldur's Gate 2, the Icewind Dale series and Planescape Torment.

Infocom InfoComics

(4 games)
InfoComics was a game engine developed by Infocom, used for a series of video games that today would be defined as visual novels, very similar to non-interactive comics. InfoComics weren't much popular and, apparently, were one of the causes that lead to Infocom demise.

M.A.D.S.

(4 games)
The M.A.D.S. engine was developed by Microprose and stands for Microprose Adventure Development System.

Pie in the Sky

(7 games)
Pie in the Sky engine was a game engine developed by Pie in the Sky Software. Pie in the Sky was also used by independent developers.

SCUMM

(11 games)

SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) is a game engine and scripting language developed by Lucasfilm Games (now known as LucasArts) for creating graphic adventure games. It was first used in the game "Maniac Mansion" in 1987 and then went on to power many classic point-and-click adventure games during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The SCUMM engine provided a way for game designers to create interactive and visually rich adventure games without needing to have an extensive background in programming. Instead of directly coding game logic, designers could use a set of commands and scripts to define characters' actions, interactions, and dialogue.

The SCUMM engine played a significant role in shaping the adventure game genre and influencing the way interactive storytelling in video games was approached. Over time, LucasArts transitioned to using newer engines for their games, and SCUMM became a historical artifact in the evolution of game development technology.

Sierra's Creative Interpreter (SCI)

(36 games)
The SCI (an acronym for Sierra's Creative Interpreter) engine was an adventure game engine developed by Sierra, used for their latest games.

Synergistic Software's World Builder

(6 games)
World Builder engine was a game engine developed by Synergistic Software and used mainly for their strategy and adventure games.

Unreal Engine

(4 games)
The Unreal Engine engine is a 3D game engine developed by Epic Games. It takes its name from the first game that was made with it, Unreal, published in 1998. The Unreal Engine was so successful that Epic Games still supports it and developed 5 version of the engine.

Virtual Theatre

(4 games)
The Virtual Theatre engine is a video game engine designed by Revolution Software for a few point and click adventure games. The Virtual Theatre engine allowed non-static NPCs that could wander the gameworld and interact with the environment.

Wolfenstein 3D engine

(10 games)
id Software developed 3D engines for several games before Doom: the first one was the "Wolfenstein 3D engine" that became popular with Wolfenstein 3D.

XnGine

(3 games)
XnGine engine was developed by Bethesda Softworks and used for FPSs and RPGS such as Terminator: Future Shock and The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall.

Z-machine

(33 games)
The Z-machine was developed by Infocom and used in its interactive fiction games. Z-machine is a virtual machine that allows a developer to easily develop text-adventures for multiple platforms without much hassle. A number of interpreters exists so you can play both old and new text adventures on dead platforms as well as recent ones: Glulx, Inform, TADS, etc.

gameplay

auto mapping

(84 games)
Some games (usually the less older ones) include an auto mapping system that helps the player by showing parts of the map already discovered. Auto mapping systems are usually found in role playing games like the Might and Magic series, or first person shooters like Doom or Duke Nukem 3D.

base building

(24 games)
Base building is a self-explanatory gameplay activity featured mainly in strategy and simulation games. In the X-Com series, part of the game involves building your base to properly fight an alien invasion. In Dungeon Keeper the goal of the game is to build an underground base and defend it from heroes. Recently some devs took base-building to a whole new level with games such as Dwarf Fortress and Rimworld.

class-based

(126 games)
A class based system forces the player to choose a specific "class" during the character generation and customization process. It's obviously used in games based on RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, where the classes can be warrior, mage, thief, and so on.

grid-based movement

(137 games)

Grid-based movement in video games refers to a movement system where characters or objects can only move along a predefined grid or set of discrete positions. The game world is divided into a grid, composed of squares or tiles, and the movement is typically restricted to the cardinal directions (up, down, left, and right).

Grid-based movement has been widely used in various types of games, including turn-based strategy games, role-playing games (RPGs), and tactical games. This movement system allows for precise positioning and strategic planning, as the player must consider the grid layout and plan their movements accordingly.
One of the advantages of grid-based movement is that it simplifies navigation and collision detection, as the game engine can easily determine valid movement paths and detect collisions with other objects on the grid.

open world

(123 games)

An open-world video game is a genre of video game where the player is given a large, expansive virtual world (or universe) to explore and interact with. In contrast to linear games that follow a predetermined path or level-based progression, open-world games typically offer freedom and non-linearity, allowing players to roam and engage with the game world at their own pace.

Open-world games often feature vast landscapes or cities that can be freely traversed, and they often include a variety of activities, missions, or quests for players to undertake. These games commonly provide a range of gameplay options, such as exploration, combat, puzzle-solving, character development, and interacting with non-player characters (NPCs).

Popular examples of open-world games include The Elder Scrolls series (e.g., Morrowind), the Grand Theft Auto series, Ultima 7, Darklands, and Star Control 2, among many others.

party-based

(144 games)
A party based system allows the player to create, customize and play with a party of adventurers at the beginning or during the game. The vast majority of old RPGs were party based: Ultima, Eye of the Beholder, The Magic Candle are just a few.

stealth

(18 games)
In games involving stealth, the player has a chance to avoid enemies instead of fighting them. This is accomplished by actions such as hiding in the shadows, using a disguise, carefully planning routes. Commandos is a game series notable for the large amount of gameplay requiring stealth to go on.

survival

(5 games)
Survival games are a recent trend, just take a look at the Steam and GOG catalogues and you'll get the idea. The concept of just surviving the environment wasn't much popular among developers in the past century. Nevertheless, someone decided to take their chances with an original gameplay concept: that's how The Oregon Trail was born.

team management

(30 games)
Some games - especially strategy games involving tactical movement and sports management games - task the player with the management of a team or squad composed by different characters. As the manager, you can usually hire new team members, equip each character with various items, choose which of them will be on the field. Squad management is heavily featured in Syndicate, the X-COM series, the Jagged Alliance series. Team management is a fundamental part of every team sports management game.

trading

(49 games)
If buying and selling goods is your thing, give these games a try. Every one of them involve trading in some form: buying and selling goods and moving them by sea (Ports of Call), stock exchange (Acquire, Black Monday), smuggling items in deep space (Elite, Frontier).

turn based

(463 games)
In direct contrast with real-time games, turn-based games gameplay is based on the players taking turns to do what needs to be done: move in a dungeon, play cards, attack enemy units.

genres

4x

(26 games)
4x stands for eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate. Players of these games control a whole empire by managing resources and technical developments (eXploit), expanding their domains (eXplore and eXpand), and fighting against the computer or other players (eXterminate). Among the most popular 4x games are Civilization and Master of Orion.

JRPG

(14 games)
JRPG is a common name for Japanese (or, generally speaking, far Eastern) RPGs. JRPGs have distinguishing features which tell them apart from traditional Western role-playing games: anime visuals, characters of a very young age (small children, teenagers), faster gameplays, streamlined plots and minimal characterizations. Among the most popular JRPG series are Final Fantasy, Ys, and Dragon Slayer.

action RPG

(49 games)
ARPG games (the acronym stands for Action Role-Playing Game) borrow gameplay elements from the action genre and mix them with real-time gameplay still retaining core RPG concepts that makes a CRPG (Computer Role-Playing Game) what it is. Combat is often dependent on the players' own reflexes while combat tactics usually play a minor role.

action puzzle

(67 games)
Action puzzle games require the player to manipulate game pieces in a real-time environment. Action puzzle games show features of both action games and puzzle games; it's a broad definition that can be applied to a lot of puzzle games.

american football

(10 games)
American Football is a sport that received much attention from developers in the past decades, expecially from american ones. There are american football games of every kind: realistic sports simulations, management strategic games and of course action games. Licensed american football games were not uncommon: think about Joe Montana, Mike Ditka, NFL.

artillery

(11 games)
Artillery is a specific subgenre of strategy games. Artillery games involve aiming and shooting at other players in a turn based static environment. To better understand what I'm talking about just think at Worms: that's an artillery game.

baseball

(16 games)
Baseball was one of the sports genres that gave us a lot of games to play with, both sports sims and action-oriented games. The Hardball series and the MicroLeague Baseball series are just two of the many games that saw the light of day back in the 90s.

basketball

(12 games)
Basketball videogames came in many flavors: basketball simulations, arcade games, from a side-view, top-down or even third-person 3D perspective. Some of the most popular basket videogames were the licensed Lakers vs. Celtics and TV Sports Basketball by Cinemaware.

beat 'em up

(32 games)

A beat 'em up video game, also known as a brawler, is a genre of action video games that focuses on close combat fighting against multiple enemies. In these games, players control a character who must battle through hordes of enemies using hand-to-hand combat or melee weapons.

Beat 'em up games often feature side-scrolling or 2D gameplay. Players move across the screen, progressing through levels or stages, while encountering waves of enemies. The primary objective is to defeat all the enemies and progress further in the game.

These games usually provide a variety of moves and attacks, including punches, kicks, throws, and special abilities or power-ups. Sometimes, beat 'em ups allow cooperative multiplayer, where two or more players can join forces to fight enemies together. Classic examples of beat 'em up games include Double Dragon, Golden Axe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

block breaker

(14 games)
Block breaker is a term often used to describe a type of video game that involves breaking or destroying blocks or bricks within the game environment. These games are typically characterized by a paddle or platform at the bottom of the screen that the player controls, and a wall of blocks at the top of the screen that the player must eliminate. The player uses the paddle to bounce a ball or projectile into the blocks, and when the ball hits a block, it destroys or "breaks" the block.
One of the most iconic block breaker games is Breakout which was created by Atari and released in 1976. Arkanoid is another well-known block breaker game that was released in the 1980s.

board game

(92 games)
Classic board games like Backgammon, Othello, Checkers were an inspiration to the first wave of developers for their simplicity and appeal. In time, modern board games like Diplomacy, Risk, Monopoly or Scrabble were also adapted in a number of games. And let's not forget the strategy games NOT based on actual tabletop games which gameplay is clearly inspired by board games (like the excellent Archon).

boxing

(7 games)
Boxing games: for sports fan that like some violence on screen, possibly without blood. Boxing games range from somewhat accurate simulations to relatively funny arcade games.

business simulation

(92 games)
Business simulations (also called tycoon simulations or management simulations) are video games that focus on the economic and the management side of running a business. In tycoon games the player can be in charge of any kind of business: a company, a sports team, an hospital, an amusement park, even a drug cartel.

cards

(31 games)
Whether you like poker, blackjack or other casino-like card games, if you like strip poker or if you fancy collectible card games, there are quite a lot of cards video games for both DOS and Windows.

chess

(19 games)
One of the most ancient tabletop games in the world was the inspiration for a plethora of PC games. There are literally tons of classic chess strategy games as well as less serious titles, based on fantasy settings (like the Battle chess series) or born from the marriage of strategy and action (like the popular Archon series).

city building

(17 games)
City building games are simulation games in which the player is in charge of planning a whole city. The player can manage a city by developing different areas and infrastructure, tweaking the economy and paying attention to the citizens need. Some of the most popular city-building simulations are the SimCity series, The Settlers and Caesar.

civilian flight simulation

(13 games)
Civilian flight simulator games are very different from their combat counterpart. In Civilian flight games, as the name suggests, the player have to fly airliners, manage traffic, take offs and landings. No combat is involved. The most popular civilian flight simulators are the Microsoft Flight Simulator series.

dungeon crawl

(66 games)
Dungeon crawlers are RPGs in which the player has to explore one or more dungeons, fight monsters one after another, looting treasure, advance to higher levels and so on. Usually, dungeon crawlers have simple storylines and linear progression. A lot of roguelikes can be described as dungeon crawlers.
Popular dungeon crawlers are Diablo, Legend of Grimrock, Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder.

falling blocks

(23 games)
Falling blocks puzzle games means just one thing: Tetris. Everyone knows Tetris, but not everyone knows about the countless clones and original games that took the Tetris concept and built something new. Anyway, this kind of puzzles involve using falling blocks to complete patterns of some kind.

fighting

(35 games)
Fighting games involve hand-to-hand combat against a single opponent for the whole duration of a match. A distinctive trait of fighting games are the special attacks, i.e. combinations of graphically striking moves which enhance the intensity of the fight. Some of the soundest fighting games of all times are Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat.

first-person action-adventure

(14 games)
First-person action-adventure games became more popular in recent years, but the first ones to be conceived can be dated back a few decades ago (Castle Master, Total Eclipse, Driller). Like every action-adventure game, they can include features of both action and adventure genres: an inventory system, action sequences, a linear story, etc.

first-person party-based RPG

(58 games)
Party-based role-playing games with a first person perspective became popular after the release of Dungeon Master in 1989. Before Dungeon Master only a handful RPGs used first person, the Bard's Tale and Wizardry series among others. Dungeon Master managed to create a very neat user interface without sacrificing the gameplay. Some of the most popular first person perspective series are: Eye of the Beholder, the Wizardry series, Might and Magic.

first-person shooter

(71 games)
First-person shooters (FPS for short) are shoot'em all action video games in which the player shoots its way from level to level through a first-person perspective. The most popular FPS series are Doom, Half-life, and Quake.

flight simulation

(82 games)
The most common kind of vehicle simulation is without doubt flight simulation involving planes or helicopters of any kind. There are two distinct types of flight simulation games: the ones focused on aerial combat (often involving historical scenarios, missions, etc.) and the ones based on civilian flight.

god game

(12 games)
A god game is a genre of video games where the player assumes the role of a deity or god and has control over various aspects of the game world. In these games, players typically have god-like powers and influence over the environment, characters, and events within the game. The genre is characterized by its focus on simulation, strategy, and management elements.
God games typically involve managing or influencing the inhabitants of the game world, whether they are virtual people, creatures, or civilizations. Many god games offer a sandbox mode where players can experiment and create without specific objectives or limitations.

golf

(10 games)
Golf was one of the most simulated sports in the DOS era. There were also a few licensed games, such as Jack Nicklaus' Unlimited Golf or PGA Tour Golf. Even Sid Meier (and Will Wright) designed a game based on golf: Sid Meier's SimGolf.

graphic adventure with text parser

(32 games)
There's a fine line between a "text adventure" (also called interactive fiction) and a graphic adventure. Before point and click adventure games such as Monkey Island, Gabriel Knight ore Day of the Tentacle, developer companies first attempted to create adventure games with graphics, but with a text-based interface. The one company that took advantage of this kind of adventure was Sierra On-Line with it's King's Quest, Leisure Suit Larry and Space Quest series.

helicopter simulation

(11 games)
The most simulated vehicles are by far combat planes of any kind and from every time period: secondo world war, cold war, modern times. Planes are followed by tanks, ships and submarines. Helicopter simulations aren't many, but some of them really deserve to be played.

hockey

(8 games)
Surprisingly, hockey was one of the most emulated sports in the 90s. There were both more or less accurate hockey simulations and hockey action games. Some hockey games included aspects of both simulation and action genres.

interactive fiction

(138 games)
Interactive fiction games (or text adventures) are adventure games in which the player gives textual commands in order to act within the given story. The story itself is told both using text and static pictures or with no graphics of any kind, just text. The genre's stepping stones are Adventure (developed in 1975) and the Zork series. Infocom, Legend Entertainment and Magnetic scrolls were some of the most popular interactive fiction developers of the 80s.

interactive movie

(12 games)
Interactive movies are adventure games that feature lots of cinematic scenes and heavy scripted gameplay. The most popular adventure interactive movie series for PC is perhaps Dragon's Lair, developed by ReadySoft.

isometric action-adventure

(14 games)
In isometric action-adventure games the action (and the adventure too...) takes place in an isometric environment. Isometric perspective allow the player to walk around in a 3D environment in a third-person view without the need of real 3D graphics. Like every action-adventure game, isometric action-adventure games can include features of both adventure and action elements: action mini-games, inventory, a story, etc.

kingdom simulation

(23 games)

In a kingdom simulation, the player is tasked with the management of a whole kingdom (or empire). Kingdom simulations involve managing the army and the economy of your lands by building a military force, raise or lower taxes, trade commodities. Kingdom sims and are usually set in a medieval or a fantasy world.

life simulation

(15 games)
In life simulations players control one or more artificial life-forms, from animals to virtual alter egos. Gameplay can be differente from game to game and can include social or biological themes. Some of the most populare simulations are Alter Ego and the Princess Maker series.

math puzzle

(6 games)
Mathematics is usually not a very appreciated theme for gaming. Nonetheless, there are puzzle games that include maths as a main gameplay element in explicit form (Super Solvers: Outnumbered!) or in a less obvious way (Minesweeper).

maze

(60 games)

Maze video games are a genre of action games that involve navigating a complex network of paths or corridors with the goal of reaching a specific destination or completing an objective. The gameplay revolves around solving puzzles or overcoming challenges presented by the maze-like environment.

In maze games, players typically control a character or an object and must navigate through a labyrinthine structure filled with obstacles, dead-ends, and sometimes enemies or hazards.

Maze games have been popular since the early days of gaming, with classic examples like Pac-Man, ZZT, Gauntlet.

mech simulation

(8 games)
Giant robots deserve their vehicle simulation category. When one talks about "mechs" the first thing that comes to mind are anime series like Macross or tabletop games like Battletech. The awesomeness of Mechs found its way in the video game world with games like the very popular Mechwarrior series.

metroidvania

(10 games)
Metroidvania is a subgenre of action-adventure video games that combines elements from two popular game series: "Metroid" and "Castlevania." The name "Metroidvania" itself is a portmanteau of these two titles. This subgenre is characterized by several key gameplay and design features: exploration, non-linear progression, upgrades and abilities, storytelling and boss battles. 
Both the Metroid and Castlevania series served as influential templates for the Metroidvania subgenre, with "Metroid" games focusing more on sci-fi and alien worlds, and "Castlevania" games having a gothic, vampire-hunting theme.

miniature golf

(5 games)
Golf games are abuntant in video game history. Miniature golf didn't receive the same attention in terms of quality and, obviously, quantity. However, with miniature golf, designers didn't have to stick to a realistic simulation. The result are these weird games.

multi-sport

(19 games)
Some sports games are not focused on a single sport. Games about winter or summer olympics are an example, but the list goes on to encompass any kind of "collection" of sports, no matter how weird they are: California Games, Bar Games, Knight Games, American Gladiators, etc.

naval simulation

(22 games)
Naval simulations are vehicle simulation games where you take command of one or more ships, boats or other similar watercraft. Usually, gameplay involves some kind of strategic aspect, but they are all vehicle simulations at the core.

olympic sports

(9 games)
Olympic sports (both summer olympics and winter olympics) were the subject of a number of video games for a variety of platforms since the 8 bit era. The thing with olympic video games is that a developer must come up with a mini-game for every sport discipline.

physics puzzle

(7 games)

Physics-based puzzle video games are a genre of video games that rely on realistic or semi-realistic physics simulations to create challenging and engaging puzzles for players to solve. These games typically involve manipulating objects, characters, or the game environment in a way that takes into account the laws of physics, such as gravity, friction, momentum, and inertia.

Key features of physics-based puzzle video games include: realistic physics, puzzle solving, trial and error, environmental interaction, platformer elements. These games often offer a unique and intellectually stimulating gaming experience, as players need to apply their understanding of physics principles to progress through the game.

pinball

(15 games)
A small subset of action video games, pinball games are the digital counterpart of the classic pinball machines of the analogic era. Some of them include only one board, others, more recent games, offer to the player a variety of boards to play on. Popular pinball video games series include: Pinball Dreams, Epic Pinball, etc.

platform

(204 games)

Platform games, also known as platformers, are a genre of video games characterized by gameplay focused on navigating a protagonist through a series of platforms and obstacles within a 2D or 3D environment. The main objective in platform games is to progress through levels, often reaching the end or completing specific objectives.

In platform games, players typically control a character who possesses the ability to jump or perform other acrobatic moves. These movements allow the character to traverse platforms, avoid obstacles, and defeat enemies or overcome challenges.

The genre originated in the early days of video gaming, with iconic titles like "Super Mario Bros" and "Donkey Kong" shaping the foundation of platformers. The success of these games led to the growth and diversification of the genre, resulting in a wide range of platform games with unique gameplay mechanics, art styles, and level designs.

point and click adventure

(173 games)
Point & click adventure games are typically mouse-oriented games. The player uses the cursor to guide characters, pick up items, and manage the items inventory. Among the most popular point and click adventure games are: The Secret of Monkey Island series, the Indiana Jones series, the Leisure suit Larry, King's Quest and Space Quest series.

political simulation

(16 games)
Political simulation games put the player at the political helm of a government. Political simulations emphasizes political activities such as: win an election campaign, run a whole government, scheme behind the curtains of a political party, etc.. Some of the most popular political simulations are Shadow President, The Cardinal of the Kremlin, Balance of Power.

pool / snooker

(6 games)
Hitting balls with a stick is not the most popular of sports. Nonetheless, there are quite a few fans that love pool, snooker or other green-table variants. Pool and snooker found their way on many computer platforms of the past.

puzzle adventure

(15 games)
Puzzle adventures are adventure games that put a strong emphasis on logic puzzles. They often lack the inventory and the story is usually less important than other adventure games. One of the most popular puzzle adventure series is Myst.

racing: Formula 1

(9 games)
Racing games of any kind (action, simulation, shooters) involving cars and a particular kind of racing competition: Formula 1.

racing: car

(81 games)
Racing games are traditionally car racing games. Players just love driving at maximum speed vehicles on four wheels: Formula 1 cars, 4WD, sports cars and even Micro Machines. Car racing (and driving) games are usually simulations or action games.

racing: futuristic

(17 games)
Racing games of any kind (action, simulation, shooters) involving futuristic vehicles: supersonic cars, jumping spaceships, armored sci-fi cars, etc.

racing: motorcycle

(14 games)
Racing games of any kind, from action to simulations, involving all kinds of two-wheeled vehicle (well... motorcycles): superbikes, Harleys, Micro Machines, etc.

racing: off-road

(9 games)
Racing games of any kind (action packed, simulation-focused, shooters) involving any kind of vehicle racing on off-road tracks. If you enjoy racing on dirt, sand, water, etc, these are the games you want to download.

racing: unusual vehicles

(23 games)
The most popular racing games involve driving conventional vehicles like (cars, bikes, etc). There's a different kind of racing game in which the player has to drive unusual vehicles such as war boats, prehistoric bikes, spaceships, penguins... More often than not, these racing games involve shooting or some kind of other non-conventional activity (for a racing game anyway).

rail shooter

(9 games)
Rail shooters (as in... railroad) are shooter games in which the player movement is limited in some way to a specific route. In rail shooters you don't experience the freedom of walking/running/driving anywhere you like on the screen.

real-time strategy

(56 games)
Real-time strategy games (RTS for short) are strategy games in which actions do not happen in turns, but are free to happen continuously, thus players can issue commands, like moving or assembling combat units, at any time. Some of the most well-known RTS series are Warcraft, Starcraft, Command & Conquer, and Age of Empires.

real-time tactics

(37 games)
Real-time tactics games are an hybrid between real-time strategy (RTS) and turn-base tactics. Real-time tactics are played in real-time, like RTSs, but lack the resource management and base and unit building elements. Real-time tactics games focus much more on individual units and tactics on the battlefield. Some of the most popular real-time tactics games are: the Syndicate series, Cannon Fodder.

reveal the picture

(9 games)
Reveal the picture puzzles are games in which you have to compose or expose a whole picture starting on a board with mixed pieces or a blank board.

roguelike

(27 games)

A roguelike is a genre of role-playing video games characterized by certain gameplay elements and mechanics. These games are inspired by the 1980 game "Rogue" which is where the genre gets its name. The defining features of roguelikes include:
Procedural generation: levels, maps, and other game elements are created algorithmically rather than being pre-designed.
Permadeath: when your character dies, you typically lose all progress and must start the game from the beginning. There are no checkpoints or save points to reload from.
Random loot: items, weapons, and equipment found in the game world are often randomly generated.

Roguelikes come in various settings and themes, ranging from traditional fantasy settings to sci-fi, horror, and more. The genre has seen significant evolution over the years, leading to sub-genres like "roguelite" and "roguelike-like" which may have some of the core features of roguelikes but with more forgiving gameplay mechanics or progression systems.

run and gun

(47 games)
Run and gun games - sometimes called scrolling shooters - are a mix of platform games and shoot 'em ups. The player is in control of a character - usually a soldier loaded with guns - who walks and shoots in real gravity environments. Contra, Rambo 3, Alien Breed are three of the most popular run and gun games.

sandbox RPG

(22 games)
In sandbox RPGs, the player has a huge amount of freedom in terms of gameplay. Sandbox RPGs are open world: you can go anywhere anytime, there are no or little to the freedom of movement. The typical world of a sandbox RPG is very large and full of different locations (cities, planets, etc.) and a variety of encounters (random monsters, NPCs, etc.).

sandbox strategy

(28 games)
There's something magical in sandbox strategy games. You can do literally what you want without the typical constraints of games that tell you what to do. SimCity is the perfect example: play at your own pace, set your own goals and just play. On Abandonware DOS games are listed as sandbox even if the sandbox gameplay is just a small part of the whole (i.e. "play in sandbox mode").

shoot 'em up

(131 games)
Shoot 'em ups were extremely popular in the '80s and '90s. In a classic shoot 'em up, the player controls a vehicle, a spaceship or an aircraft with the only goal of destroying the largest number of enemies as possible while dodging bullets and staying alive. Through the years, shoot 'em ups evolved to include features like end level bosses, multiple weapons and power-ups. Some of the most popular DOS shoot 'em ups were: Raptor, Tyrian 2000, Xenon 2.

shooting gallery

(15 games)
In shooting gallery games, the player have to shoot at targets using an on-screen cursor (usually a crosshair) to take aim. Older shooting gallery games were first person shooters; later that changed and the player came to be represented by an avatar who could move to avoid enemy attacks.

soccer

(35 games)
Football (or soccer) is one of the most successfully simulated sports in video games on every platform, both consoles and PCs, since the dawn of 8-bit video gaming. There's been a number of soccer games of various genres: simulations (the FIFA series), arcade/action games (Kick Off, Sensible Soccer), team management simulations (Championship Manager, Premier Manager), etc. Some of them became successful franchises, others are no longer even remembered.

sokoban

(11 games)
Sokoban is a very specific subgenre of puzzle games that takes its name from the original Sokoban. Soko-Ban (meaning warehouse keeper) is a puzzle game in which the player pushes boxes around in a warehouse, trying to get them to predefined locations. The original Sokoban was so successful (apparently) that spawned a number of clones.

space combat

(30 games)
In space combat games flying a starship is not enough, you have to be a good fighter to kill enemies and survive in space. The gameplay involves space combat (obviously) and, sometimes, exploration, trading, dialogues, etc. Two of the most popular space combat game series are Wing Commander and X-Wing / Tie Fighter.

space exploration

(26 games)
Space exploration is one of the most unique genres and the first games ever published dates back a few decades. Space exploration games are a mix of simulation and action. The gameplay is all about piloting a starship in the vastness of space and having fun with activities such as space exploration, trading commodities, space combat, asteroid mining, pirate hunting, etc. The most popular space exploration games are Elite and Frontier, both designed by David Braben.

space simulation

(49 games)
Space simulation games, as the name suggests, are all about flying a starship in the vastness of space. The gameplay usually involves one or more of the following activities: space combat, space exploration, trading commodities, taking missions, piracy, crafting, mining asteroids, etc. Some of the most popular space sim series are Wing Commander, Elite and X-Wing / Tie Fighter.

submarine simulation

(14 games)
A submarine simulation is a type of video game that simulates the experience of operating a submarine. These games aim to provide players with a realistic or semi-realistic portrayal of submarine operations, including navigation, combat, and various mission objectives. Submarine simulations often emphasize strategic thinking, navigation skills, and an understanding of underwater warfare tactics.
Submarine simulation games may be set in historical periods, allowing players to experience the challenges faced by submarines in different eras. Alternatively, some games may take place in fictional settings or future scenarios.
Popular examples of submarine simulation games include titles like the Silent Service series, Das Boot, Aces of the Deep.

tank simulation

(13 games)
Long before the more recent World of Tanks, armored vehicles like tanks or trains were the protagonists of quite a few simulation games. Tanks had their share of vehicle sims.

tennis

(11 games)
Tennis sports games are usually action-oriented, with the player controlling a single athlete. Management tennis games or accurate tennis simulations were not really considered by developers back in the day.

third-person action-adventure

(14 games)

A third-person action-adventure is a genre of video game that combines elements of action and adventure gameplay while utilizing a third-person perspective. In this type of game, the player controls a character and navigates through a three-dimensional game world.

The third-person perspective means that the camera is positioned behind the character, providing a view of their actions and surroundings. This viewpoint allows players to see their character's movements, interactions, and the environment from a more cinematic angle.

The action component of the genre refers to the emphasis on fast-paced combat, platforming, and physical challenges. The adventure aspect involves exploration of the game world, solving puzzles, and unraveling a storyline or completing quests. Examples of popular third-person action-adventure games include the Tomb Raider series, Assassin's Creed series, and Alone in the Dark series.

third-person shooter

(12 games)
Third-person shooters (TPS) are action video games in which the player, visible on screen, shoots its way in a 3D environment (real 3D, false 3D, isometric, etc.) through a third-person perspective. Some of the most popular third-person shooters games are the Tomb Raider series, Space Harrier, Fade to Black.

tile-matching

(35 games)

Tile-matching puzzle video games are a popular genre of games that involve manipulating and matching tiles or blocks to clear them from the game board. These games typically feature a grid-based layout where players must swap, slide, or rotate tiles to create matches of three or more identical tiles. Tile-matching puzzle games can be highly addictive and offer simple, yet challenging gameplay. 
They are often designed with colorful graphics, catchy soundtracks, and progressively difficult levels to keep players engaged and entertained.

The objective of tile-matching puzzle games is to clear the game board by making matches, which causes the matched tiles to disappear. As players progress, the difficulty usually increases, introducing obstacles such as limited moves, time constraints, or special tiles with unique properties. Tile-matching puzzle games can come in various forms and themes including match-3 games, collapse-style games, mahjong games.

top-down party-based RPG

(45 games)
Party-based role-playing games played in a top down perspective were perhaps the first CRPGs to get some attention by fans of pen & paper RPGs. After all, a top down view is the ideal way to convey the feeling of looking at a map, and it's the perfect way to show every member of the party in a turn-based combat. The most fondly remembered top-down CRPGs of the golden age of gaming were perhaps the ones designed by the immortal Richard Garriott: the Ultima series. Let's not forget classics such as The Magic Candle, Dark Sun, Wasteland.

traffic and transportation

(13 games)
Some business simulations - and even some flight sims - are more focused on traffic networks and transport management than anything else. This happens in games that simulate train networks, air traffic control, goods transportation. Some of the most popular traffic and transportation simulations are Railroad Tycoon and Transport Tycoon.

trivia / quiz

(20 games)
Trivia is one of the most basic forms of entertainment and perhaps one of the easiest to simulate on a computer. One of the most popular game series that involves some kind of trivia is the Where is Carmen Sandiego?

turn-based tactics

(93 games)

Turn-based tactical video games are a genre of strategy games where gameplay is divided into turns, during which players take sequential actions with their units or characters. In turn-based tactical games, players typically control a group of units, such as soldiers, heroes, or specialized characters, and navigate them across a grid-based map or environment. Each turn, players can move their units, attack enemies, use special abilities, or perform other actions within the game's mechanics and rules.

The turn-based nature of these games allows players to carefully consider their options and plan their moves strategically, taking into account factors like terrain, unit strengths and weaknesses, and the overall objectives of the game. Typically, the outcome of battles or encounters is determined by a combination of factors such as unit statistics, positioning, and sometimes random chance. Some well-known examples of turn-based tactical games include the XCOM series, Heroes of Might and Magic series, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Jagged Alliance. 

unconventional sports

(35 games)
The mix between sports, video games and eccentric game designers sometimes lead to weird results. If a sports video game it's not usually played in real life (or not at all), you can find it on this page: futuristic sports, fantasy sports, even satirical sports.

vehicular combat

(18 games)

A vehicular racing game (or combat racing game) is a genre of racing game that combines traditional racing mechanics with elements of vehicular combat. In these games, players not only compete in races to finish first but also engage in combat with opponents using various weapons, power-ups, and strategies. The focus is not solely on speed and racing skills; players also need to eliminate or hinder their opponents to gain an advantage and secure victory.

These games often take place in futuristic or fantasy settings, where vehicles are equipped with weapons, armor, and other unique attributes. Players can use offensive and defensive tactics to target opponents, protect themselves, and race through tracks filled with obstacles, hazards, and other challenges. The combat aspect adds an additional layer of strategy to the traditional racing experience.

visual novel

(13 games)
Visual novels are adventure video games with a very limited interactivity. Most visual novels are interactive stories, with the player reduced to a passive reader clicking to go on with the story. The vast majority of visual novels graphics is 2D and anime-styled.

volleyball

(5 games)
Volleyball is a sport that seldom gets any attention or media coverage. In the DOS era there were a handful of games that tried to simulate volleyball, thet were mainly action/arcade oriented games.

wargame

(76 games)
Wargames, much like their tabletop counterparts, are tactical, strategy games in which the players must win battles between two warring factions by moving and attacking with single units, usually played on top-down hex maps. Wargames are often historically accurate, but they can also be based on fantasy or sci-fi settings. Some of the most popular wargames are Panzer General and the Close Combat series.

water sports

(8 games)
Water sports - as the name suggests - encompass a wide range of recreational and competitive activities that take place on or in the water. These sports can take place in various bodies of water, including oceans, lakes, rivers, and swimming pools. Some of the most popular water sports are: swimming, surfing, fishing, boat racing, etc.

winter sports

(15 games)
Winter sports - as the name suggests - are athletic activities or competitions that take place on snow or ice during the winter months. These sports often require specific conditions provided by cold temperatures and frozen surfaces. Examples of winter sports are: skiing, ice hockey, snowboard, biathlon.

word puzzle

(17 games)
Word puzzle games were fairly common when internet wasn't "worldwide", back in the 80s and, to some extent, even in the 90s. Word games weren't that popular, but were easy to develop and a kids loved them. Some word games were inspired by tv shows: Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are two examples.

wrestling

(7 games)
Hulk Hogan, André The Giant, The Million Dollar Man, Ultimate Warrior. I'm sure many of you recognized these names immediately. You know what I'm talking about: the kind of wresting that mixed the real deal with drama. Games developers couldn't ignore a sport like wrestling.

graphics

anime / manga style

(25 games)
In the 80s and 90s the Japan influence on western culture started to grow exponentially. Publishers and designers noticed that peculiar trend and produced some of the earliest video games for DOS and Windows with graphics based on anime or manga style.

false 3D

(77 games)
Before the first real 3D techniques started to become popular in RPGs, some developers used to "mimic" a 3D perspective without 3D technology. The RPG that popularized that kind of "false 3D" was Dungeon Master. Fake 3D environments were also widely used in SSI Goldbox RPGs and a few others.

first person

(68 games)

First-person view (FPV) video games are a type of video game where the player experiences the game world from the perspective of the protagonist or main character. The game's visuals are presented as if the player is looking through the eyes of the character, providing a sense of immersion and realism.

In first-person view games, the player's view is typically represented by a graphical rendering of the character's field of vision, showing what the character would see if they were actually present in the game world. This perspective often includes a virtual representation of the character's hands or body to enhance the immersion.
First person 3D games have their own keyword.

first person 3D

(292 games)
Games with first person 3D perspective represent the environment using all three spatial dimensions. The action is seen from a first-person point of view. FPS (First-person shooters) make extensive use of first-person 3D.

fixed 3D

(12 games)
Games with fixed 3D perspective represent the game world in fully three dimensional way, from a fixed third-person point of view and do not let the player change the camera. Alone in the Dark is a perfect example of this tecnique.

fixed screen

(357 games)
In a fixed screen game there is no scrolling, neither vertical nor horizontal. In a fixed screen video game, the screen doesn't move in any way. Anything but the screen can usually move anyway, but gameplay is restricted to the fixed screen. Early arcade games where typically fixed screen games: scrolling was harder to obtain in the early age of video gaming.

full motion video

(24 games)
In the 90s the CD slowly became the main support for the distribution of video games. Floppy disks faded into nothingness and developer could stop trying to fit games into 20 disks, forcing gamers to disk swap. How to take advantage of the huge capacity of CDs? With lots of video, of course... and lots of less than good video games that used full motion video (or cartoons) as much as they could.

hex based

(61 games)
Many old turn-based wargames took place on a map represented with identical hexagons. These hex-based games are not common these days (Civilization V is a rare exception), but were well known to C64, DOS PC and Spectrum owners.

isometric

(184 games)
Games with isometric perspective represent the game world in an isometric three dimensional way, from a third-person point of view. Alone in the Dark is a perfect example of this tecnique. Usually, when referring to a game perspective as "isometric", we also mean some kind of parallel projection different from isometric perspective.

multi-directional scroller

(164 games)
A multi-directional scroller is a video game in which the action is shown in a top-down or isometric perspective and the player can scroll the screen in any direction (vertical, horizontal, diagonal).

rotoscoping

(17 games)
Rotoscoping is an animation process used to "draw" over a motion picture footage, frame by frame, to obtain a realistic animated scene. Rotoscoping was extensively used by Jordan Mechner for Prince of Persia and other games.

side-scroller

(252 games)
A side-scroller (or horizontal scrolling) is a video game in which the action is shown in a side perspective and the environment scrolls mainly on an horizontal axis. Characters usually have to move from the left to the right side of the screen to go on in the game.

text-based

(265 games)
In the past, lots of games used ASCII characters (text) to represent the game world. These text-only video games may seem primitive and outdated and, in fact, the genre almost died with the fast evolving graphics of modern games.
A few genres traditionally linked to the beautiful world of ascii characters still survives: roguelikes (nethack, angband, etc.) and interactive fiction, for example.

third person 3D

(116 games)
Games with third person 3D perspective represent environment in a full three dimensional way, from a third-person point of view, usually from behind.

top down

(714 games)
Top down games were very popular in the 80s and the 90s, when graphic cards were not capable of supporting 3D, and even when 3D started to become popular, 2D games continued to be easier to develop, at least in the infancy of 3D gaming. 2D game offered the player a viewpoint that helped keeping things easily under control (think about top down party-based RPGs or hex-based strategy games).

vector graphics

(14 games)

Vector graphics in video games refer to a type of graphical representation where images are defined using geometric shapes, lines, curves, and mathematical equations, rather than a fixed grid of pixels like in raster graphics. In vector graphics, the shapes are described by their properties, such as coordinates, sizes, colors, and gradients, rather than by individual pixels.

While vector graphics have many advantages, they also have limitations. They might not be suitable for all types of visual content, especially when high levels of detail and realism are required. Additionally, complex scenes with a large number of vector shapes can still pose performance challenges, as the mathematical calculations required for rendering can become demanding.

vertical-scroller

(49 games)
A vertical-scroller is a video game in which the action is shown in a top down perspective and the environment scrolls from top to bottom. Characters usually don't have to move to scroll the screen (expecially in shoot'em ups).

multiplayer modes

Internet

(96 games)
Games supporting Internet play can be played by multiple players on PCs connected to... guess what?... the Internet.

LAN

(120 games)
Games supporting LAN (Local Area Network) play can be played by multiple players on PCs connected to a local network.

PBEM (play by e-mail)

(21 games)
PBEM stands for Play By E-Mail. PBEM games allow a peculiar multiplayer option; players can play turns in an asyncronous way and send the result of their completed turn via e-mail to all opponents. As the Internet evolved, PBEM in recent games ceased to exist and quickly became a thing of the past.

PvP (player VS player)

(236 games)
Of all the multiplayer modes available for a game, PvP (Player VS Player) is one of the most appreciated. The thrill of competing in some way against a human opponent is something that changes the way you're playing and is often completely different than fighting a computer opponent. In fact, the first games in history lacked a computer opponent (it needed more resources, more code, etc.), there was PvP before everything else.

co-op

(93 games)
Co-op (which stands for co-operative) multiplayer mode allow more than one player to play together to achieve common goals.

hotseat

(236 games)
Games supporting hotseat multiplayer mode can be played by more than one player (usually two) on the same PC taking turns playing the game. Many strategy games offer an hotseat multiplayer mode.

modem

(162 games)
Games supporting modem play can be played by multiple players on PCs connected using... guess what?... a modem. Back in the day, being able to play via modem didn't involve Internet at all.

split screen

(43 games)
Games supporting split screen multiplayer mode can be played by more than one player (usually no more than 2) on the same screen, at the same time. The screen is divided in two independent areas (horizontally or vertically) and each player plays in its portion of the screen.

nsfw

erotic, adult

(62 games)
WARNING: ADULTS ONLY!
The contents in this section and the games in this list are intended for mature audiences. If you are under 18 years old, we kindly ask you to exit this section.

hentai

(12 games)

WARNING: ADULTS ONLY!
The contents in this section and the games in this list are intended for mature audiences. If you are under 18 years old, we kindly ask you to exit this section.

Hentai is a term used to refer to a genre of explicit, adult-oriented anime and manga that often involves sexually explicit content. It's essentially animated or illustrated pornographic material from Japan. It's meant for adult audiences and is not suitable for everyone.

nudity

(50 games)
WARNING: ADULTS ONLY!
The contents in this section and the games in this list are intended for mature audiences. If you are under 18 years old, we kindly ask you to exit this section.

strip poker

(9 games)

WARNING: ADULTS ONLY!
The contents in this section and the games in this list are intended for mature audiences. If you are under 18 years old, we kindly ask you to exit this section.

Strip poker is a variation of the traditional card game of poker where players wager clothing items instead of chips or money. The rules are similar to regular poker, but with the added twist that players must remove an article of clothing when they lose a round or hand. The game continues until one player is fully clothed and the others are naked or until agreed-upon rules dictate otherwise. 

series

Alone in the Dark

(4 games)

The Alone in the Dark series is a horror video game franchise that has been around since the early 1990s. It is often considered one of the pioneering titles in the survival horror genre. Developed by Infogrames, the series has undergone several iterations and has had a significant influence on later horror games.
The first game in the series, Alone in the Dark, was released in 1992 for MS-DOS and later ported to various platforms. Players took on the role of either Edward Carnby or Emily Hartwood, investigating the mysterious events occurring in a haunted mansion called Derceto.

The game's pre-rendered 3D environments, fixed camera angles, and cinematic presentation were groundbreaking at the time. The gameplay focused on exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat encounters with supernatural creatures. The use of limited resources and a sense of vulnerability added to the tension and horror. The success of the first game led to multiple sequels and spin-offs.

Commander Keen

(7 games)

The Commander Keen series is a classic platforming game franchise developed by id Software. It was created by Tom Hall and released by Apogee Software in the early 1990s. The series follows the adventures of an eight-year-old genius named Billy Blaze, who dons a homemade spaceship and helmet, transforming into the hero known as Commander Keen. The series primarily consists of six main episodes released as shareware games.

The Commander Keen series features side-scrolling platform gameplay, with players controlling Commander Keen as he jumps, shoots, and explores various levels filled with enemies, hazards, and secrets. The games incorporate colorful graphics, catchy music, and a light-hearted, humorous tone.
Commander Keen became known for its smooth controls, challenging level design, and the inventive use of the PC's hardware at the time. It was one of the first side-scrolling platformers on the PC to feature smooth scrolling and fluid animation.

Dizzy

(8 games)

The Dizzy game series is a series of puzzle-platformer adventure games featuring the character "Dizzy" created by the Oliver Twins (Philip and Andrew Oliver) and published by Codemasters. The series gained popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s and encompasses multiple games across various platforms.

The main protagonist of the series is Dizzy, an anthropomorphic egg with a charming and adventurous personality. The gameplay typically involves exploring vibrant and colorful worlds, solving puzzles, collecting items, and interacting with various characters to progress through the games.
The Dizzy games were released on various platforms, including the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Amiga, NES, and Sega Master System, among others. 

Elite

(4 games)

The Elite series is a space trading and combat video game franchise that has had a significant impact on the gaming industry since its inception in the 1980s. It was created by David Braben and Ian Bell and first released in 1984 by Acornsoft for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron computers. The series is known for its open-ended gameplay, realistic space simulation, and pioneering 3D graphics.

The original Elite is set in a vast, procedurally generated galaxy in the year 3125, where players take on the role of a spaceship pilot with the freedom to explore, trade, and engage in combat across various star systems. Players start with a small amount of money and a basic spacecraft and can choose their own path, whether it be trading goods between planets, hunting down pirates, or becoming a bounty hunter.

The game's open-world design, coupled with its advanced graphics and complex mechanics for its time, made it a critical and commercial success. It was highly influential, inspiring numerous other space exploration and trading games, as well as shaping the emerging genre of sandbox video games.

Fallout

(4 games)

The Fallout series is set in a post-apocalyptic world following a devastating nuclear war between the United States and China. The series is known for its retro-futuristic aesthetic, blending 1950s Americana with advanced technology and a desolate wasteland.

The first game, "Fallout", was released in 1997 by Interplay Entertainment. It is an isometric role-playing game (RPG) set in the year 2161, where the player assumes the role of a Vault Dweller tasked with finding a replacement water purification chip for their underground Vault, which is crucial for survival.

Throughout the series, players encounter mutated creatures, raiders, factions with conflicting ideologies, and remnants of pre-war society. The games offer expansive open-world environments, nonlinear gameplay, and moral choices that impact the storyline and world around them.

Hardball

(4 games)

The Hardball game series is a collection of baseball simulation video games developed by Accolade. The series was popular during the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, with several installments released on various platforms.

The original game, simply titled "Hardball!" was released in 1985 for home computers like the Commodore 64, Apple II, and MS-DOS. It was one of the earliest baseball games to provide a detailed simulation of the sport, featuring team management, gameplay mechanics, and statistical tracking.

The gameplay in the Hardball series typically involved controlling a team of players, making strategic decisions, and playing simulated baseball games. Players could manage lineups, substitute players, call plays, and control pitching, fielding, and batting during the games.

Indiana Jones

(6 games)

Indiana Jones, the iconic archaeologist and adventurer, has been featured in several video games throughout the years. These games allow players to step into the shoes of Indiana Jones and experience thrilling adventures inspired by the popular film franchise created by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

One of the earliest Indiana Jones video games is "Indiana Jones in the Lost Kingdom" (1984) for the Commodore 64, which was a platform game based on the first film. However, it was the release of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure" (1989) by Lucasfilm Games that gained significant attention. It was an adventure game that closely followed the storyline of the film "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" featuring puzzle-solving and dialogue-based interactions.

Another notable Indiana Jones game is "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis" (1992), also developed by LucasArts. This point-and-click adventure game presented an original story that did not directly follow any of the films. Players embarked on a globe-trotting journey to uncover the secrets of Atlantis.

There have been other Indiana Jones games released for various platforms, including mobile devices, but these are some of the first and most notable titles in the franchise.

Leisure Suit Larry

(7 games)

The Leisure Suit Larry series is a collection of adult-themed adventure games developed by Sierra On-Line. Created by Al Lowe, the series follows the misadventures of Larry Laffer, a middle-aged, socially awkward man who is perpetually in search of love and romance. The gameplay involves exploring different locations, solving puzzles, and engaging in humorous dialogue interactions.

The series often features mature content and sexual humor, although it is typically presented in a lighthearted and comedic manner. The games utilize a point-and-click interface, allowing players to interact with the environment and characters using a cursor.

Several sequels and spin-offs followed the original game. Each installment of the series features a distinct storyline, setting, and comedic scenarios. The games often parody and satirize various aspects of pop culture, including movies, TV shows, and societal norms.

Lemmings

(8 games)

The "Lemmings" video game series is a classic puzzle game franchise that originated in the late 1980s. It was created by DMA Design and published by Psygnosis. The series gained immense popularity and has seen numerous sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations across various platforms.

The gameplay of Lemmings revolves around guiding a group of small creatures known as lemmings through hazardous environments and obstacles. The lemmings march relentlessly forward, and it's the player's task to assign them specific skills to navigate the terrain and prevent them from falling to their doom.

The franchise also saw various spin-offs and adaptations, including "Oh No! More Lemmings," which provided additional levels for the original game. There were also console versions of the game, such as "Lemmings Paintball" and "The Adventures of Lomax," which introduced different gameplay mechanics and styles.

Mario Bros

(7 games)
The beloved Italian plumber is the protagonist of many of the best Nintendo games. I don't think I need to explain who Mario is and the importance of the Mario franchise in the video gaming world. On Windows and DOS, Mario is seldom seen; he appears almost exclusively in fan-made games or indie remakes of Nintendo games.

Might and Magic

(11 games)

The Might and Magic series is a long-running franchise of role-playing video games known for its rich fantasy world, deep gameplay mechanics, and immersive storytelling. The whole series was developed by New World Computing and lasted untile the 2000s. The success of the first game led to numerous sequels and spin-offs, each expanding upon the lore and gameplay of the original.

The Heroes of Might and Magic series is a spin-off of the popular Might and Magic RPG franchise, focusing on turn-based strategy and tactical combat within a fantasy setting. The series is characterized by its mix of resource management, exploration, and strategic battles.

SimCity

(4 games)

The SimCity series is a highly influential and well-known franchise of city-building simulation games. It was created by Will Wright and developed by Maxis, a game development studio acquired by Electronic Arts. The first game, simply titled SimCity, was released in 1989, and the series has continued with multiple sequels and spin-offs over the years.

In SimCity games, players take on the role of a mayor and are tasked with designing, building, and managing a virtual city. The objective is to create a thriving and functional metropolis by balancing various factors, such as zoning residential, commercial, and industrial areas, constructing infrastructure, managing resources, and responding to the needs and demands of the city's population.

The Magic Candle

(3 games)

The Magic Candle series is a trilogy of role-playing video games developed by Mindcraft Software. The games were released in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and they are known for their immersive gameplay, strategic depth, and intricate world-building.

The Magic Candle introduced several innovative features for its time. One of the notable aspects was the passage of in-game time, which affected various elements of gameplay, such as character fatigue, town events, and the progression of the main quest. The game also incorporated a detailed skill and spell system, allowing players to customize their characters' abilities.

The games offered a high level of freedom and non-linearity, allowing players to tackle quests and explore the world at their own pace. The Magic Candle trilogy is often regarded as a challenging and rewarding experience for fans of classic RPGs.

Ultima

(16 games)

The Ultima series is a highly influential and long-running series of role-playing video games created by Richard Garriott, also known as Lord British. The series was developed and published primarily by Origin Systems, with the first game released in 1981 and subsequent titles appearing over the course of several decades. Several spin-offs, remakes, and expansions were released over the years.

The Ultima games take place in the fictional realm of Britannia, a land filled with diverse races, magic, and conflicts between good and evil. Each game in the series builds upon the established lore and introduces new characters, locations, and gameplay elements. The core gameplay typically involves exploring an open-ended world, undertaking quests, battling enemies, and progressing through an overarching narrative. The series evolved over time, incorporating advancements in graphics, sound, and gameplay systems.The concept of "virtues" plays a significant role in many of the games, presenting players with moral dilemmas and opportunities to embody specific virtues or vices, which in turn affects their character's development and the overall story.

Zork

(14 games)

The Zork series is a classic collection of text-based adventure games developed by Infocom in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It's widely regarded as one of the pioneering franchises in interactive fiction and has left a significant mark on the history of video games.

The series began with Zork I: The Great Underground Empire in 1980, which tasked players with exploring the vast and mysterious underground caverns of the Great Underground Empire. Players navigated through the game by typing commands in plain English, such as "go north" or "take lantern," and solving puzzles to progress.
Zork quickly became a hit, leading to the development of several sequels and spin-offs. These games expanded upon the original's world, introducing new locations, characters, and challenges for players to overcome.

setting: place

Africa

(28 games)
Games set somewhere in the African continent. Some of the games set in Africa are wargames that take place during World War 1 or World War 2 while other games are set in one of the most fascinating periods of African history: ancient Egypt.

Arctic / Antarctic

(7 games)
Games set in the polar regions of Earth: either the Arctic or the Antarctic. These games (or parts of them) are usually set in an environment with extreme cold temperatures. So you can expect lots of snow, ice, polar bears, etc.

China

(16 games)
Old PC games set in China are often set in ancient or medieval times. Romance of the Three Kingdoms is perhaps the most popular old game series set in China, but it's not the only one.

Europe

(119 games)
Old PC games set in Europe are mainly strategy games set in medieval times or during World War 1, World War 2 or the Cold War. Italy, Germany, Great Britain are perhaps the most represented nations in Europe-themed games.

France

(15 games)
Games set in France released in the 80s and the 90s deal mainly with war. A suprisingly high amount are set in Normandy and involve some sort of fighting during World War 2 (strategy, action, simulation). A few of them are set during the napoleonic wars. Plus games inspired by other historical French figures (Joan of Arc) or work of literature (the 3 musketeers.

Italy

(15 games)
The land of "La Dolce Vita" and exquisite cuisine is not particularly known for its game developers, nor for being a popular setting in old PC games. The games set in the italian peninsula are mainly set in ancient Rome, which is understandable for obvious reasons. A few exceptions are some games set in Venice and soccer games (oh, I forgot, Italy is also the land of soccer...).

Japan

(17 games)
Old PC games set in Japan, as you can imagine, are mainly set during the medieval era and often involve sword wielding samurais, ninjas or martial artists of some kind.

Mars

(9 games)
The Red Planet is gathering the attention of every astronomy fan these days. Mars was also the setting for a few video games in the past, not many, I know, but some of them are well known and were well received.

Middle East

(29 games)
Video games set in the Middle East (Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria, etc.) usually involve an esotic ethnic setting (like Prince of Persia or Al-Qadim, or Magic Carpet). A few flight simulations are also set in the modern day Middle East.

North America

(86 games)
There are many games set in North America, mainly in the United States, but also in Canada. Games set in North America include a lot of wargames and other historical strategy games set during the Civil War.

Russia

(13 games)
Many of the abandoned old PC games set in Russia (or the Soviet Union, which the less young of you probably still remember) are strategy games focused on simulated tactical combat: war games, combat flight simulators, etc. The few exceptions still involve some sort of conflict (Crisis at the Kremlin and The Cardinal of the Kremlin, for example). The most popular russian game though, is Tetris, which sadly is not set in the Soviet Union because... well... it's an abstract puzzle game.

South America

(28 games)
Video games set in South America usually involve Inca or Aztec cultures and mythology. Typical South American settings and cliches are: the jungle, the Amazon, ancient temples, guerrilla warfare, petty dictators, etc.

Southeast Asia

(14 games)
Old PC games set in Southeast Asia are set in that regions located southeast of China and northwest of Australia. Perhaps, the best known southeastern asian country is Vietnam.

UK

(24 games)
Games set in the United Kingdom are more than a few. A lot of them are based on one of the most iconic (and fictitious) British characters: Sherlock Holmes. The popular detective is in good company: a lot of games set in the UK were inspired by other popular characters such as Robin Hood, King Arthur, Jack the Rupper or even Doctor Who.

themes: fantasy

dark fantasy

(16 games)
A subgenre of Fantasy, Dark Fantasy is a grim version of the popular genre. Dark Fantasy games usually involve one or more of the following: a darker scenery like a serious medieval Germany (Darklands), evil antagonists and mobs like demons or zombies (think about Diablo), gruesome deaths and serious themes, sometimes bordering horror.

dragons

(20 games)
Dragons are almost a constant in fantasy themed games. Strategic turn-based games, tactical wargames, fantasy RPGs of every kind and even action games with a fantasy background all include at some point a dragon or two. Some of these games involve dragons in a meaningful way and not just as cannon fodder.

fables and fairy tales

(19 games)
Before fantasy became a mainstream genre, stories involving magic mirrors, evil orcs and witches from every corner of the world were simply called "fairy tales". After Tolkien books and Dungeons & Dragons RPGs, fairy tales became "fantasy". Considering the wide popularity of fantasy settings, there are still a few video games true to the fables and fairy tales theme.

fantasy

(442 games)
Dwarves and elves, trolls and gnolls, dragons and wyverns, arcane magic, ancient deities, sword and sorcery! It's not just medieval, it's a soup of imagination and reality in equal parts, mixed in a bubbling cauldron, ready to be served in your favourite old tavern.

science fantasy

(20 games)
The science fantasy genre blends elements of both science fiction and fantasy. It's a mix of futuristic, technological, or scientific elements coexisting with magical or fantastical elements.
Unlike traditional sci-fi, which often aims for scientific plausibility, science fantasy is more flexible and allows for fantastical concepts that may not be scientifically feasible.
It's a very vague definition and can potentially comprehend a broad variety of games.

themes: horror

haunted house

(15 games)
Haunted houses may be an old theme for horror movies and books nowadays, but it was used as a theme for quite a few games in the DOS era.

horror

(81 games)
Anything even remotely connected to horror: all things splatter, Cthulhu and Lovecraft, vampires, zombies, ghosts, mummies, hideous creatures from outer space.

lovecraftian

(11 games)
H. P. Lovecraft was perhaps the most influential writer of horror novels. Its peculiar taste for cosmic horrors, ancient gods and similar amenities is recognizable to every horror fan. Video game designers in the last decades took inspiration from Lovecraft to create some of the best horror games ever published for DOS and Windows.

vampires

(15 games)
Vampire and vampirism are one of the most recurring themes in horror (and not only horror) movies, tv series, books and, of course, video games. Just think about Ravenloft and Castlevania, not to mention the omnipresent Dracula.

zombies

(10 games)
Lately, zombie movies, games, TV series and books are a theme that gets lots of attention. In the 80s and 90s there were a few horror zombie themed games, but not that many, and those games weren't exactly horror. Zombies were often portrayed as cartoons.

themes: sci-fi

alternate history

(27 games)
What if the nazi won World War 2? What if nuclear weapons brought humanity to a post-apocalyptical nightmare in the 50s? Alternate history video games deal exactly with that: history that took a turn into a different direction (usually for the worse) than the timeline we know.

cyberpunk

(28 games)
Cyberpunk was born as a literary genre in the 80s from the pens of writers like Bruce Sterling and William Gibson. Cyberpunk is science fiction bathed in a pessimistic vision of the future: drugs, violence, the cyberspace.

dystopia

(53 games)
Dystopia is the lesser known opposite of utopia. Dystopian societies are undesirable environments under one or more aspects: pollution, despotism, social decline, etc.
Cyberpunk and post-apocalyptic games are both a good example of dystopian themes.

post-apocalyptic

(36 games)
After the next cataclysm (war, meteor, whatever), we will live in a world where the word "civilization" will mean something completely different. Radiations everywhere? No more state and police force? Cities burnt to the ground? That's what we call a post-apocalyptic world.

robots / mechs

(43 games)
Since Isaac Asimov's books, robots have been very popular among science fiction readers. Much later, robots (and the so called "mech", popularized by pen and paper RPGs and anime cartoons) began to appear in early video games: think about Robotron. DOS gamers saw some robot action especially thanks to video game series like Mechwarrior, BattleTech or Mega Man.

science fiction

(613 games)
Time travel, space wars, alien empires, alternate universe, cyberpunk anti-heroes, space invaders, post-apocalyptic worlds, dystopian societies, mad scientists, galaxies far far away, strange new worlds, mech battles, deep space exploration, evil robots... should I go on?

space

(135 games)
Science fiction doesn't always means space battles, space exploration, exploding stars, etc. In some games, though, the "space" element is heavily present. Space simulations, shoot 'em ups, RPGs are some of the genres where science fiction "space" games are abundant.

steampunk

(11 games)
If you love cyberpunk, there's a chance that you will like steampunk. Steampunk is a niche genre that translates cyberpunk themes in the past, usually during the industrial revolution, when technology was mainly steam-based. Sometimes steampunk games also involve magic and fantasy races (elves, dwarves, etc).

time travel

(21 games)
Time travel is a recurring theme in science fiction and speculative fiction. Movies, books, comics used extensively time travel in every imaginable way. Video games followed with original - often twisted - plots or games licensed from popular movies (Back to the Future).

themes

Christmas

(8 games)
Christmas is a time of joy, snow-coverd trees, people dressed as Santa and, of course, gifts. The games listed here are related to Christmas in someway. A few of them are special editions of games already published, which was a common practice in the 90s, apparently.

amusement park

(7 games)
Unsurprisingly, amusement parks were a source of inspiration for a few good games in the past (and in the present). Perhaps, the most popular amusement park themed games are Roller Coaster Tycoon and Theme Park.

aquatic / underwater

(62 games)
Submarines, boats, ships, you name it. Games set underwater, in the deeps of the ocean, or in a less specific aquatic environment are all about doing something on water or surrounded by it. Naval tactical games like the Great Naval Battle series, submarine simulations like Silent Service are common occurrences for this kind of setting, while action games like Aquanox or fishing sports games like Bass Tour are less known but still part of this game group.

archaeology

(13 games)
When you think at archaeology in the entertainment world, one name comes to mind: Indiana Jones. The archaeologist with the hat and whip is the protagonist of some very successful movies that spawned quite a few video games. Professor Jones is not the only archaeologist to star in a video game. The pixellated Rick Dangerous and the 3D Lara Croft in Tomb Raider are perhaps equally revered in the gaming community.

detective, mystery

(80 games)
A murder to solve! A criminal to apprehend! Detective and mistery games have the recipe for a perfect crime story. Police investigations, finding clues, mysterious killings, a noir atmosphere are all ingredients that makes a good detective / mystery game worth playing. The Police Quest series, the Tex Murphy series, games based on Sherlock Holmes are just some of the most popular detective games ever published in the last century.

ecology / environment

(9 games)
Ecology is a them not often considered in videogames, much less in older games from a different, more polluted, era. Some of them did try to put the environment on the front seat and managed to get published, liked and sometimes even be a little successful. Most of ecology-themed games were simulations or adventures, like Balance of the Planet or EcoQuest.

espionage

(41 games)
James Bond is the iconic embodiment of the spy genre (or 'espionage'), but he is not alone in the colorful world of old video games, there are plenty of spies still around on AbandonwareDOS: Apogee's Secret Agent, Spy vs Spy and Mission: Impossible and more!

hacking

(13 games)
There's a unique kind of simulation games that can be described only as "hacking simulations". The gameplay of hacking sims is centered around some kind of computer hacking, but can involve other types of activities usually part of different genres (adventure, strategy, etc.). Hacking is often implemented in games as a mini-game or a subset of non-mandatory skills (take, for example, Deus Ex, or System Shock).

health

(10 games)
There aren't many games focused on medicine, hospitals and the concept of health in general. The few ones developed in the 90s and the 80s were mainly hospital management games or surgeon simulations (Life & Death). Theme Hospital is perhaps the most popular among them. The Alter Ego games, written by a psychologist, involve healthcare to some degree.

historical

(138 games)
Some games are set in a specific historical period, usually a period of time particularly enjoyable for gamers such as the midde ages, the discovery of the Americas or the second world war. Historical games take a step further and try to be more faithful to the time period they are set.

humor

(141 games)
What makes you laugh? The LucasArts humor of Monkey Island or the crass jokes of Leisure Suit Larry? Are you a fan of Terry Pratchett's Discworld? Do you prefer the clumsiness of the hero of the Dragon's Lair series? Humor in video games has always been something that gamers appreciated.

law enforcement

(33 games)
Law enforcement video games are somewhat the equivalent of detective fiction TV series, no wonder that a Miami Vice and Hill Street Blues each have their video game. If a game involves the police, SWAT or some kind of futuristic law enforcement (think about Blade Runner), it's listed here.

martial arts

(38 games)
Karate, Jujutsu, Kung Fu, samurai warriors, ninjas, etc. Martial arts were a major source of inspiration for classic video games like the Double Dragon series, Dragon Ninja, Karateka, The Last Ninja, the Ninja Gaiden series and many other fighting and beat'em up games.

military

(147 games)
The navy, the army, the air force, were all an inspiration for a number of games belonging to many different genres, from run and gun action games to flight simulations. Whether or not you like military themes, the top quality of these games was often enough to attract lots of players.

modern warfare

(48 games)
Wargame is a niche genre born during the dawn of the video gaming scene. Since the beginning of wargaming, two of the most important aspects were the setting and the time period such as the classical era, Napoleon wars, World War 1 or 2, modern times, or even the future. Modern warfare is exactly that: war happening in modern times. That said, by "modern times" we mean that period which goes from the post-world wars to the present day. Modern warfare was also extensively used as a theme for other genres such as combat flight simulations.

mythology

(26 games)
Every country with a past has its myths. Some are more popular than others. Egyptian gods, the greek pantheon, the norse gods are all part of mythologies that cinema, literature and video games exploited every time they could. Even DOS games developers took inspiration from some kind of mythology, from time to time.

organized crime, gangsters

(14 games)
Despite the real-world connotations, organized crime always fascinated gamers. Wether you're a mafia boss, a detective in the 20's in Chicago, a car thief tied to organized crime, if the game is good, we're all going to play it and have fun despite the gangster theme.

pirates

(14 games)
Pirate-themed games are not many, but a few of them were very popular and are fondly remembered by retro-gamers all over the world. Here's a couple of games you should know (if you don't: shame on you!): The Secret of Monkey Island and Sid Meier's Pirates!

realistic space simulation

(7 games)
Like civilian flight sims, realistic space simulator games (as Wikipedia calls them) allow the player to pilot a space vehicle in a realistic way, with no science fiction involved in any way: no aliens, no star wars ships. Realistic space sims usully obey the (simulated) laws of physics in a scrict way.

religion

(10 games)
Religion is a theme usually avoided by publishers and designers for obvious reasons (it's a very sensitive theme anyway). Very few developers ventured in that area and games based on real-world religion are often based on christian belief.

romance

(14 games)
Romance is not a common theme in video games. Sex is, as in movies and other media, but romance? It's prominently part of a few visual novels and is one of the main themes of the Leisure Suit Larry series. Not much else.

stock exchange

(13 games)
Stock exchange is not the most stimulating theme for a video game. Apparently, a few developers in the 80s and the 90s thought differently. These games include a stock exchange theme to various degrees: some are entirely based on it, others are loosely based on it.

superheroes

(20 games)
Since the first wave of Marvel and DC superhero movies a few years ago, superheroes grew from a nerd-thing to a world phenomenon. In the 80s and the early 90s Superman, Batman and co. were almost exclusively confined to comics and a few video games. Some developers also tried to create games using original superheroes: no Marvel, no DC, no big comics company licenses.

trains

(17 games)
Miniature trains were a very popular past-time (should we call them toys?) and/or a serious hobby for someone. It's not surprising that quite a few developers turned this past-time into video games. Trains, stations and railroads are featured in a broad variety of games: simulations, strategy, puzzle games. Railroad Tycoon by Sid Meier is perhaps the most popular DOS game featuring trains as the main theme.

urban setting

(148 games)
There are a lot of games that take place in urban environments. Cities from any epoch (both ancient and modern) were often used as the setting, or even for the purpose, for any kind of game: simulation, strategy, action, etc. Think about a medieval town, an ancient city, a modern metropolis, a futuristic megalopolis; you can bet that someone used one of these as the setting of a successful game.

winter

(19 games)
Winter themed games range from sports games (typically winter olympics games) to strategy games or RPGs. The common ground of these games is obviously a cold environment, snow, ice, etc. Some of the most popular winter/cold themed old games are: Icewind Dale (RPG), Midwinter (action/strategy), The Games: Winter Challenge (winter sports).

universe

Arthurian legends

(8 games)
King Arthur, Merlin, the sword Excalibur, the knights of the round table and the kingdom of Camelot are known to almost everyone. The Arthurian legends are a collection of stories and myths associated with King Arthur, a legendary British king who is said to have lived in the late 5th and early 6th centuries. These legends have been passed down through generations and have become an integral part of Western literature and folklore.
The stories (and the video games based on them) typically involve a mix of history, mythology, and fantasy.
The Arthurian legends have been adapted and retold in numerous forms, including literature, art, music, film and, of course, videogames.

BattleTech

(5 games)
As many wargaming fans know, BattleTech is a franchise of board games (and later, video games) created by FASA corporation a long time ago: in 1984. BattleTech is known for the iconic "mechs", giant robotic armored machines, fighting in a sci-fi setting.

Disney

(12 games)
Once upon a time, Disney didn't mean Star Wars and Marvel. There was a time when Disney was the company that produced classic cartoons and wonderful animated movies. Everyone knows about Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, right? A few of them were the protagonist of now abandoned games.

Dune

(5 games)
The Dune universe was carefully crafted by the science fiction writer Frank Herbert and became available to the public when he published in 1965 the first novel of a long series. The Dune saga has become a franchise comprising books, movies, TV series, toys, comics, board games and, of course, video games.

Dungeons & Dragons

(40 games)
Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is a tabletop role-playing game (RPG) that combines elements of storytelling, strategy, and chance. It was first published in 1974 by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and has since become one of the most popular and influential role-playing games in the world. 
Dungeons & Dragons has inspired a variety of video games spanning multiple genres, from classic RPGs to action-adventure titlesThese games vary in style and mechanics but share a common thread of drawing inspiration from the rich lore and rules of Dungeons & Dragons.

James Bond 007

(4 games)
Espionage, action, savoir faire, Martini (shaken, not stirred). These are some of the defining traits of the most popular spy in the western world (perhaps in the whole world). I'm talking about James Bond, the character created by Ian Fleming a few decades ago. Since his birth, James Bond has starred in a number of books, movies and, of course, videogames.

Sherlock Holmes

(8 games)
The famous fictional english detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his good friend John Watson are the protagonists of a number of old adventures and even puzzle games.

Star Trek

(18 games)
The first Star Trek game probably dates back to the early 80s. After that, the beloved sci-fi TV series spawned a good number of different games, mainly space simulations and point & click adventures. The Interplay old school adventures are among the finest Star Trek games ever released. The Starfleet Command series is a must for every fan wishing to pilot one of the many ships of the Star Trek universe.

Star Wars

(13 games)
I believe that anyone already knows what Star Wars is: one of the most successful science fiction franchises ever produced. That kind of success spawned a lot of video games designed for the early personal computers and consoles and, later, for modern systems. Those early developers made quite a few DOS and Windows Star Wars games.

The Lord of the Rings

(11 games)
The Lord of the Rings is perhaps the most read fantasy novel of all time and the most important one. I dare to say that Tolkien, who also wrote The Hobbit and other novels, was the most influential fantasy writer ever existed. Even before the Peter Jackson movies, there were quite a few The Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit) licensed games, published for more than a few platforms, including DOS of course.

Warhammer

(3 games)
Before Warhammer Total War and the recent plethora of Warhammer games set either in the fantasy universe or in the 40000 universe, there wasn't much. It took some time for Games Workshop to invest more effort and money in one of the most popular board/war games franchises in the hisotry of gaming.
Here's the complete list of keywords, with the game count for each:
generic
advergame (16)
demo (62)
fangame (26)
for kids (30)
remake (67)
shareware (178)
applications
browser (4)
database (5)
emulator (3)
utility (20)
awards
based on a source
clones
epochs
cold war (32)
medieval (57)
prehistory (18)
western (16)
game engines
AGOS (6)
BASIC (8)
Freescape (7)
Genie (3)
M.A.D.S. (4)
SCUMM (11)
XnGine (3)
Z-machine (33)
gameplay
class-based (126)
open world (123)
party-based (144)
stealth (18)
survival (5)
trading (49)
turn based (463)
genres
4x (26)
JRPG (14)
action RPG (49)
artillery (11)
baseball (16)
basketball (12)
board game (92)
boxing (7)
cards (31)
chess (19)
fighting (35)
god game (12)
golf (10)
hockey (8)
maze (60)
pinball (15)
platform (204)
roguelike (27)
shoot 'em up (131)
soccer (35)
sokoban (11)
tennis (11)
wargame (76)
wrestling (7)
graphics
false 3D (77)
fixed 3D (12)
fixed screen (357)
hex based (61)
isometric (184)
text-based (265)
top down (714)
multiplayer modes
Internet (96)
LAN (120)
co-op (93)
hotseat (236)
modem (162)
nsfw
hentai (12)
nudity (50)
series
Dizzy (8)
Elite (4)
Fallout (4)
Hardball (4)
Lemmings (8)
SimCity (4)
Ultima (16)
Zork (14)
setting: place
Africa (28)
China (16)
Europe (119)
France (15)
Italy (15)
Japan (17)
Mars (9)
Russia (13)
UK (24)
themes: fantasy
dragons (20)
fantasy (442)
themes: horror
horror (81)
vampires (15)
zombies (10)
themes: sci-fi
cyberpunk (28)
dystopia (53)
space (135)
steampunk (11)
themes
Christmas (8)
espionage (41)
hacking (13)
health (10)
historical (138)
humor (141)
military (147)
mythology (26)
pirates (14)
religion (10)
romance (14)
trains (17)
winter (19)
universe
Disney (12)
Dune (5)
Star Trek (18)
Star Wars (13)
Warhammer (3)