Take a trip down memory lane
Whether you’re 40 or 14 you’re going to love playing these games from the golden age of PC gaming. Back when your PC operating system was either DOS or MS-DOS, the foundations of gaming were laid.
If you’re in the older group, why not take your kids, nieces or nephews down memory lane with you by introducing them to the following list of the best DOS games. One way or another, they’ll be amazed,
Oregon Trail was one of the best DOS games to happen to classrooms since recess. Believe it or not, it was first created in 1971 in Minnesota. It hit wider distribution through Minnesota in 1974 and then eventually across the world.
Selling more than 65 million copies and sparking untold numbers of computer-related careers, who knew dysentery could be so entertaining and educational?
Sim City proved that there’s something about humans that attracts us to building empires and then smashing them for fun. Test your hand at municipal development and management without the risk of anyone getting hurt.
Published in 1989, this city building game was the first installment of a franchise of Sim related games. There’s no doubt you’ve played at least one of its related DOS games.
Wolfenstein 3D is the second DOS game in the Wolfenstein franchise, after Castle Wolfenstein. The classic first-person shooter (FPS) puts you in control of the hero, B.J. Blazkowicz, in a three-dimensional maze. The goal is to defeat the Nazis level by level and boss by boss.
Some people credit Wolfenstein 3D with being the first FPS. That distinction is held by Maze Wars and dates back to 1973. Wolfenstein 3D was the one to make FPS a household word, at least for gamers.
Pac-Man was synonymous with computer games for over a decade. It almost depleted America’s supply of quarters from the banks, spawned gaming injuries and a top ten hit song, “Pac-Man Fever”.
As the quintessential DOS game of the 80s it made the leap from arcade to home computers quickly for just about every platform you can think of. It continues to be available today on Xbox and in countless knock-off apps. The DOS version is as close to the arcade experience that you’ll get these days.
Maniac Mansion, from 1987, introduced the SCUMM interface from Lucasfilm Games. Yes, Lucasfilm as in Star Wars, and SCUMM meaning Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion.
As the name suggests, Maniac Mansion is an odd game with strange things going on and a mad man of science, Dr. Fred. Your mission is to infiltrate the mansion with your buddy Dave from high school to find Sandy, a girl who went missing from your school. It sounds odd, but it’s oddly fun and addictive.
Prince of Persia was a 2D platform adventure on PCs 20 years before Jake Gyllenhaal was cast to play the street urchin Dastan. Motivated by his love for the Sultan’s daughter, our hero must escape from prison, run, jump, and sword fight his way to save her from the evil Grand Vizier Jaffar.
Prince of Persia was the first DOS game to bring a cinematic feel to gaming.
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego was another educational game that leaked into pop culture history. Since 1985 kids have learned about geography and world history by chasing the elusive thief Carmen around the globe.
The game spilled out of the classroom and on TV with a title song that you’re hearing in your head right now, if you ever heard it before. There’s rumors that a movie is in the works too.
Championship Manager may seem like the odd one out in this list if you’re from North America. In the UK, it was every soccer nerd’s pastime, when they weren’t watching or talking about soccer.
It wasn’t even the first fantasy sports team type game, but it caught on and yearly versions have been published from 1992 right through to 2011. That’s quite a run by anyone’s standards.
DOOM has to be on the list. It’s on every list. If Wolfenstein 3D opened the FPS door, DOOM marched through it and unloaded the BFG 9000 on everyone.
Being released as 9-level, free shareware in 1993, the game reached an estimated 20 million players in 2 years. The additional levels were sold by mail order. DOOM’s innovative multiplayer mode allowed you and your buddies to work together to take out the Cacodemons, or you could go Deathmatch on each other.
May the best space marine live.
Street Fighter II is the iconic head-to-head combat DOS game of the ’90s. As kids, most of us didn’t even know there was a Street Fighter I. Starting in the arcades, it raked in the quarters and its popularity didn’t slow down when it moved to in-home gaming.
The combo style fighting it introduced was actually a bug. Producer Noritaka Funamizu noticed in testing that doing combo hits was possible, very tough to do, but still possible. He felt it was so unlikely that anyone would discover it that they’d just leave it in. Now it’s a feature in every fighting game.
The Arcade Is Always Open
These 10 best DOS games may not be your personal top ten, but they were all hugely popular and influential on gaming, game development, and pop culture across the world. Every game you play today owes a debt of gratitude and more than a few lines of code to these trailblazers.
With sites like the Internet Archive’s MS-DOS library, these gems are preserved for today and the future.