Before 95, Windows was not really suited for gaming, so most developers stuck to tried-and-true MS-DOS.
This was an era of many changes and creativity. Point and click adventure games were in vogue with companies like Sierra and Lucas Arts leading the charge. Due to simple graphics more emphasis was put on the plot in general with humor livening things up across multiple genres. Not everything was plain, however: this was also the time when the first 3D engines rolled out with games like Blood making use of the new tech to it's fullest.
Games didn't have to be politically correct and often weren't. This was especially true in the shooter genre, but sometimes even the more innocuous-seeming genres like platformers had content that would have been censored in modern eras! In fact, this is the era that brought the infamous Leisure Suit Larry and the associated lawsuit that led to the modern game ratings systems and stricter censorship rules in general. This is the era of playing games before you let the kids play them just to be sure they're "safe".
The vast majority of the games on this page can be played via DOSbox or purchased ready to play on modern systems from vendors such as Good Old Games for those wishing to experience old school games from this era.
- You may be able to find a few more DOS games here: Low end computer games.
|Picture||Title||Genre||Description||Where To Buy|
|Abuse||Platformer||You got locked up in a prison where illegal genetic experiments take place, and all the inmates were transformed into monsters. A 2D platformer with a rather unique mouse-driven aim system, a gritty style, and merciless action. Was made free when the developer went bankrupt. Worth checking out.||Desura|
|Amok||Shooter||After decades of war between two megacorporations, a fragile truce has finally been reached. But a mercenary group would much rather see the immensely profitable bloodshed continue, and that's where you come in! A hardcore mech shooter, from some of the people who would later do the Hitman series. The voxel environments give it an unusual visual style.|
|Another World||Platformer||Also known as Out of This World in North America, and Outer World in Japan. A simple platformer where you take the role of a human who's teleported to a hostile alien world and needs to find a way out.The gameplay is reminiscent of Prince of Persia, but the experience is much more cinematic and surreal.|
Warning: You WILL die a lot, even if it's a pretty short game.
|Betrayal at Krondor||RPG||Based in Raymond E. Feist's Midkemia, Betrayal at Krondor is often a forgotten gem of Western RPG history. Fire up Dosbox and enjoy one of the best RPGs from the Golden Age of PC games.||GOG|
|Biing! Sex, Intrigue and Scalpels||Medical Sim||A rather risque simulator of a quack hospital strait from Germany (you'll be able to tell). Hire nurses based on their bust size, hire hooligans to beat people up on the street and get more patients your way. Excellent artwork, plenty of rather dark humor. Ridiculously hard, but very fun. Contrary to the popular belief, the English version does exist, but very hard to find. Play the German one if you speak German.|
|Blood||FPS||Play as a charismatic anti-hero Caleb, shooting through incredibly gory scenes to kick Tchernobog's ass. Tons of black humor, references and mentioned red liquid.||GOG|
|Catacomb 3-D||FPS||You're a fireball-tossing wizard (and not some guy with a gun - whoever drew that cover didn't get the memo) going down the dungeons to slay all the orcs, trolls, and other evil beasts that cross your path. Wolfenstein 3D's older and less famous brother, an impressive game for its time, and still rather enjoyable to play.||GOG|
|Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons||Platformer||Classic platformer that involves shooting aliens and shit. Developed by the head guys who made Doom.||Steam|
|D/Generation||Action||An cyberpunk isometric action game where you're sent into a corporate building of a bioweapons developer to stop the actual weapons that have taken the building and its inhabitants hostage.|
|Darkseed||Point and Click/Horror||H.R. Giger's Mind-Fuck brainchild, in it you are a man who has been experiencing strange dreams after having moved into a mansion, which you soon find to be caused by a rift connecting his world to the "Darkworld", he must switch between these worlds and destroy the machine that is causing the rift, and save the world. A very "original" story I know, but with Giger's psychotic art style mixed with the best/worst writing seen in an adventure game since Kings Quest, adds up to make one of the best adventure games of the time, being hard (but enjoyable) all the way through.|
|Day of the Tentacle||Adventure||Adventure game with lots of quality art, puzzles, humor and story. Sequel to Maniac Mansion, but DotT is considered by many to be one of the greatest Adventures you can play.||GOG (Remastered ver.)|
|Descent (series)||FPS/sim||Be a mercenary hired to eliminate the corporation's virus-infected mining robots all over the solar system. One of the first fully 3D games (a whole year before Quake), this is a shooter with "six degrees of freedom" - you can turn 360 degrees in any direction, and there is no clear up or down in these twisty tunnels. If you're used to the linear, cinematic, hand-holding bullshit for wussies they call FPS nowadays, this will be truly brain-twisting. Better have a barf bag handy! Also, use DXX-Rebirth to run it on modern systems at high resolution.||GOG:|
|Doom||FPS||While Doom was not the first FPS, it single-handedly kick-started not only one of the most popular genres of gaming, but also multiplayer gaming. Blasting demons has never been more fun.|
Don't even bother with the original DOS/Windows engine. For a better experience Try one of the Source ports: Zdoom, or if you want multiplayer action try Zandronum (Skulltag has been ded for a while now). For "modern" effects such as models, 3dfloors, and high frame rates, try Doom Legacy, GZDoom, or Risen3D.
These source ports work on any system, all you need is the original DOOM.WAD or DOOM2.WAD file.
|Doom II||FPS||Super-shotgun. Not a lot of improvement over Doom, but it has some new enemies and the super-shotgun, it should be enough. Its as fun. Has a lot of Maps and Mods.||GOG|
|Duke Nukem I + II||Platformer||Duke Nukem's pre-3D games were pretty cool too! Technically, they're quite aged (especially the awful PC speaker audio of the first one), but they're still a lot of fun. There was a 2-in-1 pack sold on GOG for a while, but it's no longer available anywhere, so for now just pirate it.|
|Duke Nukem 3D||FPS||Always bet on Duke. This is a classic of the genre, that stood above the sea of "Doom-clones" of the 90s with nice graphics (possibly the first 3D game with working mirrors), complex lifelike environments, unique weapons such as the freezethrower and the shrinker, cool special items such as jetpacks and steroids, a raunchy sense of humor, a wealth of cool one-liners, and of course, strippers.
NOTE: the current version on Steam, 20th Anniversary World Tour, is controversial for having less content than the no-longer-available Megaton Edition. They added one new episode, but removed three expansions! Consensus seems to be, just pirate the old version. And get the fan-made High Resolution Pack that adds real 3D models and better textures.
|Dune 2||RTS||Old school RTS, one of the first (if not the first). Dated interface but fun for its age. Will run on fucking old machines.|
|Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall||Open World ARPG / Fantasy Life Sim|| Like the newer games, except in DOS. And you have the entire continent of Tamriel to explore (all 62,394 square miles). Seriously! One of the largest in game worlds ever. Also the dungeons and fields are randomly generated.
Bethesda released the game, along with Arena, for free on their site a while ago. There's no reason to try this shit out. Works well with DOSbox.
|Flashback||Action-adventure||The year is 2142, and you find yourself in an alien jungle with a gun and erased memories. A fantastic and challenging game from France, with interesting puzzle/platforming gameplay, rotoscoped animation (meaning super smooth movement), impressive vector cutscenes, and a neat sci-fi plot. The DOS versions has some extra cutscenes not found in the Amiga version.|
|Full Throttle||Adventure||You're Ben—beaten, framed for murder and left for dead on the roadside. You've got a lump on your back and a feeling in your gut that the road you're on is about to get a lot rougher. Full Throttle features an amazingly simple interface and fast-paced action. Brilliant graphics and animation provide a strong cartoon feel, while the voice acting is powerful and cinematic. Players find themselves racing to the finish to help Ben find the bad guys.||GOG|
|Gods||Platformer||Great platformer with unique atmosphere of pseudo-Greece. Average rating 93%.|
|Golden Axe||Platformer/Action||Old ass side-scrolling fighting game with a fantasy theme and co-operative gameplay. Consider all of its sequels too. Solid arcade coin-op. Timeless.|
|Hexen: Beyond Heretic||FPS||Fantasy FPS running in what is essentially the DOOM engine. A new series feature introduced in Hexen is the choice of character class. Players may choose to play as a fighter, cleric, or mage. Each character has unique weapons and physical characteristics, lending an additional degree of variety and replayability to the gameplay. The fighter relies mainly on melee attacks and is tougher and faster than the other characters. The cleric uses specialized weapons, some of which have limited range or healing effects. The mage uses long-range weapons, whose reach is counterbalanced by dealing relatively little damage and the fact that the mage is the most fragile of the classes.||Steam|
|Jazz Jackrabbit||Platformer/Run 'n Gun||Classic mascot platformer by Epic, with run 'n gun elements. Has expansions which add more levels, including a crhistmas-themed one, as well as tons of fan-made levels.||GOG|
|Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards||Erotic Adventure||Set in the fictional city of Lost Wages, the story follows a middle-aged virgin named Larry Laffer who resolves to sleep with a woman before midnight. Land of the Lounge Lizards establishes several elements which recur in later games, including Larry's out-of-date attire, perpetually bad luck with women, and penchant for double-entendres.||GOG (original)|
|Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out!||Erotic Adventure||Set in the exclusive health spa, La Costa Lotta, Larry returns in his funniest adventure game to date. The graphics are hi-res, there are far more girls to test your luck with, much more things you can do and Larry is given his memorable voice (by Jan Rabson). It's also one of the few Sierra adventure games that has no dead ends so you can die as much as you want in the many humorous situations because you won't have to restart the game. Be sure to find the hi-res CD version that has audio dialogue rather than the text only lo-res version.|
|Larax & Zaco||Platformer||a.k.a. Lezac. Simple DOS platformer. Collect treasure, use bombs to blow up chunks of the level, and avoid being buried in the rubble. The bombs range from tiny firecrackers that can boost your jump height to giant explosives that vaporize entire levels. Also has bosses and two player co-op.|
The shareware version is floating around all the DOS game portals. But the creator's official sites aren't online anymore and the various other sites that used to have the full version + art packs have disappeared. The zip file aside has version 1.8, which is the complete full version. Not sure if there's a better source.
Apparently, abandonware, or at least the creator has allowed it to be so, given its archive.org entry.
|Little Big Adventure (Also known as Relentless)||Action Adventure||Where it all began. You play Twinsen, an escapee from an asylum on the planet Twinsun, in a quest to overthrow the evil dictator Funfrock. Graphics are the same as the sequel and the music and gameplay is top notch. Also to be admired is the freedom in the game that is sort of a proto-sandbox title. You can punch anyone in this world, give your girlfriend a bloody nose or knock civilians down a flight of stairs. Some of the music in the game is CD audio so be sure to find an actual disk image.||GOG|
|Mad TV||Sim||A television station management simulation, You're in charge of selecting programming and earning advertising for the station, while simultaneously trying to marry Betty. Not related to MADtv or the MAD magazine at all.|
|Magic Carpet||FPS||As the cover notes, you're a wizard and you go around in an all-range flying carpet, blasting beasts who inhabit the land, sea, and sky (and also enemy wizards). What it doesn't tell show you is that you can use all sorts of spells, including other offense-based spells, but also defense-based spells (like healing and magic shields), but also terrain-based spells, where you create and destroy sections of landmass. You can drown enemies by destroying the land beneath them, even summon a volcano!|
It had an expansion, Hidden Worlds, which offered more levels and a bit more variety. The sequel, Magic Carpet 2 has some mixed pros and cons, mainly for what it added (foes and spells) and the mixed effectiveness of them. It also got flak for being buggy. (Were there any patches?)
|Maniac Mansion||Adventure||Hilarious and somewhat spooky adventure game with a stellar reputation for all the right reasons. After playing through the game, you'll definitely feel rewarded, it's that good. Be sure to read a walkthrough before you start or you can get trapped in an unwinnable game. Also available on the NES.|
|Master of Magic||TBS||One of the best TBS games ever. It plays like Civilization, but there's magic in this game, making it very interesting. You start with a small Hamlet and a few units, you will need to explore and expand, while researching new spells and managing your armies and cities. You can also get heroes, thay may be weak at low levels, but will become god-like after some battles. There are six type of magic, and hundred of spells, that will make each game interesting and challenging. You can get the Official Strategy Guide from here.||GOG|
|MechWarrior||Simulation / FPS / RPG||Based in the BattleTech universe. Pilot 3 giant robots (you can switch between them to take it off computer control), kill other giant robots, salvage their parts and proceed to kill more robots. The lack of terrible Japanese influence means this is a very good game with balanced and interesting combat. More recent versions are also around and playable, though avoid the Japanese-influenced ones.|
|MechWarrior 2||Simulation / FPS||A major departure from the previous game, dropping the RPG/economy elements while improving the simulation, including mech customization, damage modeling, squad tactics, and so on. The graphics are great for the time, the gameplay is very enjoyable, and the music is absolutely flawless; hands down, one of the best vidya soundtracks ever. The game had an expansion (Ghost Bear's Legacy) and a prequel (Mercenaries), which were bundled together in a box set (The Titanium Trilogy).
Also on Saturn and PlayStation, but the console versions have more arcadey gameplay and a different soundtrack.
|Metaltech: Earthsiege||Simulation / FPS||It's the distant future: mankind invents intelligent war machines, machines realize it's stupid to fight each other, decide to exterminate mankind instead. Earthsiege is a hardcore mech simulator, known for its depth and difficulty. From the same developer of the original MechWarrior, so you can see some strong similarities (for example, in both you salvage defeated enemies' parts). Also, Tribes is a spin-off of this series. Free now, so go check it.||Link|
|Might and Magic: World of Xeen||RPG||World of Xeen is actually two games, the fourth (Clouds of Xeen) and fifth (Darkside of Xeen) combined into one huge game, as both were meant to be played one after another. World of Xeen is the epic conclusion of the Sheltem arc which began with the first game and the single best game in the series.||GOG (includes all games up to the 6th title)|
|Prehistorik||Platformer||Old platformer starring a fat old Prehistoric guy who eats everything. Even insects, remote controls and fridges. Fun and with an end-game boss so hard it's stupid.||GOG|
|Quake||FPS||A teleportation experiment opens a way to a dimension of monstrous creatures who use it to invade our world. Doesn't that plot sound familiar? Not that it matters, Quake is all about fast gameplay, dark environments, lovecraftian beasts, and a haunting soundtrack by Nine Inch Nails. It was one of the first fully 3D shooters (Descent and Terminator: Future Shock came first, but still relied on sprites for some objects), and it remains a joy to play. A very dark, brutal joy.
Be sure to try a modern source port. Some are faithful to the original, but some (like Darkplaces and Tenebrae) do seriously improved graphics.
|Raptor: Call of the Shadows||Shoot'em Up||Play through various missions blowing stuff up, earn lots of money to buy better equipment and blow more stuff up!||GOG|
|Return Fire||Combat||Return Fire has four selectable vehicles, each one more suitable for one kind of mission. Each one can carry a limited amount of fuel and ammo (which can be refilled at ammo tents and fuel depots) and can take different amounts of damage.|
|Rise of the Triad: Dark War||FPS||An "intentionally disgusting" shooter with some plot about secret ops trying to destroy an alien cult, but who cares about plot when you can get hopped up on 'shrooms, turn yourself into a dog, and wield the almighty Excalibat? Also contains lots of blood and fleshy chunks spraying everywhere! Good times, even by modern standards.||GOG|
|Sam and Max: Hit the Road||Adventure||Pretty crazy adventure featuring a detective dog and his partner, a cute homicidical rabbit on their mission to find a disappeared yeti. Puzzles are sometimes TOO crazy, but the game's a lot of fun nevertheless.||GOG|
|Screamer (series)||Racing||PC gaming is full of realistic driving simulators, but sometimes all you want is an arcade-style racer. Screamer was one of the first to bring home the simple, smooth, high-speed fun of Daytona or Ridge Racer. The weak point of the series is the limited content - just a handful of tracks and cars, much like those arcades. Even so, they're still enjoyable and worth a look.||GOG|
|The Secret of Monkey Island||Adventure||One of the most famous and successful adventure games ever made, this one is considered a cult classic by many. Help the "mighty pirate" Guybrush Threepwood defeat the evil ghost pirate LeChuck, win the love of the beautiful Elaine Marley and uncover the titular secret of Monkey Island. Exceptional writing and humor, this game is a mandatory play for everyone who loves adventures.|
Has a remake with modern graphics and voice acting on Steam. The artstyle is generally agreed upon to be ugly and the controls are fucktarded, but you can also switch to the original graphics and interface just with the press of a button.
|Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge||Adventure||Just like Monkey Island 1, but longer, funnier, and all around better. Get a job by tainting soup with a rat, kidnap two large animals for your twisted machinations, practice voodoo against your foes, and cause two huge explosions while stealing everything that's not nailed down. (Fun Fact: Pirates of the Caribbean stole a lot of stuff from this series.)|
Also has a remake with redone graphics and full voice acting which is available on Steam.
|Sid Meier's Civilization (series)||TBS||Big TBS series, comprising four games and a bunch of expansions. Play as any number of civs with a leader and build armies to conquer other dipshits. (I'm looking at you Gandhi) Or, play as a nice guy and win with nice cities, or ally everyone and win that way. Pansy. You know you wanna nuke their shit up.
Highly addictive, just ONE MORE TURN...
|Silpheed: Super Dogfighter||Shoot'em Up||Super cool polygonal shmup, years before polygons became popular. Also released on a variety of Japanese computers.|
|Sim City 2000||Sim||Take control of a city as its Mayor, and try to expand whilst keeping the residents happy.||GOG|
|Stunts||Racing||Like Trackmania for MS-DOS. Tracks Includes: loops, jumps (including over tall buildings), slalom roads and corkscrews. Design tracks or modify existing ones, features |
|Super Street Fighter II Turbo||Fighting||The best version of Street Fighter 2 is on DOS! Very accurate representation of arcade version (arguably better than on 3DO), with all combos and moves, but due to low resolution sprites of all characters are a bit bigger, but that's only for the better. You can use 6-button controller with that beast.|
|Star Control 2||RPG||Unique Space-Tripping-RPG where you play as a guy who has to organise an alliance of alien races to fight off galactic assholes, the ur-quan and kohr-ah. In addition to the marvelous plot and music, the game has a funky arcade-style battle game blended into the main quest that makes the fighting a lot of fun. The 3DO version was unshackled from copyright in 2002, and thus an open source version, know as The Ur-Quan Masters due to copyright bullshit, was born. There is also an "HD" version with "better" artwork, if you just can't stand old school pixel art go for that... I guess... but this editor thinks it loses a bit of it's charm with the new artwork.||Ur-Quan Masters|
|Star Wars: Dark Forces||FPS||You are badass mercenary Kyle Katarn, assisting the Rebel Alliance in their war against the Galactic Empire. Lucas' answer to Doom, the first in a great series. The graphics have aged quite a lot (use the XL Engine to make it look more modern) but the gameplay is still great.||GOG|
|Star Wars: TIE Fighter||Sim||Pirates, traitors, and Rebel scum are terrorizing the galaxy. In the name of the Emperor, join Lord Vader and Vice Admiral Thrawn in 13 campaigns to kill them all. One of the first Star Wars titles to show the Imperials as something other than the "bad guys", this set the standard for every story-centric flight sim that followed. Seven fighters are available, including classic TIEs from the films and new ships like the awesome TIE Defender and the godly Missile Boat. The 1995 collector's CD version has the impressive iMuse MIDI soundtrack, but the 1998 re-release on GOG uses the John Williams score with updated graphics from X-Wing vs TIE Fighter.||GOG|
|System Shock||FPS||System Shock is like a cross between Ultima and Doom. The year is 2072, you're a hacker, you just woke up at the Saturn colony, and everyone's fuckin' dead.||GOG|
|Terminal Velocity||Space combat||The year is 2704, and Earth was betrayed by the space alliance. Almost the same game as Fury³ for Win95.||GOG|
|Terminator: Future Shock||FPS||Set in the future, you play an unknown soldier reminiscent of John Connor, sent out to stop the Terminator menace and destroy Skynet. Packing every weapon imaginable, from shotguns, to rocket launchers, to laser rifles, you carve your way through an apocalyptic landscape full of T-1000's, spider mechs, and other droids hell bent on your death. Conserve ammo, blow shit up, and shoot for the moon. Literally.|
|Ultima VII: The Complete Edition||RPG||Ultima VII: The Black Gate is a fantastic RPG and single best title on the classic Ultima series. This time the Avatar, hero of Britannia, has to investigate a series of strange happenings which all seem to be connected, as well as the presence of a mysterious being calling himself the Guardian who is apparently behind everything. It later received an expansion called Serpent Isle, which is actually a entire new game using the same engine. Both games were compiled into the Complete Edition.||GOG|
|Ultima Underworld II||Action-RPG||A first person Action-RPG spin-off of the Ultima series. This one actually takes place between Black Gate and Serpent Isle.||GOG (includes the first game as well)|
|Vette!||Racing||Drive your Corvette through the streets of a realistic 3D recreation of San Francisco, with police to avoid, multiple camera views, and car damage affecting the gameplay. One of the earliest "open world" driving games, truly ahead of its time.|
|Warcraft: Orcs & Humans||RTS||Starcraft is better for rated games. Warcraft has more features and better custom games.|
|Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant||RPG||The pinnacle of this classic series, Crusaders of the Dark Savant ditches the swords and sorcery setting from earlier titles and goes for a more medieval sci-fi blend, as the heroes have to prevent the titular villain from acquiring a ancient alien artifact. It follows the plot set by the previous title, and thus allows importing your saves from it. Beware, for the game is still as crushingly hard as ever!||GOG (includes the 6th title as well)|
|Wolfenstein 3D||FPS||VERY brown, but good fun. Take on Nazis, then Zombies, then other weird occult things (such as a flying monster torso), all within the time frame of WWII.||GOG|
|X-Com: UFO defense||TBS||Turn-based, squad-level strategy with management aspect too. Tense sci-fi atmosphere.Practically the creator of its genre, and still one of the best offerings of it.||GOG|
Video & pastaEdit
- Archive.org - play MS-DOS games in your browser
|Consoles||Action Max - Atari 7800 - Amstrad GX4000 - RDI Halcyon - View-Master Interactive Vision - Sega Master System - Nintendo Entertainment System - Casio PV-1000 - VTech Socrates - Epoch Super Cassete Vision|
|Computers||Mattel Aquarius - Acorn Archimedes - Commodore 64 - Amstrad CPC - Fujitsu FM-7 - Apple Lisa - Apple Macintosh - Microsoft MS-DOS - ASCII MSX - ASCII MSX2 - IBM OS-2 - NEC PC-88 - NEC PC-98 - Amstrad PCW - Sinclair QL - Commodore VIC-20 - Sharp X1 - Sinclair ZX Spectrum|