In my younger days, I’d spend many nights online looking at various gaming websites, looking for the ideal way to waste an evening. Once my Juno dial-up was ready, I’d browse the likes of SI Kids, Homestar Runner, or whatever else my Yahoo! search results yielded. It was the days before I had a console, so my only option was to track down these mostly crummy games.
Then, once I was old enough to afford it and track it down, I bought a Nintendo Entertainment System and began to track down some of the older arcade games I loved to play or thought I would love to play if I ever had the opportunity. Countless hours on Craigslist, ebay and browsing the all-too-small classifieds in my local newspaper. I had very little success.
Kids have it so easy these days.
Now, the Internet Archive has launched the Internet Arcade, providing over 900 classic arcade games completely for free. I planned to write this article as a sprawling ode to the different selections of games, any memories they conjured up, and the ways I wished more modern games could succeed with simplicity. But then I realized I never beat Spiders, so now, three hours later, I’m out of writing time.
You can get a gamepad to play, but you can also do it with just your keyboard. Select a game, press 5 to deposit a coin, 1 for one player, and then get to stepping with CTRL, SPACE and the arrow keys. You can lead Pac-Man, Q*Bert, and Major Havoc through all the levels that you remember so fondly, and all for free.
The Internet Archive has done some pretty cool things since their inception in 1996, but this may take the cake for me. Bringing all these games together on one page is impressive enough, but the flawless functionality I’ve seen so far makes it all the better.