Touch of Grey

Abandonware is, let us say, a grey area in the realm of piracy. Once retail games, they now languish in a purgatory of "you never said I couldn't" where until someone says no, you go ahead and do it anyway. Unrecognizable knickknacks that Publishers long dead and buried leave behind to children that don't understand or care about the heritage or stories behind them.

This is where abandonware sites come in.

A kind of Software GoodWill where nobody charges, you just take what interests you and enjoy the history contained within. The items are old, need to be handled with care and will require some maintenance and mending in order to become what they once were. Sure, those of us who lived through the era that these gems belong to value their significance in history more then those who missed the opportunity, but don't deprive yourself by dismissing them as old junk.

An understanding of on what shoulders the things we enjoy today are standing, betters our appreciation for that which we hold dear.

As I leafed through what many consider antiquity, I noticed each page lovingly contained the birth date, artist and sponsor as well as a short description of it's meaning as well as it's commendations. What surprised me most was just how short a time ago these were considered new and innovative - Ten years seems a trifle for the change that has transpired. Just compare DaggerFall screen shots with those of Oblivion, that's only ten years.

Whether it is 10, 20 or 100 years, the one thing that transcends everything is gameplay. The Nintendo Wii has proven that graphics aren't everything and has continued to do so every year since it's release. What you can find in older games is gameplay, good gameplay, gameplay that hasn't changed that much in those 10 years. Does Tetris play better on a Xbox 360 than it did on a GameBoy? No, and Tetris will still play the same on a direct neural input device that splices directly into your brain. Graphics are nice and in many cases the reason we buy what we play, but gameplay will always be king.

"Enough of this excessive soliloquy" you say, "your colorful metaphors are a molestation of my otherwise jovial predilection". "Give me the goods already!"


Here are completely legitimate downloads of free or released as free games. There are no abandonware titles here, and all will work on the latest of systems.

  • onEscapee is a platformer similar to Out of This World or FlashBack.
  • Elder Scrolls: Arena and DaggerFall are the progenitors to Oblivion and have been released by Bethesda for free. The two links I have provided lead to downloads that have been preconfigured to run in DosBox by the folks at OldgamesSK.
  • CaveStory, which is soon available on the Wii, is a Metroid type platformer of surprising depth and charm. It requires an English patch which can also be downloaded on the linked page.
  • Finally, two adventure games of complete contrast: Infinity String, a LucasArts style adventure and Fate By Numbers, a full motion video adventure requiring an entire DVD to be downloaded.

For more legitimate commercial games released as freeware, try the WIKI Page, for more Free Games like the ones listed try TIGSource. History aficionados may enjoy an interview with Sarinee Achavanuntakul, creator of the Abandonware site Home of The Underdogs.
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