In 2013, the Internet Archive kicked off a major effort to store and host hundreds of classic video games for free play via your Web browser, and after a late 2014 addition of classic arcade games, the site's Software Library exploded over the final week of 2014 with its biggest update yet: 2,334 MS-DOS games, all playable through a standard browser.
"Some of [the games] will still fall over and die," longtime IA curator Jason Scott wrote on his personal blog when announcing the new game selection on Monday, but our cursory tests have shown off remarkably functional MS-DOS games in our web browser; they all run via the Em-DOSBOX emulator, an offshoot of the same emulator that powers many antiques sold at archival games sites like GOG.com. Keep that mute button handy, as we encountered some awful sound emulation quirks in classics like Jazz Jackrabbit, but thankfully, the games' speed and functionality remained intact.
Scott also took the opportunity to ask gamers to try out the Internet Archive's brand-new beta design, complete with screenshots for every entry and an endless-scroll feature; click here to give the beta a shot. You'll want the improved design while sifting, because the selection, quite frankly, is insane. Have an urge to find Carmen Sandiego? Now you can track her across the USA, the world, Europe, space, or even time. Got pinball on your mind? Welcome back to EA's incredible classic, the Pinball Construction Set. Curious about the French version of the really awful Smurfs game? Here you go. Really, you could lose hours to nothing other than the MS-DOS subgenre of erotic adventures, including the hilariously titled Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2. (Which makes us wonder, where the hell is the original?!)
We were curious how long some of these titles will remain available, including DOS ports of famed series such as Street Fighter II, Donkey Kong, and Pac-Man. As we were preparing this report, in fact, the number of playable games dipped from an original count of over 2,370. In Giant Bomb's report on the collection, reporter Alex Navarro pointed to the Internet Archive's DMCA Exemption, which has been applied to much of this hosted software—even if it represents playable games that are still on sale—due to that specific code's rarity and need for preservation. Thus, we figure games have mostly been removed for not meeting the standards Scott established for the playable collection, a fact he hinted at in the aforementioned blog post.