Fri. Mar 31st, 2023
Only 30 or so of the 900+ games available on The Internet Arcade.

Only 30 or so of the 900+ games available on The Internet Arcade.

As part of its ongoing mission to catalog and preserve our shared digital history, the Internet Archive has published a collection of over 900 classic arcade games, playable directly in a web browser through a Javascript emulator.

The Internet Arcade collects a wide selection of titles, both well-known and obscure, ranging from black and white Bronze Age classics like 1976’s sprint 2 up to the start of the early 90s fighting game boom Street Fighter II. In the middle are a few historical rarities, such as foreign Donkey Kong bootleg Crazy Kong and the hacked “Pauline Edition” of Donkey Kong which was made last year by a loving father.

The site’s new arcade offerings are the work of curator Jason Scott, who has previously archived thousands of classic console and PC games as part of the Internet Archive’s software collection. Like that previous work, the Arcade collection is built on top of JSMESS, a version of the open-source Multi Emulator Super System project designed to run in Javascript-compatible browsers. Adding MAME-based arcade game support to the Internet Archive’s JSMESS environment “turned out to be easy. Very, very easy,” writes Scott on his personal blog.

The archive highlights about 300 games for their ability to “run at the right speed in a powerful browser,” but the collection of 900 ROMs includes hundreds more that are “playable in some form.” Scott notes that vector games are particularly tricky, and games that use non-standard controllers, such as trackballs, play a bit strange (although the emulator supports many USB gamepads). As extensive as the collection gets, there will of course be some games that can’t be emulated on a computer anytime soon.

While most of the arcade games offered are still copyrighted, and some still see re-releases on modern consoles, the browser-based versions are offered as part of what the Archive calls “exercising our right to remember”. Many users will no doubt tinker with games they like to remember, or discover some quirky-looking titles that appeal to them. But Scott writes that he hopes a few “start plotting ways to use this stuff in research, writing, and remixing these old games to understand their context. Time will tell.”

By akfire1

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