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Every Game We Spent Way Too Much Time Playing on the Family Computer Because They’re All We Had

Kids these days, with their instant gratification and endless choices, will never know the true struggle of gaming in an era where variety was a foreign concept. Remember the good ol’ days when your parents banished consoles from the house? Your only gaming alternative was the family computer, strategically placed within eyeshot of the living room.

Our options were limited: the pre-installed classics, the rare contraband we miraculously smuggled in on CD-ROM, or, for the truly ancient among us, floppy disk. And if the stars aligned, you might stumble upon a free online game that was actually playable on a 56k modem—until your dad needed to make an ‘important’ phone call.

We’ve roped in our Hard Drive writers to take a trip down memory lane, reminiscing about the games that are seared into their brains—not because they were groundbreaking, but simply because they were all we had. Sure, Solitaire stands the test of time, but let’s be honest, the rest are debatable. — Matt McInerney

Scorched Earth 2000

Heavy roller. Funky bomb. Sand bomb. The NUKE. This was the vocabulary of my youth. When your computer’s graphic card isn’t powerful enough to play many games but you want to play online with your friends what do you do? You google “free online multiplayer games.” And what do you find deep down on page 1000 or whatever? You find Scorched Earth 2000.

It’s technically a remake of a classic game Scorched Earth, but I didn’t play that one. I played Scorched Earth 2000 online for free with my friends. And play we did. In any classroom that had computers, or at home while chatting on the telephone (before Discord).

The game is basically a precursor to the Worms franchise, where you mess with the angle of your attack and power behind it to attempt to bomb your friends. You can also move your tank, bury it in sand, talk trash – it’s got it all.

I would recommend it, but when I went to go play a round while typing this out I found that the website is no longer hosting games. – by Matt Saincome

King’s Quest III: To Heir is Human

For years, the only computer in my house was an Apple IIGS. It would run Doom, and I spent a lot of time on that, but it also had a bunch of Sierra adventure games. The first, second, and fourth King’s Quests had a certain logic to their puzzles that was easy for my kid brain to follow, but King’s Quest III is a weird departure thereof. It’s the Season of the Witch of King’s Quest.

KQ3 starts with an elaborate, multi-stage time trial, where you’re an evil wizard’s abused apprentice looking to escape, and failing in any particular way is an instant game over. If you didn’t have the guidebook, sold separately, you had to construct your escape route one failure at a time. Alexander’s path to freedom is paved with his own corpses. KQ3 stabilizes into a more typical ‘80s adventure game once you complete the opening section – which I did all of once – but that opening section was grueling. If something like that showed up in a modern game, I’d never complete it.

I probably put as much or more time into weird Doom .wads, but King’s Quest actually took some brainpower, and it’s warped my perspective ever since. I tend to pick my everyday-carry items as if I’ll end up on an ‘80s adventure, and if there’s something weird on the sidewalk or offered as a freebie, I usually take it because I’ll obviously need that to solve a puzzle 10 minutes from now. Roberta Williams, this is the future you created. by Thomas Wilde

Hocus Pocus

The fact that Apogee Software’s hit, “Hocus Pocus (1994)” released only a year after a film of the same name, and didn’t end up some slapped-together movie tie-in where we play as a pixelated Bette Midler truly makes this game the product of a bygone era. Having gone out of my way to never taint the good Hocus Pocus name, I have purposefully avoided the movie all these years. That way, when someone says, “What do you think about Hocus Pocus?” I can say, “Oh, you mean the classic 2D Side-Scrolling Fantasy DOS Game from the company that would later become 3D Realms and go on to make far more memorable games than this one? Yeah, I played that on my dad’s computer all the time.”

Like all good classic DOS games, the story of this game is told entirely through 10 pages of full-screen walls of text that are squirreled away in their own menu option called “Legends and Hints!” As the story delves deep into worldbuilding, explaining how a Council of Wizards use “dimensional shortcuts” to jump between worlds, it becomes abundantly clear that this was some developer shoving his Tabletop RPG game’s lore into what is otherwise a very straightforward game about collecting orbs and shooting crocodiles? Maybe they’re meant to be some sort of Kobold?

My childhood memories of this game are fuzzy, but upon further video research, I can safely confirm that I absolutely never made it past the first five minutes of this game. Two screens over is a giant pit of lava you have to platform across and everything past that point I have no memory of, but man, did I play the Hell out of that opening tutorial section over and over. When your gaming options are limited to that, or meandering around in your dad’s copy of Myst like a point-and-click adventure where nothing happens because what does any of this mean when you’re 6-years old; the choice is obvious.

So much like Einstein’s definition of insanity, I played the beginning of Hocus Pocus ad nauseam. I never progressed, but boy did I revel in the satisfying way you could rapid-fire lightning bolts as fast as you could spam the ALT key. Who knows, maybe one day, now decades later, they’ll also make a cash-grab sequel to the game. Long after its relevance has waned and its cast is way past retirement age. – by Trevor Hazell


The real challenge here begins before you even see the intro screen. It starts with a terminal and a blinking cursor waiting patiently for you to realize that the floppy drive is actually the B drive, not the C drive. Only those who know to type this exactly will get a chance to play the game: B:\LEMMINGS\LEMMING.EXE.

You get it, we had to walk up hills both ways to play. Lemmings was essentially the trolley dilemma, but put into the hands of a human child. A child who must strategically decide who thrives and who perishes in a noble quest to save as many lemming lives as possible. The only way to stop hundreds more from blissfully marching into a lava pit was to decide which one should heroically self-detonate.

For a DOS game fitting onto a mere 1.44 MB of disk space, it was a pretty impressive endeavor. Sure, each lemming was just a handful of pixels, but the animations? Surprisingly expressive and lifelike. Full disclosure: I have no idea what a real lemming looks like, especially when it realizes it only has seconds left on this cruel earth before bursting into a display of pixel confetti.

So, if you ever wonder what defined the moral compass of ’90s children playing computer games in the den, this was it. As humanity marches mercilessly towards the cliff of existence, we may have nowhere else to turn for guidance. I just hope the fate of humanity can be saved by deciding which one of us will be forced to dig endlessly into the earth. Or maybe just use an umbrella one time. – By Matt McInerney


Solitaire is the Dark Souls of card games. Both games have royalty as bosses, clubs, and usually end with me dying. I Loved unlocking the different skins by finding the secret “Deck…”’ menu. Clicking through your stack of cards for the 9th time to see if there are any moves you missed is what gave me the ability to persist in life. Also clubs is the best suit, end of discussion. by Max Schuhmacher

Hugo’s House of Horrors

I’m not too proud to tell you: I was a very timid, meek child, so even this game’s concept frightened me. The fact that you had to enter actions into a text parser (it’s like ChatGPT but somehow worse at figuring out what you want) all the while in possible, mortal danger in the titular house wasn’t what stopped me from beating it. No, what stopped me from beating it was a bizarre knowledge wall where a man won’t let me progress the game unless I answer five random trivia questions on COMPLETELY disparate subjects, which was honestly a good primer for gatekeeping jerks in the hobby I’d encounter later. One of the questions was “Who was Roy Rogers’ dog?” a question my at-the-time 41 year old dad was STILL too young to have ANY idea about. And you might ask: why not just Google it? Dial-up was barely a thing, and search engines were even further off. That, children, is what it is…TO WANT! And perhaps, that was the REAL horror in that house. Cause it sure as hell wasn’t any of the pixely Playmobil-looking characters. Except the butler with a cleaver, that dude still haunts my nightmares. -Corey Arder

Final Fantasy VIII

How or why I came into possession of the PC version of this JRPG classic remains a mystery to me to this day, but rest assured Dear Reader, I put our 1998 Compaq Presario through its paces with this game. – Johnny Amizich


Released on floppy disks in the ancient times of 1987, this metroidvania-lite platformer was less well-known than colorful 90s windbreakers. The plot, if you can discern it from the vomit of pixels masquerading as characters, involves our valiant hero on a mission to rescue a princess from an evil demon.

It’s a tale as old as dial-up internet. So if you’re in the mood for a platforming game that’s the equivalent of trying to ride a unicycle on a tightrope while juggling, Zeliard is the charmingly awkward relic you never knew you needed.-Tyler A

Hannah and the Pirate Caves

My Neopets may be long dead, their bones desiccated and returned to the strange earth that bore them— but that’s okay, because they weren’t why I visited the site every morning and every afternoon after school. Sure, I would check in on my JubJub, my Kiko, my *checks notes* Bruce? And I couldn’t miss snagging one of the world’s most delicious-looking breakfasts every morning at The Giant Omelette. But the real draw of Neopets was the games, and by the games, I of course mean Hannah and the Pirate Caves.

Every sound effect in this adorable yet challenging puzzle-platformer is ingrained in my soul like a genetic memory: the chirpy jumping sound, the deep bwooow sound that sends Hannah’s sprite spinning after she hits a spike or drowns, the ching! of a collected treasure chest. My brothers and I spent hours on those levels, and when we were done, we’d create our own with the game’s robust level editor. Apparently we weren’t alone, because there were hundreds of highly inventive community levels to chow on. These days you can’t play Hannah and the Pirate Caves except through a program called Shockwave or something, but it’s worth the effort if you’re nostalgic for the good old days of the family computer.

And no, we don’t talk about Hannah and the Ice Caves, thank you. – by Nik Theorin

The Close Combat Series

Many of us had fathers who introduced us to gaming on PCs. Mine was jealous of his friend’s gaming PC in the late 90s and wanted to get in on the action. Also, like most fathers, he had a deep abiding love of war and the military. Those factors led me to play the Close Combat games in the early years of my PC gaming career.

Close Combat is a semi-defunct turn-based strategy game series based on hex-board military games popular in the 70s and 80s. Each mission involves taking your little squad of killing machines and moving them through a wartime battleground, fighting the opposing forces, and making sure your guys have friends nearby so they don’t lose your minds (an actual game mechanic). My dad played for hours, controlling battles from both sides and enjoying the warcraft of it all.

Wanting to like what my dad liked, I tried and failed to play it constantly. I had no idea what was going on, couldn’t outfit my guys right, and got frustrated my units kept dying. So thanks dad, I guess, for making this available for me to try a bunch, hate, and turn off to go look at hentai for the first time with our new computer. – Jon Ruggiero

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4

I grew up with dial-up internet in a videogames-rot-your-brain type of household, so you can imagine my excitement when I found that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 came preinstalled on our new family computer, a 2003 Apple eMac. Needless to say, this game beat the hell out of the edutainment games I was allowed to rent from the library or played at school. Sorry Arthur’s Reading Race, this 10-year-old is about to learn what the “(o)(o)” cheat code does (it added a playable skater named “Daisy,” voiced by and modeled after pornstar Jenna Jameson—thanks Apple!).

Thankfully, my parents had no idea about any of this and by the time they found out, I was already nailing combos and grinding around the game’s wonderfully cynical, punk-y levels. It didn’t matter that the game only ran at about 20fps on the eMac’s woefully weak hardware, I finally got to play a game that wasn’t about math or reading—unless you count collecting the letters in S-K-A-T-E. – by Ian Guyette


This game truly had it all: left, right, down, jump. What else could you ask for? And the graphics? Absolutely incredible, at least by MS Paint standards. Let’s not forget the special effects! Jump at a tree in just the right way, and bam, it bursts into flames.

For many who’ve played this game, it remains a mystery if there’s an actual ending. Personally, I still don’t know. It seemed as though you were endlessly skiing down a relentless expanse of mountain, dodging rocks and trees. Oh, and jumps. There were jumps! (Sadly, not into water, just into more snow.)

So, that’s pretty much it. You keep skiing, forever and ever. Occasionally, a dog will wander by and, well, mark its territory on you. Every now and then, a high score notification pops up. Just keep skiing.

Alright, here’s the real reason we played: the yeti. After some time, this abominable snowman would emerge and start chasing you. What happens if he catches you? Nothing much. He just ravenously devours your body alive, head first, then casually finishes you off with a toothpick for good measure. For those of us whose gaming pinnacle at the time was Solitaire, this was the goriest moment we’d ever experienced in a video game. When I later witnessed the rocket launcher in Doom, I barely batted an eye. Ski Free had already prepared me for the ugly truth of life. – By Matt McInerney


I know this wasn’t technically pre-installed on the computer, but those old-fangled elders can’t be the only ones represented here. Living in a house without consoles, I adventured through a wide variety of scenarios that subjected me to a litany of learning against my will. I didn’t even realize the forced education behind the stories and action. There’s classic islands like Skullduggery, 24 Carrot, Counterfeit, Mythology, and Astro Knights. Seeing those classics reappear in Super Villain island probably formed some core memories. I also now know how to play mancala because of Poptropica.

After years of not playing, it’s surprising to look back at the many changes made. The long fabled and scrapped Monster Carnival island had been introduced without my knowledge. Islands had gone missing and locked behind a paywall sometime during its transition out of using Flash. Even as a 2000s kid, I appreciate Poptropica for giving me the ability to shake my fist at those kids and their new-fangled technologies. – by Ezra Tsao

Escape Velocity Override

A space trader simulator where I could customize my spaceship and become a trader, pirate, or mercenary? Sign me up! I may have barely understood the mechanics of the game, but I downloaded every plugin I could find for that PowerPC and borked it countless times. Every time. My Dad told me to stop installing random files from the internet. Did that stop me? Absolutely not, I had to find more of the systems and build my map. I had to trade commodities to very slowly build my wealth and get miniscule upgrades to try, only to lose all of my hard-earned credits in a blaze of glory that lasted but a few seconds. I can’t wait for the remake Cosmic Frontier: Override to come out and steal away days of my life again. Maybe this time I’ll learn more about how Mosquitoes went extinct. – By Kayla Shaw Endo

Let’s Baby-Sit Baby Krissy!

The Barbie website was the only website my older sister had favorited on the family computer. And for child me, who had all the internet skills of a United States senator, that meant it was usually all I could access. And say what you want about Barbie, but that lady had some quality Flash games. Case in point: Let’s Baby-Sit Baby Krissy! Now, as a quick disclaimer, I don’t actually remember the majority of this game. I think you styled her hair at one point (that’s something that Barbie games did, right?). But the majority of the game isn’t what makes this an all-time classic.

No, my dear friend. That would be the shopping minigame. Do you understand the primal satisfaction of grabbing as many colorful boxes as you can while your shopping cart gets closer and closer to the checkout? I don’t even think there were any actual rewards for how well I did, but something about that minigame activated every single synapse in my little kid brain and left me glued to the screen. I would get actively upset if the shopping minigame didn’t appear in the rotation of games before I reached the end. I’d just stare at the screen for hours as I got box after box of packaged goods. It was heaven. – By C.J Clement

3D Pinball for Windows – Space Cadet

It’s February 13th, 2003, Thursday night. Not quite the weekend and just barely a weeknight. You want to play something on the computer, so you boot up Windows XP. You think about what games you could play. You are so tired of that weird Treasure Planet RTS game you got from some dubious source. It’s too complicated and takes too long. Plus you are only staying at your grandparent’s place till 8ish when your dad says you need to go home, and it’s already 7:36.

So you hazard a trip into the windows “games” folder, relegating yourself to possibly playing some more solitaire. But you notice something you hadn’t before, something simply labeled “pinball”. You click it. Your screen goes black, with only a small logo with the words “3D PINBALL” dead center. The black screen fades, a window opens, and you enter a world of color. Your eardrums are instantly ruptured by the sound of a starting space engine, while the lights of the board flash before you. That’s all it took for you to fall in love. The rest, my friend, was history. – By Max Schuhmacher

Freddi Fish 3: The Case of the Stolen Conch Shell

Back in the before times, in the long long ago, there was no Steam, you had to have your PC games on a disc. But one thing every era has in common is that games aren’t cheap and without the benefit of Steam Sales letting you buy 300 games you’ve barely heard of, you had to simply hope for a sale. Or in my case, just be relegated to playing the games that came in cereal boxes. That’s right kids, they used to put PC games in cereal boxes. I had a handful of games I got with my sugary breakfast treat. Rollercoaster Tycoon, Operation, The Game of Life, some Tonka Truck game but none got played as much as Freddi Fish 3.

To this day I’ve never played any other Freddi Fish game. All I had was the third one, The Case of the Stolen Conch Shell and it mesmerized me. It’s a point and click adventure in the same vein as the Putt-Putt games (made by the same developers) and no matter how many times I solved that crime I was always hooked. The way everything you click has a funny animation, the little mini games peppered throughout, the way the third act turns into a kind of intense crime thriller, for a 6 year old any way. Few things in my life at the time, and probably even now, gave me as much pleasure as coming home from the hardships of 1st grade and winding down by solving the crime of the stolen conch shell. Freddi Fish needed me and I’d never let her down. – by Matt Fresh


Outcast was a novel experience on PC back in 1999. A voxel engine that could run reliably while software-rendering some pretty beautiful graphics for its time. A beautiful score performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and choir. And a fully fleshed out alien world with a deeply detailed indigenous culture similar to, but predating Avatar by a decade. The open world sandbox was vast, with multiple biomes, and populated by dozens of fully voiced characters to speak with and do quests for. There were also elements of another favorite IP of mine at the time: Stargate. The overarching plot was broadly familiar yet unique enough to be very engaging, with some real twists thrown in towards the end.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to me about Outcast back then, was the action-consequence based reputation system the game had in place, where harming the locals would be detrimental to progress, and would significantly affect dialogue trees. Purposefully tanking main character Cutter Slade’s reputation just so I could get the “bad” conversations was entertaining as hell.

I probably spent hours running around on foot with ol’ Cutter and his weird little wedgie-walk animation, at least until I got a hold of a two-legged mount to ride around on instead. The gunplay wasn’t the epitome of third-person shooter combat, but Outcast always leaned more toward adventure than action.

Remastered first in 2014, then completely remade in 2017 as Outcast: Second Contact, the long-awaited sequel may finally be releasing soon, a quarter of a century later. That’s a testament to how great this universe was, and memorable too. I, for one, can’t wait. – by Michelle Pereira

Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit

The first 1:1 pirated copy of a game I ever played. 1:1 meaning that it hadn’t been stripped of its intro movies and soundtrack, so that it could be shared on pre-broadband dial-up or crammed onto a single 700MB CD with a dozen other games of varying quality (not to mention the hentai).

No, this was the full game! All of it! Including the 360 degree interior tours of all these super cool supercars! And the full rock/techno soundtrack including this banger for a menu song by Rom Di Prisco.

The cars were out of this world, and you could paint them in a wide array of colors, even using a completely custom palette. The tracks had shortcuts and alternate routes and could be raced forward, backward, mirrored, or mirrored backward, with weather on or off, in the day or at night. You could even be in a pursuing cop car setting down spike strips and handing out tickets to a grid of pseudonymous AI racers. You’d learn quickly that Leadfoot, Gotcha, and Ace were real assho…good, they were really good drivers. And that the other four names weren’t good enough to remember a quarter century later (they were Dead Beat, Wild One, Ram Rod, and Mulligan, I checked just now).

Hours and hours of driving just to unlock a Jaguar XJR-15 first, then a Mercedes CLK-GTR, and finally the ultimate car–the El Niño, a non-existent prototype unique to the game. It was fast, but it turned like a fat sweaty sow. But not as sweaty as you finally beating The Summit mirrored backward with snow turned on at night. – by Michelle Pereira

Thief: The Dark Project

Thief: The Dark Project may not have been the first game with stealth mechanics, but it did elevate the sub genre into the mainstream back in 1998. I didn’t even have access to the full game at first, just the expansive demo. Even with just that single level, which encompassed the second mission (Lord Bafford’s Manor) from the full game, there was just so much to do and absolute freedom to do it all.

Graphically it wasn’t the best, not even for its time, but the perfection of the audio design was something I hadn’t experienced before then, having come straight from DOS-era sound cards and their endless technical issues. And sound was a critical aspect of the game too, lending itself to Thief’s atmosphere and its mechanics.

Hours went by, as I crept around the estate extinguishing torches with water arrows, and then blackjacking every single guard and servant unconscious–only to drown them by tossing their corpses into a convenient body of water. Playing on higher difficulties with an outright prohibition on killing anyone upped the ante significantly. At some point I’d memorized the patrol route of every guard on the estate, and could put them all to sleep in minutes.

Those days and weeks spent immersed in Thief’s steampunk City, would form the basis for years of fascination with both the steampunk milieu and the stealth genre, from Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura to Splinter Cell, and from Dishonored to Gloomwood. – by Michelle Pereira


Ah, Minesweeper. A game that I totally know how to play. It’s all coming back to me: The pure strategy of clicking randomly until the frowny face appears. Watching my mom play and actually win through what I assume was only some demonic variation of math. The game-changing discovery of right clicking to put a flag down and then just randomly putting those down. I burned many 45 second sessions trying to figure out this game until I got mad or bored, and I am proud to announce that I completely understand it now. I get it. I can sweep the mines. Please believe me. Mom, I promise I am good at math now. – By Max Schuhmacher

Fisher-Price Fun Flyer

Okay, so this is barely a game. You use the arrow keys to move the plane up, down, back, or forward. You try to catch the various items flying through the air for points. When you reach an airport, you land. On higher levels, you have to keep an eye on your fuel, but that’s not much of an added challenge. It was a game made for literal children, and I was a child at the time. A computer game that let me fly an airplane was the coolest thing I had ever experienced in my entire life.

A weird thing I noticed when revisiting this game thirty years later is that you transport each of your passengers one by one while the others just wait on the runway. It’s like you’re just flying in circles in a large commercial airliner. If the Fisher Price Fun Flyer existed in reality, there would be a whole X (formerly Twitter) account dedicated to tracking it. But hey, that kind of thing was normal in the 90s. Probably. – by Kyle Duggan


It is a period of console war.

An alliance of Sega Genesis super fans challenged the Nintendo fanboy empire. For those whose fathers responded to this conflict with, “I’m not going to get you a new system, what did I spend all that money on a computer for?” there was little hope.

The only alternative (without spending more money), was the Microsoft Entertainment Pack.

What about those who were too dumb for Minesweeper, too lazy to learn FreeCell and Golf, too old for TicTactics, too frustrated by (and too young to giggle at) Pegged, and took too long to realize that IdleWild was just a series of screensavers? There was the weakest version of Tetris ever (“See, you don’t need a Game Boy!” – Dad), but what about the rest? What about those who had enough of Solitaire, but didn’t have any friends to play with, and were cool with a little casual racism? Well, for those few, there was Taipei, a version of Solitaire combined with Memory, played with Mahjong tiles.

Taipei was a huge challenge. You had to select tiles by matching the symbols and characters, but they could not be blocked on their sides. For variety, you could change the faces of the tiles for delicate American sensibilities, and for added challenge you could change the layouts into the shape of Cat, Turtle, Crab, Dragon, Fortress and Spider. And for completing the board, you were rewarded with something I can’t recall, it’s very likely I never did. -By Dan Bookbinder

The Sims

The original Sims was my cruelest mistress and softest lover. My shot of tequila and my salt chaser. My coldest night and warmest sunrise. It was one of the only games we had, but I didn’t need anything else. I never wanted anything else. Why go back into the field when a bountiful harvest was sitting in front of you?

I learned so much about the world. I learned that WooHoo was a magic spell you cast in bed and three days later a baby would appear. I learned that if you got C’s in middle school then you’d automatically get taken away to military school.

Drew Carrey is in The Sims. Imagine my shock when I found out The Sims turned him into a real guy.

One time my sim family died in a house fire and I cried for HOURS. My parents banned me from playing after that. I was not allowed to play again until The Sims 3 was released. There was no Drew Carrey in The Sims 3, which made me sad, but he’s free to live in the real world now. And I know if you love something, let it go… -By Rachel Javorsky

Shareware Collections

Nothing like a collection of a hundred or so level 1s from incredibly similar platformers to take up an entire day getting nowhere. From Commander Keen to Secret Agent to the first Duke Nukem sidescroller, if you could get these games running on your computer, that was at least a day. And yeah, half of them ran horribly because our computer’s processor ran them way too fast, and maybe a quarter were just text-parser adventure games, but that last quarter…you know, back then you played what you had. -Corey Arder

RollerCoaster Tycoon

I learned everything I needed to know about business finance from endless hours of RollerCoaster Tycoon — open a park, max out your loan, and slowly wither away due to the interest payments while you pray for one additional visitor to pay your $20 park entrance fee so you have enough to build a burger stand. Then, charge $.10 for the restrooms and $10 for an umbrella.

Plus, if any of your customers barf on the ground instead of in the trash can, break a bench, or complain that the park is “too crowded,” you can show them what crowded really is by deleting the path to the park’s exit and shooting their steel mini coaster’s car into oblivion.

RCT was perfect for a young, aspiring, perfectionist like me because every ride, path, and shop snap to a grid. And the little handymen will mow perfect stripes into the grass if you set all their work areas so they can’t go anywhere else (and don’t accidentally drop them in the lake).

Also, the little flying ducks quack if you’re fast enough to click on them. What more could you want? – by Kelley Greene

Diablo Spawn

This was the only way I had to play this really cool game my friends were always talking about. And it was really cool! I got to be a dude venturing into the depths of a creepy church armed only with a sword and shield. Sure, the townsfolk weren’t too chatty, but that was fine with me. I didn’t have any time to stay awhile and listen. I just wanted to fight demons in the spooky church! Sometimes, there was even a dead body outside of it. Why? Couldn’t tell you! But it sure added some atmosphere.

The best part is that the game was super easy to beat, since it only had three levels. The innovative decision to offer only a single class allowed it to be laser-focused on making the gameplay satisfying. To this day, if a game doesn’t offer a simple melee class, I refuse to play it. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that the shareware version of Diablo is responsible for that. – by Kyle Duggan

The Simpsons Cartoon Studio

As a Simpsons fan I attempted to get my hands on any and all products with the yellow family on them. This meant buying books, action figures, and game after game after game. Nearly all of those games were garbage until we got to the Hit And Run era. This one here is the one I spent the most time with on PC, for better or worse.

The Simpsons Cartoon Studio is basically Clip Art with the denizens of Springfield. Make your own crudely created scenes using facsimiles of the drawings that entertain you every Sunday night. Do you think you have the ability to make Simpsons scenes as funny as Conan O’Brien, John Swartzwelder, or Al Jean did? Do you want to make Apu and Chief Wiggum look like they’re kinda performing lewd sex acts on each other? Do you not have Photoshop or Photoshop skills? Then waste your time with this CD-ROM.- Jon Ruggiero

Elf Bowling

What a perfect time of the year to discuss the one sport game I spent the most time playing as a child. From the minds of people who probably listened to nothing but Bob and Tom while programming this game comes Elf Bowling, a game that tells you everything in its title.

You, as Santa, hurl balls down an icy alley into the mugs of frankly gross and reprehensible elf caricatures who taunt you, get drunk, pick their nose, and do other things appropriate only for background actors in a Mad TV sketch. If this wasn’t wild enough, they made multiple sequels, with Elf Bowling 2 not even being bowling: it’s a cruise ship shuffleboard game where you propel elves by *heavy sigh* snapping the backside of their thongs. And, for the Hallmark Channel fans out there, this abysmal game series also has a movie. Tis the season, I guess. – Jon Ruggiero

Full Throttle

For some reason, this game came free with our computer. I remember starting this up and assuming it was a demo, but then the game just kept going.

In case you don’t know, “Full Throttle” is a classic LucasArts game run on the SCUMM engine. It was designed by Tim Schafer, who worked on the “Monkey Island” games with Ron Gilbert. It has all the stuff you’d expect from a point and click, but adds some dynamic action sequences that aren’t usually present in LucasArts games of that era (like motorcycle battles, monster truck rallies, a gigantic car magnet). Also, you have to siphon gasoline from cars because you have no money, which seems cool to a 9 year old instead of just sad.

Overall, I would give it a 10/10 because I didn’t have to pay for it (kind of like free gasoline). – Travis Tack

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