Internet Archive Unveils Free-To-Play Classic Video Game Collection
December 28, 2013

Internet Archive Unveils Free-To-Play Classic Video Game Collection

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Fans of classic Atari 2600 and ColecoVision video games have one last surprise waiting under the tree for them this holiday season: an online archive of titles from the 1970s and 1980s, courtesy of the folks at the Internet Archive.

On Thursday, archivist Jason Scott announced the opening of the Console Living Room, a collection that allows both old-school gamers and modern-day players curious about the origins of the industry to explore titles such as Pac-Man, Space Invaders and even Donkey Kong, free in their web browsers.

Using the JSMESS emulator system, visitors to the website can play games from the Atari 2600, the Atari 7800 ProSystem, ColecoVision, the Magnavox Odyssey 2 (known in Europe as the Philips Videopac G7000), and the Astrocade without any additional plug-ins or other changes. Users simply click on a screen shot or the “Emulate This” button for each individual game, and the software will launch.

Scott said the system is currently in beta, explaining, “The ability to interact with software in near-instantaneous real-time comes with the occasional bumps and bruises. An army of volunteer elves are updating information about each of the hundreds of game cartridges now available, and will be improving them across the next few days. Sound is still not enabled, but is coming soon.”

As BBC News explains, while modern gamers are used to products being stored on DVDs, or even downloaded directly onto a console’s hard-drive, the video games of yesteryear would typically store games on bulky cartridges. Over the years, these titles have become harder to play, although plug-and-play devices are typically marketed during the holiday season.

“For many years, communities of gamers have created ROMs – read-only memory – images of games. These files can be played on a normal PC by using an emulator,” the BBC said. “However, in many cases, gaming in this way can be illegal – particularly when the games involved are made by the likes of Nintendo and Sega, which clamp down on such activity, deeming it a form of counterfeiting.”

Older video games “fall into something of a legal grey area,” the British news agency added. “Publishers and developers often turn a blind eye as, with the games no longer available to buy, the ROMs mean the titles are still able to be played by many. Yet with smartphone gaming on the rise, publishers are now in a position where these old titles can be revived, cashing in on the timeless quality of the games, as well as fans' nostalgic urges.”