In a previous blog post, I counted down my top ten nostalgic games. While doing this, I realized more than half of the list could easily be comprised of DOS games alone. So, I decided to limit myself to only one on that list, so I could then make a whole post around them instead! For those who don’t remember DOS or didn’t ever use it, it was basically the precursor to the Windows operating system. When Windows 95 came out, it basically killed off the use of DOS. But for those of us who still remember the system and the games on it, it was a world of (mostly side scrolling) fun. So, here is a list of my favourite 11 DOS games.
11. Math Rescue
Now, let’s get this straight, I don’t like math. Never did and never will. But this game I was made to play as it was educational and would hopefully help with my math work at school. It didn’t. All it did was teach me how to avoid complicated math questions by jumping my character past them. It basically just taught me how to glitch games. Thanks Math Rescue! This game does still make my list though because I do have incredibly strong memories of it.
You can choose to play as a boy or girl character and then find yourself in this world where in order to progress, you must answer several math questions ranging in difficulty. So naturally I avoided all the ones with complicated wording, and anything involving fractions, because fractions suck. The by far most fun part of this game though, was calling forth this adorable butterfly to pour slime on the monsters around the place.
10. Charlie the Duck
There were several Mario knock offs throughout the nineties, but this blank faced duck was my favourite. It was basically just Mario, but with a duck instead of an Italian plumber. That is legitimately, the entire game. You jump on enemies to kill them and there is even an enemy with a tough back you can’t destroy like the turtles. There are also little pools of water you can swim down to access different areas, not unlike the pipes Mario slides down.
I don’t know all that much about most of the game though, as upon researching this, I’ve discovered I never even got past the first level. Pro gamer right here.
9. Shooting Gallery
This game is exactly what the title would have you believe. It’s a pixel shooting gallery. It was basically a ten-minute-long game where you were just… in a shooting gallery.
It had an array of different rounds. It started with a more traditional carnival style shooting gallery where you must shoot little items of various speeds and sizes as they whiz across the screen. Then there was a skeet shooting round, where you must shoot a clay pigeon (I was terrible at this). Another round was called quick draw, where you shoot the bullseye as fast and as accurately as possible. Lastly there was a wild west style shoot out round, were targets slide into view in a western style location and you must shoot as many bad guys as possible.
This game was short but a lot of fun, but whether it improves your actual FPS gaming skills I’m not too sure.
8. Duke Nukem 2
Ah Duke, I love and hate you at the same time. I never played the game prior, or the games after for some reason, but this one was a staple in my DOS games collection. Once again, I don’t think I got all that far through this game, but I have incredibly strong memories of the first prison break out level. This game, like its predecessor, has you take control of Duke Nukem, a wise cracking, gun wielding hero whose main goal is seemingly just to destroy everything and everyone.
The weapons were always amazing, and not to mention it had a killer soundtrack that I still remember perfectly to this day. Regardless of the controversy that surrounds Duke Nukem’s more, shall we say, less than ideal mentality towards women, this is still a fun romp of alien destroying goodness.
7. Commander Keen 4: Secret of the Oracle
I’m realizing the further through this list I go, how little of these games I actually played, usually restarting each time and playing from the beginning. And Commander Keen 4: Secret of the Oracle, was no exception. The furthest I think I got through this was the second area and then just never progressed any further. Never-the-less, I still remember this game incredibly vividly, from the off sounding pogo stick, to the irritating bouncy balls and the weirdly angry worm enemies.
This was the only Commander Keen game I ever played, but the amount of times I replayed the same two levels must count for something! In this platforming side scroller, you play as Commander Keen who seems to have crashed landed on an alien planet and must work his way through different areas. This game’s full name is technically, Commander Keen in Goodbye, Galaxy. But I never played the second half (which had a different name), so that’s why Secret of the Oracle¸alone, makes my list.
6. Nitemare 3D
Plain and simple, this game was terrifying as a child. From the spooky music, to the eerie gargoyles on either side of the screen – not to mention the creepy monsters! I didn’t tend to get very far into this game either, but for good reason, I think! It was a Wolfenstein style shooter where you walk through hallway after hallway filled with bad guys to shoot down. Only this time, the bad guys were zombies and ghouls.
The game was even scarier too because everything in the creepy manor looked the same, so it was very easy to get disorientated. The sound design was also incredibly eerie, with the monsters groaning and growling in a way that was very off putting to young me. Simply put, this game is etched into my brain. But unlike every other game on this list, it’s probably because it scared the hell out of me.
5. Mystic Towers
For reasons unknown I found playing an elderly wizard with no pants and whom can’t travel faster than walking, to be incredibly enjoyable. This game apparently revolved around your character called Baldric, whose goal is to destroy your evil ancestors Monster Generators, with each level being set in a different tower. There are several enemies like big spiders and these strange flapping sting ray things.
You controlled your character by pointing to a directional pad on the screen and went around collecting items to solve puzzles to progress. To me, this game is a textbook DOS game, with strange controls and a story I didn’t even know about until now. It was also strangely addictive and felt very rewarding each time you finished a tower.
4. Wolfenstein 3D
Now you may have expected this one to be my number one choice, due to it making my nostalgic games list. But while this game does have a big emotional resonance with me, it wasn’t the game I played the most of. In fact, I barely even got a few levels through. But it elicited such a strong emotional response from me, I considered it one of my favorites. Pretty much everything from here up ranking wise, is about the same in terms of my love for them.
The main reason I’ve put it lower on this list is because the games coming up next I played more of. Still, fun game, and BJ Blazkowicz is a God. For a more in-depth recount of this game, check my top 10 nostalgic games list.
3. Jazz Jackrabbit
I only had a few levels of this game, but the amount of times I replayed them were insane! In this platformer you played as a very green rabbit named Jazz who had to save a princess from an evil tortoise named… Devan. Devan Shell specifically, and if you can figure out why, kudos to you. I spent way too long trying to figure out if it was a pun or something, but I got nothing. Anyway. This game was honestly so much fun.
I never really had consoles as a kid, so I never played Sonic, so to me, this was the closest I could get. And you know what, it’s honestly a solid game. The controls always felt good, and the game is very fast paced, with cool weapons and powerups.
Fun fact: this game was made by the same company that made Fortnite! How times have changed.
Never have I simultaneously loved a game to pieces, and wanted to burn it to a crisp, than I do with Skyroads. This game is pure platforming torture, and it honestly is the main reason why I think I hate platformers so much now. You basically play as a little ship that for reasons unknown can’t fly and must instead jump across this obstacle course. The next platform come up so late and so fast, it’s hard to know where it’s going to end up. I remember countless hours of me and my brother screaming about how frustrating this game was.
To this day, even watching someone play this makes me mad – it’s like I have Skyroads PTSD or something. Regardless, I put a TON of hours into this, barley even being able to complete more than handful of levels. I’ve never felt such joy and anger from something. Maybe one day I’ll try and finish all the levels, but for now, I’ll just continue my Skyroads recovery.
1. Hocus Pocus
What a cool game. You basically played as little boy wizard (take that Harry Potter), who can shoot little lighting bolts with his fingers. It was once again, another platformer, however, it didn’t require the amount of stupid luck like Skyroads did.
My clearest memory of this game is that in some areas you found a key, entire sections of the wall would disappear with this cool sparkly animation. The background design was stunning in some spots, and you would honestly feel so tough mowing down all the magical enemies with your zapping finger. I’m not entirely sure how many hours I sunk into this game, but for its time, it’s impressively well-made and even now, worth a play.
* Special Mention to: Crystal Caves!
I remembered this game once I finished the list and was devastated I didn’t remember earlier. This is another gem. You play as an outer space miner who must navigate through levels, collecting crystals, shooting weird green monsters and of course, jumping everywhere. It was fun, but like, Skyroads, very frustrating at times and I didn’t end up getting very far through it. Not sure where I would have put it on the list, but it’s another game I adored.
What about you?
So that’s my list! For those of you who got to play games from this time, what are some of your favourites? If you want to try a bunch of these as well, there some great sites hosting these games online now, so give them a google and hopefully you can try some of these classics.