10 Awesome MS-DOS Games You Can Play in Your Browser

Now you can play all the games you loved as a kid—no old school computer required.
‘The Oregon Trail,’ anyone?
‘The Oregon Trail,’ anyone? / Digital Art/The Image Bank/Getty Images

The Internet Archive has more than 8500 MS-DOS games online, and they’re playable in nearly any browser. Prepare to travel back in time to when you were just a kid with a clunky computer, and kiss your free time goodbye.

1. The Oregon Trail

Within moments of firing up this classic game—which was created by a history teacher and his two roommates in the 1970s and based on a real journey undertaken by 400,000 settlers—it’s likely that one of your companions will die, another will come down with dysentery, you’ll try (and fail) to ford a river, then lose hundreds of pounds of food in a wagon fire. Life on the trail has not gotten easier since elementary school.

2. Life & Death 2: The Brain

In this sequel to Life & Death (which focused on the abdominal region), you’re studying to be a brain surgeon—going to class, examining patients, and performing tests to diagnose them (where you’ll learn a very valuable lesson: Never send someone with a pacemaker to get an MRI). Then, if the diagnoses warrant it, you’ll get the chance to crack open a few skulls in the operating room. A doctor who reviewed the game gave it high marks.

3. Wolfenstein 3-D

This first-person shooter is pretty tough, even on the easiest level (“Can I Play, Daddy?”). The game features Allied spy B.J. Blazkowicz, who is captured by Nazis but manages to escape, and then has to face challenges (and plenty of Nazis) on every floor of Castle Wolfenstein. If you haven’t played this since you were young, it’s going to take a lot of practice to get to the final level and face Hitler in his mech suit.

4. ALF: The First Adventure

In this Pac-Man-esque game based on the hit '80s sitcom, players must collect four cats, two spaceship parts, and a key from each level, depositing everything in a garage, while also trying to avoid Willie Tanner and the dog catcher. They also have to eat pizza, which makes ALF strong enough to catch the cats (who have hidden the spaceship parts). All four levels have to be completed before the clock reaches 24 hours. The cats are very fast, and ALF—who is just a disembodied head—is pretty slow, making this a tough game to win.

Also Available: ALF’s Thinking Skills

5. The Amazon Trail

Inspired by The Oregon Trail, this game featured many of the same elements: Choosing guides, managing supplies, and navigation. But its premise was a bit more magical. A black jaguar, sent by the Inca king, visits the main character in a dream, explaining that the Inca are sick with a fever and hiding from conquistadors in a secret city. The mission: Travel back in time and explore the Amazon and its tributaries; find a certain plant and deliver it to the Inca king.

6. Arachnophobia

Lovers of the 1990 movie who are also terrible at video games will appreciate this simple game, which incorporates a number of elements from the film. Players join the ranks of Delbert McClintock’s exterminating company and go from home to home using spray and bug bombs to kill the poisonous spiders, which either stalk on the ground, use web to hover in the air, or leap through the air at you. Three bites and you’re dead—which leads to the video game interpretation of a death scene from the movie that fans will definitely recognize.

7. Eagle Eye Mysteries in London

In this game, players help twin kid crimesolvers, Jake and Jennifer Eagle of the Eagle Eye Detective Agency, investigate mysteries while they’re on holiday in London. The mysteries focus on English history, geography, and literature.

Also Available: Eagle Eye Mysteries

8. Inspector Gadget

Kids who were obsessed with the Inspector Gadget cartoon and longed to be as cool as Penny will love this game, where they control Gadget’s niece (and dog Brain!) to help the clueless cyborg detective rescue UN members kidnapped by Dr. Claw—but first, they have to rescue Gadget himself.

9. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

The goal of this classic game is to track and apprehend Carmen’s henchmen, who are stealing priceless artifacts—and, eventually, capture the lady herself. Now, enjoy Rockapella singing the theme to the Carmen Sandiego game show.

Also Available: Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? and Where in Space is Carmen Sandiego?

10. SimAnt

In this game, you’re an ant running a simulated colony in a suburban backyard, building burrows, fighting humans and red ants, and trying to spread through the backyard and even into the house, driving out all of your enemies. The game's creator, Will Wright—who created SimCity, The Sims, and among other games—based SimAnt on biologist E.O. Wilson’s The Ants.

Also Available: SimCity

A version of this story ran in 2015; it has been updated for 2024.