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Off TopicOct 18, 2019 4:00 pm CT

Play The Lost Vikings and thousands of other, lesser DOS games at the Internet Archive

Okay, so that headline isn’t fair, and it’s not even completely accurate, but I have to admit I got pretty charged up reading this article over on Engadget about the Internet Archive’s ongoing effort to preserve gaming history. The Lost Vikings is one of those pieces of Blizzard history that made everything we know today possible, and yet it’s a game not many current Blizzard fans have actually played. In fact, a lot of the games recently added to the Archive — over 2500, in fact, which more than doubles the games available there — are integral to the history of video games as a medium and the development of this art form from its earliest years.

The entire eXoDOS project is pretty amazing as a method to preserve the otherwise vanishing past of the medium. I remember playing games like Dark Queen of Krynn and Gateway to the Savage Frontier, games that were designed to be played on systems with less processing power than you can find on a watch nowadays. A lot less, in fact. And I have to stress again how magical it is to see The Lost Vikings up there, free for all to play and experience what Silicon and Synapse was up to in the pre-Blizzard days.

This is a really huge deal for people who remember these games, people who’ve never played them, and people who are just plain interested in the historical roots of the behemoth that the video game industry has become in 2019. It’s helpful to look back at where this all came from, I think — to see games like The Lost Vikings preserved is to see the origins of pretty much everything Blizzard has ever done, and that’s just me naming one game and one company. Sid Meier’s Pirates!, a host of old Elder Scrolls games — there’s a treasure trove of history here and best of all, it’s the kind of history you can sit down and play if you’re of a mind to.

The history of this hobby is ephemeral — games were shipped on floppy discs and CD, media we don’t really use anymore, and ran on operating systems that have long since been superseded. It’s great to see the Internet Archive keep these treasures alive.

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