UPDATE: Oh no! The Amiga Library has already been taken down! Apparently it's only for "further development" so fingers crossed it will return improved in the near future. In the meantime read below for some gaming nostalgia as we countdown the best games that were featured in this short-lived beta test.
Ah, the Commodore Amiga – for many, the most beloved of late ‘80s/early ‘90s gaming platforms.
This 16-bit, floppy disk-based computer was a fixture in many a teenage gamer’s fuggy bedroom, due to its winning balance of performance, accessibility and affordability – not to mention a steady supply of brilliant titles. And thanks to the Internet Archive, you can now play many of those titles in your web browser, because the site just added over 10,000 Amiga titles to its emulation library.
Yes, you read that right: 10,000 titles. Now, gaming historians among you might realise that that’s about twice the number of games that were ever released on the Amiga, so it’s safe to say that a lot of these titles are duplicates, demo versions and other pieces of non-game software. So the number of actual games is a lot lower.
Even so, there’s a lot to get through here.
So what should you play?
Ordinarily, we’d simply point you to our existing article on the 10 best Amiga games ever and suggest you play those first, but seeing as none of them except Stunt Car Racer appear to be in the archive, that’s not going to be much help (you should read the article anyway though, because all those games are fantastic, and there are other ways to play them).
Instead, we’ve sifted through the list, picked out some of the titles we remember most fondly, tried them (this is key – an upsettingly high proportion of the archive’s games simply don’t work), and made sure the controls work properly. If they hit those beats, we included them.
Yes, this is a port of a coin-op arcade game rather than an Amiga original, but as we said above, we’re dealing with a limited pool of games that actually work properly here. What’s important about R-Type is that it’s simple to play with keyboard controls (use the arrow keys to move and the shift button to fire), it runs perfectly in your browser, and it’s still a pretty great game despite being over a quarter of a century old.
One of the classic “bullet hell” side-scrolling shooters, it pits the player’s spaceship against legions of flying and ground-based enemies, plus a succession of giant bosses. A single hit will usually kill you, but luckily a host of power-ups will increase your firepower, or provide you with a shield.
This platform/action/puzzle game, (loosely) inspired by Tim Burton’s patchy but stylish Batman movie, is enjoyable mostly for its retro vibes. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore, and probably with good reason – the controls are fairly clumsy and unresponsive, which isn’t ideal for a game where reactions are important. If you can make it through the tricky platformer first stage, you’ll be rewarded by a fairly iconic level in which you get to drive the Batmobile. And then a bizarre slide-puzzle section. Games were weird back in the day, weren’t they?
Lemmings 2: The Tribes
Before they became Rockstar North and made gaming “cool” with Grand Theft Auto 3, DMA Design were probably most famous for the Lemmings games. These charming puzzlers tasked you with saving as many of the suicidal creatures as you could.
The idea is to guide them to each level’s exit without sacrificing too many, and you do this by giving certain among their number special abilities: burrowing through walls, jumping over gaps, stopping other lemmings from passing a certain point and so on. It was tricky then, and it’s probably trickier now – its tiny window makes today’s spiritual successors feel far easier on the player.
Another coin-op port, Double Dragon is probably the world’s most famous side-scrolling beat ‘em up. It’s not the best, mind you – but seeing as the likes of Streets of Rage never came out on the Amiga, it’s well worth a look. As with many games of the era, the plot is practically vestigial – brawl your way through hordes of street hoodlums in search of your kidnapped girlfriend – but it’s merely an excuse to indulge in a bit of mindless retro violence, innit?
Just what the heck is a Wizball when it’s at home? This game makes no effort to explain why you’re controlling a bouncing green sphere (with a face), instead dropping you straight into the action. With multi-floor levels that scroll in both directions, there’s a (rare for the time) bit of freedom in how you proceed through this game. But, as with many titles from this era, whichever way you go you’re likely to die very quickly until you learn enemy positions and patterns.
Once you’ve had a go at that little lot, we suggest you scour the archive for any of your favourite titles of yesteryear. Chances are, a lot of them won’t work (or won’t work well) which, while par for the course with emulation, is still a huge bummer. Also, we suspect that some of these titles may be removed from the archive for copyright infringement before too long – so retro fans shouldn’t wait around too long.