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18 classic PC games you still can’t get digitally

One of the good strengths of PC gaming is a again catalogue that spans many years. Companies like Nintendo emulate older games on their fashionable consoles, however that can’t evaluate to the hundreds and hundreds of games you can monitor down from the historical past of the PC. But not each banger that is ever dropped on DOS or Windows is very easy to seek out. Some of the all-time greats still aren’t accessible digitally even now, and your solely authorized strategy to play them is to hunt for a boxed copy on Ebay and hope it performs nicely with fashionable Windows.

The listing of these lacking classics is rising shorter as a result of shops like GOG and builders like Nightdive dredging up as many relics from the muck of abandonware as they’ll. But the listing is still longer than it needs to be, so we requested Nightdive what the chances are that the games beneath can get the digital re-releases they deserve.

Here are 18 of the games we most wish to see accessible once more, ideally with assist for increased resolutions and easy compatibility with immediately’s PCs.

No One Lives Forever

Among essentially the most notorious rights fiascos in PC gaming historical past, you’d be forgiven for pondering this classic spy shooter is definitely cursed. The sordid story is lengthy and complex and stuffed with authorized technicalities, however the gist of it’s that there isn’t any clear reply to the query of who holds the rights to re-release it, and each effort to untangle that knot has thus far failed.

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NOLF’s absence is particularly felt because it’s broadly thought to be top-of-the-line PC games of all time. It’s made our personal lists greater than as soon as. But immediately’s youthful gamers possible have not touched it and will by no means have heard of it. Nightdive tried to get the rights to it years in the past with no success, but it surely looks like there might still be some hope for the longer term.

Nightdive’s take: “NOLF is considerably distinctive in that a number of events have to agree to ensure that this sport to see the sunshine of day. Recent mergers have really made this case considerably simpler. And Nightdive simply received’t quit!” 

Freelancer

Freelancer ship streaming through space

(Image credit score: Microsoft)

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When Freelancer got here out in 2003, it felt like one thing really particular. You may fly round in your personal spaceship in a completely 3D galaxy. You may go to hubs on planetary surfaces. You may decide up contracts. You may get into dogfights. You may put on a leather-based jacket. It form of felt like a Han Solo Simulator. And whereas improvement points saved it from reaching its full potential, the house games which have come after (together with creator Chris Roberts’ present venture Star Citizen) owe it a good bit.

As of the writing of this text, a bodily copy of the disc goes to run you about $90 in field. That’s not fairly as a lot as you may pay on your personal planet in Star Citizen, however it’s fairly steep for a 17-year-old sport. With loads of choices for self-guided house exploration nowadays, from Elite: Dangerous to No Man’s Sky, the style is doing nicely. But there’s still nothing fairly like Freelancer.

Nightdive’s take: “I imagine that is owned by Microsoft! It’s our hope to someday work on Freelancer in addition to Crimson Skies!” 

3D Movie Maker

3D Movie Maker

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(Image credit score: Microsoft)

Another distinctive artifact of the mid-90s, 3D Movie Maker was half sport and half animation program. The massive library of pre-recorded, looped animations and easy controls made it very straightforward for customers of any talent stage to make what had been, on the time, fairly elaborate 3D quick movies. You may even import your personal recorded dialogue, although that tended to refill arduous drive house quick in 3DMM’s heyday.

Now that we now have Source Filmmaker and devoted machinima instruments in lots of large price range games, it is arduous to see the place the area of interest can be for one thing like 3D Movie Maker immediately. But the person friendliness and talent to display your creations in a digital theater, full with a concession stand and a wacky (considerably terrifying, to be trustworthy) usher is an expertise importing a video to Steam or YouTube merely can’t replicate.

The Movies

Making a movie in The Movies

(Image credit score: Microsoft, Mobygames)

Continuing our cinematic theme, Lionhead’s The Movies is one other silver screen-adjacent cult hit that is not accessible on digital shops—at the very least not anymore. It really was accessible on Steam for a time, however was delisted years in the past. This one was positively extra of a tycoon sport than an precise animation program. You had some management over the straightforward quick movies your studio put out, however they had been all assembled from an inventory of pre-set scenes.

Still, dwelling the dream of a Hollywood exec is one thing nobody else has tried to place into sport kind since. And since this manufacturing is already means over price range, it is likely to be a ache to trace down a bodily copy. 

MechWarrior 2

A MechWarrior 2 mech shoots another mech in a blobby green valley

(Image credit score: Activision)

We’re spoiled for selection with mech games nowadays. We’ve obtained MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, we have got MechWarrior Online. If you’re extra into the tactical aspect of issues, Harebrained Schemes’ Battletech lets you command a whole lance. We’ve even obtained mecha visible novels like Extreme Meatpunks Forever. And but MechWarrior 2, a foundational entry and lots of people’s first mech expertise, still is not accessible digitally.

It could also be exactly as a result of we now have so many different methods to scratch the MechWarrior itch that Activision hasn’t made it a precedence to make sure all the again catalogue is accessible. But it is still part of the historical past of the collection and PC gaming, and it could be good to have the ability to give it a spin immediately for nostalgia’s sake, or to witness how the collection developed.

Nightdive’s take: “An worker at GOG as soon as wager me a $500 bottle of whiskey that I couldn’t unravel the rights to the MechWarrior collection and let’s simply say I haven’t come to assert that wager. My present understanding is that the rights are break up between a variety of publishers.” 

Dune 2

Dune 2

(Image credit score: Westwood)

1992’s Dune 2 is presumably the primary real-time technique sport, at the very least by way of how we outline the style immediately. It created a template that Warcraft, Command & Conquer, and dozens of different games would intently observe. Especially with the Dune universe doing large numbers on the field workplace in 2021, it is odd that you can’t monitor down a digital copy of this piece of PC gaming historical past.

There is an unofficial recreation of Dune 2 accessible for cell, and a fan-made clone for PC and Linux referred to as Dune Legacy. The authentic code is nowhere to be discovered on any of the most important, digital shops, nonetheless. Maybe (*18*) can level us in the fitting route.

Nightdive’s take: “When Westwood was acquired by EA the Dune license went with it and extra titles had been created that took some liberties with the supply materials. Word is that the Herbert Estate wasn’t too happy with this and the license together with any probability of a remaster or re-release of the classic RTS collection had been misplaced. (You’d want Spice to be able to navigate that minefield.)” 

Black & White

(Image credit score: Microsoft)

Peter Molyneux, although recognized within the final 15 years for being eccentric, saying bizarre issues, and difficult us to interrupt into some form of magic dice, at one level pioneered what we still name the God Game. Black & White was some of the weird and fantastic milestones of the style, as you obtained to rule over your worshippers with the assistance of a large, deeply unsettling anthropomorphic animal.

EA still has official internet pages for Black & White and its sequel, however you will not discover them on the market on Origin. Or wherever, for that matter, apart from perhaps Ebay or a fortunate discover at a storage sale. Molyneux went on to make Godus, which exists in the identical style and is available, but it surely simply does not let you get as much as the identical form of oddball chaos his earlier stabs on the idea did.

Nightdive’s take: “We enquired a couple of instances about B&W and had been by no means capable of get a transparent reply from EA as to what the present standing was. It’s my finest guess that Peter Molyneux must be concerned with any re-release or remastering.” 

The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail Deluxe

(Image credit score: MECC)

If you went to high school within the US any time within the final 40 years, there is a good probability you performed some model of The Oregon Trail. The historically-inspired useful resource administration sim was bought as an academic product, and charged you with getting a wagon full of individuals and stuff from Independence, Missouri to Oregon within the mid-1800s. Hopefully with out dying of dysentery.

There have been a handful of variations launched on PC, most not too long ago 2001’s fifth Edition. But none of them can be found digitally in an official capability, if you can imagine it. To add insult to damage, there have been at least 9 Oregon Trail games launched since 2001 (and we have ranked all of them), however none on the PC. At least as a comfort prize, you can get The Organ Trail on Steam, a pastiche that makes use of the graphics and mechanics of the classic Apple II model to inform a zombie apocalypse survival story.

Nightdive’s take: “We had some preliminary conversations with the rights house owners about bringing again all of the ‘Trail’ titles, however there didn’t appear to be ample curiosity on the time to maneuver the dialog ahead.” 

Battlefield 1942

Battlefield 1942

(Image credit score: EA)

The World War 2 shooter that began one of many style’s largest franchises is, sadly, lacking in motion immediately, too. What’s even worse is that it really was accessible on Origin—at no cost, even!—at one level, however has since been delisted.

The cause appears to be that the multiplayer service, run by GameSpy, was shut down in 2013. This means EA must provide you with some new netcode for you to even be capable of play BF1942 with your mates. If you have an authentic disc, there are some fan-made workarounds on the market that may re-enable the multiplayer. But official assist appears unlikely, when Origin would in all probability reasonably promote you the most recent Battlefield.

The Lord of the Rings: Battle For Middle-earth

The battle for Middle-earth

(Image credit score: EA)

Another ring lacking from Origin’s finger is the Battle for Middle-earth collection, a pair of surprisingly good licensed Lord of the Rings RTSes. The challenge right here is that Warner Bros, makers of the Shadow of Mordor/Shadow of War games, at the moment maintain the online game rights to Lord of the Rings. To re-release these classics digitally, EA must take care of them and the Tolkien folks, who may be prickly at instances.

But hey, with a brand new Middle-earth-centric streaming collection on the horizon, perhaps there will likely be some renewed curiosity in bringing these armies again from the lifeless. It can be a disgrace to see the one sport that permit you ship out Tom Bombadil to spinning soar kick your enemies languish within the crypts of abandonware.

Civilization and Civ 2

Civilization 2

(Image credit score: Firaxis)

The first two entries in Sid Meier’s legendary Civilization collection have still by no means gotten a correct digital launch. And it isn’t tough to see why. With Civ 4, 5, and 6 sustaining their very own lively communities to today, you merely have loads of fashionable methods to get your Civ repair.

Still, in a collection in regards to the march of human historical past, it could be good to have the ability to simply return and see the place all these modern wonders began from. It might not be on the high of Firaxis’ to-do listing, with Civ 6 wrapping up improvement and Civ 7 in all probability in some form of starting stage at the very least. But the previous has a means of leaving its mark on us.

Aliens Versus Predator 2

Alien getting blasted in the face

(Image credit score: Monolith, Mobygames)

We’ve had some nice and a few dire games about being an area marine taking pictures aliens in current instances. But even the cream of the crop would have a tough time standing as much as Aliens Versus Predator 2. It had glorious asymmetrical multiplayer earlier than that was even actually a factor, and intensive single-player campaigns for the aliens, predators, and people.

The most up-to-date time I attempted to spin up my previous CD-ROM, I discovered that the net group had seen higher days. Without official developer assist, hackers had mainly taken over. It’s the form of factor you simply must nuke from house. It’s the one means to make sure. But if somebody had been to get this frenzied deathmatch on Steam or GOG with some up-to-date netcode and anti-cheat measures, I do know I’d be within the pipe, five-by-five.

Nightdive’s take: “Another unbelievable shooter by Monolith that on the time was a licensed Fox property printed by Sierra, which is now Activision. Disney owns the rights to the Alien franchise however I imagine one thing would have to be labored out with Activision earlier than we may see AvP2 return.” 

Silent Hill 2 and three

Silent Hill 2's James Sunderland looks at himself in the mirror

(Image credit score: Konami)

Both of those horror classics obtained bodily PC releases, however have by no means been accessible digitally. GOG at the moment has Silent Hill 4, which isn’t precisely essentially the most well-regarded within the franchise, however not the acclaimed second or third games.

Normally I’d say to not maintain your breath, Konami being Konami, however they did show us mistaken and provides the go-ahead for the unique Metal Gear Solid to be bought digitally for the reason that final time we compiled this listing. So perhaps if we ask actually properly and atone for the crimes of our previous by the use of surrealist horror dreamscapes, we’ll discover some obtain codes buried in a bag of viscera on our entrance porch subsequent Halloween.

Nightdive’s take: “After the poor reception of the HD assortment launch I wouldn’t be shocked if Konami had been a bit gun shy to revisit these games, however I imagine sufficient time has handed that one other move on remastering these titles is warranted. With the success of the Resident Evil Remakes I’d fathom a guess {that a} comparable therapy for Silent Hill was on the desk.” 

Need for Speed Underground 1 and a couple of

A purple tuner in NFSU2

(Image credit score: EA)

There are a number of Needs for Speed accessible on Steam and Origin nowadays, however the Underground subseries, two notable fan favorites, are usually not amongst them. Focusing on tuner automobiles and unlawful avenue racing, they got here out of the identical period as the unique The Fast and the Furious and had a banging soundtrack, together with deep, however not too fiddly, automotive customization.

If you like spinning rims, there are still bodily copies of those floating round identical to loads of the games on this listing. But it could be nice to see them get some form of digital launch, even when there isn’t any scarcity of fantastic racing games to select from nowadays.

SimAnt

EA

(Image credit score: EA)

Back when Maxis was making “Sim” all the things, they’d some runaway hits like SimMetropolis and a few extra unsung efforts like SimAnt. Putting you in control of a rising insect colony, navigating the minuscule world and its many risks and alternatives at all times felt like a pure match for the style.

And you know what? It actually bugs me that I can’t discover it digitally. Do you see what I did there? With the bug joke? What? What’s that face for? Well you know what, I’m not sorry. I imply, I’m sorry I can’t obtain SimAnt on Steam, however I’m not sorry for the self-indulgent insect humor.

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