How to play the classic games of Christmas past

In homes around the world people will be unwrapping new games consoles this festive season. If you are lucky enough to be the recipient of a Microsoft Kinect or PlayStation Move on Christmas Day, then you will no doubt enjoy many hours of jumping around like a total loon while Grandma falls asleep with a large sherry for company in the corner.

Some of us, though, will be playing the games of Christmas past and you can as well. You don’t have to be a collector of vintage games consoles to enjoy the realistic Bomberman, Chuckie Egg or Zork experience.

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Retro games emulators: the legal position

Retro video games emulators bring classic games back to life on your PC, your web browser or in your pocket, courtesy of the iPhone. Davey Winder reveals his top games of Christmas past that you can play today, and clarifies the legal position of doing so.


Let’s start with perhaps the most iconic of all retro arcade games, Pac-Man. When it comes to emulation there really is no shortage of choice, from apps on your smartphone through to downloadable versions available for most modern consoles. But why bother with any of those when you can play right from within your web browser, for free. courtesy of Google? Yep, Google Pac-Man is a free online version of the game that started life as an interactive Google doodle for 48 hours to celebrate Pac-Man’s 30th birthday, but became so popular the search giant decided to keep it going.

It’s actually very true to the original in terms of game logic, graphics and sound – although I don’t recall the original arcade version adding Ms. Pac-Man to the mix if you deposited a second coin in the slot, whereas Google Pac-Man does!


Who can forget Frogger, that simplest of Konami games from 1981, which tasked the player to see a bunch of frogs safely across a busy street without getting squished by a passing car or lorry. Sounds simple, but it was hellishly difficult and addictive.


Frogger survives in many formats, and has many variations, but you can play one that’s pretty close to the arcade original online at the confusingly named Play Pacman site. Actually, less confusing when you realise you can play Pac-Man there, along with other arcade classics such as Asteroids, Pong and Space Invaders, all within the comfort of your web browser and all for free.

Mario Kart 64

If you no longer have a Nintendo 64 console from 1996 hanging around in your attic, but you’ve stayed loyal and are now the proud owner of a Wii, you can still play a whole host of original N64 games including the superlative Mario Kart 64. What’s more you can do so without any complaint from Nintendo, not least as it charges you 1,000 Wii Points in order to download and play the game using the Nintendo Virtual Console that’s built into the Wii itself. A thousand Wii Points is about a tenner in real money, so not cheap, but it is 100% legal and still 101% fun as well.

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