12 Best DOS Games from the Golden Age of PC Gaming

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Best DOS Games

The golden age of PC gaming, also proudly quoted as the DOS generation, holds a special spot in the hearts of the gaming community. Spanning from the late 80s to the mid-90s, this era came into the limelight via MS-DOS, or Microsoft Disk Operating System, as the go-to platform for non-public computer gaming.

During this pivotal duration, modern gameplay concepts emerged, giving rise to new gaming genres and franchises that continue to serve players today. Now, we live in the modern gaming era, but the history is not forgotten.

In this post, we are going to look at some of the OG DOS gen games. But before that, I want to share this with you and talk about…

The DOS Era of Gaming and its Importance

If we turn back the pages, the first DOS game was released in 1979, which was Microsoft Adventure. But that’s not when the craze of DOS games began! Allow me to take you to 1985, the rise of the DOS era. The hype around DOS games began in the mid-80s to early 90s. Before that, there wasn’t a large IBM-compatible gaming market.

As far as I can tell, computer gaming systems like the Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, etc., were more popular. Moving on, let’s take a quick look at the importance of DOS games in shaping the advanced gaming age.

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  • Accessible yet Challenging: These games offer addictive as well as challenging gameplay that is accessible to players of all skill levels. But as you climb the ladder of levels, the trouble began (aka difficulty), which was enough to keep even pro gamers engaged and sometimes enraged.
  • Nostalgic taste: DOS video games have the excellent capability to transport gamers back to the past, rekindling fond memories and the taste of early gaming on DOS-powered computers.
  • Torchbearer of Innovation: Many DOS video games introduced innovative ideas that have become fundamental pillars of the gaming industry. Classic titles like Doom and Civilization laid the foundation for new gaming genres.

So, if you are excited and feeling nostalgic about playing the best DOS games, you would love to read…

The Criteria for Selecting the Best DOS Games

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Back then, choosing the right games wasn’t used to be as complicated as today. However, today, there are more than 2500 MS-DOS games in the archive. So it’s obvious that we cannot play every game. So, let’s take a look at the criteria for choosing the best DOS games:

Gameplay Excellence ūüéģ

While playing a game, we need it to deliver an exciting and outstanding gameplay experience, even when we are playing the old game with current gaming requirements. This is the pointer that filters most of the old games, and after this, only the OG stays. 

Innovative Spirit ūüĒ•

The selected games that remain had to be trailblazers of their time. These games laid the foundation of the billion-dollar gaming industry that was about to come in the future. The phrase “Old is Gold” is made for such games.¬†

Worldwide Popularity ūüĆć

Some of the games were widely acclaimed and became popular worldwide. These games won’t be forgotten anytime soon. It is safe to say that these games gave birth to countless concepts and ideas that became a game or genre in the future.¬†

In this journey through gaming history, let me lessen your work and present you with the most remarkable DOS games that have left an indelible mark on the arena of PC gaming.

Note: Some of the games listed on this post can be played directly from the websites.

Wolfenstein 3D 

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The first thing that I like the best about Wolfenstein 3D is that while choosing difficulty, there is no easy, medium, or hard. It says, “Can I play, Daddy?” for easy mode ūüėā. Moreover, it’s an FPS game, which is very fast-paced. The controls are very simple, but the game can get challenging as you progress.¬†

The game features 5 episodes, and each episode has 9 levels. So, as you progress through levels, the enemies become stronger, and you’ll face guards, dogs, and bosses at the end of every episode. The challenge is to manage ammo and health cause they are limited and hard to find. 

If you are a fan of the modern-day Wolfenstein, you should definitely check out the Wolfenstein 3D. You’ll know how brilliantly developed the game is. 

Release Date: May 5, 1992

Developer: Id Software

Publisher: Apogee Software

Doom 

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As a fan of the Doom series, even a day will be less to brag about the game. Talk about the gameplay; it is iconic. Talk about the music, I can listen to it for a whole day. Talk about the action. Uff, never seen some hardcore action like that. But ever wonder how epic would be the Doom 1993?  

Let me tell you something: Doom 1993 shows no mercy. Just seconds after starting the game, you’ll face several monsters and enemies at once. Before you can process what’s happening, you are already dead. Certainly not for newbies, cause I’m afraid your keyboard and mouse are not safe after that. 

So basically, Doom 1993 is a science fiction first-person shooter game where you’ll face soldiers, aliens, and monsters. Each level has its own challenges and bosses at the end. And trust me, these villains are not easy to deal with. You need skills here. So, if you think that the present-day Doom games are easy, I challenge you to try the first one.¬†This is a retro game that you shouldn’t miss out on!

Release Date: December 10, 1993

Developer: Id Software

Publisher: Id Software

Sid Meier’s Civilization II¬†

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Today, we have many games where we can create our own civilization, city, country, and whatnot. But have you wondered which game was the first one to introduce this concept? This genre was introduced in Sid Meier’s Civilization game. 

In the game, You can become the ruler of over ten ancient civilizations. Sid Meier’s Civilization has sold over 850,000 copies and marks an important gaming record. Now, there’s a version that’s even more difficult and interesting than the original! I am talking about Sid Meier’s Civilization II.

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Sid Meier's Civilization II (Jewel Case) Sid Meier’s Civilization II (Jewel Case) No ratings yet $11.51

As you create an empire that will last throughout history, make every important social, economic, and political choice. Face up against some of history’s greatest leaders. It’s a discovery. It is diplomatic. You control your destiny. Thus, carefully consider each step you take. Because in this game, your fate depends on whether you will survive the test of time.

Release Date: September 25, 1996

Developer: MicroProse

Publisher: MicroProse

Heroes of Might and Magic II 

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In Heroes of Might and Magic II, players get to dive into a historic world full of magic and mystic characters. This was one of the first games to introduce the concept of a turn-based strategy game. This, at that time, was very challenging and required proper in-game intelligence to go past enemies and levels. Although it is mostly a turn-based strategy game, it is also considered to be one of the best 4X games of all time!

Your aim as the hero is to lead your army to victory. In the game, you get to choose six different factions, each with its own unique strengths and weaknesses. So choose wisely cause your every decision will count ahead in the game.

As you travel through the map and conquer lands, you’ll learn new skills and level up. So, can you lead your army to victory in the OG game? 

Release Date: September 25, 1996

Developer: New World Computing

Publisher: 3DO

Oregon Trail 

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Who says that text-based games are boring? Can’t believe that Oregon Trail is almost 40 years old. The dynamics of the game still feel fresh. The original game’s aim was to educate schoolchildren about the reality of living as a pioneer on the Oregon Trail in the 19th century.

The player takes on the role of a wagon leader who, in 1848, is driving a group of immigrants through the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon from Independence, Missouri, to the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

The game has been made available in several versions by different publishers and developers who bought the rights to it. It has served as inspiration for a number of spinoffs and parodies. So why not take a historic trail in this historic game? 

Release Date: December 3, 1971

Developer: MECC

Publisher: MECC

SimTower 

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Well, back in 1994, SimTower was the game that fulfilled the dream of gamers to build their own skyscraper. With SimTower, the player can construct and run a cutting-edge, multipurpose skyscraper.

The placement of facilities such as restaurants, condos, offices, hotel rooms, retail outlets, and elevators in the tower must be planned. The player must keep tenants’ stress levels low in order to keep them from leaving their properties. 

However, you have to keep providing for their needs for medical facilities, parking lots, recycling bins, clean hotel rooms with the aid of housekeepers, and an effective transportation system, which involves controlling elevator traffic. This game is way more advanced than you think it is.

Release Date: October 31, 1994

Developer: Maxis

Publisher: Maxis

Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal 

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So Warcraft II is the successor of the well-renowned Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal follows the events of the first part. The Orcs, now led by Ner’zhul, launched a fresh assault on Azeroth and overran the fortress of Nethergarde, which had been tasked with protecting the portal’s ruins.

After the Second War, the Alliance itself had fractured, and Gilneas and Stromgarde had stopped supporting it. Additionally, the includes five brand-new hero characters for each side that take part in a number of the brand-new single-player objectives.

Release Date: December 31, 1995,

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment

Grand Theft Auto 

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Let me ask you: do I really have to introduce the significance of this game? GTA, or Grand Theft Auto, is an emotion cum industry cum a whole gaming genre now. 

When GTA 1 was released, who would have thought that 16 years later, one of the titles of the franchise would create a Guinness World Record? If you don’t know, GTA V reached $1 billion in sales just three days after its release on September 17, 2013.¬†

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Well, talking about the first game, GTA 1 was a mission-based crime simulator where your sole aim was to create a name for yourself. Ironically, most people get bored easily because, most of the time, they find themselves driving through tiny streets. But we have to say the comeback the game has made is just unimaginable at that time.

I’m personally looking forward to GTA VI, ready to put my inheritance at stake to get exclusive hands on the game ūüėā. 

Release Date: November 21, 1997

Developer: DMA Design

Publisher: BMG Interactive

Theme Hospital 

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As we mentioned, the SimTower is where you have to construct and manage a skyscraper. Theme Hospital is a similar game, but here, you have to build and manage a hospital. 

You have to build a hospital to meet the healthcare requirements, employing research and some of the less ethical scientific techniques at your disposal to treat as many diseases as you can with the fewest fatalities. Furthermore, you have to do all this while ensuring that your building remains clean and earning money for your trustees.

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As you progress, the game becomes more and more addictive. Furthermore, without medical warning, the scenarios become progressively more difficult, and the range of scenarios and diseases also develop during the game.

Release Date: June 16, 1997

Developer: Bullfrog Productions

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 

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Command & Conquer is also a classic here; after the success of the first game, the second game of the franchise was C&C: Red Alert, which came with a more advanced storyline and playstyle. 

So, the story is that the Soviet Union invaded Europe. Now, it’s up to you whether you want to fight against them or with them. The real-time strategy game is full of challenges and stories as you’ll find yourself making crucial decisions in the World War II environment. So, do you want to command and conquer once again?

Release Date: September 22, 1996

Developer: Westwood Studios

Publisher: Virgin Interactive Entertainment

Lemmings 

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Who said that the 90’s didn’t have puzzle games? Introducing Lemmings, where real-time puzzle games await you. Well, this game belongs to the evergreen category of games, then can be played by anyone, anytime.¬†

In the game, your role as a player is to control a group of lemmings and guide them to safety before getting doomed. Sounds simple, right? Well, I wish the 90s DOS games were this easy. As this is a platform-based puzzle game, your path will be full of obstacles and challenges, and you have to look after your group. 

So, are you up for the challenge or ready to leave your friends to be doomed? 

Release Date: February 14, 1991

Developer: DMA Design

Publisher: Psygnosis

SimCity

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SimCity, the original city-constructing simulation, we, as players, can create and manage flourishing urban cities from scratch. It kickstarted a genre that is nonetheless popular nowadays. The aim of the game is more than just the recreation of a city‚ÄĒ here, you have to make plans, look after aid management, manage crime, and creative expression.

SimCity allows players to step into the footwear of a metropolis planner and shape the destiny of their virtual metropolis. So, what will you name your city? Mine will be Sparki City.

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SimCity 2000 Special Edition (Jewel Case) - PC SimCity 2000 Special Edition (Jewel Case) – PC No ratings yet $5.43

Release Date: January 30, 1999

Developer: Maxis

Publisher: Electronic Arts 

Author’s Verdict

Each of these DOS video games is like a special part of the golden age of PC gaming. They’re not just video games; they may be like adventures and memories that have truly impacted and stimulated the world of gaming. They’ve left a lasting impact on players. As we rejoice in how long they have been around, it’s time to celebrate those games once again with our list.¬†

If you love older games and want a more authentic and nostalgic feel, check out our list of the best arcade games!

  • Ritesh Jha
    Author
    Hey there, I remember back in 2007 when I got my first computer and discovered the wonderful world of gaming through playing Mario. From then on, gaming has been a huge part of my life, and it’s crazy to think that it’s now my career! I love writing… read more