Retro games online – Games developed on Adobe Flash’s platform – which allows highly compressed animation – make them ideal for the internet. Since flash based retro games online run in a web browser, they require no extra downloads to play. By the early 2000s, more and more original such retro games online were being developed and became available without any cost for gamers.
Flash based retro games online remain hugely popular. There are a few main categories of free retro games online: original games, knock-off or spoof games, and casino-style games. But since they are designed to be easy to learn and play, all these types rely on gameplay developed for programs from the early days of console and PC gaming.
Original Flash-Based Retro Games Online
Much of the flash-based old 90s games available online are original games put together by small developers or hobbyists. They are meant to be played like vintage arcade games, with simple mouse- or keyboard-based controls, though some now have passwords which allow players to return to a game after closing the browser. Several gaming websites still offer a wide range of free online retro games of this kind.
From the point of view of gameplay, most original online old 90s games are still derivative of the 8- and 16-bit eras of console gaming. There are point-and-click shooting games, side-scrolling platform games, racing games, and point-based role-playing and simulator games. All of these old 90s games or before genres were developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and their controls and mechanics are essentially unchanged.
However, flash-based online old 90s games are much more sophisticated in terms of graphics, sound effects, and music. Not limited to a paltry few dozen kilobytes, the basic gameplay of flash games is much more embellished.
Online Clones of Classic Video Games
A number of free online old 90s games are clones – thinly veiled knock-offs – of the most successful games of older console eras. These games create original levels based on the designs and characters of platform-game classics. Examples include “Ultimate Flash Sonic,” based on Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog series, and “Zelda Flash Game,” based on Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series.
Other games simply copy level designs outright, and add a new gameplay element. In “Super Mario Hardcore,” (a popular mario retro game) for instance, players can replay levels from Super Mario World, only with Mario wielding a gun, and with crude bloody graphics employed when he shoots a Koopa.
While such games often infringe copyright, the fact that they are made by fans, distributed free online, and are usually novelty games which get dull within minutes, means that developers are unlikely to bother pursuing legal action.
Free Online Casino Video Games
Other online flash-based games are versions of popular casino games, such as blackjack and poker. These function essentially the same as PC casino games, aside from the fact that they are played through the browser. In a way, they are more derivative than clone games, because some of the earliest games for home computers were single-player versions of popular card games.
Although there are many free casino retro mini games, quite a few are sponsored by gambling websites. Unlike fan-based or recreational flash game websites, which rely on advertising for revenue, these casino sites are used as promotional tools for the pay sites where the same games are played for real money.
The Future of Free Retro Mini Games
Although bandwidth increases have made compression less of an issue, free online retro mini games remain very popular. Original flash based retro mini games, clone games, and casino games are all quick and simple to play, and their reliance on tried-and-true gameplay makes them highly accessible, even to non-gamers. For these reasons, online flash-based retro mini games will likely have a long future.