• FUN FRIDAY: Lemmings and...



    A generation ago, PC gamers didn't have the option to explore photo-realistic universes and interact with artificial intelligences. It was a simpler time, and games were simpler as well. They were also incredibly addictive, and if you were around back then I guarantee you spent hours and hours dropping bricks or simulating cities.

    One of the biggest time sucks of the early 1990s was Lemmings. The premise was simple: Lemmings were dumb, but suggestible creatures. By assigning them simple roles, you could help them get to their goal location. It sounds easy enough and it is, at least for the first few levels. Like any addictive game, it subtly sucks you in and takes you for an hours-long ride.

    Lemmings had -- and I am not joking here -- state-of-the-art graphics for its day, and a soundtrack composed of classical and folk music that was guaranteed to help you pass the hours. Like other puzzle games of the day it was frustrating and rewarding, and it could take hours, days, weeks, or months before the addiction wore off. Although the makers of Lemmings tried sequels and improvements over time, by the mid-1990s it was just a distant memory.

    If those old days of simple gaming make you smile (whether or not you were there), check out ClassicReload, where you can play Lemmings and hundreds of other games in your browser with no configuration needed on your computer. This sort of software is referred to as "abandonware" -- often the publishers are out of business and the hardware is almost always obsolete. While legally protected by copyright, in practice there is almost never any legal action against people who collect or use abandonware. Still, if you're worried you might have decided not to try downloading old games.

    That's the best part here. It's all browser-based and so there's nothing to download. You're accessing someone else's web site, that's all. So why not give it a try? I won't blame you if nothing else gets done today.

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