We are all cheap bastards, really. Yes, women too. Isn't it amazing? Even worse (and definitely amazing too), some of us are retro-gaming cheap bastards, who can't even be bothered to download and install stuff. Well, brothers, what follows is a list of the very best (according to traditional gnomish taste) free online emulators, that will hopefully cater to the cheap-ass, lazy and highly refined audience, I hope to have already managed to gather in Gnome's Lair for this little free retro gaming orgy, that will hopefully entertain you between readings of Das Kapital and Ulysses.
So, let's start off with the legendary and frankly quite powerful Apple II home computers, that are beautifully emulated through Java over @ Virtual Apple 2. Expect emulation of both the original Apple II and Apple IIgs, tons of freely available games, game manuals and a brilliant PDF fanzine. Games you should absolutely try include: Dungeon Master, Teenage Queen, Neuromancer, Wasteland, Wizardry and Castle Wolfenstein.
On to another popular machine then, the Commodore 64 and an online emulator I've already mentioned: the too brilliant for words c64s. There, you'll find that almost every C64 game ever released is available to you via an excellent and quite colorful web interface. Suggested games (subjectively selected from a few hundred impressively varied C64 classics) include: Bruce Lee, Dizzy, Giana Sisters, The Hobbit, Saboteur and Boulder Dash.
The hugely popular ZX Spectrum, Europe's beloved Speccy, being a traditionally humble piece of hardware got an excellent java emulator called Hob, which only (?) features 19 games and a version of BASIC, and lacks the bells and whistles of c64s. Thankfully classics like Ant Attack, Manic Miner, Skool Daze and Jet Set Willy are all included and faithfully emulated.
Equally popular to the Speccy, especially in the US and Japan, was the 8-bit Nintendo NES, which I believe arrived in Europe as late as the late eighties. Shame, but it didn't feature no SID chips, did it? Anyway, NES was generally brilliant and all-conquering and so is vNES, an emulator offering 500 English language games, 100 Japanese, 25 in various other languages and 5 unlicensed games. Must-play NES/Famicom games: Super Mario Brothers 3, Mega Man, Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Metal Gear, Bomberman, ExciteBike and Final Fantasy.
MSX (MicroSoft eX/Cross, see Wikipedia entry), though not particularly successful, has also got it's nice little Java emulator thing going on. It's the aptly named Java MSX Emulator. Have a look and definitely try Raid on Bungeling Bay, Thexder, Nemesis, Dragon Slayer 4 and Zaxxon.
And now for the handheld loving finale. Gaming on the go aficionados, you see, also get their fair share of online freebies to enjoy, be it on their virtual Game Boy, Game Boy Color or Game & Watch. For the first two consoles do try the amazing GameBoy Online Emulator (just don't forget to play Tetris, Super Mario Land, Final Fantasy Adventure and Skate or Die), whereas for the really retro Game& Watch stuff this link should keep everyone happy.
Related @ Gnome's Lair: Batari BASIC, Watergate Caper, Alter Ego, Rick Dangerous Freebies
Related Tags: Apple II, Apple 2, Apple IIgs, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, C64, CBM 64, MSX, Famicom, NES, Nintendo NES, Nintendo, Gameboy, Game Boy Color, Free, Emulation, Free emulators, Free games, retro gaming, games, game, free