Jun 16, 2007

A bouquet of hand-picked free games with dirty commercial pasts (for the summer, apparently)

Ah, freeware games. An impenetrable bastion of bedroom coding and a constant source of design innovation. Gotta love 'em, right? Right. Then again, admittedly, commercial games aren't that bad either, besides of course the slightly annoying bit where you have to actually pay for them. But, let's be honest. They are usually a more polished, more complex, longer and probably better looking affair. That's the reason we all feel this warm and fuzzy feeling we do when they actually get released as freeware. That, and the fact we might get a chance to finally see what the reviewers were banging on about. What follows is rather obvious...

Elite and Elite Plus (for the PC), the massive space exploration-trading-pirating epic by Ian Bell and David Braben is available for download here, whereas versions for the Amiga, the ST and a variety of consoles, manuals, novellas, musicals and even bits of the code are generally available there. Newbies, beware, as this game is bigger than Oblivion, more addictive than LotRO and probably a serious candidate for the best game ever crown. And to think it started life on the BBC micro...

R-Type (Amiga) by Irem is as classic an 80s shmup as they get, but also a game sporting some pretty innovative mechanics and mighty impressive visuals, at least for the era during which people did bother calling shmups shoot 'em ups. Download it for free over at the Factor 5 website, where you'll also find some lovely and equally free versions of Katakis and BC Kid. Oh, and you might need the pretty handy UAE Amiga Emulator.

Richard Garriot's Ultima 4 needs no bloody descriptions. It's a sublime CRPG and everybody loves it. Love it too here.

Alien Carnage (Windows) developed by SubZero and published by Apogee, a game also known as Halloween Harry, is a zombie & alien shooting side-scrolling platformer. It's all cartoony too. To give it a shot, click here, scroll down the page and download it.

Strategists with an eye for metal beasts and capitalists that are a bit low on cash will definitely enjoy Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon (Pc), a very genre defining game indeed, and one you can get by following this very link and then clicking on the aptly named Free Full Game Railroad Tycoon button. In case you haven't figured it out yet or are too old to remember, it's a turn-based railroad building game, it is.

Savage: The Battle for Newerth (Windows), on the other hand, is a FPS-RTS hybrid that will cater to our more action-oriented, fantasy/sci-fi obsessed brethren and their twisted needs. Mind you, it's an online game with definite MMO tendencies. Play it for free and download the retail version over at s2games.com.

Advertised as the DOOM of 2D & platform gaming, Abuse (Pc) was a brilliantly fast-paced roller-coaster of a Metroid clone. Now, it's freeware, still using the keyboard-mouse control method it pioneered, frantic as ever and happily available here. Features some pretty stunning pixel art too.

Battle Chess (Windows) by Interplay , one of the few multimedia games available during the early 90s, was and shockingly still is a chess game, and, frankly not a brilliant one at that either. What really makes it worth a try though, are its animated battling pieces and impeccable -even to this day- visuals. Download it @ RIP.

Finally, and to make sure angry comments are reduced to a bare minimum, here are a couple of now-freeware games already covered in the Lair's previous Our freshly hand-picked free games selection and Oh no! More hand-picked free games freeware lists:

Related @ Gnome's Lair
: Douglas Adams games, Linus & Samorost, the best online emulators, free games archive


  1. Ah, I love free games. I'm going with Elite Plus for now. Great post!

  2. Thanks David... I've always wanted to try the plus version too. Such a brilliantly fantastic game...

  3. Waht a fu***%%$ brilliant collection...


    .....Elite.. god damn it but i loved that game..(starts crying....) tremendous post..... (hugs gnome....)

  4. Great selection of freeware Gnome!

    Now if only I wasn't so tied to those bloody consoles...

  5. Tremendous hug, too! Elite, yes, quite brilliant really... And this Plus bit is quite an upgrade. Now, dearest Elderly, you wouldn't mind calling a doctor, would you?

    Oh, come on Father... You can definitely give these games a try. They are both classic and free. Don't ask much in hardware either...

  6. Railroad Tycoon for free! Most excellent! I do need to replace the copy I used to have before the hard drive crashed on the old P-2 300 mHz box.

    Already grabbed the Zork and Hitchhikers stuff a while back. My son couldn't quite grasp why it was fun to play. Granted, he is only 7.....

  7. Ah, Blue Gnome! Glad to see you're still around my friend and hope you'll give your son a couple of years (at least) before beginning with his ludologic education...

    Enjoy the Railroad building. RIP old Pentium...

  8. It was just that hard drive. Machine still runs since I scavenged a 4GB drive from a machine that had a blown motherboard. Play many of the older games on it since there is less possibility for irritating conflicts.

    I've been keeping an eye on your blog but really haven't had the time to post much since work has been a bear for some time.

  9. Alien Carnage ... yummy .. over here it was Halloween Harry. Thanks, gnome ;)

  10. Ah, cousin Blue Gnome, work... Should have seen the hectic times we had to endure around here... Still, keeping an old PC for retro uses is quite a nice idea...

    And so was it here dear Download Munkey...

  11. ...call a doctor? pray tell forever why...? scavenging hard drives, blue gnomes, console bondage... it's why i love gnomeslair.....

  12. And the lair loves you back dear Elderly... In proper gentlemany fashion, of course.

  13. (deep voice....) of course!!!


  14. I've been a reader of this blog since day one and I must say the overall site improved dramatically. scary games online