The Console Living Room, via the Internet Archive, is letting users relive their childhood by providing emulators for classic video game consoles. Users can play games for the Atari 2600, Atari 7800 Pro System, ColecoVision, Magnavox Odyssey and the Astrocade online for free.
The Internet Archive, a nonprofit institution that's also responsible for the web archive The Wayback Machine, developed the project as a way to experience the very beginning of what it calls a "revolution." As described on the Console Living Room's website, it "harkens back to the revolution of the change in the hearth of the home, when the fireplace and later television were transformed by gaming consoles into a center of video game entertainment."
Consoles brought the popularity of arcade games to the living room and were the start of what is now a multibillion dollar industry. With the growth has come plenty of change and the Console Living Room is an attempt to revive video game history. Speaking about the project, Jason Scott said in a blog post, "Sadly, the days of the home video game console being a present under a tree followed by days of indulgent game-playing are not the same, replaced with massive launch events and overnight big-box store stays."
The graphics and game play may seem primitive compared to what gamers have come to expect from consoles such as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One or even the SNES, but there is plenty of joy to be had from games such as "Donkey Kong," "Frogger" or "Ms. Pac-Man." The Console Living Room is archiving new games every day thanks to the efforts of volunteers.
The project uses the JSMESS emulator system, which lets users play these games in their browser without any additional plug-ins or downloads. In addition to giving access to hundreds of games, the Internet Archive also provides information on the consoles and games as well as insight into the significance of a particular system, company or developer. When possible, game manuals are also available for users to browse. While many users will come for the games, there is plenty of history to explore as well.
While emulators and ROMs are not new to many gamers, the ability to avoid sites full of pop-ups without the need to worry about the legality of such an endeavor will make the Console Living Room appealing. Scott says the project is still in beta and sound will be enabled soon.
Charles Poladian joined IBTimes in October 2012 and, when not reporting on all things topical, can be found reading or photographing concerts.