Places to Find, Download, and Play Free Retro 8 Bit Games Online

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About half of the United States population plays video games. That massive number comes as no surprise considering how engaging gaming can be.

While a lot of gamer’s focus today seems to be on virtual reality or the newest consoles, our team wants to remind gamers that decades of retro games paved the way for the modern masterpieces they enjoy today. Those retro games deserve your attention!

The great news is that 8 bit games can be found online and can be played through your browser or several other internet-connected mediums.

Curious to know how you can find and play classic games? Keep reading to have your questions answered!

Head Over to Retro Game Directories

There are whole websites dedicated to housing 8 bit games, 16 bit games, and other classics. Most of those websites share their hosted titles with gamers for free!

Libraries of classic Apple II games, Sega games, etc. may be limited to obscure titles you may have trouble recognizing due to copyright issues. Still, the volume of games on these sites are immense and well worth diving into.

A couple of popular retro game directories include PlayRetroGames.com and Internet Arcade.

Hop on Your Phone’s App Store

You might be surprised to find that your phone offers you access to a bevy of 8 bit games you can download from your app store’s servers. Just hop into your store application and type in “8 bit”, “classic video games”, or any other relevant search term to see what pops up.

You’ll likely find fan reimaginings of popular 8 bit retro games. You could discover conceptually new 8 bit games that are more softly inspired by past titles.

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We’ve even seen a trend where the original publishers of retro games are porting their old masterpieces to phones to introduce their works to new generations of audiences.

Download an Emulator

Emulators are virtual versions of gaming consoles that run on your computer or phone. In general, to run an emulator without hiccups, you’ll want to make sure your computing device is at least twice as powerful from a hardware perspective as the console you’re emulating.

Armed with a functional emulator, you can hop online and download “ROMs”. ROMs are virtual versions of popular games you can add to your emulator to play (similar to sticking a disc (ROM) into a console (emulator).

Know that many ROMs and emulators use copyrighted code that may pose legal issues that we’ll discuss at the end of this post.

Find a Specific Game’s Fan Page

Do you have a particular retro game in mind that you’d like to play? If you do, rather than searching through directories, consider searching the name of the game you’re looking for + “online remake” or “online version”.

Sometimes that search will take you to fan pages where hobbyists have recreated or ported old versions of retro games to computers to make them accessible.

These fan versions of games come and go since some get stricken down by copyright complaints from original developers. Some fan-supported games stand the test of time though and are often an absolute joy to play!

Check Out Steam

Steam is the most robust platform for downloading and playing computer games in the United States. The platform offers all of the newest PC titles and consequently, is the go-to digital rights management platform for millions of gamers.

What a lot of people don’t know is that in addition to providing access to new games, Steam also offers a library of retro games. These games range from remade versions of classic titles to carbon-copy ports of classic titles that have been published on Steam by their original creators.

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In either case, Steam offers a treasure trove of 8 bit games that are worth exploring. Some of the best retro titles on the platform are available for free!

Explore Your Primary Gaming Console’s eShop

eShop or digital download stores can be accessed through most modern consoles. Many of these shops offer access to retro games you can download.

For example, when you look at the digital shop on Nintendo’s Switch system, you’ll be treated to access to several of Nintendo’s most classic 8 bit games online. If you subscribe to Nintendo’s monthly online service, as a perk, they’ll give you the right to play a couple of retro titles every month, for free!

Dive into your primary gaming console’s digital shop to see what sorts of classic games you can find.

A Word of Caution

As we touched on earlier, many retro games you find online are protected by copyright. Downloading these titles for free or for money without the permission of the game’s original developer can land you in legal trouble.

Because of that, always be wary of where you acquire 8 bit games from.

8 Bit Games and Other Classics Are Worth Your Time

It can be hard to sell people on the idea of playing 8 bit games in an age where games have come to a place of photo-realism. Believe us when we say though that the mechanics employed in many classic titles hold up to the best games being released today.

If you don’t believe us, we implore you to use the tips we’ve shared to find and play a few retro titles you’re interested in. We have a feeling you won’t be disappointed.

Curious to know more about gaming? If you are, take the deep dive into our blog to check out more awesome content on entertainment and tons of other topics!

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