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Internet Arcade puts 900 free coin-op games in your browser

The Internet Archive unveils a massive library of arcade games playable in a browser to both entertain us and offer a fascinating look into gaming history.

Q*bert screenshot
Relive your Q*bert glory days. Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

You can't beat the feel of an old-fashioned arcade machine where you stand there pumping coins into a slot, trying to extend the gameplay and lay claim to the highest score. The problem with arcade machines is that they take up a lot of space and you can really drain your budget acquiring the machines or feeding endless quarters into their hungry maws.

It's not quite the same, but you can still get an arcade thrill by heading over to the Internet Archive for its freshly launched Internet Arcade.

The Internet Arcade comes stocked with hundreds of games from the 1970s through the 1990s re-created through the JSMESS emulator to run on Web browsers. The offerings range from familiar games like Super Pac-Man, Q*bert and Street Fighter II to more obscure titles like Spiders, Sky Kid and The Three Stooges (a game from 1984).

Not every game in the Internet Arcade is going to give you a winning gameplay experience. There are some technical glitches that have cropped up with some of the titles. "Vector games are an issue, scaling is broken for some, and some have control mechanisms that are just not going to translate to a keyboard or even a joypad," writes programmer Jason Scott.

But don't let that deter you. Plenty of the games are fantastic and work just fine in the browser environment, though you'll have to get used to a new style of controls, especially if you once played these games on real arcade machines.

This isn't the first time the Internet Archive has tapped into the reservoir of gaming nostalgia. At the end of last year, it unveiled the Console Living Room, an extensive pool of both classic and obscure '80s video games.

The sheer massiveness of the Internet Arcade will keep you plenty busy, probably for years. The best place to start is with the archive's curated collection of suggested games on the main page that should all run well in a good browser. You should have no trouble beating my awful high score in Anteater.

Scott hopes the Internet Arcade will be more than an occasional time-wasting system for curious gamers.

"And my hope is that a handful, a probably tiny percentage, will begin plotting out ways to use this stuff in research, in writing, and remixing these old games into understanding their contexts. Time will tell," he writes.