The 12 Greatest PC Shareware Games of All Time

January 24th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

The 12 Greatest PC Shareware Games of All Time

If you’ve read this blog for some time, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of shareware games. Specifically, I love shareware from the “golden age of PC shareware,” an era I just made up that roughly spanned 1988-1996.

And by “PC shareware,” in this case, I mean IBM PC compatible. I was not involved in shareware or BBS scenes for non-IBM computers, so I am not nearly as familiar with them.

With that in mind, take a gander at this new slideshow over at PC World in which I attempt to pick the The 12 Greatest PC Shareware Games of All Time. Whether I have succeeded or failed is not exactly the point, because as I always say, you can never objectively rank greatness. But even if you don’t agree with my picks, it should provide a fun journey down memory lane.

When you’re done reading it, I’d love to hear from you guys — what are your favorite shareware games of all time? Feel free to bring other platforms into it if you want.

If you love shareware games, check out my 2009 interviews with the twin titans of PC shareware, Scott Miller of Apogee and Tim Sweeney of Epic MegaGames.

11 Responses to “The 12 Greatest PC Shareware Games of All Time”

  1. Jay Says:

    Ah, the legendary Scorched Earth. The reason I bought a PC.
    To this day I still try to convince people that it needs to be experienced.

  2. Benj Edwards Says:

    You really bought a PC because of Scorched Earth? That’s pretty amazing. I put it on my 10 Greatest MS-DOS Games of All Time list last year. I’ve spent more time playing Scorched Earth, a completely free title, than many games I’ve paid $50 for.

  3. Alexander Says:

    Commander Keen changed my life…

  4. Philip D Says:

    I was sure Jill of the Jungle would be on this list… I would also have to nominate Hugo’s House of Horrors. Either way, good stuff!

  5. Batfan Says:

    Great list! But what about ‘Halloween Harry’ 🙂

  6. Donn Says:

    How awesome that I’ve seen two of the titles I immediately thought of mentioned here. All the usual suspects were there, of course, with Doom in its rightful place at #1, but…

    Glad to see Raptor on there; one of those that I gladly bought the full version, it was so good!

    And the other was Jill of the Jungle, just mentioned by Phillip D. Good taste!

  7. Benj Edwards Says:

    Jill of the Jungle was a strong contender, let me tell you, because it is close to my heart since I played it a lot back in the day.

    However, I felt that Jill’s gameplay is a little awkward and creaky compared to other titles on the list, and its influence (while it was important at the time) wasn’t enough to raise its profile up the ranks. I highly recommend you play it again today, and you’ll see what I mean.

    That being said, I still love Jill of the Jungle — I think it was the first Soundblaster/VGA shareware game I ever played, and that was amazing at the time. I talked to its author, Tim Sweeney of Epic Games, about it back in 2009.

  8. Luis Mercado Says:

    Give me a “hell yeah” if you just knew Doom would be #1 before watching the slideshow.

  9. Braybett Says:

    I was really into Terminal Velocity back in the 90s. Never bought the rest of the game, though.

  10. Steve Says:

    I’d just like to mention that if you really have to have some of Epic’s old shareware titles, you can still buy them from Epic- go to

    Despite the rather old look, the out-there prices, and other quirks, they do still sell the games (most of them anyway).

  11. roflmao Says:

    Great list! Moraff’s World and Descent were a couple of other shareware games I remember playing back in the day.

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