When I got my first PC it opened up a huge universe of games to me. A single game disk could contain dozens of games, from different genres like sports, adventure, action, etc. When playing a lot of games in a short time period you will probably not remember every single game title you played.
This is exactly what happened to me. That’s when I decided this article needed to be done since there must be other people like me who played a game a long time ago and can’t remember its name.
Top 20 MS-DOS Games That You Must Play
Try To Remember Something Unique About The Game
In order to remember the name of a game, we must first try to remember some unique points about it. So, you can go through a bunch of stuff in your head and make a list of items. The information can be divided into 3 tiers based on importance.
The first tier consists of the most useful information.
- Platform: PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, PC, etc.
- Genre: was the game an FPS, 3rd person cover shooter, action, adventure, racing, RPG, etc.
- Year of Release: Do you remember when it was released? Or at least the year in which you played it?
The second tier is made up of “semi-useful information”.
- Protagonist: Do you remember the name of the main character?
- Plot: Do you remember what the general idea of the game was? What was the game about (killing demons, stealth, fighting, etc.)? How was the story conveyed to the player?
- Enemies: Most games have some kind of enemy unit or multiple types of enemy units. What were the enemies like in that game you played? How to beat them?
- Puzzles: Certain games have puzzle elements, did this one have any?
The third and final tier consists of some general info
- Artstyle: Was it cartoonish, realistic, etc.
- Setting: Did the game take place in a real-world setting/ location? Or in fantasy land? Was it set in the past, present, or future?
- Tone: Was the general tone of the game light-hearted, or more moody/ dystopian?
Try and answer these questions to the best of your ability. Make a note with these three tiers of information, and keep that note alongside you for when you get on Google to look up the game. Use this info to narrow down your searches and find elements that make your game different from the rest.
Ask The Guys On r/tipofmyjoystick
This is an entire subreddit dedicated to finding names of games that you can’t remember. Just post whatever details you can, like answers from the first point (what’s unique about that game you played?). And the detectives on this subreddit will do their best to narrow it down and give you the name.
Make sure you follow the subreddit rules when posting a request. I also suggest you look up the template for submissions which uses a lot of the details I mention in my first point. Like Platform, genre, estimated year of release, and so on.
During What Time Period Did You Play This Game?
Was it something you played in your childhood? Can you remember the year, or approximate range (2002 to 2005, 1991 to 1995, etc.)? Search popular games released during that time period, and narrow it down to the platform you played on.
Maybe your game was featured in some movie/ TV show released during the same time period. Like that episode of South Park where the kids play World of Warcraft. That was episode 8 from Season 10, and it first aired in 2006 when classic WoW was quite popular.
You can try using keywords or details you remember from the game and searching in Google for a specific year range only. If it was a multiplayer game, chances are it released after the mid to late 90s. If it was a war game in a first-person perspective with multiplayer elements, it probably came after the year 2000.
Ask Your Gamer Friends
Yep, it’s that simple. Being a gamer myself, I grew up in a circle of fellow gamers. I have friends who I know personally that have been gaming since their childhood days. And I have also made many online friends in the process.
So if I am unsure about a certain game, I will simply ask one of my friends. And hope that between our collective experience, the name comes up. For your online friends, hop into a discord server and do a brainstorming session with relevant links and images.
Sometimes you will stumble upon quite interesting information while having a casual chat with friends. I actually got to know about Serious Sam from one of my college buddies. He told me it was an action FPS in which you mowed down monsters, set in fantastical landscapes.
And when I went online to search for Serious Sam, I found a bunch of gameplay videos and screenshots. One of these videos was of the desert level I had played in that cafe as a child. And then it struck me- I had been searching for Serious Sam all this time.
Check Out Some Gaming Forums
Just like Reddit, there are plenty of other websites/ forums on the internet with sections (or often the entire website) dedicated to gaming and its history. You can visit a site like IGN, GameFAQs, Gamespot, or NeoGAF and make a post with useful information that you remember about the game you played. And someone might be able to piece together the info and get a name for you.
It’s also important to visit forums that are relevant to the type of game you are searching for. For example- if you played a space strategy game, visit a forum dedicated to that genre of games. As always, follow the rules of the forum.
If you don’t know which forum to visit, simply do a search. Look up forums that were active around the same time period as this game was released. Because a lot of old school gaming forums are either dead now or inactive.
And finally, don’t forget the Youtube comments section. Look up videos of games similar to what you played back then. Post a comment mentioning how you forgot the name of a certain game, and someone might drop by with a hint.
If you want to know which gaming forums you should visit, check out my post Top 20 Gaming Forums That Are Still Active
Try Searching For A Successor Or Remake
In the gaming industry, good ideas never go unnoticed. Even if you played some obscure game that didn’t achieve financial success and got dropped, chances are some other developer grabbed the concept and made a successor.
This method of searching is ideal for when you only remember vague/ generic details about a certain game. If you can’t narrow it down to specific things, think about the parts of that game which made it good. Or maybe some new gameplay elements it introduced which was then adopted by successive games.
Then start searching online for games that implement similar design concepts. Maybe you’ll find a sequel of the game you originally played, or some other game inspired by it which should lead you to the name.
Search Gaming Videos On Youtube/ Use Reverse Image Search
Type certain catchphrases or keywords you remember from the forgotten game into Youtube. Chances are someone has uploaded an ancient gaming video of themselves playing the game. Maybe you remember the level name, in which case search results should be pretty accurate. You can also search for these keywords in Google search.
Perhaps you remember some of the plot details, try formulating a search based around that. Some Wiki entry or forum post might pop up with the name of the game. If you have a screenshot or image from within the game, or even cover art, try doing a reverse image search.
Do You Remember The Music?
Some games have very distinctive music styles and memorable soundtracks, like DOOM with its metal music. If you can remember the name of the song or some lyrics, use that information to get the name of the game. Search for games using that genre of music, narrow it down by using “OST” and “game” as keywords in Google.
You can take things one step further by looking up popular sounds artists for games created during that time period. And generally, the same sound artist is preserved for a sequel so you can use that information too. If you have a snippet of the soundtrack, you can do a reverse search via music identification tools/ apps.
Use Hardware Information
Okay, this one is kind of weird but bear with me. Do you remember what hardware your PC had when you played this game? Maybe it was integrated graphics or some really old Voodoo graphics accelerator.
This only works if you’re some kind of hardware nerd like me and remember the make/ model of every processor and GPU you ever had. Looking up a list of games that are often played on that model of GPU, time period helps. For instance, there will be many examples of people playing Crysis (the first one) on an NVIDIA 8800GT graphics card which was released during that time.
Try to remember the kind of performance you got, and examine performance benchmarks for that time. If you want to get really deep, you can even search for driver release notes of that period for mentions of game titles. Another good resource to check out is gaming hardware reviews from that time period.
Gaming hardware journalists often review relevant hardware with games from the same time period. It has been that way since the beginning, so you can look up reviews for the specific GPU or CPU you had. Note that this isn’t going to work unless you played the game on a PC.
Scour Through Game Databases
This is the last-ditch effort, and it’s going to take a lot of your time. It basically involves skimming through columns of game names until your brain finally clicks after reading a certain entry. But since you can’t just manually go through all 50,000 or so games that have been made until now you need a shortcut.
The shortcut is to narrow it down by genre or platform. There are PC game databases, Mac game databases, DOS game databases… you get the idea. Search the database of games for a specific platform. And within that database, look up the relevant genre.
Then, hopefully, you find what you’re looking for. Use all the information you have from your note that you constructed from the first point in this article. That should help you get a positive hit faster while going through the database.
To learn more about some good DOS games, check out my post The Top 20 MS-DOS Games That You Must Play
I hope my list helped you find that game whose name had been eluding you for a long time. Nostalgia is a powerful drug, and all the modern AAA goodness can’t beat that feeling you get when you replay one of those games from your childhood days. Recently, I played through some old Need for Speed titles in remembrance of the good old days.
It brought back quite a few memories of my childhood days when times were simpler, and responsibilities were fewer. Those early days molded my love for gaming and introduced me to a whole new world of fantasy and excitement. I believe it is the same for a lot of you reading this article.
Remember- if you aren’t able to immediately find the name of the game using my tips, don’t give up. Be persistent, it might take days or even months. Some forums are relatively inactive so it will take a while before you get a reply on your post.
If you found this article useful you may want to save this pin below to your Gaming board