Updated: Jun 20
I'm sure you find this title a tad curious, for online gaming has taken the world by storm in the past decade. PC games have reinterpreted world-building, fantasy, graphics, and immersiveness. Games like World of Warcraft, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, God of War, and so on have connected gamers across the world and even changed how we use computers, because boy oh boy, do they need man-power!
No, I'm not talking about PC games, not even touching the VR world I often find myself sucked into... I'm talking about their ancestor, games that we played around two decades ago on our browsers. Millennials, I'm sure you can remember a time before apps crushed the website gaming businesses! I know I do.
When I was first gifted with the new invention called a laptop in the early 2000s, I did what any ordinary kid would do... find games I enjoyed playing... for free!
Back in the day, big television corporations ruled browser games. Websites like Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Discovery Kids, PBS Kids, Barbie, and even Boomerang—all of which I was a fan of— had the best games with themes from popular television and film worlds we all know and love. There are so many games that come to mind, games that were memorable, interesting, and with inventive storylines. There was even a point in time when 3D-looking games were on the rise. I'm sure most don't remember the 3D Spongebob game that came out right after the first Spongebob movie where you can ride all around Bikini Bottom in the famous Kraby Paty Car. Or what about the 3D Dora the Explorer game where Dora must embark on a dangerous journey into the pyramids?
But big franchises weren't the only ones profiting from a child's need for online adventure. FunBrain, Poptropica, Amazing Games, CoolMath, and even Pogo (virtual board games like Uno, Monopoly, Sorry, Battleship, etc) were staples in my gaming world. They excited me, encouraged me to keep learning, and often added fun details. At the time, FunBrain allowed anyone to read the Diary of the Wimpy kid books for free, and soon enough Diary of a Wimpy Kid became famous all around the world... he was even a constant balloon in the Thanksgiving Macy's Day Parade. Then there was Club Penguin (a penguin MMO game), Poptropica (revolved around mystery, MMO, problem-solving, and strategy), Millsberry (educational, taught responsibility with money, pets, and produce, where you earn "money" playing games), and Pixie Hollow (a Disney owned MMO game based on the world of Tinker Bell).
Browser games took the world by storm. They were the new norm, modern and swift technology, and suddenly... they were no longer popular.
Java, like all coding languages, had become outdated and modern browsers have moved away from it. Once smartphones released, the App Store was born! Apps were revolutionary. You simply paid for a game, or found one you liked for free and played it at any time... no internet connection required. Don't misunderstand, apps were not the first to begin smartphone games. As soon as other phone designs hit the market, like my sliding LG with an entire built-in keyboard, there were built-in games like the Prince of Persia and Aladdin.
In this day and age, there are so many options to continue our gaming world. There will always be video gaming like the X-Box and PlayStation, or portable gaming like the Nintendo. And now there are VR gaming options which I am a fan of. But most people resort to what's easy to obtain. Both Android and Apple users have access to app games, but of course, where technology once excelled, there is now a fighting enterprise of individual businesses.
You cannot play most gaming apps without internet connection. Older games like Subway Surfer might be an exception unless you are moving up in a level. Offline games are the way to go unless you would like to be constantly bombarded with ads at every turn. Fail a level, you must watch an ad. Want to move up a level? Watch an ad. If you need an extra gaming perk like a boost or a hint, watch an ad. And yup, there's no more skipping for another thirty seconds or so lest you must watch your ad all over again! Dare to click or don't click the screen and you be enjoying the two to three pop-ups that came from that ad. If you are watching an ad for another app game, you are often misled as the games are nothing like the commercial. And don't get me started on in-app purchases!
Games like SpongeBob Krusty Cook-Off did not let me move up an impossible level without an in-app purchase. This goes to show, you cannot play certain games without paying along the way, not even if you oblige to all the ad-watching rules.
There were so many app game trends over the years like the music era that introduced games likeTap Tap Revenge, and Tiles. Then the running era of Subway Surfer, Angry Gran Run, and Temple Run. Then the whole world was consumed by Flappy Bird, and even more so when a certain someone managed to get to the end of the game and become internet famous. I think the last time the entire human consciousness was obsessed with an app game was Candy Crush, I was eighteen or nineteen at the time.
Once Trading Card games made their way into the app world, I was obsessed. Hearthstone is a bit outdated now—and I don't blame Blizzard Entertainment as they have WOW to maintain—but boy, that was my favorite! (Even though I have an acquired taste)
Now there are infinite sorts of app games. Games for children, games for relaxing, mysteries, puzzles, arcade games, adventure, combat, trading card, and the list goes on and on.
Things are taking a turn in the app gaming world. Games are becoming more detailed in graphics and rules. There are now strategy games like GWENT, which needs a heck of a long time to download and an even longer time to simply open whenever you're ready to play. Be prepared, games this detailed require storage space and a constant battery supply along with it. If your phone gets hot in your hands, don't wonder why.
When I speak to my younger family members, I realize I am not alone. When I asked how they maneuver past the countless annoyances that come with the app-gaming world, they tell me their little tricks like restarting the app or how they only play offline games that annoy them less. However, what's curious is that I find them playing games with a ton of ads from time to time, and they put up with them because they enjoy that specific game.
Between the in-app purchases, the games you must buy, the ads you must endure, the tokens and coins you need, the "waiting time" to do to move up in the game, the battery loss, and the heat of your phone radiating through your hands, it's just too much to keep consumers like myself interested for long.
I often look back to the simpler time when there were countless Java games across the internet, and even the ones built into our devices for our offline experiences. The younger kids in my family hardly remember them, but my generation speaks fondly of them and with great nostalgia.
We live in an era where everything nostalgic has revived. Even the comedic Animaniacs have made their comeback solely to make fun of this reboot era. So why not bring back the simpler gaming world? Can you imagine it... games we know and love that are easily accessible to all people, existing on a specific, memorable website? No ads, no pop-ups, no burning out your devices, no purchases, or waiting periods, and you can move up on levels based on knowledge and skill... Ahhhh, that's how gaming should be!
Even though I assumed Java is a coding language of the past, it is apparently making its comeback and is still one of the most demanded coding languages. Like all languages, it has modified over the years and good thing it has. Original browser gaming has not been forgotten. It has finally been resurrected! Even though free gaming has less reach, websites like FunBrain, Poptropica, CoolMath, and Club Penguin are still around today! Likewise, big kid-friendly corporations are definitely maintaining their websites and browser games!
While browser gaming is still alive you might be content without it, but there are several great perks. Children and adults can get behind it (for pop-up safe sites), it's easily accessible, there are no strings attached, it's free, it doesn't bug your machine, and it does exactly what it is intended to do: entertain you and challenge your skills. While you do need your internet for this type of gaming, you would need it anyway for the apps you have installed on your phones.
Plus browser gaming is perfect for computer/laptop and tablet users who need that small distraction in between work periods. Browser gaming has always been my go-to in between assignments or studying to give me that extra boost of fun I craved, and now it helps me during my writing sprees. When I'm in a creative or mental block, a simple change of mental direction gets my juices flowing again, as I'm sure it does for others.
Looking for other browser gaming recommendations? I have the perfect website for you.
It's a .org site which means it's kid-safe. There is no need to worry about adult commercials or pop-ups. It's entirely free. It's accessible. It works. It's nostalgic and classic. Plus, it has all the games you know and love like:
There are an infinite number of versions of each type of game on the website. But only a handful of versions are presented in the submenus. If you are looking for something not in the submenus, click the menu sections rather than the submenu and you will see the abundant versions of each sort of game.
I'm not familiar with common card games but this website makes it easy to learn, and now I can play with friends and family, and perhaps even teach them a card game they were unfamiliar with! There are a total of twenty card games on the site!
There are seven different types of Mahong on display in the submenu, yet there is a long list of more than 100 different Mahjong games classified into subsections! I'm astounded!
As you know, twin-like games on the app store are flooded with annoying ads and pop-ups. There are eight different themed Hidden Object games displayed in the submenu, but of course way more when you click the "Hidden Object" tab in the main menu. And the art does not disappoint. They are everything you would want in a hidden object game. Plus, don't expect an easy pass when you make a mistake pressing some other object than what you were meant to find. That's a deduction of five points!
We are all familiar with match games like candy crush, or even the simple machines we see in casinos when we bet our small bucks. There are six different match games on display in the submenu and seven match games in total!
Soduku, Chess, Bridges, this website has it all and more! I thought I knew most logic puzzle games, but now I see... that I don't, haha. These games will tickle your mind, they are perfect for challenging your mental stamina. This is the section I would gravitate towards.
There are five different word games on display like word search and crosswords, which are always a pastime favorite!
This website has all the games you know and love rolled into one destination. These games were created with HTML, which gives you the freedom to enjoy the game without downloading software or installing apps that will clog your storage space in your devices. It has good graphics and automatic loading time, which means you are not waiting around to play. It's fast, simple, easily accessible, safe, fun, and challenging.
To top off the amazingness of this site, it works perfectly on my iPhone as well. It has a special option to play the games on the web app, which prompts you to turn your phone so you can play the game in full screen!
Solitaire.org is the diamond in the rough in the browser gaming world and it deserves credit for being a non-profit site with no commercials/ads. Honest and true websites like this should get more recognition, and they are right on track for bringing the gaming world back to its roots with wholesome fun for all! I will be returning to this site time and time again, and it brings a smile to my face to know gaming companies moving outside of the norm exist.
JK Noble | Author | Artist | Philanthropist
Published author of the new YA Fantasy Series, HALE.
Creator of the LMB franchise and the Encourage Literacy Foundation.