TBT: Windows Games

For many, the games which came with Windows are a nostalgia trip. We’ve used them to waste time, even at work or in school. Why not take a look back at them?

Before we begin, it is unfortunate to note that most of these games are unavailable in Windows 10. You’ll have to install a third-party program onto your computer in order to get these games to work on Windows 10. Many of these games (although different versions) have been ported to Flash or Java-based games which you can readily find online.

I can recall playing these games frequently when we still had dial-up internet. When my mother was on the phone or expecting a phone call, and I had to “unplug” from the internet, I used these games to maintain my entertainment, especially if it wasn’t raining outside and I couldn’t go out and run around or go exploring.

1. Minesweeper

Minesweeper was one of the more famous games included with Windows.

Nobody (including myself) ever knew the rules or how to play the game correctly. Minesweeper is a grid of squares in which you randomly choose a square. The square may be a bomb, it may open up a bunch of other squares, or it may just open up that square. The goal is to overturn empty squares without getting blown up.

When you played Minesweeper, you knew you was going to hit a mine and get blown up at some point. The objective was to stave that off as long as possible.

Some squares have a number in them. The number tells you how many mines lay in an eight-by-eight grid surrounding that square.

Minesweeper has had a lengthy history, dating back to the 1960s, but was ported to MS-DOS in 1985. It wasn’t included with Windows until 3.1.

2. Solitaire

Solitaire was one of the first games I played on a computer, which was in Windows 3.11.

This, along with Minesweeper, was one of the first games I can recall playing on a computer. I can remember playing Solitaire with my father on our Gateway 2000 for hours, and playing Solitaire on the Gateway for hours as well.

If you’re familiar with card games, then Solitaire is fairly easy – as it is also a popular amongst “non-computer” card games. If you’re like me and never play card games, it is somewhat more difficult as you have to know the order of the cards and how Solitaire itself works. (Fortunately for me, my father knew how to play Solitaire.)

3. 3D Pinball

Space Cadet (3D Pinball) was one of the most popular games which Windows came with, beating even Minesweeper.

Out of all of these games, 3D Pinball was my favorite. Unlike the other games, it was fun to play as you constantly tried to beat the high score – just like in real Pinball. This game also has some really nice (at least for included games) graphics and sounds. A little known fact that I just recently found out was 3D Pinball had music… by enabling the music, you could listen to it play a generic MIDI song.

If you’ve ever played pinball in real life, you know how this works. But even if you haven’t, like myself, don’t feel discouraged. 3D Pinball is simplified and fairly easy to pick up on. The objective of the game is to bounce the ball around the longest without loosing the ball in the hole at the bottom. In order to do this, you have two paddles which you can control. The more items you hit and the longer you can keep the ball “alive”, the higher your score. For those advanced users, 3D Pinball supposedly also has a tilt mechanism.

The history behind 3D Pinball is interesting. The Windows version you see (“Space Cadet”) was actually a part of a bigger game called “Full Tilt: Pinball”. This game was produced by Cinematronics and published by Maxis in 1995, and includes three tables. A modified Space Cadet table was included with the “Microsoft Plus! 95” expansion pack, although free versions of the game was included with versions from Windows 98 and NT 4.0 throughout Windows XP. For computers running Windows Vista and later versions of Windows (which didn’t come with 3D Pinball already), you can download it for free online.

4. Purble Place

Purble Place was a game directed towards children, and was included with Windows Vista and Windows 7.

If you are younger and grew up around the time I did, then there is a good chance you remember “Purble Place.” Purble Place is a set of three games which was oriented more towards children as an educational game.

The first game is “Purble Pairs.” This game is similar to “Memory” (or many of its other names – like Concentration or Match-Up), as in you have to find pairs in the shortest amount of turns possible. This is a fairly easy game.

Purble Pairs was essentially a game of “Memory”

The second game was the one that I played a lot. “Comfy Cakes” is a game where you have to make the cake displayed on the board. You get a choice between shape, cake flavor, icing color, and topping. A fairly easy game that kept me entertained.

The objective of “Comfy Cakes” was to bake a cake just like the one in the upper left corner…
…but being the child I was, I typically made the wrong cake on purpose.

The last game was “Purble Shop.” It’s a code breaking game where the computer picks a one of over 3,000 character types. Once again, fairly simple.

In Purble Shop, the computer selects one of thousands of combinations for you to guess. It will tell you how many features you guessed right.
…and you keep guessing until you finally guess right. The computer will tabulate your score and give you a ranking.

Purble Place was overall an easy set of games because it was directed towards children, especially young children. Since these were included free in Windows Vista and Windows 7, they were played by many children.

5. Chess Titans

Chess has been a favorite for centuries, and can be challenging if you’re playing against a good player (or a computer.)

We all know chess. It can be a fairly difficult game to beat, especially if you have a good oponent. This game has withstood the test of time, with my father remember playing it as a kid with his father, and its history extending many centuries before then. Computers have also been playing chess since the 1950s for research and entertainment.

Chess Titans is no different. You have two options: play against a human opponent, or play against the computer.

I never enjoyed Chess that much, so I never really played this game. But I did dust it off in order to show it. Chess Titans is fairly easy to select your moves. In addition, Chess Titans is 3D – meaning you can swivel the board to view it from many different angles. Of course, on older machines this may present a problem. My ThinkPad T42 was having intermittent problems getting Chess Titans to run properly (as it complained of Direct3D problems), but nonetheless it got it running and I was able to grab some screenshots.

While not as fun as playing with a real board and real pieces, Chess Titans can be fairly fun if Chess is your thing. As mentioned, you can play against another person or the computer itself. I’d imagine playing against the computer itself may be interesting.

6. Mahjong Titans

I’ve never played Mahjong.

In addition to Chess Titans, there is Mahjong Titans. Unlike Chess, I know next to nothing about Mahjong other than it has been around since the Qing dynasty in China.


This post and screenshots were made on the ThinkPad T42. The post was edited, as well as screenshots cropped, on the ThinkPad T420.

Note: The games featured in this entry, as well as their artwork, is property of their respective owners.

Leave a Reply