The Internet Archive has been saving gaming history for a while now. It's archived Amiga games (and apps), Macintosh stuff from the '80s (including Space Invaders) and a ton of other retro games you can play for free. Now the group has started collecting handheld games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Space Jam while also making them available to play in your web browser via MAME emulation.
Announced Today: The @internetarchive is now emulating handheld toys and games, building on the work of the @mamedev_org team. These are not "remakes" but emulations of the original circuits. Announcement is here: https://t.co/yuKihutxVs spread the word widely. pic.twitter.com/fCjzNCMFBR— Jason Scott (@textfiles) March 18, 2018
Archivist Jason Scott explains the painstaking process of emulating these little plastic chunks of joy, explaining the technology behind making sure the various VFD, LCD and LED games are thoroughly scanned and emulated at a high level of verisimilitude.
Scott explains that while most circuit boards containing these games can be read from non-destructively, it can sometimes be necessary (as with LCD game machines) to rip the entire thing apart to get all the information off of it. "To get the information off an LCD game, it has to be pulled apart and all its components scanned, vectorized, and traced to then make them into a software version of themselves," writes Scott. "Among the information grabbed is the LCD display itself, which has a pre-formed set of images that do not overlap and represent every possible permutation of any visual data in the game."
Lest anyone wonder about their own favorite titles from the bygone era of LCD handheld gaming, Scott tweeted that more are on the way, as soon as he makes sure there aren't any major bugs for individual games.
Someone went "What about the LCD Sonic the Hedgehog" and boom. https://t.co/Sm3PyVbCoe - there are lots of these items I didn't put up because I wanted to step carefully in and find any major bugs. But as I can, I'll add more. pic.twitter.com/4dPMYEWRTo— Jason Scott (@textfiles) March 18, 2018