Home of the Underdogs
About News FAQs Contact HOTU GoogleGroup Music Manuals
Category Applications Action Adventure Education Interactive Fiction Puzzle Role Playing Games Simulation Special Sport Strategy War

Support the EFF
Welcome How you can help
Browse Games
Welcome Random Pick
Welcome By Company
  Welcome By Theme  
Welcome By Alphabet
Welcome By Year
Welcome Title Search
Welcome Company Search
Welcome Designer Search
Welcome Freeware Titles
Welcome Collections
Welcome Discord
Welcome Twitter
Welcome Facebook
Welcome File Format Guide
Welcome Help: Non PC Games
Welcome Help: Win Games
Welcome Help: DOS Games
Welcome Recommended Links
Site History Site History
Legacy Legacy
Link to Us Link to Us
Credits Thanks & Credits
Abandonware Ring

Abandoned Places


Creative Commons License

Home of the Underdogs FAQ

Last updated on October 2, 2023

Comments, questions, etc. about this FAQ should be directed to the webmaster.

The following is a list of Frequently-Asked Questions (and their answers) regarding Home of the Underdogs (http://www.HomeOfTheUnderdogs.net/), a non-profit site devoted to the preservation underrated PC games. (Home of the Underdogs and all pertinent materials therein are Copyright 1998-2023, Home of the Underdogs.)

This FAQ is meant to address questions we typically get via e-mail and on Discord, as well as give an in-depth explanations of design goals and features of the site as well as its philosophy. There is also considerable cross-references within the FAQ itself, due to the integrated nature of the site. Therefore, please read it to the end before you contact us!

First Important Note: If you use Windows XP or later and have little or no knowledge of DOS games, bill22's wonderful Guide to running old DOS/Windows games on Windows XP is a highly recommended first read. In this comprehensive guide, bill22 will show you not only how to run DOS or older Windows games on your system, but also useful tips and techniques to run them well, with sounds and the right speed.

Select one of the above links to jump to that section or question.

Design Goals

What is Home of the Underdogs?

Home of the Underdogs (HotU) is a museum of mostly PC game underdogs-- games that were underrated and/or undersold when they were released. We believe that only by paying tribute to them can the memories of these overlooked titles be preserved in the gaming community. Our aim is akin to Project Gutenberg, a vast archive that aims to make books and information available in electronic format to the public at no charge. As we consider HotU a museum, so do we consider ourselves historians. (For copyright issues, we cover that later in this FAQ).

The site is also designed for its visitors to get lost in (in the positive sense of the word)... to be overwhelmed with huge doses of nostalgia, and to be inspired to play these games again or try them out if you missed them the first time around. This is why we concentrate on the content -- Think of our site as a cozy place you can come at any time to relive your childhood, discover some new titles, and meet fellow oldies lovers in our tightly-knit and welcoming community. You'll get the most from the site if you browse games one by one, read our reviews, and check out related links and cross-references for each.

In addition to keeping the memory of the games alive with informative reviews, we also aim to make HotU as nostalgic and content-rich as possible. For every game review on the site, you can check out other games we think you may enjoy, in the "If you like this game, try..." box. Many games are also classified with one or more theme(s) , which you can click on for the theme's definition and a list of games that share it.

HotU is also similar to MobyGames (our greatest inspiration for this design) in being designed around a completely cross-referenced database, allowing practically anything you see on-screen to be a link or query to more information. Using Circuit's Edge as an example, let's say you want to play more games by the same company. Just click on the developer's name (Westwood Studios) and a new sheet comes up with company profile and a list of all games that Westwood developed. You can then click any of those games, and their info sheets come up, on and on ad infinitum. If you are interested in its contemporaries, clicking on "1990" in the "Year" box yields another query results page that lists all games in the database from 1990 (this is the same result as choosing "1990" in the "By Year" drop-down menu in the left navigation bar). Furthermore, putting all game entries in a database allows us to create useful queries that are updated automatically. For instance, you can view a list of all Top Dogs in any genre by clicking on the "Top Dog" tag.

What gaming platforms and time periods are covered by Home of the Underdogs?

We cover only underrated games that were released for IBM PC and compatibles, from time immemorial (or at least from the beginning of PC gaming history, i.e. around 1978). From time to time, we may include underrated games for other platforms as well (e.g. Apple II, Commodore 64), but only when their PC version was never released, and always for a good reason. For example, Dani Bunten's Apple II game Cytron Masters is included here to complete the collection of one of the best game designers ever.

What are the criteria for choosing games for the site?

As the name suggests, Home of the Underdogs focuses only on underrated and/or undersold PC games that were overlooked by most gamers. This means that you will never find well-known, best-selling games such as Sierra's King's Quest games, reviewed on this site. Although deciding whether or not a game is underrated is somewhat subjective, there is one overriding criterion a game must fulfill: it has to be good-- if a game can't hold our interest for long, then it apparently deserves to be forgotten and is, therefore, not underrated (instead, it may often be overrated). Many games are commercial and critical failures for the right reason: they are terrible :)

Of course, not all underdogs are created equal, so you will find that sometimes the reviewer will really criticize a game and concludes that yes, it is underrated, but not by much. That's why we give "Top Dog" honor to distinguish between the truly underrated classics and the marginally underrated, more forgettable junk.

Beside being a good game, every underdog on this site must fulfill one or more of the following criteria:

  • It remains relatively unknown and undersold despite critical acclaim (or because of a lack thereof). Great games often get overlooked because of a poor marketing campaign, market oversaturation, or simply a change in trends. Multiple "Best Adventure Game of the Year" awards, for example, hardly helped Dreamforge's outstanding Sanitarium gain a foothold amid 3D action games.
  • Sometimes a game itself is relatively well-known, but its developers are not. Master of Orion, for example, was a big hit for MicroProse, but hardly anyone recognized that it was developed by SimTex (and the head designer, Steven Garcia). This partly explains why SimTex' last game 1830 was a commercial failure: it was released by Avalon Hill, a big name in wargaming but an obscure one to strategy gamers.
  • Some games on this site may have been best-sellers when they were released on non-PC systems, but failed when they were ported to PC, usually due to the fact that the PC as a gaming platform was inferior to many others. For instance, an early IBM AT boasted only 4-color CGA graphics and scratchy PC speaker sounds, while a contemporary Commodore 64 offered 16-color graphics and high-quality sound and music. Most Cinemaware games, for example, were both commercial and critical successes on the Amiga, but failed to attract the same following on the PC. Since HotU is a site devoted to PC underdogs, we feel it is natural to honor such games alongside underdogs that were designed specifically for the PC.

Is Home of the Underdogs an "abandonware" site?

Home of the Underdogs once hosted abandonware games for download, and thus was an abandonware site by definition. Today, this is not feasible. But HotU still aims to highlight underdogs on this site have been discontinued by their publishers - i.e. abandonware. However, our goal is to pay tribute to underrated PC games of all ages, so you will also find reviews of recent underdogs that have not been abandoned by their publishers.

What isn't Home of the Underdogs?

Home of the Underdogs has a very focused goal--to record details about underrated PC games to prevent them from fading into oblivion. We are not interested in reviewing best-selling games, nor are we interested in competing with large games database sites such as MobyGames (though they inspire us a lot). As such, you will not find the following on Home of the Underdogs:

  • Best-selling games or non-PC games (with a few exceptions). Please re-read our criteria section above on how we choose games for the site.
  • Patches or bug-fixes (we have neither time nor space to maintain this; try The Patches Scroll (a HotU contemporary!) to find the patches you need.)
  • Technical support for game-specific problems. We neither have the time nor manpower to answer technical questions (besides, the publishers *themselves* abandoned the games and all technical support). If you have a problem with a game that neither the "Technical Notes" section on the game's info sheet, nor this FAQ does not address, please post your question on Discord and hopefully someone can help.

General Usage

Is there a fee for using Home of the Underdogs?

No, and there never will be.

But I want to express my thanks for the site. How can I help?

Well, thanks :) To show your appreciation of our efforts to preserve underdogs, here's how you can contribute to the site in return.

What are themes and how are they different from genres?

Genres are broad, by-now-standard types of games, while themes refers to the premises or style behind them. They are two different ways of classifying games: if you are a strategy game buff, for example, you can browse the list of games in that genre. On the other hand, if you are a cyberpunk fan who just wants to play cyberpunk games, you can browse the thematic list of all games on HotU that are set in a cyberpunk world. This list will show games from the various genres, such as Neuromancer (adventure) and Chaos Overlords (strategy).

Themes are an interesting and fun way to find related games, but unlike genres, they don't have a one-to-one relationship with games: every game belongs to one and only one genre, but they may have one or more themes. Sango Fighter, for example, is an action game with three themes: Oriental (because it is set in the Orient), Multiplayer (because it has multiplayer options), and Anime (because it was designed in the Japanese anime style).

We sometimes use themes to group games into other useful or interesting lists as well. "Unique," for example, denotes truly original games, the likes of which have never been seen before or since their releases. Likewise, "Multiplayer" refers to any game that offers multiplayer options. Watch out for more themes in the future!

Please be advised that not every game is associated with a theme-- most puzzle and sport games, for example, do not have any themes.

How do I get back to the homepage?

Click on the spacedog picture in the left-hand corner of the top menu bar, or the "News" button.

What does Top Dog mean?

We award Top Dog to underdogs that we feel are severely underrated: great games that deserve a second chance. Although we carefully select games for the site (terrible games, after all, are better forgotten), they are not equal in quality. The Top Dog status is the way we distinguish truly great underdogs from the pack. Of course, this process is somewhat subjective, so you are welcome to voice your opinion on Discord!

Clicking on the Top Dog tag on any game's info sheet will bring up a list of all Top Dogs in the same genre. Comparing this list to Top Games lists (which goes by user rating) will give you a good idea of how our opinions stack up against our visitors'. Of course, we strive to convince you of our opinion every way we can .

What does Real Dog mean?

Real Dogs are marginally underrated games: games that might be considered underrated, but not by much. In other words, these games are real "dogs", i.e. really bad games we want you to avoid. Most of these games are here only because a lot of people begged or threatened us to feature them :) Also, this site isn't "Home of the Worst Games," so don't expect to see too many of these: we'd rather save the space for the Top Dogs.

Go to Page 2

© 1998 - 2024 Home of the Underdogs
Portions are copyrighted by their respective owners. All rights reserved. Please read our privacy policy.