You Have To Burn The Rope and other classic Flash games are playable in your browser again
Many archival and emulation projects are underway to preserve the wonderful history of Flash games, and the best are those that attempt to recreate the original experience: just click on a link and then play a game in your browser. Now an unofficial Flash Player emulator adds support for more classic games, those created in the (relatively) new ActionScript 3 language. So you can party like it’s 2008 by heading to Newgrounds and playing You Have To Burn The Rope again, along with Wonderputt and a handful of others.
The open-source Flash Player emulator Ruffle supported older versions of the Flash programming language, ActionScript, for a while, but could not play games created in ActionScript 3. Ruffle is a good emulator because the websites can embed it, which means people can just click on a link and start playing. Some other Flash emulators require the installation of a browser plugin. Now, Ruffle is finally introducing partial AS3 support, which will hopefully make many more “newer” Flash games and things easy to revisit.
“Today is a big step forward as it’s the start of more AS3 games being supported by Ruffle!” said the Flash’s spiritual home, Newgrounds. They are starting to test and verify AS3 games that will become playable with this, and have a few stronger ones.
Perhaps most notable is You Have To Burn The Rope, a short, silly game whose title says it all. The Old Guard declared it one of RPS’ favorite games of 2008 and I was still thrilled to see it again today. Click here and you can play the post-portal platformer in seconds and complete it in minutes.
You can also play Wonderputt, an imaginative mini golf game that always delights. The Not To Scale piece morphing puzzle is also playable. Avoid Them Morph is there too (and if you like that, check out Disc Room, which is now on Game Pass). And 10 second Bible ’em up Run, Jesus Run! a little works, a small visual problem aside.
Adobe officially killed off Flash in January 2021. Before that (and after), many projects sprung up to preserve Flash history through archiving and emulation. Some people have converted their Flash work to HTML5, but relying on people doing it would see a huge amount go to waste (who has the time? who even has the source files?). Archiving and emulation projects include Flashpoint, Flash Game Archive, and the Internet Archive’s Flash Library (which also uses Ruffle). The classic webtoon Homestar Runner has also moved on to Ruffle. Also, sites like Newground are still around, you know, and people are still making new Flash games.
Flash games were a big step towards indie games as we know them now, and much of internet culture was built on Flash cartoons. Glad to see it preserved, not just as files in some archive, but still watchable and playable.
I think removing the barrier to entry of installing a plugin is good for the preservation of Flash games. Yes, technically back then you had to install Flash at some point, but absolutely everyone had Flash so you could send links to games and they could start instantly with no problem. It’s not the same when you have to manually install Lightspark or Newgrounds Player in the modern era. I’m glad to see Ruffle add AS3 support and extend that seamless experience.
Flash might be a huge pain in the ass, but I’m not sure the internet has become a better place since it died. Websites manage to be very boring with HTML. Overall, animated Flash ads might be less annoying than unreadable jumping web pages because they load a million banner ads and notification popups and… they don’t even let you smack a monkey anymore.