Throwback Thursday: The Windows Entertainment Pack (AKA Games That Came With Your Computer)

Start -> Accessories -> Games

That was our plan of action every time we sat down in front of any desktop computer. It didn’t involve dialing in to the Internet, so we didn’t have to worry about shutting down the phone lines for a couple of minutes (or let’s be serious – hours). The games were on, like, every single computer at school, the library, our house, or our grandparent’s house, so playing them was almost like a sense of familiarity (for ex: I only had Putt-Putt on the ‘downstairs computer’ at home… and Oregon Trail was only on the computer at school… and you couldn’t install those damn CD-ROMs — or even worse, floppy discs — on just any computer!). The games also never really went anywhere. They weren’t trendy, like the time we played Jetman for a straight month and then completely forgot it ever existed. The games were just always there, waiting for us to play them. And they never got old. Ever.

Believe it or not, these games grouped together had a name: The Microsoft Windows Entertainment Pack (WEP). WEP was a collection of 16-bit computer games for Microsoft Windows (thanks for the definition Wikipedia). The games were very simple, very 90s, and very fun. Here are some of the games you probably played on the daily back in the 90s (and the 2000s… basically up until you got a Mac):

Pipe Dream

In this game you had to connect the ‘pipe’ from one place to the next. The piece of the ‘pipe’ you would get next was shown to the left, so you had to figure out what to do in your head. It was probably too much of a mind fuck for my 8 year old self, but whatevs.

Minesweeper

I actually NEVER understood Minesweeper and I’m not about to start trying to figure it out now. I just thought that little smiley face was so cute. An emoji before emojis. But, like, why was there a smiley face? Was it there simply to cheer people up when they got frustrated because the game made absolutely no sense? I mean, there really was no other reason for it… or was there?

FreeCell

This was one of the many Solitaire-based card games turned virtual computer games in the ‘Windows Entertainment Pack.’ This one had multiple rows of cards that you had to organize up top in 4 piles (which they called ‘foundations) in ascending order from Ace to King in each suit. Next to the 4 foundations piles, there were 4 spaces for ‘free cell’ cards. There you could move cards to when trying to get to a certain card in the rows below. Confusing, yes. But I used to play this game, like, all the time. How pathetic?

JezzBall

When I look at pictures, I remember what JezzBall’s interface looked like… but as for the game, I kind of sort of remember it. Like it’s somewhere in my head… but it’s totally being blocked out by something. Maybe I subconsciously want to forget about it or something. The line that formed would trap the balls. I don’t remember how the balls ‘died’ or how one lost but if you do – please let me know.

Tut’s Tomb

The game with the fish cards! This was yet another solitaire-based game in which I definitely used to play, but now cannot remember how one won a game of ‘Tut’s Tomb.’ This game had an awesome name. But the best part was obv the fishy cards, duh.

Solitaire

A classic. My boyfriend still plays this. Like, he still plays games-that-come-with-the-computer games… and we have Macs. Anyway, the coolest part about old-school solitaire was that you could change the picture on the deck of cards. Other than that, solitaire was pretty effing cliche.

Tetris

Obsessed. I was obsessed. Tetris gave me a rush of excitement/panic every time those weirdly shaped blocks fell from above. Sure we got a preview, but as you moved up levels IT GOT SO DAMN FAST. The worst was when you barely had any room at the top for the shapes to fall, making no time to turn them around to fit somewhere. I literally would sweat when this happened. Anyway, Tetris was and still is one of the coolest effing games out there. I mean, did you see Nolan Ross playing Tetris on Revenge a few weeks ago? It. still. exists.

SkiFree

When playing this game, you were always doomed to lose. First of all, the man on skis went WAY too fast. Like, no one could actually successfully ski that fast and move so quickly. And as easy as it sometimes was to avoid trees, rocks, and that weird rainbow line, that mother fucking monster (AKA the ‘Yeti’ or ‘Abominable Snowman’ who clearly was designed in Paint) was going to eat you no matter what. He never let people win. EVER. Also, HOW did the man on skis fall so quickly after hitting an inanimate object? He did fucking back flips down the mountain. It was ridiculous. Side note: While Google image-ing, I saw someone dressed as the SkiFree Yeti for Halloween… #Awesome.

Chip’s Challenge

I loved Chip’s Challenge. It was my life goal as a 10 year old to defeat all the necessary levels in order to win the game. I never did this, but whatever. Chip was this nerdy kid trying to get chips and make his way to… I don’t know where… across water, fire, ice, and brown stuff. He sometimes had to collect keys to get across certain blocks, other times had to collect water shoes to get across water, and other times had to retrieve ‘fire’ shoes to walk across fire (this could never work in real life). He could also go on the green/black/white arrow blocks to go really fast. IT WAS SO COOL. Keyword: was. However, if I could, I would totally try to defeat all the levels I never got to back in the day. What ever happened to Chip’s Challenge?

There are plenty of other games that came with our computers back in the day… Which ones did you play? I don’t even have a tab for ‘games’ under ‘accessories’ on my computer at work. Where did these games GO? Perhaps I can find them on my brand new Intel Tablet… I bet there’s an app for that.

Samantha Matt

Hi I’m Sam. I made this website in 2011 and it’s still going. My first book, AVERAGE IS THE NEW AWESOME, is coming out in January (you can buy it right now on Amazon or from your fave bookstore!). I like pizza, French fries, barre, spin, more pizza, more French fries, and buying clothes. Writing is fun. Follow me on twitter & Instagram at @samanthamatt1... and on this site's meme account on IG at @20somethingproblems. OKAY GREAT THANKS BYE.

1 Comment
  1. This post is so amazing. Okay, first of all, could anyone ever beat Minesweeper? I couldn’t. Though I didn’t actually know how to play nor did I care to learn. Also, SkiFree was the best! Except when the monster came and ate you right before you got to the bottom. I never realized how ’90s that SkiFree monster was. In my day, he seemed so advanced. He was practically 3D! Ah, how times have changed.

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