After a decades-long run, the Flash software platform was finally discontinued by Adobe on December 31, 2020. Gone but never forgotten, Flash made a permanent impression on those who grew up in the Wild West of the early internet. From Homestar Runner to Mr. Salad Fingers, Flash was the program of choice for esoteric, homebrew animation.  

Flash also formed the bones of many websites to give users a more fun and interactive experience. If you visited the online homes for Cartoon Network, Nike, and Motorola in the early 2000s, you were experiencing Flash. 

But arguably, the medium that benefited the most from Flash’s feature set was video games. Old Flash games form essential core memories for gamers of a certain age. Small teams and individuals could make games with Flash and then post them on the internet for people to download or play directly from a web browser.  

As is usually the case when anyone can make anything, users produced thousands of 2000’s Flash games — and their quality varied widely. However, there were undoubtedly numerous diamonds in the rough over the years. With Flash now a thing of the past, it’s finally possible to determine the best Flash games ever made. 


The 10 Best Flash Games of All Time

What Are Flash Games? 

In the simplest terms, Flash games are those created in and run through the program, Flash. Originally designed for animations and web graphics, Flash became a viable method for creating games in 2000 when then-owner Macromedia gave Flash its own programming language called ActionScript.  

Suddenly, Flash went from being animation software to a game developer tool. One of the most important attributes of Flash was that there were no concerns about cross-platform compatibility. Creating something in Flash meant it would work on any device that could run Flash. 

The same year Flash got its own programming language was also the first year for the Newgrounds website, which was the first dedicated to the proliferation of Flash games. All users had to do was post their game to the site, and it would be published.  

Unlike AAA games from big developers, players didn’t need powerful hardware or dedicated game machines. A user could hop on just about any computer and play the most engaging, not to mention addictive, flash games 2000s-era aspiring game developers could muster.  

The games crossed every genre, too. Whether a gamer preferred platformers, racing games, or point-and-click titles, there was bound to be an option for them. The games were easy to learn, started quickly, and got into the action fast.  

There’s a certain aesthetic that permeates Flash games, too. They generally look simple, even to the point of being crude and hand-drawn. But this “homemade” feel gives the games their charm. 


What Happened to Flash Games? 

So if Flash offered such a low bar for entry and there were so many iconic Flash games, how did they disappear from the landscape? While the answer is multi-faceted, it largely comes down to three factors. 

First, in 2008, Adobe (which bought Macromedia in 2005) released Adobe Integrated Runtime (Adobe AIR). This program featured capabilities that Flash didn’t have, such as direct support for gamepads and joysticks. In other words, other programs were beginning to usurp Flash’s unique properties and provide superior functionality. 

Second, Steve Jobs disliked Flash because of its security issues and battery drainage. In response, he vowed that Apple iPhones and iPads wouldn’t support the program, as cited in Jobs’s famous “Thoughts on Flash” letter from 2010. 

Third, the issue of “breaking the back button” contributed to Flash’s downfall. In other words, if users had navigated a Flash-based website and then hit the back button, they would be thrown back to the previous site they visited. This made the experience frustrating, and websites began to abandon Flash to improve navigation. 

Between the limitations inherent in Flash and the advancements made in other programs — not to mention the lack of support on hugely popular Apple devices — Adobe decided in 2011 to stop developing Flash and discontinued Android support. It limped on through 2017 when Adobe announced that Flash would be discontinued entirely by the end of 2020. 

Unfortunately, once Flash went away, so did many of the best old Flash games. Thankfully, due to enthusiasm from gamers, many old titles can be played through modern emulators on the internet using Ruffle. Some of the most famous Flash games even saw release on other platforms as standalone games. These preservation efforts are necessary to ensure that future gamers can enjoy the best Flash games of all time. 


10 Best Flash Games of All Time 

If you were young in the late 1990s, chances are that this won’t just be an old Flash games list but rather a catalog representing a sizable chunk of your formative years. There is necessarily some subjectivity here, and your personal Top 10 Flash Games list may vary. But these games racked up millions of plays, and any Flash gaming enthusiast will recognize these titles as representative of the medium. This list counts down iconic Flash games in descending order, revealing the best game from this era.

10.The Impossible Quiz

Let’s say you were the kind of gamer who thought LucasArts adventure games and Myst were too straightforward. You will finally meet your match with The Impossible Quiz. As the title implies, the game is a quiz where the “right” answer was nearly impossible to achieve without some serious lateral thinking.  

Some examples include “What flavor is cardboard?”, “Can you get this question wrong?” and a question where you have to figure out the square root of the word “Onion.” While you can find plenty of sites that list all the answers, what makes The Impossible Quiz so compelling is that players must use their memory to get to the end, having answered all 110 questions. 


9. Fireboy & Watergirl

This co-op platformer is a rare two-player game that uses a single keyboard. Players must escape a temple by solving puzzles, navigating obstacles, and collecting diamonds while keeping Fireboy out of the water and Watergirl out of the fire.  

While it’s possible to play it alone, the game is designed with two people in mind, and some puzzles are nearly impossible without a second player. What’s impressive is that there are 32 levels in the first game alone and 6 games in the series, with the latest released in 2023.  


8. Fancy Pants Adventure

Some Flash games transcended the medium to ascend to greater heights, and there may be no better example than Fancy Pants Adventure. The first game is a straightforward platformer with slides and wall jumps. Despite its simple appearance, it plays with an astonishing level of polish.  

This game was such a landmark Flash title that it spawned a series of games culminating in The Fancy Pants Adventures, also known as The Fancy Pants Adventures World 3. It was published by EA 2D for the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. 


7. Epic Battle Fantasy

Those who want a bit more depth from their Flash gaming experience will likely gravitate toward the Epic Battle Fantasy series. Don’t expect a serious tone; the games are chock-full of juvenile humor and anime references.  

These games are RPGs in the truest sense and liberally borrow from Final Fantasy. That means turn-based action, juggling inventory items, and balancing a roster of playable characters. Initially available on Newgrounds, later releases found their way to Steam where they continue to receive hugely positive reviews.  


6. Super Smash Flash

What do you do when you want to play Super Smash Brothers but don’t own the required Nintendo consoles? You can simply boot up your mid-2000s beige Dell desktop, head to Newgrounds, and play Super Smash Flash.  

While it’s not a direct clone, the game takes the core concept of having multiple video game characters try to knock each other off a platform and recreates it in Flash. Thanks to an utter lack of intellectual property barriers, the game even features characters not seen in the official Super Smash Brothers, such as Ubisoft’s Rayman and anime/manga character Naruto. Publisher McLeodGaming is currently working on Super Smash Flash 2, which is in beta right now. 


5. Portal: The Flash Version

Speaking of remaking mainstream games in Flash, We Create Stuff somehow managed to distill the physics-heavy Valve classic Portal into a Flash game. While it isn’t first-person, the translation to side-scroller is quite seamless.  

Like many “demakes,” this version of the game is the product of a couple of fans who wanted to pay homage to a bonafide classic. Despite the loss of a dimension and deconstructed visuals, it’s shockingly faithful and even features the big boss battle against the malevolent AI GLaDOS. 


4. Bloons Tower Defense

There’s nothing like a good old tower defense game to create a compelling gameplay loop. In Bloons Tower Defense, the player uses monkey-themed towers to protect a defense point against balloons (or “bloons”). To stay ahead of the ever-increasing number of balloons, the monkey towers are upgradable. This process culminates in the Super Monkey, the ideal weapon against the bloons.  

There are 6 entries in the series now, with the 3-dimensional Bloons TD 6 now available on Steam. But for the ultimate waves of nostalgia endorphins, the original delivers satisfaction. 


3. Crush the Castle

Before there were Angry Birds, there was Crush the Castle. The premise is simple: users controlled an invading army and its trebuchet to launch projectiles, ranging from simple rocks to Greek fire and electric eels, toward a castle.  

As the title implies, the castle contained enemy characters and must be crushed. The game even included a level editor to enhance replayability and customization. While Angry Birds would go on to massive fame and fortune, Crush the Castle has largely been forgotten. And unless you have a machine capable of running Flash, playing it on modern hardware is quite difficult. 


2. The Helicopter Game

You will need serious gaming chops to master The Helicopter Game. It’s akin to Flappy Bird since it was developed by the people who made Battletoads. It offers dead simple controls that require intense timing and precision to master.  

The game involves a side-scrolling helicopter flying through a narrow path defined by an undulating green ceiling and floor. Along this path are green pillars that players must avoid. The game records distance the way other games record high scores, but The Helicopter Game has no real end. Players must simply survive for as long as possible.  


1. Super Mario 63

Yes, fans made not one but two Flash-based Nintendo properties that have achieved legendary status. But Super Mario 63 is far more than just “Super Mario 64-1.” It’s actually a mashup of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Mario Sunshine.  

Interestingly, even though the game is based on the 3D Mario games, it is a side-scroller, and the visuals are much more stripped down. Don’t think that makes Super Mario 63 a lesser experience — this game is impressively and lovingly crafted. The level design is thoughtful, and the sound design makes use of quality effects and music. There’s even an engaging story to follow to keep you coming back for more. 


Play Free Games Online With Arkadium 

Keeping the spirit of Flash games alive is a blast from the past in today’s world of long, graphically intense, and often expensive games. The ethos of Flash games was to give players an enjoyable experience that didn’t require powerful hardware or hundreds of hours of spare time to dedicate to a single game. That very ideology is what drives us at Arkadium. 

Flash may be gone, but the joy of these games is alive and well. At Arkadium, you’ll find gameplay experiences that take you right back to the golden age of Flash gaming. Arkadium features arcade classics as well as strategy, puzzle, car, and single-player and multiplayer games.  

We are also proud to offer a massive roster of free online games. If you miss the thrill you got from your favorite Flash games back in the day, you can reunite with them at Arkadium.