Many archival and emulation projects are underway to preserve the wonderful history of Flash games, and best of all are those which try to recreate the original experience: just clicking a link then playing a game inside your browser. Now one unofficial Flash Player emulator is adding support for more classic games, ones made in the (relatively) newfangled ActionScript 3 language. So you can party like it's 2008 by heading over to Newgrounds and playing You Have To Burn The Rope again, as well as Wonderputt and a handful of others.
Open-source Flash Player emulator Ruffle has supported older versions of the Flash programming language, ActionScript, for a while but was unable to play stuff games made in ActionScript 3. Ruffle is a nice emulator because websites can embed it, meaning folks can just click on a link and start playing. Some other Flash emulators require installing a browser plugin. Now, Ruffle is finally introducing partial AS3 support, which will hopefully make many more 'newer' Flash games and things easy to see again.
"Today is a big step forward because it's the beginning of more and more AS3 games being supported by Ruffle!" declared the spiritual home of Flash, Newgrounds. They're starting to test and verify AS3 games which will become playable with this, and have some strong ones out the gate.
Perhaps most notable is You Have To Burn The Rope, a short and silly game whose title explains everything. The Old Guard declared it one of RPS's favourite games of 2008 and I was still pleased revisiting it today. Click here and you can play the post-Portal platformer within seconds, and finish it within minutes.
You can also play Wonderputt, an imaginative minigolf game which still delights. Piece-morphing jigsaw puzzle Not To Scale is playable too. Avoid 'em up Morph is there too (and if you like that, do check out Disc Room, which is now on Game Pass). And ten-second Bible 'em up Run, Jesus Run! kinda works, one visual glitch aside.
Adobe officially killed Flash in January 2021. Ahead of that (and after) many projects sprung up to preserve Flash history through archiving and emulating. Some folks have converted their Flash work to HTML5, but relying on people doing that would see a huge amount get lost (who has the time? who even has the source files?). Archival and emulation projects include Flashpoint, the Flash Game Archive, and Internet Archive's Flash library (which also uses Ruffle). Classic webtoon Homestar Runner switched to Ruffle too. Plus sites like Newground are still around, you know, and people are still making new Flash games.
Flash games were a huge step towards indie games as we now know them, and a lot of Internet culture was built upon Flash cartoons. I'm glad to see it preserved, not just as files in some archive but still watchable and playable.
I do think abolishing the barrier to entry of installing a plugin is good when preserving Flash games. Yeah, technically back in the day you did need to install Flash at some point, but absolutely everyone had Flash so you could send links to games and they'd be able to instantly start, no problem. It's not the same when you need to manually install Lightspark or Newgrounds Player in the modern age. I'm glad to see Ruffle add AS3 support and expand that seamless experience.
Flash could be a huge pain in the bum but I'm not sure the Internet has become a better place since its death. Websites manage to be plenty annoying with HTML. On balance, animated Flash ads might be less annoying than web pages jumping around illegibly as they load a million banner ads and notification popups and... they don't even let you punch a monkey anymore.