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A Retrospective on CoolMath Games

Graphic: CoolMath

Adobe Flash is going to die soon. This isn’t news: that article I just linked was published nearly two years ago, and it hasn’t stopped being true since. We still have until the end of 2020 before it’s gone for good, but once that date passes, well, so will Flash.

This might not seem like a big deal to many of you. After all, most websites these days, like YouTube, use HTML 5 for everything fancier than raw text, and the differences between HTML 5 and Flash are so minor that a guy like me who thinks that HTML kinda counts as a programming language can’t tell the difference at first glance.

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But the thing is, Flash has a history. Before we were able to download quality free-to-play games directly onto our smartphones, we had games on the internet.

By “games on the Internet”, I of course mean “CoolMathGames.com”.

Cool Math Games is one of the old antiquities of the internet, if you consider the early 2000s to be “old”. Despite the name, it doesn’t really have any focus on mathematics or any sort of education (go to CoolMath.com and CoolMath4Kids.com for that), instead acting as a showcase for hundreds of simple video games, designed to be played right in your browser.

There’s platformers like Run, puzzle games like Christmas Cat, and other more experimental stuff like Clicker Heroes and There Is No Game—all hosted on this site for free. CoolMathGames was basically the same as AddictingGames, with the added bonus of being specifically targeted towards kids, and of course kids were able to convince their parents that the games were educational because, hey, the word “math” was right there in the title!

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But in about 18 months, all of those games will be gone.

To my knowledge, CoolMath has not published any sort of notice or blog post that says that their site will be taken down. But the simple fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of games on this site use Flash, and for all its coolness, CoolMath is not bigger than Adobe, so when Adobe pulls the plug on There Is No Game, there’s nothing that CoolMath can do to ensure that it’s around for future generations.

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Sure, there will be archival ambitions among aficionados to ensure that many of these games don’t completely vanish, but they will no longer be easily accessible.

Which is why I want to pay tribute to them before they vanish.

Every week, I plan to publish a retrospective on one random game from CoolMathGames’ website, writing about how the game plays, my memories of the game, how much they hold up, etc. Some will be good, some will be bad, but all of them were a key part of exploring what was possible on the internet before we all grew up and started yelling at idiots on Twitter.

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