The Ultimate Guide to Vimm’s Lair – Classic Games & ROMs

Besides better hardware, freedom to tinker with the game files, and several other things, is what makes PC the most superior platform in gaming is emulation. Emulation on PC is supported for nearly every gaming console that has ever been released. Games released on the GameBoy Advance, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo Entertainment System, ATARI 2600 are all supported via emulation on PC.

The Nintendo Entertainment System is of the most influential consoles of all time | Pexels

Even though we’ve only mentioned a handful of consoles here, at this point nearly all retro titles can be played on PC. Even Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS exclusives can now be played on PC via emulation.

While the emulator software is usually free, the main problem of emulation is obtaining a copy of the game you want to play. Emulators don’t have any pre-installed games, so you’re supposed to get a copy of the game using your own resources. Unfortunately, most retro titles are not available for purchase. So the question remains; where can I get a legit copy of the game I want? The answer: Vimm’s Lair.

What is Vimm’s Lair?

The home page of Vimm’s Lair

Vimm’s Lair is a website; essentially an archive on the Internet, that hosts digital copies, or ROMs, of a large number of retro games and many other classic console games. All ROMs present on Vimm’s Lair are available to download for free; no login or sign-up required. Vimm’s Lair has ROMs for Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, Nintendo GameCube, and more.

Vimm’s Lair also supports online emulation for some old games. This means that you can play the game directly in your browser without downloading it or running any emulator on your PC. It also has a list of emulators that you can choose to download from, a forum for discussing issues and requesting new games, a nostalgic library of color manuals that used to ship with older games and other relevant stuff.

Want to emulate old MS-DOS games and programs on your computer? Follow through to our guide on how to use DOSBox.

The legality of Vimm’s Lair is often a topic of great dispute. Most of the time it comes down to personal opinion. The main argument presented to support the Lair’s legality is that most of the ROMs available on the site, can be classified as abandonware.

Abandonware refers to software no longer supported by its original owners or developers. In order to be classified as abandonware, the software must have no official means of purchase through its owners and have no official support at all. Since most ROMs satisfy these conditions, they are included in the abandonware category.

Many retro games like Wolfenstein 3D are considered abandonware

However, being classified as abandonware does not mean that the software’s copyrights and ownership have expired. The distribution of abandonware is illegal, therefore the owners have the right to take the matter to a court of law, although legal disputes over abandonware rarely happen.

On the other hand, if the abandonware is being distributed for profit, chances are the distributor will find a whole team of corporate lawyers breathing down their neck (looking at you, Nintendo), such as in the case of PortalROMs. This profit is usually earned through ad-revenue. Hence, for the majority of gamers, Vimm’s Lair lingers in a grey area in terms of legality, as the site has minimal ads.

Portal ROMs was once one of the most popular ROM sites around

Another argument presented to counter the Lair’s legality is that not all ROMs are available to download. Download links for some ROMs have been removed by the relevant authorities. This means that the copyrights owners are fully aware of the site’s existence and allow it to operate freely. Thus, many believe that Vimm’s Lair has been given a free pass by the corporations and is okay to use.

Is Vimm’s Lair Safe?

What makes Vimm’s Lair stand out from all the other ROM sites is its active moderation and security. All ROMs present on Vimm’s Lair are scanned for any malicious content before being put up for downloading by active moderators. The chances of downloading a virus or malware from Vimm’s Lair are minimal when compared to other ROM sites.

You can scan the download link of any ROMs or scan the downloaded ROMs through VirusTotal to check for any malicious content, if you’re still having doubts.

Scanning for viruses in a download link from Vimm’s Lair

Consequences of Using Vimm’s Lair

Realistically speaking, there are no consequences of using Vimm’s Lair. Many gamers cite Vimm’s Lair as their primary source of ROMs, and they’ve never faced any issues. It’s secure, actively moderated, and requires no sign-up/login process. But taking the legality of Vimm’s Lair into account, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure to use a VPN while downloading to protect your privacy.

If you want to enjoy PC games within the comfort of your lap, check out our comprehensive guide on how to play PC games on Android.

How to Download ROMs from Vimm’s Lair

To download ROMs from Vimm’s Lair, follow the instructions below:

  1. Firstly, head on over to Vimm’s Lair. On the homepage, select The Vault.
    Select “The Vault”
  2. Consequently, a list of consoles will appear. Choose the appropriate console, based on the game you’re trying to find. We’ll be choosing Game Boy Advance.

    Choose the appropriate console based on the game you’re trying to find
  3. Now, several lists consisting of the most popular games sorted according to their ratings will show up. If the game you want is present on one of these lists, click on it. If it’s not present, you can make use of the Search bar situated towards the top-right.
    If you don’t find your choice of game in the lists, use the “Search” bar
  4. Once you’ve found your choice of game and selected it, its page should open. Click on Download to begin downloading the ROM file.
    Click “Download” to begin downloading the game ROM

Playing Games On Vimm’s Lair

As we’ve mentioned previously, some titles can be played directly on Vimm’s Lair. Since this feature only works on games of select consoles, particularly older ones, it’s necessary that you choose games belonging to a console satisfying these requirements. To play games directly on Vimm’s Lair, follow these instructions:

  1. Firstly, open up The Vault. Choose Game Boy Advance.
    Click on “Game Boy Advance”
  2. Upon clicking, several lists consisting multiple games should appear. Click on any game that you like, or use the Search bar. We’ll be choosing Pokémon: Emerald Version.
    If you don’t find your choice of game in the lists, use the “Search” bar
  3. On the game’s page, there will be a button labelled Play Online. Click on it.
    Click on “Play Online”
  4. Now, the page will reload to prepare the online emulator. Click on the PLAY NOW button displayed on the cutout.
    Click on “PLAY NOW”
  5. Finally, the game will begin booting up after a few seconds. Additionally, you can change the keybinds freely and configure some other settings too.
    Playing Pokémon: Emerald Version online on Vimm’s Lair


When it comes to ROM sites, you can’t get anything better than Vimm’s Layer. Secure, minimal ads, online emulation and active moderation, make it one of the best sites to exist. However, many users are dissatisfied with download speeds they experience on Vimm’s Lair. Although not overly troublesome, this can become a big issue when downloading larger ROMs belonging to consoles such as the PlayStation 3.

So, here are some alternatives to Vimm’s Layer:

1. The ROM Depot

The ROM Depot is a great alternative to Vimm’s Lair. With a much larger archive, more ROMs for more consoles, more manuals, soundtracks, no ads, and safe download links, the ROM Depot is a worthy replacement for Vimm’s Lair. It has a small sign-up process, that doesn’t take too long and it’s in place to prevent prevents bots from entering the site.

The ROM Depot also allows you to upload your own ROMs, if you own a copy of the game. The interface is smooth and very easy to operate. There’s also a forum for discussion and an official Discord for getting the latest updates.

The home page of The ROM Depot

2. CDRomance

CDRomance is another great site to get ROMs. Although it lacks ROMs for some consoles, it makes up for it with fan-made translations and fan-made games. Nonetheless, CDRomance is sure to meet your demand of retro games. It also has BIOS files that are required by some emulators. The site is simple enough for any one to use and does not require you to create an account. However, there are ads.

CDRomance’s home page
Interested in more awesome alternatives to popular sites, services and platforms? See our ranked lists on the best Imgur, Photoshop and Pastebin alternatives available in 2023.

Vimm’s Lair – FAQs

Q. What console libraries are available on Vimm’s Lair?

Vimm’s Lair has a game library for many different consoles, The complete list of consoles is:

  • Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
  • SEGA Master System
  • SEGA Genesis
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)
  • SEGA Saturn
  • PlayStation
  • Nintendo 64
  • SEGA Dreamcast
  • PlayStation 2
  • Xbox
  • Nintendo GameCube
  • Xbox 360
  • PlayStation 3
  • Nintendo Wii
  • WiiWare
  • Nintendo Game Boy
  • Nintendo Virtual Boy
  • Nintendo Game Boy Color
  • Nintendo Game Boy Advance
  • Nintendo DS
  • PlayStation Portable

Q. Is every console library complete?

Unfortunately, no. The PlayStation, SEGA Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable libraries are still incomplete but steadily, more and more games are being added.

Q. Does Vimm’s Lair provide emulators?

Yes. Vimm’s Lair provides download links for various emulators. Depending on the console you’re trying to emulate, different emulators for several platforms may be available. You can find the complete list of emulators available to download on the Emulation Lair.

Emulators available on Emulation Lair

Q. What should I do if I want to request a game that’s not available?

If you can’t find a game you want on the Vault, you can head on over to the ROM Request Board section of the Message Board. Although, it is likely that the game has already been requested by another person. Still, you can check when the game is expected to be put up and available for download.

Q. Why are there no ROMs for more modern consoles?

To avoid legal issues, Vimm’s Lair does not include most modern systems. As stated in the FAQs section of Vimm’s Lair:

Vimm’s Lair will never carry ROMs or ISOs for any system still in production. Please show your support for the games you love and purchase them from a store near you. Systems must be at least two generations old to be considered for The Vault, and new Vaults will not be announced in advance.

A Haven of Emulation

Vimm’s Lair is one of the oldest sites around; it’s been around since 1997. Even Vimm, the owner, pops up from time to time in the forums to answer some queries and take part in discussions. For many, the site itself is nostalgic, and that’s why it has such a stellar reputation. It’s simple interface allows one to get their choice of ROMs, all without the hassle of any login/sign-up process.

It’s a miracle that Vimm’s Lair is still standing to this day; especially after Nintendo’s aggressive crackdown on ROM websites. The fact that Vimm’s Lair still stands to this day is a testament to how capable the site owners and maintainers are. It’s safe to say that Vimm’s Lair will continue standing long after we’re gone and truly become a digital museum.


Huzaifa Haroon

Born and raised around computers, Huzaifa is an avid gamer and a keyboard enthusiast. When he's not solving the mysteries of technology, you can find him scrutinizing writers, striving to inform the curious.