Windows 95, Microsoft's new operating system, will make a big difference to games-playing on the PC.

PC games usually run on DOS, which means they often have to be installed by typing in computer code, a complicated and unreliable process. With Windows 95, games become "plug and play", making a PC no more complicated to operate than a Nintendo console. It also enhances graphics and speed, and makes it easier for players to compete across networks or on the Internet.

Officially there will be about 70 "native" titles launched for Windows 95 before Christmas, but there will be many more to choose from because Windows 95 offers "backwards compatibility", so a number of existing games will play on it as they stand. Here are some games to look out for:

Hyperblade (Activision). In this highly original combat/sports hybrid, players take on the role of speed skaters racing and fighting around a 3-D half-tunnel.

Super Bubsy (Accolade). Games like this show that the PC now has the "engine" to match the speed and graphics of the best console machines. This high-speed platformer from the Sonic school of cute action games is based on the adventures of a high-speed rabbit. Accolade says it is 10 times faster than most regular Windows games.

Command and Conquer (Virgin). This war/strategy game was a big hit when originally released in October. It already runs under Windows 95, but a "native" game is being developed which will improve the network capability so that fans can play each other across the world via modems.

The Elk Moon Murder (Activision). As video footage has been worked into computer games, so a genre has been born. The role-playing whodunnit places the player in the position of the investigator who interviews "real" actors and actresses. This, scripted by Sam "Northern Exposure" Egan, is one such mystery, based on a brutal murder in Santa Fe.

The Dig (LucasArts). This strategy game based on an idea by Steven Spielberg, in which space archaeologists become trapped on an alien planet, is finally scheduled after nearly two years of hype. Spielberg wanted to combine the mystery of Forbidden Planet with the humanity of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Sean Clark, the producer, says Spielberg is a games addict who can often be found hanging around the LucasArts studios.

Rebel Assault II (LucasArts). The first Rebel Assault, an arcade game based on the characters and scenarios of the Star Wars films, sold 1.5 million copies. This long-awaited sequel is based on an original story, and includes live-action video featuring props from the films. The player assumes the guise of Rookie One and pilots Starfighters and speeder bikes in battle against Imperial forces.

Havoc (Reality Bytes). A driving game designed for networked multi-play, this noisy title boasts 3-D hardware acceleration and delivers a vivid post-apocalyptic terrain. Reality Bytes says it was the first native Windows 95 game to be finished. Havoc packs will include two discs so that two players can instantly compete on their own machines. Windows users can even play Mac users.

DOGZ (VIE). Nothing very Windows 95 specific about this unique little title, but it certainly attracts attention whenever it is previewed. DOGZ gives the player, in effect, a virtual canine. Once you have chosen your puppy, you can teach it tricks, tickle its tum, feed it, even give it a good hiding. Your four-legged friend is free to scamper across the file you are working on. Alternatively, you can put Fido/Shandy/Prince inside his own window. It sounds sad, but apparently children cry when he is erased from the hard drive.

The Indian in the Cupboard (Viacom). As the games division of the corporation that also owns Paramount Pictures, Viacom New Media often develops movie tie-ins. Here is another. The Indian in the Cupboard is an acclaimed family film (with a cameo from Steve Coogan) about a boy whose toys come to life. This interactive CD is designed to teach children about other cultures, particularly native American, with a simple point-and-click interface.

The Hive (Funsoft). Mutant bees threaten the galaxy, their "honey" treasured by the evil Noir Dyne Corporation as a chemical weapon. The player takes the battle to them across numerous settings, from deep space to an ice planet. There's been a definite buzz about this one. One reason is the so-called "panoractive" gameplay, which allows the play to move through 360 degrees from a fixed position.

Ice & Fire (GT). Nearly a decade ago two Russian scientists fiddled about with their primitive computers and came up with Tetris, the addictive electronic puzzle that became a popular video game. Now the Russian duo work in the United States. Their latest release is Ice & Fire, an adventure game riddled with puzzles and secrets. The task is to unfreeze crystals on an ice planet.

Return of Arcade (Microsoft). The consumer-friendliness of Windows 95 has prompted publishers to play a familiar card: crank out a load of old "classics" and tout them as new, improved versions. Microsoft's Return of Arcade collection features those gems of every misspent youth, Pac Man, Dig Dug, Pole Position and Galaxian.