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Old 04-18-2017, 02:30 PM
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My family's first PC was a 386 running DOS 5. Learning to master the operating system was fun, but not as fun as the endless library of games I played. Several of them were Sierra adventure games, because my friend let me borrow his bootleg copy of Space Quest III, and that got me hooked on the genre.

Let's discuss DOS Games!
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Old 04-18-2017, 02:33 PM
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Sorry we can't discuss DOS games, the memory managers are configured incorrectly.
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Old 04-18-2017, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Egarwaen View Post
Sorry we can't discuss DOS games, the memory managers are configured incorrectly.
constantly tweaking config.sys and autoexec.bat was not as fun as you remember it being.
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Old 04-18-2017, 02:51 PM
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this was my bread and butter growing up. my dad made everything work, i never really asked how. i was like 6

well, more specifically:

lemmings (everyone knows what lemmings is)
lemmings 2 (i have so much nostalgia for this game, i'm so sad that it always gets passed over in favor of dozens of remakes of the first game)

the castle of dr brain/the island of dr brain - maybe the zenith of edutainment software in my opinion. castle is a bit shortlived since all the solutions are fixed based on difficulty, but island has a bunch of versions of most of the puzzles and approaches everything from algebra and logic to art history in a way that taught me a lot when i was eight years old

sid and al's incredible toons - the slapstick rebrand of incredible machine, basically. my brothers and i never beat it, the last set of levels was...really tricky. i remember making some levels but they were all stupid. actually that was my entire game design ethos when i was younger, but that's probably a topic for another thread.

stuff i remember a bit less fondly - we had a set of three games based on then-current (i guess?) game shows. card sharks, family feud, and classic concentration. i always thought card sharks was dumb and annoying, and family feud was really tough since i'm already not good at it conceptually and the anachronistic parts (even in the mid 90s) were often difficult to overcome. classic concentration was fun enough i guess, but i can't imagine i'd be entertained for more than a round now, and even at the time there were *still* things i would've never understood without asking my mom. (mostly prize names)

also some classic board games. my mom played a cribbage/gin game by the same people as chessmaster for like a million hours. the AI was pretty reasonable i guess. there was checkers too, but i still thought it was pretty boring. chessmaster was cool though, i think we had 2 or 3000
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Old 04-18-2017, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Falselogic View Post
constantly tweaking config.sys and autoexec.bat was not as fun as you remember it being.
After we upgraded from an 8088 to a Pentium 90 (!!!) I remember my dad having binders of print-outs of various versions of those files cross-referenced to work out if it was possible to load XMS, EMS, and Windows 3.1 all at the same time to avoid needing to swap configs and reboot to play different games.

DOS gaming was... Bizarre. It was this weird free-for-all of crazy creativity, brazen copying, and utter trash. There were no good inputs, so everyone just kind of made do, and the nearly-free hardware access meant that the sky was the limit if you had a top-notch engineer, and otherwise you weren't getting off the ground.

Most of my DOS gaming experience was late-era - Doom, Magic Carpet, TIE Fighter, X-Wing, Wing Commander 3/4, Crusader, Warcraft II, Mechwarrior II, and the like. I did get to play some older platformers like Commander Keen, Jazz Jackrabbit, and Duke Nukem, but after having experienced Nintendo's carefully-tuned offerings, the unstable balance of difficulty, level size, and general lack of design meant they didn't ever stick.
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Old 04-18-2017, 02:55 PM
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I want to participate in this thread but I keep getting a stack overflow error.

(Fuck you, TIE Fighter.)
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Old 04-18-2017, 02:56 PM
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I played hundreds of hours of DOSGAMES(.exe) and loved them dearly, but I've found that PC games tend to be really hard to go back to. They would often have amazing graphics, expansive worlds or complex mechanics, but they were almost never polished. Something like the original Super Mario Bros, which does one thing very well, is still fun to replay despite the fact that it's fairly primitive by platformer standards. But all the PC RPGs and sim games with their comparatively fancy graphics and huge missions just feel super clunky today. PC gaming in the early 90s was like living in the future of games, which was cool at the time, but in 2017 I'll almost always go for a console game if I want a retro fix.

There are a few exceptions! DOOM is one of the best games ever made and still plays magnificently nearly 25 years later (oh my god). Heroes of Might and Magic III is one of my favorite strategy games and I don't feel like it was ever improved on substantially. The Quest for Glory games are a great series of semi-open RPG/adventure games with lots of charm and I swear I'm going to replay them all at some point. Prince of Persia, Out of this World and Flashback all got their starts on one kind of computer or another and they're still really fun to play. And who has never lost an entire afternoon to a game of Civilization?

As someone who always had computers in the house (my dad loves the things and has since the early 80s), I've also been exposed to countless shareware and freeware games. There aren't very many that I'd go back to willingly, but I loved sifting through the trash to find the occasional gem and shareware eventually lead to the modern indie game movement, which is awesome. The really weird period is that space in the late 90s/early 2000s when shareware had kind of disappeared, but the great Indie Revival wasn't yet underway. I remember stumbling onto a bunch of neat PC freeware games made by a young Derek Yu, who would eventually go on to mastermind Spelunky. Heck, even the original version of Spelunky kind of fits into that period! But aside from him and (the phenomenal) Cave Story, I can't say that I played a lot of computer indie games between 1995 and 2005. Which I guess is fine, because this thread is about old DOS games, oops.
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Old 04-18-2017, 02:57 PM
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man i totally never even thought about warcraft 2. there were a few things like that, which i only played after getting windows 95 or 98 or whatever even though they were absolutely still dos games

we also had a shareware sokoban for dos. i liked it but i wasn't patient enough for some of the hardest levels
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Old 04-18-2017, 02:59 PM
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I didn't get a PC until college, which would have been... 1996. It was an absolute beast for DOS games, though. Pentium 166 MHz, with 24MB of RAM (that we upgraded to 80MB), and a SBPro/MPU-401 sound card. Cool stuff. It also came with a limited version of Descent II, and one of the early DirectX games, Fury3.

I remember fighting with those AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files a lot. Especially with games that expected there to not be any EMS. Ultima VII and Star Control 2, you had to fight for enough bytes to run them. I never finished the former, but the latter got a ton of playtime. So did Betrayal at Krondor, a game I still need to finish.

I also remember being astoundingly disappointed at the Mega Man PC games, so much so that I ended up returning them. (Young me thought, "Mega Man, it must be good!" Hahaha NOPE.) Ditto the port of Street Fighter II. To Capcom's credit, the port of SSFII Turbo is aces.

Last edited by Sarge; 04-18-2017 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:03 PM
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Zool baby
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:06 PM
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For those of you reading who have no idea what we are talking about when it comes to memory management here is an excellent introduction
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:07 PM
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I wasn't quite young enough, or at least not around old non-Mac PCs enough, as a kid to really have to deal too much with DOS games directly. Generally I launched those sorts of games through, say, Win 3.1. Most of the time they worked quite nicely, though we had a couple BusyTown games that we could never quite seem to get working right with the sound and music together at the same time. One had only music, one had only sound effects. One of the nicest things about DOSBox is how most of those issues can be abstracted away with the power of emulation.
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:12 PM
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Commander Keen 4 and Kiloblaster introduced me to video games.
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:17 PM
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I was 11 or 12 when we got our first computer, a custom built setup with a 486 sometime in '95 or '96. We lived close enough to San Jose that every so often I'd go with my dad to Fry's or Microcenter and dive into the shareware/cheap software bins. I got a CD-ROM disc absolutely loaded with games, most shareware, that I played well into the 2000s. It had stuff like the Commander Keen games and a few weird Wolfenstein and Doom mods.

One game that sticks out in my memory is Command Adventure: Starship. It was like Star Trek! Assemble away teams, ships, and explore the galaxy. After losing the disc, years later I found it in a thrift store but couldn't get it to run on newer hardware.
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:17 PM
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I remember soundblaster wrangling was a real problem for me in the old days. Any time I got a new game it would take a week before I could play it. I remember a weird cludge where if I ran games in Windows 3.1, they would have full sound with terrible color, and if I ran them in DOS they'd have full color but the voice channel wouldn't work. That might have just been my computer, but it was constant.
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:18 PM
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Thanks Buge!

Kyrandia 2 was my jam back in the day. Such great dialogue and music!

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Old 04-18-2017, 03:20 PM
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Seeing a pirated copy of Monkey's Island 2 running on my uncle's PC in 1994 was revelatory for my eleven-year-old self, having only played console games up to that point and having zero exposure to adventure games. The lushness of the VGA graphics coupled with the idea that I had to use a mouse to click on objects/commands made the PC feel like a magical machine that could do just about anything, if you knew how (and I was eager to learn)!
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:22 PM
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When I was very young I remember two extremely funny bits in old DOS games:

1. Plunging directly into the swamp in King's Quest VI. I love the little hand-wave animation that Alexander does as he dies. Utterly hilarious to...was I...four (???) at the time, and still amusing enough to me to want to do it. Oddly, playing it as a slightly older kid and the rather elaborate death sequence kinda freaked me out a bit.

2. Freakin' Funky Fuzzballs, the game that cycles through various amusing strings at the bottom of the screen every time you take damage. IT'S CURTAINS.
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:26 PM
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I couldn't get past the dumbass cat (?) at the beginning of Sam and Mac. Years later, at the turn of the millennium, I got through it with a walkthrough.

All adventure games were inscrutable 2 me. Also remember being stumped by King's Quest VI. Never beat that one. Did fully play through the Laura Bow games later. So many murders!

Remember picking up random games and compilations from like university bookstores as a child.
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:30 PM
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And DOS isn't just for nostalgia -- I played Master of Orion for the first time a month or so ago and thought it was pretty great.
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:36 PM
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It's all about Zeliard and FireHawk.

Well, they were DOS ports of PC-88/MSX games, but still.
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spineshark View Post
also some classic board games. my mom played a cribbage/gin game by the same people as chessmaster for like a million hours. the AI was pretty reasonable i guess. there was checkers too, but i still thought it was pretty boring. chessmaster was cool though, i think we had 2 or 3000
That reminds me of how my dad would constantly play Wolfenstein. Not really any other games, just... Wolfenstein.

Even when Doom came around, it was still Wolfenstein for my dad.
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Old 04-18-2017, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Regulus View Post
It's all about Zeliard and FireHawk.

Well, they were DOS ports of PC-88/MSX games, but still.
Don't forget Silpheed! The first shmup I every played (and beat)
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Old 04-18-2017, 04:57 PM
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You know what was a cool game? Xargon. Very familiar to anyone who played Jill of the Jungle too.
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Old 04-18-2017, 05:44 PM
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The two games I remember playing the most were Conflict, a Middle East simulator, and, of course, Sim City, which was weird when you use a joystick instead of a mouse. Tandy 1000 SX baby.

Still have that computer, and it still works. Go figure.
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Old 04-18-2017, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eishtmo View Post
The two games I remember playing the most were Conflict, a Middle East simulator, and, of course, Sim City, which was weird when you use a joystick instead of a mouse. Tandy 1000 SX baby.

Still have that computer, and it still works. Go figure.
I wish I still had my old Tandy 1000. I loved that thing!
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Old 04-18-2017, 05:52 PM
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The criminally overlooked Star Control and the sequel that deservedly overshadowed it.

NetHack, Rogue, and their ilk.

The Bard's Tale, Wizardry, and Ultima series.

The collective output of Sierra and LucasArts.

The Wing Commander series and Privateer.
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Old 04-18-2017, 06:26 PM
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By the time I first played home computer games, I think we had Windows 98 (maybe 95). But I do remember having some floppy discs with games and that needed to be run through DOS, so I learned how to do that. IIRC I had some weird Mega Man port and then, like, Jazz Jackrabbit?
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Old 04-19-2017, 12:23 AM
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My only real personal DOS game memories are a bit of the original Mechwarrior, XCOM, and a whoooooooole lot of this thing:


And then of course there was the one time I had a chance to start playing that one crazy game whose name I keep forgetting that was basically like an 8-payer simultaneous sci-fi text adventure (with the bulk of the text in little booklets so whoever's not in the hot seat has something to read while waiting for their next turn).
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Old 04-19-2017, 06:04 AM
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I spent a lot of time playing DOS games as a kid, as well as struggling to get them to work. We had a long succession of computers from XT through pentium whatever. I think it was actually pretty much all the same computer with bits upgraded as we went. I'm sure I wasn't the only kid to come up with the ship of Theseus concept because of PCs. Went from hercules to CGA to EGA to VGA. At one point I had a computer with two 20 meg hard drives and a program which compressed everything on them to get extra space at the cost of performance. I think a lot of the games I played came from one of my uncles going on bulletin boards.

Classics for me:

Cavequest:

I printed out the various manuals for this, swallowed the shallow mythology wholesale, and never got anywhere. Years later I did an LP.

Sopwith:

The second greatest dogfighting game of all time (after Intellivision Biplanes (part of Triple Action)).

Scorched Earth:
A brilliant, ridiculous artillery game. Turn explosions up to max, get a shield and some parachutes for when you blow the ground out from under yourself, and get nuking. Had an editable file it pulled quotes from for the tanks to say when shooting at each other, but I'm sure nothing I put in there was as good as "From hell's heart I stab at thee", which came included.

QBasic Gorillas:

Much simpler Scorched Earth style game.

Gods:
Impossible platformer. If you stood on a moving platform you wouldn't move with it, you had to walk at the same speed.

Paratroopers:


Digger:

This is the game I think of whenever anyone talks about DigDug.

Super Solvers: Challenge of the Ancient Empires:

Great platform puzzler. Check out the walking swagger animation.

Alley Cat:

Strange game. You play a stray cat trying to catch mice, birds, and fish while avoiding other cats, dogs, brooms, and electric eels. Also features romance.
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