Guides to jumpstart your Retrogaming lifestyle
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CRTGAMER
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DOSBox Guide - Run DOS Games in Windows

by CRTGAMER Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:21 pm

DOSBox Guide - Run DOS Games in Windows

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DOSBox is a freeware utilty for running original DOS programs and notably the huge library of DOS games on a modern PC. The vintage CGA, EGA, VGA and SVGA DOS games all run just fine. There are Windows, Mac and Linux versions of DOSBox. This Guide covers the Windows version; similar steps can be applied for other operating systems.

CRTGAMER wrote: :idea: Original DOS Hard Drive Installs
How many here backed up all their DOS Floppy and CD disc hard drive install folders to CDRs when moving up to newer Windows PC? The DOS games can easily be dumped to current PC hard drive and ran thru DOSBox. If that old DOS hard drive still around, pop it in an external USB enclosure and dump those folders! Some enclosures can accommodate removable drive trays making for easier swap of multiple hard drives. Even if a modern laptop, a USB enclosure just fine for transferring folders from the vintage IDE drives.

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Some folder names easily recognized from decades ago. :mrgreen:

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Download-Install-Configure DOSBox
The current version for Windows is DOSBox 0.74 and is freeware. Go to the site download and install.

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DOSBox 0.74 - https://www.dosbox.com/information.php?page=0

DOSBox Game Compatibility List - https://www.dosbox.com/comp_list.php?letter=a


CRTGAMER wrote:DOSBox is easy to download, install and setup. After install, a simple matter of creating a folder or two and editing in a few lines in the DOSBox configuration file. Though DOS is remembered as command line based, there are easy to use Menu interface programs that can be setup as the automatic start program. I use a vintage DOS based menu utility called Power Menu by Brown bag software. This removes having to use the command line interface, yet easy to jump into the DOS prompt as an option.

1. In Windows, create "C:\DOS" in the root of the hard drive.

2. Install DOSBox; the default install which is fine will be under the Program Files (x86) directory.

3. Copy games into C:\DOS folder creating subfolders for each game.

4. Modify the DOSBox "dosbox-0.74.conf.txt" file under the [autoexc] section, adding text.
-- Add text to mount your virtual created hard drive DOS folder
-- A virtual floppy drive folder can be mounted as well
-- Add disc reader drive letter using the -t command
-- If needed mount USB drive using the -t command
-- Add the Dos based Menu at the last line as the start program.

5. To switch DOSBox to display in full screen press ALT ENTER.
-- or edit the "dosbox-0.74 conf.txt" file: fullscreen=true

6. Use the menu program running in DOSBox and add in your DOS games.

DOS Box Power Menu.JPG
DOS Box Power Menu.JPG (166.57 KiB) Viewed 10681 times

Sound Drivers and Memory
I had my DOS PC setup with multiple boot in the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files to boot different HIMEM and EMS memory configurations dependent on what the game would need. Sometimes the Sound Card IRQs would give headaches when a game needed an IRQ of 10 instead of the more common 5 or 7.

DOSBox makes all the memory and sound configurations seamless. Various soundcards including Adlib, Gravis and Soundblaster as well as the various memory all automatically selected. No more worries if Protect Mode memory used or not.

DOS Menu vs Windows GUI
For me, using a DOS native Menu program adds to nostalgia and keeping everything inside DOSBox. Power Menu, Games and Utility folders all copied direct from my original DOS 6.22 hard drive installs. Since the menu is running inside DOSBox, an easy quick keyboard entry update as I add more game folders from my CDR DOS hard drive backup discs.

I like Power menu; the colors can all be custom changed. A game easily loaded by pressing number or first letter or by using cursor keys and press enter. The escape key backs up to previous popup box in the menu and function keys bring up different utilities.

Power Menu - http://vetusware.com/download/PowerMenu%205.30/?id=11300

Other DOS Menus - http://www.bttr-software.de/freesoft/menu.htm


There are also Windows front ends with some even Java based that load and run DOSBox when a game is selected. These offer a clean GUI and can include screenshots and descriptions. More involved and as in spreadsheets, only as powerful of what you take the time to put in. The GUI interface run outside of DOSBox which slows swapping between games vs a menu directly running inside DOSBox. Power Menu reloads quickly when a game is exited all at full screen inside DOSBox. This simulates as if the modern PC is a full DOS computer. An easy exit to Windows by press ESC and typing in exit or Alt Enter and close the box.

DOSBox Windows GUI Frontends - https://www.dosbox.com/wiki/DOSBoxFrontends

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DOSBox vs GOG
So why bother with DOSBox when many of the games are patched to run directly in Windows and sold as a download in sites such as GOG? There are many gems that have not been converted and treasures to discover. Sometimes the old PC CD Games can be found at Thrift Stores hidden with the Music CDs. There are also various DOS archive sites with Abandonware DOS games.

8) The screenshots below are captured in Windowed DOSBox, all can run at full screen even set to widescreen on modern PCs.

Tempest 2000 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempest_2000
Play the DOS classic Arcade remake that also came out on the Jaguar and PS1.

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Jazz Jack Rabbit - https://www.epicgames.com/community?tag=jazz%20jackrabbit
Nintendo is synonymous with Mario; DOS also have great platformers such as Jill of the Jungle and Jazz Jack Rabbit.

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In addition to games there are also Demos and Utilities that have not been upgraded to Windows.

Star Wars Making Magic - http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Wars:_Making_Magic
DOS Based Encyclopedias long forgotten surpassed by web sites. Some treasures lost footage waiting to be rediscovered.

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:idea: DOS 6.22 Folder - XTree Pro DOS Utility - http://www.xtreefanpage.org/lowres/x30vers.htm
Dive into the virtual hard drive set by DOSBox. Along with List.Com this was my handy drive utility back in the day. No worries if accidentally deleting anything, Windows directories not affected. Note the DOS folder which includes all the files of the original DOS 6.22. This makes DOSBox even better when going to the command prompt. All the DOS commands available as if on a retro DOS PC.

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Future Crew Unreal Demo - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Reality
Graphics, sounds and music DOS "Screensaver" Demos were once popular; Future Crew Unreal and 2nd Reality the best.

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Emulation - Home Consoles, 8 Bit Computers and Arcade
There are numerous emulators worth investigating. Callus, Raine, Sparcade, System 16, TG16 Magic Engine and others. The DOS version of Mame has a better scanline option spacing matching the Arcade games in the lower native resolution simulating the old CRT monitors. The great Retrocade is unique offering a good mix of Arcade games with a sweet front end interface all running in DOS.

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Precision Approach - http://www.racketboy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=588025#p588025
Decades ago, I moved up to a 3DFX video card on my VA503+ with AMD 550mhz PC which had a hard drive enclosure for swapping out Windows XP and DOS PC drives. That retro PC had the fastest chip available under the vintage AT board layout with real power switch in front instead of a soft sleep switch. A steel cased desktop that started out as a 386SX to 486DX66 to the final upgrade of 550mhz, an amazing decades run on the same outer shell.

Super Socket 7 AMD K6-2 550mhz - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_K6-2

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This high res EGA game no longer would display correctly with the at the time newer 3DFX video card back then. Under DOSBox with new modern current DirectX video card no issues, nice to rediscover the Space Shuttle Sim again.

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Play Keyboard Control DOS Games with USB Game Controller
Since Windows is in the background, any USB controller can also be used, DOSBox offers full support. The USB Mouse is also supported. For keyboard controlled games, these too can utilize a controller by having JoyToKey or JoyCursor running before opening DOSBox fullscreen. The Mame default key settings work well for most DOS games that use the CURSOR, SPACE ALT and CTRL keys.

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To complete the retro to DOS, even vintage Gameport Flightsticks and Gamepads can be used.

Gameport Controllers in a USB Port - JoyToKey - JoyCursor
http://www.racketboy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=646565#p646565


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CRTGAMER
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Re: DOSBox Guide - Run DOS Games in Windows

by CRTGAMER Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:14 am

Tanooki wrote:Well I found a similar note and tried Quake yesterday. It appears the stock 320x200 works and one step up to 640x400 too smooth, but anything else over/under that's not a direct variable of that specific ratio slows down through a slide show chug. Seems it's a problem with Dosbox and how it plays not nice with the game or some dumb reason.

1. Some video modes in Quake not compatible in DOSBox and your specific video card. Be sure to play at full screen (alt enter) for the best speed. You can also set the default to full screen, see the OP above.

2. Which version DOSBox are you running? I'm not sure if the newer betas have unique issues, but I have no issue with the official release. Even though a few years since any update, the official DOSBox 0.74 is solid.

3. Specifications of your PC, speed and memory? For comparison I run DOSBox on an older Windows 7 laptop 2.27ghz with 4gb ram. Not a slug, but not groundbreaking power for newest games.

4. Be sure the sound card IRQ, DMA, etc. defaults are set in the "dosbox-0.74.conf.txt" file and avoid enabling duplicate virtual soundcards. For example, the Future Crew Demo mentioned in the OP has better sound thru the Gravis Ultra sound card. The demo runs fine with both Soundblaster and Gravis cards enabled. However, Quake will not have sounds due to detection conflict of both virtual sound cards enabled. I turned off the Gravis sound card in DosBox settings and now Quake has full sound.

Quake Bat file with cheat info
@ECHO OFF
REM ECHO.
REM PAUSE
CLS
ECHO QUAKE CHEAT COMMANDS
ECHO -------------------------------
ECHO Enter cheats at console ( ~ )
ECHO -------------------------------
ECHO FLY = Go Up Flying
ECHO GIVE # = Weapon of That Number
ECHO GIVE C# = Give Cells
ECHO GIVE H# = Give Health
ECHO GIVE N# = Give Nails
ECHO GIVE R# = Give Rockets
ECHO GIVE S# = Give Shells
ECHO GOD = God Invincible Mode
ECHO IMPULSE 9 = Weapons and Keys
ECHO IMPULES 11 = Rune Cheat
ECHO IMPULSE 255 = Quad Damage
ECHO KILL = Commit Suicide
ECHO NOCLIP = Go Through Walls
ECHO NOTARGET = Monsters Wont Target
ECHO MAP E#M# = Warp To Level Number
ECHO SV_GRAVITY ### = Gravity Number
ECHO -------------------------------
PAUSE
CLS
ECHO QUAKE CD MUSIC CONTROLS
ECHO -------------------------------
ECHO Enter commands at console ( ~ )
ECHO -------------------------------
ECHO CD EJECT = Eject the CD
ECHO CD INFO = CD Information
ECHO CD LOOP # = Continue Track #
ECHO CD OFF = Turn Player Off
ECHO CD ON = Turn Player Back On
ECHO CD PLAY # = Play Track #
ECHO CD STOP = Stop Playing
ECHO CD RESET = Resets CD Player
ECHO CD RESUME = Resume Playing
ECHO CD REMAP 2 5 7 = Remaps Tracks
ECHO -------------------------------
PAUSE
:0
CLS
ECHO QUAKE
ECHO ----------------------------
ECHO Press (1) for Original Quake
ECHO Press (2) for Aliens Quake
ECHO Press (X) to exit Quake game
ECHO ----------------------------
CHOICE/C:12X
IF ERRORLEVEL 3 GOTO X
IF ERRORLEVEL 2 GOTO 2
IF ERRORLEVEL 1 GOTO 1
:1
QUAKE.EXE +MAP
ECHO.
PAUSE
GOTO 0
:2
QUAKE.EXE -game aliens +map
ECHO.
PAUSE
GOTO 0
:X
ECHO.
DOSBox 0.74 - Quake 1.06 set at 1024x768

Quake runs full speed in DOSBox with the game resolution set at 1024x768. Though my laptop is widescreen, all "4:3" games are set to stretch and full screen. Quake in DOSBox when set to full screen (not windowed) fills the screen and runs at full speed.

DOSBox Quake Settings.JPG
DOSBox Quake Settings.JPG (123.42 KiB) Viewed 10525 times
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Re: DOSBox Guide - Run DOS Games in Windows

by Jagosaurus Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:49 pm

I'm a big fan of DOSbox, but I have run into some issues getting certain CD ROM games to run that show as compatible. Perhaps some need an actual disc (or burned copy) to stream from versus a digital iso and virtual drive mapped? Also, some games may run without sound or with issues unless you apply some tinkering or perhaps a patched version of the game. I've never bothered to join one of the forums that has a large DOXbox community, but I may need to for those specific cases. I currently have most of my "must play" games running but may post here if I run into issues.

I also have some interest in the front ends, but I do enjoy the nostalgia of typing the commands out. Do these front ends alleviate some of the tedious steps needed for CD ROM games? That gets a bit old.

I've never tried joyTokey although I've been meaning to for games that benefit from a controller. Jazz is rough with the KB IMO.

I may drop in occasionally to ask for some tips if I have questions on tinkering with settings, etc or even to share tips on difficult games I get running.
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Re: DOSBox Guide - Run DOS Games in Windows

by CRTGAMER Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:50 pm

Jagosaurus wrote:I'm a big fan of DOSbox, but I have run into some issues getting certain CD ROM games to run that show as compatible. Perhaps some need an actual disc (or burned copy) to stream from versus a digital iso and virtual drive mapped? Also, some games may run without sound or with issues unless you apply some tinkering or perhaps a patched version of the game.

I also have some interest in the front ends, but I do enjoy the nostalgia of typing the commands out. Do these front ends alleviate some of the tedious steps needed for CD ROM games? That gets a bit old.

I've never tried JoyToKey although I've been meaning to for games that benefit from a controller. Jazz is rough with the KB IMO.

One of the things with the early DOS games was the need of a separate audio cable from the CD Drive to the sound card. A forgotten connection on newer CD games. The old DOS games have actual CD music red book audio tracks needing the vintage cable. Track one would have data and the rest of the tracks have music, compatible in a regular CD music player.

The DOS prompt neat to dive into, but a built in DOS Menu makes for instant look and select of all DOS programs installed. I prefer the menu running inside DOSBox vs an external front end to keep fully inside the DOS environment. Though DOSBox includes some of the more common DOS commands, I created a real DOS directory inside the virtual hard drive DOS directory. All of the original Dos 6.22 files installed in there, a neat refresh tryout of the different commands.

Jazz does have a joystick option, but depending on the speed of your PC, the calibration directly in the DOS game may not set correctly or even pickup a game controller. JoytoKey or JoyCursor a great fix.
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Re: DOSBox Guide - Run DOS Games in Windows

by PresidentLeever Wed Jul 04, 2018 2:12 pm

Here's a pretty good guide to setting up MT-32 sound that I stumbled upon recently. It's generally a step up from Adlib/OPL2 or OPL3 sound for late 80s-early 90s games.

http://thecrankyhermit.shoutwiki.com/wi ... etup_guide

Games I'd recommend using it with:
https://minirevver.weebly.com/mt-32-music.html
http://minirevver.weebly.com/ - Mini-reviews, retro vgm tribute, rom hacks, chip music, mockups, misc. lists
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Re: DOSBox Guide - Run DOS Games in Windows

by zyrobs Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:37 pm

I've had more luck with PCEM than with DOSBox. It's closer to emulating my 20 year old PC. You set up your config and a motherboard BIOS, and from that point it's as if you are dealing with an old machine, including things like needing to install DOS and tweak autoexec.bat and installing games from floppy/CD images. But you can control the configuration in a simpler way than the cycle crap in DOSBox, and you have a full HDD to use instead of mounting folders and such.

This probably doesn't say anything to those who want to just play the games, in fact it probably sounds like a deterrent. But it feels more like a real DOS PC, and has less bugs in a few of my obscure favourites than DOSBox too.
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