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IntelliMission

The official MS-DOS thread

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Posted (edited)

As a kid/teenager, I had 3 MS-DOS computers (actually my dad did, but yeah):

 

- A mysterious 8086:
    I don't remember much about this one other than The Secret of Monkey Island ran extremely slow on it and in what I perceived as black and white.

 

- A not so mysterious 386:
    I always called it "the 486" until my dad called it "the 386" a few years ago. It was the last computer we had horizontally and over the table. I don't remember much about it other than it had VGA and Sound Blaster. It probably ran at around 33-66mhz.

 

- The glorious Pentium I, 133mhz:
    The one I remember the most. It had Windows 95, you had to access it by entering "win", as it booted up in DOS due to the line BOOTGUI=0 in MSDOS.SYS. Using PCem, I managed to assume that it had a a 1200MB hard drive, 8MB of RAM and 1x CDROM, an Award 430VX PCI BIOS, MS DOS 6.22, a Soundblaster AWE32 and a S3 VIRGE 1MB SVGA card.

 

These are my top 10 games from the 16 bit era:


10- Ween
9- Lost in Time

8- Full Throttle
7- Doom
6- Doom 2
5- Space Quest V
4- Monkey Island 2
3- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
2- Space Quest IV
1- The Secret of Monkey Island

 

And my top 10 games from the late 3D era:

 

10- Little Big Adventure
9- Bioforge
8- Descent
7- Jedi Knight
6- Death Rally
5- Carmageddon
4- Blood
3- Quake
2- Duke Nukem 3D
1- Tomb Raider

 

And this is the full list of games I had:

 

- Games I played on the 386:

 

Spoiler

4D Sports Driving / Stunts
Altered Beast
Bart Simpson Vs The Space Mutants
Block Out
Blues Brothers
Budokan
Cohort: Fighting For Rome

Day of the Tentacle
Eco Quest
Eden Blues

Eternam
Gauntlet
Golden Axe
Igor: Objetivo Uikokahonia
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade: The Adventure Game
Indycar Racing
Italia 90
Ivan Stewart's Ironman: Super Off Road
Jurassic Park
Kings Of The Beach
Lakers Vs Celtics And The NBA Playoffs
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (1987)

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (1991)
Lemmings
Lokup
Monkey Island 2: Lechuck's Revenge
Ninja Rabbits

Operation Stealth
PC Basket
PC Calcio
PC Fútbol 3.0
Prince Of Persia
Q-Bert
Rome: Pathway to Power

Sam & Max: Hit the Road
Sextris
Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon
Sabotaje
Sokoban

Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter (1991)
Space Quest IV
Space Quest V

Shadow of the Comet
Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe
Starblade
Supaplex
The Adventures Of Robin Hood
The Secret Of Monkey Island
Titus The Fox

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
World Championship Soccer

World Cup USA 94
Xenon 2: Megablast

 

- Games I played on the Pentium 133
 

Spoiler

Amazon: Guardians Of Eden
Bargon Attack
B.A.T. II: The Koshan Conspiracy

Bioforge
Blood

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Carmaggeddon

Dark Half

Darkseed
Death Rally

Descent
Doom
Doom 2
Duke Nukem 3D
Ecstatica
Eternam
FIFA 97

Fascination
Full Throttle
Gender Wars

Gobliiins

Goblins 2: The Prince Bufoon

Goblins 3
Inca
Inca II: Wiracocha

Indiana Jones and his Desktop Adventures
Little Big Adventure
Lost In Time
PC Fútbol 4.0
PC Fútbol 5.0
PC Liga
Rebel Assault II
Screamer 2
Star Trek: 25th Anniversary

Star Wars. Yoda Stories

The City of the Lost Children

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel

Tomb Raider
Quake

Ween
Wolfenstein 3D

 

- Games I played after the year 2000 using a Windows PC, ScummVM or DOSBOX:
 

Spoiler

Beneath a Steel Sky

Dangerous Dave 2

Full Throttle

Future Wars

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

Loom

Space Quest 6: Roger Wilco In The Spinal Frontier

Starcontrol 2

Star Trek: Judgement Rites

The Dig

 

- Hidden gems:

 

When it comes to action, I'd say Dangerous Dave 2 is the biggest one I've found (some kind of 2D Doom in a haunted mansion). For graphic adventures, I'd say it's the French trio Fascination, Lost in Time and Ween (they play like Myst but puzzles are normal).

 

- I also must make a special mention to the first 8 bit computers emulators that were around in the mid-late 90s. My Amstrad CPC stopped working in 1992, and I was able to "bring it back to life" in 1997 thanks to the MS-DOS ZX Spectrum emulator (the CPC and the Spectrum shared many common games). By 1998, I already had the Amstrad CPC emulator too. The experience of browsing through hundreds of games within a list without Internet reviews or even screenshots, and trying dozens of them without knowing what to expect, was almost mystical. You felt like a child again, with unlimited money to buy every single game.

 

Let's talk about our past and present experiences with MS-DOS machines.

Edited by IntelliMission
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My first PC experience was at my best friends house.  There was still something called "middle class" back then and they just barely afforded an XT clone.  It had a wondrously grindy hard drive and a proprietary 16 color mode that we never used - although some shareware came up in exotic 16 color CGA.

 

The first PC of my own was a CompuAdd 386sx at 25mhz.  Once I bought a copy of Borland C and wiped Win 3.1 off to make room.  Poor Windows got slapped around and demeaned on the system.  Even upgraded to Windows 95 by installing RAM Doubler so it would report enough memory to pass the installation check.

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I couldn't afford a PC during the main DOS era. I wasn't too bothered because up till some point Amiga games were on par or better. I had this one well-to-do friend at the time, who had a 386SX I think, and used to look down on the gaming efforts on his PC. Around 1992 the tables have turned though...

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43 minutes ago, youxia said:

I couldn't afford a PC during the main DOS era. I wasn't too bothered because up till some point Amiga games were on par or better. I had this one well-to-do friend at the time, who had a 386SX I think, and used to look down on the gaming efforts on his PC. Around 1992 the tables have turned though...

Same experience.   DOS PCs in the 1980s were not that compelling to teens like me looking for mind-blowing games and graphics, and my family couldn't afford one anyway.    But by 93/94 it was impossible to ignore how much they had progressed, and that's when I decided I needed to have one.   Luckily by then I was a young adult with my own income and saving money for one was now a realistic possibility.

 

My first PC was a 486DX4-100 (AMD) with Soundblaster 16, S3 Vesa Local Bus graphics adaptor and CD-ROM (4X). 

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The first computer MS-DOS machine we had was a IBM PS/1 with a 386 or 486.  Not sure which one, but I do remember playing a lot of games on it including Stunts (i.e., 4D Driving), Wolfenstein 3D, Test Drive III, and Street Rod 1 and 2.  Also, it was a Windows 3.1 machine.  The second PC we had was a Pentium I (or II maybe, but most likely a I) with Windows 95 on it.  Played the living sh*t out of Duke Nukem 3d on it and was the machine that I got online with using things like MS Messenger and AOL.

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My best friend in he late 80s had a PS/2 (AT286 @ 12Mhz) and I remember going to his house that first year they had it to play all sorts of stuff like Sierra adventure games, Flight Sim, and other games from MicroProse at the time. Then in '89 my mother and I pitched in together to purchase our families actual first computer. It was a 286 @ 16mhz with a full 1MB of system ram, 20MB MFM HDD and build in VGA graphics. Before I stopped using it, it hosted many a fun time with my friends and I gathering around it to play the games of the era. Eventually I replaced it with a 486 in '94. But before that, it was actually a very powerful 286 in terms of what it could do. 

 

My favorite games played on that system were:

- Wing Commander and Wing Commander II (Yes it could play both games quite well as it could also use EMS functions)

- Sierra adventure games (Pretty much all of them at the time LOL!)

- Red Storm Rising

- F-19 Stealth Fighter (Before it was officially known and revealed to be the F-117A and the game was later re-released under that name)

- Airborne Ranger

- Wolfenstein 3D

- Commander Keen games

- Lemmings

- World Class Leaderboard Golf

Those are just some that I could think of off the top of my head that I know got lots of play on that first computer. Before replacing it out in '94 it actually saw 4 sound cards in its life, was maxed out to 5MB of ram as the 1MB was all onboard and it had 4 slots empty that you could add additional 30-pin SIPPs into. And a paradise VGA card that I added to it so I could use SVGA modes with Win3.11 and other early games that supported SVGA. The 4 sound cards it had were: Adlib, Soundblaster 1.5, Soundblaser Pro and then eventually the SBPro was paired with a Turtle Beach Maui. I also remember adding a 2x speed CDrom drive to it when KQ5 was released KQ6 might have been he last Sierra adventure game played on that old 286 before moving to the newer computers I would have afterwards. 

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During the peak of the DOS/Win9x era, I was working computer repair at a Mom&Pop and got an employee discount on hardware purchased from my employer.

 

As such, I was the proud owner of first a 486 and then some early pentium systems.  I even owned a VFX-1 at one point. (but quickly learned that my astigmatism was so pronounced that I could not use it for more than 10 minutes at a time. Sad.)

 

 

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Thanks for starting this topic, MS-DOS gaming is near and dear to my heart.

 

My first MS-DOS computer was a woefully underpowered IBM PS/2 with a 386/16.  I don't remember the exact year, but I do know that Ultima VII was already out at this point.  In fact, Ultima VII was one of the first games I bought for the computer, though of course it was so slow that it was nearly unplayable (that didn't stop me of course).  I also bought The Legend of Kyrandia and Quest for Glory III, both of which ran completely fine of course.  The computer had no sound board, so we eventually got a severely overpriced Sound Blaster clone that used whatever proprietary connector the PS/2 used (microchannel?)... but it was worth it.  Playing Ultima VII for the first time and hearing the fully-voiced intro and then the dynamic Adlib soundtrack that played through the game was simply amazing.

 

I had a ton of fun with that computer.  We eventually got a modem and after getting a printout of local BBS numbers from a friend, I was addicted.  I never did much but download shareware games and read message boards, but one of my fondest memories is dialing up BBS numbers all day whenever school was cancelled due to snow.

 

I was a big fan of RPGs (still am), and playing these games on my MS-DOS machine was a true pleasure after so many years of swapping disks constantly waiting for data to load when playing Pool of Radiance or Ultima VI on my Commodore 64.  Ultima VII blew my mind—such a massive, detailed, seamless world with no need to swap disks and no loading screens (after the initial one, anyway).

 

I eventually upgraded to a 486/50 and then a Pentium 133.  One of the best things about gaming on MS-DOS was backwards compatibility.  Sometimes you needed to use utilities to slow CPU-dependent games down, but I could go down to the software store and pick up an old EGA game on 5.25 disk released in the 80s and be 99.999999% sure that it would run on whatever computer I had at the time.  I remember heading down to the mall and picking up old games cheap off the budget/discount shelves; it was always exiting loading the game up for the first time and seeing if you stumbled upon some hidden gold.  At a couple bucks per game, you didn't mind so much if you ended up with trash instead!

 

---

 

One of my projects over the last year was to build an MS-DOS gaming machine.  DOSBOX is great, but there are a lot of worthwhile games that are meant to be played at certain CPU speeds and adjusting CPU cycles up/down is inexact.  PCem is a great alternative as it is used to emulate a certain system rather than being a one-stop solution for all DOS games (for example, you can configure it to emulate a 486DX/66, etc.).  I decided, however, to ultimately go with real hardware in the corner of my office, and over several months gathered parts to build a Pentium 133 that can be dialed down to 386/40 and 486/33 performance levels by disabling caches in BIOS.  It's a real Frankenstein's Monster of a system, but I've got a CRT monitor, period correct sound card, and even Roland synths (MT-32 and SC-55) for those games that support them.  I started out with a hard drive, but ended up replacing it with a Compact Flash adapter; VERY convenient!  Starting up Ultima VII for the first time on this machine, with the MT-32 playing the music, was a thing of beauty.

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I'm happy to see DOS continuing to gain popularity in the retro gaming community as a platform.

 

I had an Apple II in the early DOS era but a friend of mine had an IBM 5150 and I was always jealous of it. It later got upgraded to an AT and I was jealous of that too. An old roommate I had started out with Atari machines but he then got a clone PC (an AST or Acer or something) with an early CD-ROM drive that he let me play some games on and I remember being convinced that when I finally replaced my Apple II, it had to be with a DOS machine.

 

I didn't get an IBM compatible machine of my own until the 486 era, and that was a 486SX-25, so like, barely a 486. But it was in the early days of the 486, so I could still tell myself it was faster than a 386. (I think actually that 386DX-40's might have been faster.) It did have a CD-ROM drive, which was still not standard yet at the time. So I felt a little special, and I remember my first-ever game for it was The 7th Guest, which really needed the CD format.

 

I remember buying both PC Gamer and Computer Gaming World every month on the day they'd come out and reading them cover to cover until the next issue. (I'd literally just milk them, reading the stuff I was most interested in first, but going back and eventually reading literally everything else by the date of the next issue. Then repeating the same process.) I'd buy games based on their reviews; usually one or two a month. I miss those magazines.

 

Unfortunately at that time I was not really concerned with having a collection of anything, so I threw all my boxes away basically as soon as I opened them and even all of my pre-1995 or so games themselves once I thought they were just old. About 1995 I did start at least keeping the CD's (in storage binders) and I have most of what I bought 1995 and onward. But unfortunately, still no boxes. I didn't start keeping those until the small box era, but those are all Windows games of course.

 

Over the past few years I've been on kind of a DOS era kick again... I now have an IBM 5150 of my own, as well as an IBM P70 that's a 386 PS/2 "luggable" computer, a Compaq Deskpro XL that's currently got a Pentium 100 in it, and my first home-built machine, which is really an XP machine but I do dual-boot DOS on it. It is a little fast for DOS, though, so it's missing the nostalgia factor in that way, but OTOH it is a direct descendent of my original 486 (I just kept upgrading all the parts until it was a different machine) so it's still special to me. I also have a ThinkPad 600X that's a pretty good DOS gaming laptop now that I've figured out how to get DOS sound working on it, and it's convenient to be able to play that way and not have to reserve a giant part of my desk for it. I've restored and upgraded most of these machines, unless they didn't need it.

 

Anyway, a lot of great games and really interesting hardware too.

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5 hours ago, newtmonkey said:

One of my projects over the last year was to build an MS-DOS gaming machine.  DOSBOX is great, but there are a lot of worthwhile games that are meant to be played at certain CPU speeds and adjusting CPU cycles up/down is inexact.  PCem is a great alternative as it is used to emulate a certain system rather than being a one-stop solution for all DOS games (for example, you can configure it to emulate a 486DX/66, etc.).  I decided, however, to ultimately go with real hardware in the corner of my office, and over several months gathered parts to build a Pentium 133 that can be dialed down to 386/40 and 486/33 performance levels by disabling caches in BIOS. 

Can't beat the real hardware, but a superb alternative is now ao486 core on MiSTer FPGA. It works well with real VGA CRT monitors now and is my new favourite thing. You can adjust caches and clock speeds on the fly, so it's hugely convenient for finding the right spot for some pesky games (it can be a chore on my real DOS PC, seeing as it's a P4).

 

Another handy tool I have discovered recently is Total Dos Launcher. It's a kind of indexer/frontend, which will turn your DOS game collection into something easily manageable on the real machine. There are also ready made game packs using it, based on eXoDOS collection, findable if you search a certain internet archive for "ao486"...

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Posted (edited)

In the years prior to me getting my own 486 I had messed around with various 8088 through 486SX models here and there. Just casually enough to develop a layman's familiarity. Not really getting into ecosphere too much. It was simply out of my price range. I had blown too much on the Amiga - trying to make it fit into my work style. Ultimately it was a dead end.

 

It was now the Spring of 1992 give or take, in the Northern Hemisphere. Seeing the constant progress of PC tech was bunching my panties but good. There was all this cool astronomy stuff like for charting the stars, predicting planetary motions, and eclipses, and other stellar phenomena. And of course fractals. That a computer chip (an arbitrary CPU) could "understand" natural things was impressive and intriguing. Endlessly fascinating. Especially with the likes of Dance Of the Planets and Fractint. Both simulacra and models of nature.

 

I started the process of coalescing (in my mind) what kind of PC I could afford. At that instant in time, around May of 92 I started reading came across this Byte article. It explained about Intel's new 486 clock doubled chips. You could use slower cost-effective memory with a fast internal core speed. And it had 8KB of cache AND a floating point unit too! It was like magic and I stopped bouncing back'n'forth between a 386 and 486.

 

I kinda liked the look of the Gateway 2000 stark-white case. So I began pricing it. It was almost affordable and in a few months I would have saved enough. In the months ahead the priced dropped slightly and I would collect literature about contemporary hardware expansions of the day, and a few Gateway catalogs. Cirrus Logic brochures, Sound Blaster brochures, Western Digital brochures. And more! I would read them daily, just like I did when I was getting in the Apple II years earlier. Meanwhile discovering new software I couldn't wait to try out and actually use.

 

When I got around to ordering it in October of 1992 the guy at Gateway made me feel like a million bucks when he went through the choices of hardware I could get. And then even more like two million bucks when he helped me pick out some Microsoft software (Word 2.0a) to be installed especially for me! And it was a free bonus! To be installed into Windows 3.1. Just for me. I was in the big leagues now. This came with a manual 400 pages thick. This was just too cool for school! Especially the school that threw me out of the computer lab.

 

I could do real word processing again, unlike the endless frustration I was experiencing on the Amiga as I attempted to upgrade from Apple II. I never got rid of the Apple II, still have it all.

 

Believe it or not, gaming had next to no influence on my PC purchase. It was driven by the want to get a good word processor and some hi-resolution graphics, along with the sciencey stuff. Games were nowhere to be found in the decision. I would discover and purchase some at the computer stores and stuff but PC gaming only became real when I got Doom. And I happened to have the hardware for it.

 

There was no envy looking over my shoulder to see what configurations others had. If I saw lesser configurations we'd try and optimize as best we could. If I saw more advanced rigs, we'd try and  optimize what I had and learn about the new machines. It was the early heydays all over again. This time commercialized to high heaven with multiple department stores like Comp-USA dedicated to selling PC stuff all over the place. There was no escape!

 

I would go on to lust after the PentiumPro and eventually got a Pentium II 266. And upgraded from time to time since. I never made good on building the fantasy P-Pro machine even though I have most all the parts.

 

I upgraded the 486 periodically with things like:

Promise EIDE MAX ISA IDE interface for 2 more drives

Snappy Digitizer

2nd Parallel port

540MB WD HDD

Sound Blaster 16 w/ASP chip and 2x CD-ROM

Wave Blaster MIDI daughtercard

14,400 baud internal modem

Memory to 16MB via a semi-proprietary memory board hosting 8 additional 30-pin SIMMS

STB Evolution ISA VGA 1MB board w/Cirrus Logic 5422 chipset

Iomega Zip Drive

HP 550 DeskJet printer

CH 2-axis joystick

1.6 GB WD HDD

Gravis Gamepad

Small and slow CPU fan

64K -> 256K cache

XT-IDE CF interface card and BIOS

 

The original SIMMS are still present. Kept the old smaller cache chips. The original 200MB HDD is present as is the MIO-400K MultiFunction interface card.

 

It originally came with MS-DOS 5.0. I've since upgraded to 6.22 and DoubleSpace. Thought about undoing the compression. Windows 3.1 remains. But I can stealth-boot Windows95 from the third HDD data/utility drive. All 3 HDDs are still present, with original period software installs. Have all the documentation for both hardware and software.

 

Just two years ago I ran extensive diagnostics, conducted some minor repairs, and gave it a thorough cleaning. Have all the original documentation. The CrystalScan monitor needs recapping (when I have time). Have the original mouse and AnyKey keyboard. And spares of hard to find parts. Also imaged the EPROMS, FlashRoms, and drives. It's a keeper!

 

https://archive.org/details/eu_BYTE-1992-05_OCR/mode/1up

https://archive.org/details/eu_BYTE-1992-05_OCR/page/n181/mode/1up

 

https://archive.org/details/eu_BYTE-1992-08_OCR/page/n53/mode/1up

https://archive.org/details/eu_BYTE-1992-08_OCR/page/n54/mode/1up

https://archive.org/details/eu_BYTE-1992-08_OCR/page/n57/mode/1up

 

http://web.archive.org/web/20210116080952/https://arcscience.com/dance-of-the-planets/#display3

Edited by Keatah
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22 minutes ago, youxia said:

Can't beat the real hardware, but a superb alternative is now ao486 core on MiSTer FPGA. It works well with real VGA CRT monitors now and is my new favourite thing. You can adjust caches and clock speeds on the fly, so it's hugely convenient for finding the right spot for some pesky games (it can be a chore on my real DOS PC, seeing as it's a P4).

 

Another handy tool I have discovered recently is Total Dos Launcher. It's a kind of indexer/frontend, which will turn your DOS game collection into something easily manageable on the real machine. There are also ready made game packs using it, based on eXoDOS collection, findable if you search a certain internet archive for "ao486"...

ao486 is very intriguing indeed.  If my DOS machine ever dies, I will likely pick up a MiSTer specifically for that.  I've heard that you can even connect external synths to MiSTer now for MT-32, SC-55, etc.  Sounds cool.

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Posted (edited)

Items:

 

- I admire those of you who buy or assemble MS-DOS machines today, but I don't see myself doing that. Mostly because the games I like play almost perfectly in DOSBox and, most importantly, the nostalgia factor is lost once the look & feel (and exact capabilities) of the computers I had as a kid is virtually impossible to recreate. I wish they all had the same model as the Amiga, Atari ST and so many others! So i use something called DOSBox Game Launcher (or "dbgl"), that shows all your thousands of games (all of them original, of course) with screenshots in a list and lets you change their DOSBox settings or choose different version of DOSBox for each game (I use Ykhwong's SVN Daum, that lets you save and load at any time with shortcuts).

 

- Here's another hidden gem, a 1994 shareware game called Girl & Freedom, some kind of Lode Runner replacing holes with bullets (that can't kill the enemies but can destroy walls) and adding fire, (flowing) water, switches, optional chests, bricks that never reappear and platforms "Bruce Lee style". This is a fun variation from Lode Runner, where you can't jump but you can create holes left and right that, once an enemy falls into one, you can walk over them (the destroyed bricks also reappear in about a minute). Girl & Freedom only has 10 levels,  but it's worth taking a look to see how a simple game made by one person (some guy in Lithuania) can be so addictive.

 

- What are some of the worst MS-DOS games you've played? In my case it would be:

      > Ninja Rabbits (one of my first VGA games, some kind of karateka rip-off, a traumatizing experience)

      > The games that came with the clone 386: Sabotaje (terrible CGA graphics and classic, unfitting sad PC Speaker tune, predated Shenmue because you control a forklift, boring gameplay was too much for my 12 year old me to accept after playing Contra or Saboteur on the CPC before it died that same year) and Eden Blues (another CGA and PC Speaker letdown, in this case you control a bald guy who kicks doors to drain their... health points? to escape a prison, I never understood how to play as a kid).

      > Some overrated graphics adventures: Darkseed (cool use of the high-res VGA mode but that's it, puzzles like "oh, I should definitely throw a rope by the balcony because I will be trapped in my own house later!), Shadow of the Comet (1992 and you couldn't use a mouse in the floppy version that everyone had, totally illogical puzzles, ranks higher than much better games due to cool plot) and Dark Half (good story, graphics and music, but one of these games where you have to do exactly something or you die, random things you couldn't know in advance).

Edited by IntelliMission
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1 hour ago, IntelliMission said:

Some overrated graphics adventures: Darkseed, Shadow of the Comet

Yes, these two had some annoying puzzles (especially dead ends in Darkseed) but which adventure game didn't, really? I also suspect that quite often one man's "illogical" puzzle is another's "ingenious". They were still highly rated because of exceptional art or storyline, and these things are rather important in this genre.

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Posted (edited)

- In Shadow of the Comet, it's not only the puzzles: the interface also gets in the way. The guy can't even walk diagonally, you have to wait until he sees an object (and an imaginary vision line is actually drawn on the screen between his eyes and the object) to interact with it... I personally believe that company did a better job with Eternam, released one year earlier but with less obscure puzzles and frustrating/impossible to guess situations. FUN FACT: Eternam shares the same engine than the RPG Drakkhen, and Shadow of the Comet is based on it.

 

- I think there's a difference between graphic adventures where 10% of the puzzles don't make sense and you have to "use everything with everything" (some games I love like Sam & Max or Lost in Time have those problems) and games where you barely can't pick up an object or two before running into an illogical puzzle that forces you to check the solution.

 

- I believe gameplay should account for 75% of the overall rating of a game and the rest of the elements (visuals, sounds, story...) for 25%. This is obviously not a popular opinion, but it works to avoid situations like the flawed rating system in the otherwise great blog https://advgamer.blogspot.com, where puzzles, interface, graphics/sounds, environment/atmosphere and dialog/acting all have the same weigh in the final rate, producing results such as the mediocre game KGB (4/10 score in puzzles) placed as the 7th best graphic adventure of all time thanks to its professional, movie-like plot, ranking 4 places higher than Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (7/10 score in puzzles). I recommend reading that blog, but be careful: they basically spoil all the puzzles in the regular blog entries; the reviews come at the end (and still have some spoilers). Complete the games first and then read the blog (and in the meantime, maybe check the ratings in their Excel, they're still in the year 1993, currently reviewing Space Quest V).

Edited by IntelliMission

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Well, I've always found arguing about adventure games a bit pointless, same as with RPGs. It's all just too amibguous. That's best applied to "illogical" puzzles, as I mentioned earlier, because straightforward ones can be obvious and boring, and the abstract ones more inventive and funny. Many of them seemingly nonsensical ones I was well pissed off with, until figuring them out and actually seeing what the author had in mind - it's part of the fun. Not always, of course, but quite often.

 

Case in point: KGB is one of my favourite adventure games, and not at all because of the plot, but indeed puzzles, atmosphere, and innovativeness :)

 

There are two things that can really ruin an adventure game for me: extreme pixel hunting (I mean "pixel"!) and dead ends, those without any hints when you fail (or not even fail,  some games will let you wander and try to solve an already unsolvable game forever). The latter is an example of a really criminal, malicious design. And, oh, mazes too, the particularly nasty ones. And, unskippable, difficult arcade sequences. So that's four things, I guess.

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Dead ends, pixel hunting... Yeah, common problems. What's funny is that some people consider the fact that you can die as a great flaw (probably used to Lucasarts games). I don't think it's that bad if you save often, and in Sierra games finding all the ways to die is one of the fun things to do.

 

I personally find having several characters to control at all times an issue too, but that's me. I think it over-complicates things. Last Crusade does it only in a small section.

 

Has anyone finished Discword? I never get too far, but I love the graphics. For some reason, I don't like British graphic adventures as much as American or French ones and I haven't completed any (I probably should try to complete Beneath a Steel Sky one of these days, not so sure about Discworld).

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My main gaming platforms have been the Amstrad CPC, MS-DOS computers, the Playstation and the Playstation 2. Interestingly, only on MS-DOS computers I experienced something I would describe as "discovering you don't like a genre after hours of frustrating gameplay".

 

In the rest of the systems, sometimes out of luck (in the Amstrad CPC when I was a kid, when I had 50+ pirated games) and others because I knew what I was doing (PS1, PS2), I only played graphic/text adventures, sports games, platformers, shooters and survival horror/action games. However, in MS-DOS machines some kids lend me a few floppies with some mysterious games that my 12-15 year old self took some time until he understood he didn't like:

 

- The (almost) RPG games: Mostly a combination of a graphic adventure and an RPG, Veil of Darkness and B. A. T. II. looked and sounded cool, but I could never fully understood them and never went back to them.

 

- The open world? games: The Adventures of Robin Hood and Rome: Pathway to Power, both from the same developers, are cute-looking isometric open world games with light graphic adventure and strategy elements, but the controls and strange puzzles ruin them. Are these the same genre as GTA2, GTA3 and San Andreas, which I played I liked years later? In any case, these early open world experiences didn't quite work.

 

- The simulation games: I tried to get into B-17: Flying Fortress, but I couldn't. I love how these 3D games without textures are programmed, though.

 

- The puzzle games: I managed to complete a few stages on Block Out, Sextris, Sokoban, Supaplex and Lemmings, but this genre never became one of my favorites despite the cool graphics and sounds.

 

- The strategy games: Railroad Tycoon and Cohort: Fight for Rome still look cute today, but strategy games are still too complicated for me.

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18 hours ago, IntelliMission said:

I admire those of you who buy or assemble MS-DOS machines today, but I don't see myself doing that.

Today it's almost a masochistic act. There are millions of possible configurations. And god-like knowledge of limitations of components of the era is seemingly required. It's a lot to take in at one time. But over the years everything you learn fits together nicely.

 

Having hands-on experience from back in the day is valuable. As is reading those "Upgrading and Repairing PCs - XX'th Edition by Scott Mueller & published by QUE" bibles.

 

It be like what are the 5 differences between 3 and 9 chip 30-pin SIMMs? The first point is power consumption. The other 4 points are timing related. You won't find that information anywhere else but in a databook, if they're generous to dedicate a few pages to it. Most don't.

 

And to make matters more difficult you're likely going to be using used parts from ebay. When something isn't right, is it inherently incompatible? Or is it faulty?

 

18 hours ago, IntelliMission said:

Mostly because the games I like play almost perfectly in DOSBox and, most importantly, the nostalgia factor is lost once the look & feel (and exact capabilities) of the computers I had as a kid is virtually impossible to recreate.

That interesting. Because I say if that level of replication is needed, then equal attention would also be required to recreate the vintage environment and "aura of the day". That's going to be even harder because so much non-computer stuff needs attention.

 

Size and shape of your room

The weather

The foods you ate

Familial status

Political environment

Wants and desires of the day

..and likely so much more!

 

18 hours ago, IntelliMission said:

I wish they all had the same model as the Amiga, Atari ST and so many others! So i use something called DOSBox Game Launcher (or "dbgl"), that shows all your thousands of games (all of them original, of course) with screenshots in a list and lets you change their DOSBox settings or choose different version of DOSBox for each game (I use Ykhwong's SVN Daum, that lets you save and load at any time with shortcuts).

That sameness throughout a product line is cause for stagnation. It's why those platforms didn't survive, whereas the PC kept growing and expanding.

 

DOSBox and PCEM (and other virtualization & emulation tools) are indeed important tools in getting that old software running. Especially on the latest i9 systems. DOSBox itself is almost old enough to be vintage itself. I personally like the more accurate timing in PCEM however. And I wish both had a faster development pace.

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Posted (edited)

What I mean is that I can't remember what "my" MS-DOS computers were, and that doesn't happen with the other systems I "had" in the 80s and 90s. I was able to "recreate" the Amstrad CPC, because I knew it was a 6128 and there were only 2 models released in Spain (not counting the Plus). And of course, the first one I bought was the wrong one, some kind of old version of the keyboard! But then I bought the good one. I wish I had taken notes of capabilites, monitor/keyboard/mouse models and tower design of each MS-DOS machine!

 

But yeah, I wouldn't mind to travel back in time out of curiosity. I'd love to see in how many hours did I play each game and in which order I discovered them. Indeed, I wouldn't mind to visit a retro gaming theme park, complete with fake computer shops with people dressed as it was 1975-1995 (perhaps with a section for each era).

Edited by IntelliMission

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Posted (edited)

By the way, there is a small MS-DOS homebrew scene, even if the games are mostly simple. DOS haven does a good job at collecting all the new games.

Edited by IntelliMission

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, IntelliMission said:

What I mean is that I can't remember what "my" MS-DOS computers were, and that doesn't happen with the other systems I "had" in the 80s and 90s. I was able to "recreate" the Amstrad CPC, because I knew it was a 6128 and there were only 2 models released in Spain (not counting the Plus). And of course, the first one I bought was the wrong one, some kind of old version of the keyboard! But then I bought the good one. I wish I had taken notes of capabilites, monitor/keyboard/mouse models and tower design of each MS-DOS machine!

 

But yeah, I wouldn't mind to travel back in time out of curiosity. I'd love to see in how many hours did I play each game and in which order I discovered them. Indeed, I wouldn't mind to visit a retro gaming theme park, complete with fake computer shops with people dressed as it was 1975-1995 (perhaps with a section for each era).

I personally don't really think of MS-DOS as a single "system" in the same way you would think of the Amstrad CPC or any of the other microcomputers.  I like to think of it more as a "platform" akin to Steam today.  I remember my first couple of MS-DOS machines, though details are hazy—but I sure do remember all the games I've enjoyed on them over the years.

 

Computer builds varied so much back in the day, that there was no real single shared experience similar to what, for example, each C64 user had.  I think it's for this reason that I am fine(*) with emulating MS-DOS and its games on modern systems, while I always prefer real hardware for the microcomputers and video game consoles.

 

(*) Having said that, there are still reasons to prefer actual hardware for MS-DOS gaming, and as I mentioned above, I do my MS-DOS gaming on an actual machine.

Edited by newtmonkey

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Before I die, I definitely will try to build (hopefully buy) one of these machines. Because yeah, I need to see these games as they were conceived and not emulated, I need to try the games I had, to "truly recover" that graphics and sounds (even if the exact models of tower or peripherals are not the same). I suspect emulation causes some lag, aside from the fact that the pixels look different on modern screens.

 

On another topic, I'm finally completing Prince of Persia. The game frustrated me as a kid due to the jump at the end of Level 2, but once you figure that out it's a masterpiece.

 

If anyone here likes Tomb Raider, try Prince of Persia: it's the 2D version of it. And if anyone here likes Prince of Persia, try Tomb Raider: it's the 3D version of it. Both work very well!

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, IntelliMission said:

Before I die, I definitely will try to build (hopefully buy) one of these machines. Because yeah, I need to see these games as they were conceived and not emulated, I need to try the games I had, to "truly recover" that graphics and sounds

DOS-games??? Not really worth it, I guess. :)

I mean, that CGA/EGA graphics didn't look good at all, and sound was even worse. The PC beeper sounded even worse than the ZX Spectrum's beeper (which at least had a reasonable volume).

That's simply because back then computers were separated into machines for doing serious work (PCs) and game machines (C64 and such). And it's true, I'd rather write business reports on a 8086-PC with "Word for DOS" than on a C64 connected to a flickering television.

As a DOS machine in the 1980s, the Tandy 1000 may have been bearable as a home computer to a certain extent. The 8-bit-guy has a nice video about it.

You could play with "DeskMate" on an emulator (like DosBox). It's something like early Windows or GEOS for the Tandy. Gives you a feeling, what that machine was about. DeskMate had some pre-.wav sound-files I tried to play, and I have to say, yes, my modern PC does it better than these ancient PCs. :)

 

 

In the 90s there were the AdLib/Soundblaster cards and VGA graphics, of course. It's easy to reproduce, what that looked like.

Well, there were some nice games like "Wing Commander 3", the LucasArts adventure games, X-Wing, Doom, and of course "Tomb Raider" (I like "Tomb Raider II" best).

To me, the 90s weren't a good time compared to the 80s though (think of the totally depressing "Alien 3" compared to the uplifting "Aliens 2"). So I'm not getting too nostalgic about this DOS-era.

In 1999, there was also "Prince of Persia 3D".

 

Edited by Pokeypy

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Dont be a stodge!

 

There were all manner of accessories for sound on the PC:

 

Disney Soundsource / Covox speech thing

Adlib

Soundblaster

MPU401+external midi synth

Microsoft sound system

ESS Audiodrive

 

etc.

 

Also, VGA was alive and well in the 90s.  Trident 1mb ISA cards were very popular, and later 2 to 4mb versions for PCI were likewise hot sellers.

 

The platform hosted such memorable classics as Doom, Heretic, Quake, Starsiege tribes, EF2000, and numerous others. (my favorites were mystic towers, from an australian publisher about a crochety old bastard who has to fix the mess his ancestor left behind, and Hocus Pocus-- a VGA platformer with a quirky premise about a junior wizard.)

 

Dont be so quick to write it off.

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