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IntelliMission

The official MS-DOS thread

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Posted (edited)

Titus the Fox is an interesting game with excessive difficulty in many parts, but quite fun and original in many others.

 

Titus took Blues Brothers (a superior game made by them one year earlier) and tried to enhance it adding multiple extra moves.

 

The problem, aside from the abrupt scrolling and more difficult boss fights in the MS-DOS version, is that the game does not a very good job at teaching you all the "tricks":

 

- At the beginning of stage 1, there's a blue ball in a balcony that you can't reach. It turns out you can reach because certain objects (normally used as projectiles) can also be left in the ground by crouching and firing, and then you can jump over some of them (boxes, cans), jump over others (the ball) or use others to travel (the skateboard, the magic carpet). So you can pile up a couple of boxes and voila.

 

- By leaving objects in the ground, you can also kill enemies! (If you are at the border of a ledge). But this is not necessary until the ultra-hard boss fight in level 4, and I would have never figured it out if I hadn't watched a longplay.

 

- In level 7 (one of the hardest 2D platform levels in history, probably), you need to kill 2 enemies that fly slowly towards you across the level and can't be dodged. But there are no objects around to use as projectiles, so you need to pick up one at ground level, jump like a maniac while 2 baby carts (yes, that's an enemy) shoot at you while holding the object, and throw it upwards to a window cornice on the first floor (to avoid losing it while being hit, because multiple dogs and brown balls fall down "Donkey Kong style" at all times).

 

- In level 8, not only the game leaves you trapped in a pretty big area if you don't visit a small area first to pick up a blue ball. No, things don't end there. In said small area, you literally have to solve one of the most difficult, interactive puzzles ever introduced in an action game. I mean, in an actual action sequence. The blue ball is a key object, it kills enemies and then bounces back to you. Infinite ammo! But this blue ball is over some deadly, instant death spikes, and there's also a box. So it turns out you need to place the box over the blue ball leaving some space so you can jump over the ball and both objects start jumping... until at one point the blue ball is over the box and not the other way around. (All this because you can't carry the box while crouching AND passing through a tunnel).

 

I will continue until level 14, but I feel this game had a lot of potential that was killed by using a soda-masochist difficulty level.

Edited by IntelliMission

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First "IBM Compatible" PC I utilized came with MS-DOS 3.3 & GW Basic.  It was a

Laser Turbo XT.  
Switchable from 4.77MHz to 10Mhz
No Hard Drive
512KB RAM (Later I upgraded it to 640KB - manually inserted each mem chip right onto the motherboard)
CGA/Composite Graphics
Two 5 1/4" low density floppy drives

Monitor was a Magnavox Composite/RGB

 

It would be many years until my next PC.  It came with MS-DOS 6.22:

Quantex P100.
Don't remember the memory specifics - maybe 64MB?
Ensoniq Soundscape soundcard
CD-ROM
Hard Drive
5 1/4" HD floppy
3 1/2" HD floppy
ATi Mach64
It was coupled with a MAG 15" Monitor

It also came with Windows for Workgroups 3.11 with a free upgrade to Windows 95 (I believe).

 

I fought tooth and nail against Windows - both 3.11 and 95, but caved-in with the release of Return to Arcade when Microsoft released it in 1996.  The only way to play was via Windows 95.  So I "upgraded".

 

DOSBox - I recommend the SVN Daum builds (from the no longer updated ykhwong.x-y dot net site).
Specifically, the SVN DAUM Jan 27 2014 release.

And utilize...

pixelshader=CRT-geom-curved.fx

...the result is very nice.

 

 

 


image.thumb.png.f6e290788214fd04cfe4df9110abaf06.png
 

 

 

DOS Favorites: Most Sierra and LucasArts Adventure/Text titles, Most Apogee games, Jill of the Jungle, Xargon, Champ Arcade ports, Crime Wave, Defender of the Crown, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, Extreme Pinball, Thexder, Wasteland, Gauntlet II, JROK Arcade ports, Nitemare 3D, NY Warrior, One Must Fall 2097, Alley Cat, Operation Wolf, Prince Of Persia, Crossbow, Rastan, Shadowgate, Silpheed, Starflight, Technocop, Jazz Jackrabbit, The Three Stooges, Airlift, Alien Carnage, Bad Blood, Blackthorne, Tyrian, Bushido - The Way of the Warrior, FX Fighter, Operation Carnage, Shadow Warrior, Barbarian.

 

I'm sure there are others titles I am forgetting.

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Not bad, you went from 8086 (equivalent) to Pentium!

 

Among the games you list, I confess it was interesting to discover Nitemare 3D (Wolfenstein 3D in a Haunted Mansion). Crossbow looks fun too, first time I see that one! NY Warrior looks terrible, haha! ;) Shadowgate looks great.

 

I don't even remember using an MS-DOS machine without a hard drive, that sounds very vintage. I wonder if this was normal in the 80s.

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52 minutes ago, IntelliMission said:

I don't even remember using an MS-DOS machine without a hard drive, that sounds very vintage. I wonder if this was normal in the 80s.

My first PC (Tandy 1000SX) had a 20MB hard drive. The guy in Radio Shack said "You'll have a hard time filling all that space." Yeah right!

 

A friend of mine said the same thing when I bought a 32GB hard drive back in '97.

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I played all of the Sierra quest games as they were released. I played most of them several times through. Then Sierra started releasing the point-and-click remakes. Sure, they were in VGA/SCI, but a good amount of the fun was sapped out of the games. With the text based games, you had to put some actual thought into what needed to be done. With point-and-click, some of the thought process was gone.

 

Am I alone in this?

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12 hours ago, Trebor said:

DOSBox - I recommend the SVN Daum builds (from the no longer updated ykhwong.x-y dot net site).
Specifically, the SVN DAUM Jan 27 2014 release.

And utilize...

pixelshader=CRT-geom-curved.fx

...the result is very nice.

Hmmm...I was actually mulling over this few days ago. I'm sometimes using the exoDOS to check some stuff and I think it utilises the same shader. It doesn't really look like stuff on my 17" VGA monitor though. I might be wrong, but perhaps it's just good old geom directly ported without being specifically tweaked for DOS?

 

10 minutes ago, Billy Beans said:

Then Sierra started releasing the point-and-click remakes. Sure, they were in VGA/SCI, but a good amount of the fun was sapped out of the games. With the text based games, you had to put some actual thought into what needed to be done. With point-and-click, some of the thought process was gone.

Yes and no. I agree that the text parser was a bit more demanding, which could be more interesting and rewarding - but also more frustrating. Although, I must admit that somehow I managed to finish first Larry & Space Quest on my own when my English was still very basic...so their parsers/puzzles weren't really demanding or obscure. But, seeing as these games ushered a new gaming style, I think progression to point'n clickin' was inevitable.

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I was always frustrated with finding the exact grammar and format for the parser. So that was a distraction.

 

But I thoroughly enjoyed imagining and discussing the imagery a text-only game created.

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6 minutes ago, youxia said:

Hmmm...I was actually mulling over this few days ago. I'm sometimes using the exoDOS to check some stuff and I think it utilises the same shader. It doesn't really look like stuff on my 17" VGA monitor though. I might be wrong, but perhaps it's just good old geom directly ported without being specifically tweaked for DOS?

The screen simulation is not perfect or all inclusive, but the best of available outputs I've experienced with DOSBox (Under the official release and SVN DAUM builds).  Items like the dot pitch on the 17" VGA monitor will play a factor, among other things, in comparison.  Nonetheless, I'm pretty confident the *.fx file can be edited to tweak the settings.  I haven't really delved that deep into it.  I'm pretty content with the current results.  Though there are many other shaders available too.  It comes with nearly 60 of them.

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2 hours ago, IntelliMission said:

I don't even remember using an MS-DOS machine without a hard drive, that sounds very vintage. I wonder if this was normal in the 80s.

I believe it was normal for most of the 80's.   I remember in the mid-80s,  a 10Mb hard drive would cost you something like $600 and be the size of a shoebox.   So they weren't very practical or cost-effective.

 

Most early PC's had dual-floppies instead.

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1 hour ago, zzip said:

I believe it was normal for most of the 80's.   I remember in the mid-80s,  a 10Mb hard drive would cost you something like $600 and be the size of a shoebox.   So they weren't very practical or cost-effective.

 

Most early PC's had dual-floppies instead.

Indeed.  Prices started coming down towards the late 80's, but still added a considerable cost to the package if opting for a hard drive. 

 

Below is the first PC computer and monitor pair I owned (Prior computer was a Commodore Vic-20), though I believe I had it earlier, circa '86, and not sure where it was purchased.  Regardless, this listing is from a 1988 Sears catalog:

 

Laser_Turbo_XT_1988_Sears.thumb.jpg.7eac75c076647639469d3b7877cd0bb7.jpg

 

I did not own a printer.  In 1988, the cost of the machine with two 5 1/4" inch (low density) floppies was $799.   If a person opted for one 5 1/4" and one 20MB hard drive instead, the system cost was $999.   If one wanted to keep both floppies and buy the internal hard drive kit to install it themselves, it sold for $399.

 

Considering the monitor added another $299, it's understandable how even as late as 1988, a PC would lack a hard drive.   

 

The system without the hard drive would cost ~$2450 in today's dollars.  Adding a drive and losing one floppy would cost ~$2900.  Keep both floppies and purchase the 20MB hard drive kit ~$3350.  All those prices are before tax.  Though you could save $50 then, ~$112 today, when you paired the color monitor and system together, it's still a lot of money to shell out.  Guess I should have retained the page mentioning the printer price, but surely that added a few hundreds more to the cost, if one wanted it.

 

Good times though.  I really appreciated the composite out that was available for many of my DOS favorites including early (AGI) Sierra titles, Lucasarts Maniac Mansion, Starflight, and Wasteland in particular. Dozens upon dozens of hours were easily spent back then.

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2 hours ago, Keatah said:

I was always frustrated with finding the exact grammar and format for the parser. So that was a distraction.

 

But I thoroughly enjoyed imagining and discussing the imagery a text-only game created.

Because I had played most of the Infocom games, the parser wasn't too much of a problem in Sierra games. I would have rather seen Sierra use a point-and-click similar to SCUMM games.

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The text Vs. icons discussion is a very interesting one.

 

I have only finished a text adventure, the Spanish game Megacorp (I recommend it to everyone who wants to practice some Spanish, it's a rare example of not-to-difficult, not-to-easy difficulty in an adventure game), while graphic adventures are my favorite video game genre.

 

Text adventures suffer from the problem of having to type every time, and games like Monkey Island 1-2, Indiana Jones 1-2 and Space Quest IV-V show that mouse based games don't have to bee "too easy".

 

But some early Sierra games don't have an VGA, mouse compatible remake (or only have an amateur one, like SQ2 and SQ3) and should be played in their original, text-based wonderful form. I just wish someone made remakes of these games where you could select the verbs and objects with up and down, similar to the way some text based operating systems remember your last inputs.

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16 minutes ago, Trebor said:

Indeed.  Prices started coming down towards the late 80's, but still added a considerable cost to the package if opting for a hard drive. 

 

Below is the first PC computer and monitor pair I owned (Prior computer was a Commodore Vic-20), though I believe I had it earlier, circa '86, and not sure where it was purchased.  Regardless, this listing is from a 1988 Sears catalog:

 

Laser_Turbo_XT_1988_Sears.thumb.jpg.7eac75c076647639469d3b7877cd0bb7.jpg

 

I did not own a printer.  The cost of the machine with two 5 1/4" inch (low density) floppies was $799.   If a person opted for one 5 1/4" and one 20MB hard drive instead, the system cost was $999.   If one wanted to keep both floppies and buy the internal hard drive kit to install it themselves, it sold for $399.

 

 

I remember the size of my 20MB hard drive. Damn thing looked like a toaster.

 

When I got my Tandy, the printer came with the system. I found it useful because with Print Shop, I made banners, cards, and posters for people for a small fee. I kinda miss that fun.

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3 minutes ago, IntelliMission said:

But some early Sierra games don't have an VGA, mouse compatible remake (or only have an amateur one, like SQ2 and SQ3) and should be played in their original, text-based wonderful form. I just wish someone made remakes of these games where you could select the verbs and objects with up and down, similar to the way some text based operating systems remember your last inputs.

Yes, games like Manhunter 1&2, Gold Rush, the Conquest games etc...

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11 minutes ago, Billy Beans said:

Because I had played most of the Infocom games, the parser wasn't too much of a problem in Sierra games. I would have rather seen Sierra use a point-and-click similar to SCUMM games.

Scott Adams titles on the Vic-20, Transylvania on the Apple II, I played prior to the Sierra titles.  Combine that with Wishbringer and the SAGA Adams titles under my cousin's C64, and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy under DOS, by the time I started with games like King's Quest and Space Quest, they were a 'step up' in ease of use and engagement to me.

 

Additionally, this is all pre-Windows...I didn't use a mouse.  So while I enjoyed Maniac Mansion, I actually found it to be slightly cumbersome to move the highlighter around to make a word selection, as opposed to typing what I wanted to do in two simple words.

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1 minute ago, Trebor said:

Scott Adams titles on the Vic-20, Transylvania on the Apple II, I played prior to the Sierra titles.  Combine that with Wishbringer and the SAGA Adams titles under my cousin's C64, and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy under DOS, by the time I started with games like King's Quest and Space Quest, they were a 'step up' in ease of use and engagement to me.

Yes, exactly. I played some remake/offshoot of Colossal Cave on the TRS-80 and quickly began looking for other text adventures from various companies. I completed a good number of Infocom's earlier games on my own...even if they took me weeks/months of working out. Suspended gave me headaches. Yes, adding 3-D graphics to the formula was a nice step up.

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Text adventures and point and click games are similar in some respects, but ultimately a different kettle of fish. The former rely mostly on imagination to build the gameworld, plus parser struggles are actually sort of a meta-puzzle. The latter on the other hand are much more immediate and, obviously, visual. Totally different experiences. I love them both, but sometimes think that if I had to choose one, it'd be IF.

 

There's a popular opinion that point & click superseded IF naturally, but I can't agree with that. They fell out of favour in the mainstream, but still have a very strong following.

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I'm trying to decide which DOS RPG to play next.  I've made varying amounts of progress in the following but am wondering if anyone has any thoughts on these:

 

  • Might & Magic II: Gates to Another World
  • AD&D: Curse of the Azure Bonds
  • The Magic Candle
  • Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge
  • Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire
  • The Elder Scrolls: Arena
  • Dragon Wars
  • Demon's Winter

(I've already finished M&M1, AD&D Pool of Radiance, Wizardry 1-3&5, QFG1, The Bard's Tale 1-3, Ultima 1/3/4 and Wasteland over the last few years).

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3 minutes ago, newtmonkey said:

I'm trying to decide which DOS RPG to play next.  I've made varying amounts of progress in the following but am wondering if anyone has any thoughts on these:

 

  • Might & Magic II: Gates to Another World
  • AD&D: Curse of the Azure Bonds
  • The Magic Candle
  • Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge
  • Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire
  • The Elder Scrolls: Arena
  • Dragon Wars
  • Demon's Winter

(I've already finished M&M1, AD&D Pool of Radiance, Wizardry 1-3&5, QFG1, The Bard's Tale 1-3, Ultima 1/3/4 and Wasteland over the last few years).

If there's a GoldBox game involved, it's never a dilemma, so you should transfer your Pool Of Radiance party to Azure Bonds pronto ;)

 

Dragon Wars is probably the best from that other, "static combat" lot. Also, if you've never played Darklands before I recommend heartily. It's different, but utterly awesome.

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Thanks @youxia

Coincidentally, I actually have a physical copy of Darklands (it's one of the few I have!) and have never even tried it.  Sounds like a great idea to give it a try this week!

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, newtmonkey said:

I'm trying to decide which DOS RPG to play next.  I've made varying amounts of progress in the following but am wondering if anyone has any thoughts on these:

 

  • Might & Magic II: Gates to Another World
  • AD&D: Curse of the Azure Bonds
  • The Magic Candle
  • Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge
  • Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire
  • The Elder Scrolls: Arena
  • Dragon Wars
  • Demon's Winter

(I've already finished M&M1, AD&D Pool of Radiance, Wizardry 1-3&5, QFG1, The Bard's Tale 1-3, Ultima 1/3/4 and Wasteland over the last few years).

Definitely Curse of the Azure Bonds. An even better choice if you have characters to copy over from Pool of Radiance. The SSI games are great, and best played in order...at least in their respective series.

 

Speaking of SSI games. If you like Eye of the Beholder, you should try Dungeon Hack if you can find it. It's basically EOB without a major story. Just the dungeon. You can adjust every setting in the game too: Trap frequency, monster frequency, multi-level puzzles etc...

Edited by Billy Beans
Added more info
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1 hour ago, Trebor said:

I did not own a printer.  In 1988, the cost of the machine with two 5 1/4" inch (low density) floppies was $799.   If a person opted for one 5 1/4" and one 20MB hard drive instead, the system cost was $999.   If one wanted to keep both floppies and buy the internal hard drive kit to install it themselves, it sold for $399.

And it wasn't just the cost, it was the capacity.   I was on ST at the time, and I'd look at my case of floppies, and realize that a 10 or 20mb hard drive could only store the equivalent a handful of floppies, for several hundred dollars.   Was hard to justify the cost.

 

But price fell every year, capacity increased every years,  smaller 3.5" hard drives came out, and eventually the price/capacity ratio was right.

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29 minutes ago, youxia said:

Text adventures and point and click games are similar in some respects, but ultimately a different kettle of fish. The former rely mostly on imagination to build the gameworld, plus parser struggles are actually sort of a meta-puzzle.

I remember that the Hitchhiker's Guide parser used to do funny things with the parser.   When the player entered a mistyped word or awkward phrased, it might turn out to be an insult in an Alien tongue that launches a war between alien races..   until they realize it was you who uttered the phrase later in the game, and they come for you.

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@Billy Beans

Thanks for replying!  I did import my winning party from Pool of Radiance into Azure Bonds and actually did make some progress in it (two bonds removed).  Maybe I'll switch back and forth between Darklands and Curse of the Azure Bonds, since they are so different it shouldn't mix me up!

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12 minutes ago, zzip said:

I remember that the Hitchhiker's Guide parser used to do funny things with the parser.   When the player entered a mistyped word or awkward phrased, it might turn out to be an insult in an Alien tongue that launches a war between alien races..   until they realize it was you who uttered the phrase later in the game, and they come for you.

Infocom got very creative with their games. I believe that you ran into that issue in Hitchhiker's Guide if you didn't have the Babelfish in your ear.

 

One of their games that I had the hardest time with was Trinity. It used UK English terms for certain things, and I had no idea what they were talking about.

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