Back When DOS Games Ruled the Roost

I used to play Old DOS Games and there is something magical that occurs every time I come across one that's been ported to run in a Windows 10 DOS emulation environment.The memories of long nights leading to the light of dawn and the challenge of getting a game to run on only 640K of usable memory fill my heart with an excited joy. The thrill that occurred when you discovered something new and unexpected, something that none of your friends knew about.

The pleasure of editing the autoexec.bat and config.sys files in order to load every possible driver or terminate and stay resident program into the UMB (upper memory block) returns in full force. In order to free up as much room in conventional memory as possible so that your newest game would run in spectacular fashion required more than a passing knowledge of the DOS command line. Games were so different back then. They were a challenge, even before you started the game play.

The First Gaming Experience Was the Best

My first computer was a Packard Bell with a 10MB hard drive and 4 MB of RAM. I had to add a SoundBlaster sound card since PCs didn’t come with sound capability pre-loaded. My first DOS game, Ultima was known as a MUD or multi-user dungeon style of game. Ultima was completely text-based and it was truly a joy to play. The text on the screen would narrate the plot line of the story and the gamer needed to make decisions based on what was presented.

A typical Old DOS Games would have gone something like this; “You are walking down a lonely road. It is nighttime and the moon is full. The wind blows and you pull your clock more tightly around your body. As you crest a hill, you perceive a fork ahead in the road. What do you do?” At this point the gamer would be offered a text input box to enter his decision; “Take the left fork” one might enter and the game would respond accordingly. Goblins, ghosts, and warlocks populated this universe and it was your goal to rescue a damsel in distress or capture the evil lord’s treasure. What fun we had.

MUDs, RPGs and First Person Shooters

Wolfenstein 3D was the first graphical game I remember playing. This game was a true step up in game development. The industry had moved from CGA to VGA graphics at this time and the ability to render 256 colors with a pixel density of 640 by 480 was astounding. What a giant leap forward this was. Wolfenstein was the best game to capitalize on this new graphics environment. With full, 360° playability and an action packed story line this game was one of the best. Who wouldn’t love to play an American spy of Polish descent hell-bent on destroying the NAZI regime?

There was King’s Quest and Oregon Trail, Zelda and Doom, Commander Keen and The Prince of Persia. The list goes on and on. There is something of a revival happening in the gaming world today as young and old alike look to the past for the quality Old DOS Games that created the future.

The Golden Age of Gaming: Old DOS Games

Old Games Are Hard To Beat

Modern video games are amazing. With their hyper-realistic graphics, slick, multi-player gameplay and surround sound that puts you right in the middle of the action, you might think that gamers have never had it so good. Buta long time ago, before the PlayStation, before touchscreens, before the Internet, even before the computer mouse, there was a golden age of gaming and it ran on a text-based operating system called MS-DOS. These Old DOS Games were slow, fiddly to set up, their music was bleepy, their graphics were blocky and if your mum called you downstairs for tea at a crucial moment, you couldn't save your level.

But no matter how impressive a game looks and sounds, what matters in the end, is how much fun it is to play. And these minimalist games made up for up for their clunkiness with their clever and absorbing gameplay. Many modern games don't ask much more from players than fast reflexes and great hand-eye coordination. Beating their retro equivalents demanded problem-solving skills, spatial awareness and a quick wit too. Some of the best modern games started out as DOS games: Sim City, Pacman, Prince of Persia, Tetris, Doom and Duke Nukem. Although they might look more impressive these days, the gameplay of their originals has never been beaten.

Thousands of Old DOS Games were released between 1981 and 1997, in a variety that's mind-boggling when compared to the shoot-em-up-saturated market of today. There were RPGs like The Elder Scrolls, adventure games like Leisure Suit Larry, fighting games like Mortal Kombat, racing games like The Need for Speed, and strategy games, sports games, board games, puzzle games, educational games and of course, hundreds of first person shooter games.

The Golden Age of Gaming Lives On

These days we can fire up Grand Theft Auto with a couple of clicks, but if you wanted to play a game on your PCback in the day, you couldn't just click on an icon. You had to type a series of arcane codes into a command line to find the right files. If you've got a bunch of old DOS games on disk up in the attic and you want to show the kids what they've been missing, the golden age of gaming lives on in DOSBox. This software gives you a shell in which you can run the games and recreates the authentic experience by forcing you to use those tricky command line prompts. There are lots of Old DOS Games that you can download legally to play on DOSbox, and plenty more "abandonware" games that aren't legal, but the developers don't seem to mind their games being revived by nostalgic fans.

If you're less technically-minded and you want to relive the magic of your 80s games 2018, you can actually do thatwith just a couple of clicks. The Internet Archive has collected more than 4000 MS-DOS games,and you can play them online!You'll find old favourites like Donkey Kong, Link, Maniac Mansion, Qbert, Arkanoid, Tomb Raider, Lemmings and so many more that you might temporarily forget all about the sleek black box of the PlayStation gathering dust next to the TV.

Warcraft: Orcs and Humans

Developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment, Warcraft: Orcs and Humans were first released in November of 1994, and in a short time period, became a very well selling and well-loved title. The game was released for Windows in 1994, but did not come out for Macintosh until 1996, hurting some sales, but the game was still very successful. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans was a first person real-time simulator, and one of the first real-time simulators to allow for multiplayer gaming. The success of this game, as well as the franchise built on it, led to a boom in real-time simulator old PC games, and this series became the main competitor to the leading game at the time: Command and Conquer. While Warcraft was not the first real-time simulator to offer a multiplayer game mode, it created a modified story for the multiplayer mode which enhanced the overall user experience.

The Gameplay Experience

In Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, players would first choose whether to be humans or the orc race. Humans are the defenders and Orcs are the invaders. Whichever side the player picks, in the single player mode, the player must work through several missions to achieve their sides goal of either repelling the attacking orcs or taking over the human establishment. The goal for each individual mission changes, but it usually involves building some sort of settlement, collecting resources, building an army and then destroying the enemy. Warcraft expanded on the missions of other similar old PC games by adding additional features and options such as conquering opposing fighters, rescuing and fixing destroyed towns, saving allied units from an enemy camp, and ultimately destroying the enemy’s main base. In the multiplayer mode, several advancements were made over other old PC games as well. Warcraft’s multiplayer mode allowed players to connect through modem or wirelessly, and could be played between two players. In this mode, players would seek to defeat each other by using a similar battle strategy as was necessary in the single player mode involving building a base and an army before destroying the enemy.

Critical Reception and Success

When Warcraft was released, it immediately solidified Blizzard as a top developer, as the company was previously struggling for content and funding. Warcraft took care of that as it ranked 19th out of the top 20 CDs in all categories. The game was praised for its solid strategy, simple interface and fantasy theme, while winning PC Gamers Editor’s Choice Award in 1994 and was a finalist for top awards from several different reviewers. As time passed and other games were released, some began to speak out against Warcraft, complaining that the game was overly slow, and that it required too much to start up before getting to the action. Others said that the artificial intelligence was unintelligent and overly predictable, causing the game to lose its luster after several plays. However, most critics agree that these problems really do not change their opinion much about the high quality and enjoyability of the game. Warcraft: Orcs and Humans was the first successful title from Blizzard Entertainment, and the franchise it produced has been one of the most successful of all time, with five core games and a feature film recently released. Warcraft is still enjoyed by gamers worldwide.