by Writer 26. March 2018 05:20

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.