How To Get Old DOS Computer Games To Run On Windows 7

intro4   How To Get Old DOS Computer Games To Run On Windows 7Microsoft’s antiquated and since-retired operating system MS-DOS (short for Microsoft Disk Operating System) was home to some fantastic games. Many of these old DOS computer games now sit dusty and unloved in attics across the world, next to old copies of Lotus Word Pro and your Windows 98 Second Edition CD.

So maybe it’s time to drop the gamepad, leave the Wii-mote and shun Kinect. Get that box of floppies and badly scratched CDs out of the attic, brush up on your command line skills and enjoy some of the finest computer games ever developed.

If you’re a Windows 7 user with a nostalgic craving for the classics, you’re going to need a bit of help getting everything up and running. Enter DOSBox.

MS-DOS Emulation

In order to create an environment in which your ageing games will feel most comfortable, you’re going to need to run a DOS emulator. There’s a couple available, but my personal favourite (because it’s easy and just works) is DOSBox.

fodder   How To Get Old DOS Computer Games To Run On Windows 7

You can download DOSBox here, being a Windows user you’ll want the top option. It’s worth mentioning the large array of different versions to choose from – DOSBox will work just as well on Linux and Mac, as well as FreeBSD, Solaris and other more obscure platforms.

Once downloaded, double click the executable installer.

dosboxinstall   How To Get Old DOS Computer Games To Run On Windows 7

You’ll be prompted to accept the licence, create shortcuts and finally choose an install directory. Hit the Install button when you’re ready, then Close.

Using DOSBox

Find the DOSBox folder in your Start menu or use the desktop shortcut you just created. You’ll notice two windows open: the DOSBox status window and the main DOSBox window. You’ll want the main one.

dosboxmain   How To Get Old DOS Computer Games To Run On Windows 7

Before you can run any games you’ll need to mount a directory as your virtual C:\ drive. This is what DOSBox will use as a local hard drive, any folders therein can then be accessed with the C: prefix (more on this in a bit).

To mount a folder of your choice, type:

mount c <folder>\

I made a directory called dosgames on my C:\ drive, so to mount it I would type:

mount c c:\dosgames\

mount   How To Get Old DOS Computer Games To Run On Windows 7

Now you can place any games you wish to run into the folder you mounted. You will need to mount a folder each time you run DOSBox in order to access the juicy games stored within.

It’s probably worth brushing up on your command line skills too. Those of you who are veterans of the DOS era will probably encounter little trouble, but users who are new to the command line may struggle.

Navigation is done through the cd command, so to change directory from the default DOSBox Z:\> prompt you’d type:

C:\

To change to the C: drive you just created, then:

 cd /doom/

This would take you to the doom directory, if you had one. There is help available within DOSBox, at any time type help /all for a complete list of supported commands.

The Games

So you’ve set up DOSBox, and you even know how to use it. With your virtual C:\ drive created it’s time to fill that folder you mounted with classic games.

There’s a couple of ways to get hold of old DOS computer games. The most obvious method is using your original CD or floppy disk. To do this, create a new folder within the mounted location (so for me, it’s C:\dosgames\) and drag the contents of the CD/floppy into it.

You can then navigate there, using the cd command and run the game by typing:

run <executable>

Replace <executable> with the name of the game’s executable file, and enjoy yourself.

keen   How To Get Old DOS Computer Games To Run On Windows 7

Maybe you’ve scratched your old CDs, no longer have a floppy drive or are just plain lazy – you can always download the games you own. This is not illegal provided you own the original media, though if you download any games you don’t own then be aware that you’re breaking the law.

I’m not going to name any websites from which to download said games, though you’ll probably find what you’re looking for using torrents and private trackers.

As usual, put any games you’ve downloaded within the folder you mounted. You’ll then be able to access them through DOSBox.

Last but certainly not least there’s abandonware. This software’s legality is still contested for a variety of reasons, but there’s a flurry of websites that are jam-packed with games – and we’ve got an article all about them.

Conclusion

DOSBox should be your ticket to old-school gaming on Microsoft’s latest operating system. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the latest and greatest and enjoy the golden oldies. If you think this is awesome, then check out our other article on SCUMMVM for point-and-click goodness. You’ll be playing classics like Cannon Fodder, Theme Park and Commander Keen for hours!

Have you played with DOSBox? Got any favourites from years gone by? Let us know in the comments.

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16 Comments -

0 votes

Ragnar Moller

Great idea for an article. But let’s face it, the really old DOS games are basically not for toaday’s Kids. They are just to crappy by todays standards. I think the golden opportunity is windows games that would be most interesting to revive. Write an article on running old windos games. Do you need to run a tripple boot, or some kind of virtial PC?

0 votes

Tim Brookes

If you’re having trouble getting the golden Win 95 and 98 oldies to work you’ll probably have the most luck with Windows 7′s compatability mode.

Often you’ll need to right click the installer, check “Run in Compatibility Mode” (I find that Win XP SP2 generally just works) and check “Run as Administrator”.

Then you’ll probably need to do the same for the game’s executable file. I will have a look into this!

0 votes

Guest

I’d rather say that today’s kids are crappy by the standards of old DOS games.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Graphics over gameplay – amirite?!

0 votes

Karakuroraka3

I think the really old DOS games (CGA or EGA) may not be too appealing to a lot of gamers today, but most of the games with vga or higher graphics modes shouldn’t look that dated. A lot of people, kids included, are still playing NES games. There are plenty of DOS games that are just as good and look light years better.

0 votes

GiftBaskets

I remember when i was just 7 or 8 and use to play those those games. Was a nice moment in my life, because at that moment, i hadnt so much opportunities to buy different gagets.

http://www.GiftBasketsPlus.com

0 votes

GiftBaskets

I remember when i was just 7 or 8 and use to play those those games. Was a nice moment in my life, because at that moment, i hadnt so much opportunities to buy different gadgets.

0 votes

Tuxini

I used DosBox some years ago and there was a way to have the C:\ mounted at startup. I have forgotten what it was, but it saved having to mount every time you used DosBox. Does anyone know what it was?

0 votes

Tuxini

I used DosBox some years ago and there was a way to have the C: mounted at startup. I have forgotten what it was, but it saved having to mount every time you used DosBox. Does anyone know what it was?

0 votes
0 votes

bryan

im a young blood only nineteen and i still love to play the old dos games over the new ones id chose elder scrolls arena or dagger fall or oblivion any day more terain

0 votes

Aibek

I am sure someone can tell you what it was if you post this on MakeUseOf Answers, http://www.makeuseof.com/answe

0 votes

Talkarlin

If you just want to have the goodness of being able to play the old favorites but don’t want to go to all that DOS trouble try D-fend Reloded: http://dfendreloaded.sourcefor

0 votes

Talkarlin

If you just want to have the goodness of being able to play the old favorites but don’t want to go to all that DOS trouble try D-fend Reloded: http://dfendreloaded.sourceforge.net/

0 votes

gamesorbiter

Not all games are compatible with dosbox but i have tested a few and if anyone is looking for a place to download them you can look here:
http://abandonware.gamesorbiter.com

0 votes

gamesorbiter

Not all games are compatible with dosbox but i have tested a few and if anyone is looking for a place to download them you can look here:
http://abandonware.gamesorbite