F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Question) -
Playing old games
Getting an old PC to run oldgames
Playing old games
Even though there is no substitute for playing these old games on the original
machine there are still plenty of thing you can do to make them playable
on today's superfast computers.
If you are using windows 9x/me most games will work properly because these
operating systems still support most DOS functions.
If however you're using a windows NT/2k/XP machine things change a bit however
most games will still be playable.
Several sections will be covered in this FAQ and also if you are going to
get an old PC I there are also some suggestions there. Most topics will
be about DOS-based games because most of the older windows games will run
without too much problems on the new windows platforms. Also many game here
require emulators which you can get from the utils section.
In de olden days you did not have fancy 3D graphics and such however there
were several differant types of cards available, many are supported by today's
These were the types of cards available for PC systems:
Pretty much all adapters today support at least VGA and most will do CGA/EGA
as well so there shouldn't be too many problems.
A high resolution standard capable of 720x348 resolution for black
& white graphics and text. Some older games support these modes
however it's unlikely that cards today support this standard.
The Hercules company still makes videocards up to this day.
in 1981 by IBM.
CGA stands for Color Graphics Adapter, able to display 4 colors at
a resolution of 320x200. A high resolution mode of 640x200 was available
with only black&white colors.
Many games supported this graphic mode and many of the earlier games
ONLY offer cga-graphics.
in 1984 by IBM.
EGA stands for Enchanced Graphics Adapter, able to display 16 colors
from a palette of 64 at a resolution of 320x200 or 640x350.
Most games used the low resolution mode of this until the new VGA
adapter was the norm.
MCGA) Introduced in 1987 by IBM.
VGA stands for Video Graphics Array, able to display 256 colors in
a resolution of 320x200 or 16 colors at 640x480.
It was not until the early 90s that games required a VGA adapter and
did not support older modes anymore.
VGA uses analog signals instead of digital like earlier adaptors so
older monitors don't work with these cards.
Note: Because of this when I connect up my old 286 PC's CGA adapter
with a standard VGA monitor is will only display in black&white.
to the VGA standard where you could have higher resolutions and more
colors but at this time most games were already being made for windows.
There are a few exceptions and these games usually required a VESA
driver to correctly display graphics.
Remember however that you can't play DOS-games in a windows, they will always
be in fullscreen mode.
In the reviews I will state which graphic modes are supported by that game
and if there any specific problems I will also note them.
These days CPU speeds range in the Ghz (Gigahertz) instead of Mhz (Megahertz)
so it won't be a surprise that some games run too fast on these systems.
If you're running pure DOS (not a DOS-box in windows) you can use moslo,
a handy program to slow down your computer however under windows it usually
Under DOS there are several thing you can try, if you can get to the BIOS
of your machine there are some settings to slow down your PC.
(WARNING if you don't know for sure what to do in the BIOS then DON'T do
it because it might stop your computer from working !)
Using an Award bios go to BIOS features setup, you can disable the 'external
'CPU internal cache' these options slow down your system greatly on the
Unfortunately I haven't really come across a good windows option yet but
if you do mail me.
Until recently playing DOS-games using Windows NT/2k/XP you were unable
to get proper sound however now you can use VDMS (Virtual Dos Machine Sound).
VDSM emulates adlib/soundblaster/Roland soundcards so that DOS-games actually
'see' one of these cards and it works quite well. Get VDMS here
Check for settings later.
Getting an old PC to run oldgames
Getting an old PC is the best (I think) way of playing old games so I will
give you some advice as to what kind of machine to choose from.
First let's talk CPU, don't get anything that is higer than a pentium1 because
they will most likely be too fast. I had quite a dillemma choosing a system
because I could go for a slower model but newer games would be rather sluggish.
In the end I was able to get a pentium1-166 Mhz (with MMX) with an Abit
motherboard, even though this is a rather fast machine the bios of pentium
machines allowes lots of tweaking to slow down the machine. (read more about
that in de CPU section)
If you can you should get a pentium1 at slower speeds, about 75-100 because
you can tweak it more easily.
Make sure your motherboard has ISA connecters, they look similar to PCI
connectors but are black and longer. (click here for a picture).
For sound get an ORIGINAL soundblaster 2/pro from Creative Labs with an
ISA connector they are the most supported cards for oldgames. Don't get
one of those 100% soundblaster compatible cards because hey aren't 100%
Most videocards will suffice for DOS-games so nothing fancy required.
With such a setup you can play pretty much all but the oldest games without
too much problems. The oldest games will still be too fast but you can use
moslo to slow down your pc some more. (get it from the utils section)