Techies - Old Computer game playing?

I have put off asking this question for a long time due partly to my feeling silly about knowing nothing of technology and partly out on annoyance at myself.

I have a few older computer games, the kind with poor graphics that come on several 3 1/2" floppy disks.

Newer computers simply tell me they won’t run these games because they too old for wonderful high-speed super-fantastic computers to be bothered with.

Actally, my own computer is more than three years old, but it just won’t accept these old games (say about '93-'96 ere).

Is there any way I can actually play my old games on a more modern computer, or should I buy an old Tandy and say “live and let live”?

Any help or suggestions?

3 1/2" floppy disks, eh? You want an old game, you dig out the 5.25" floppy drive in the closet and hook it up to your Pentium IV …

Now, to the issue. When you say your computer ‘won’t accept’ these old games, what specifically do you mean? Does it refuse to read the disk, or does it refuse to install, or does it refuse to run, or does it refuse to run well? There are workarounds and solutions to all of these, but more information would help. Such as what OS you currently use, what problem you’re having in detail, and perhaps even what games you’re trying to run.

There are many community sites online that can help you out. They are sites that still know and love the old games. Some games now need something to run in, that behaves the same as the “slow old computer”. If your disks are origional disks, but corrupt, I would imagine it is kosher to get the actual files from the internet, as long as you keep the old disks.

Try right clicking on the program, going to properties, and going to the compatiability tab.(I assume you are running Windows XP) Try those settings out and see if you can get the game to work.

If you are trying to play a DOS based game in Windows XP, it will not run at all without some kind of DOS emulator software. XP eliminated all traces of DOS, while Win 98 and ME still had it in a reduced form.

Erm, wow. I reckon I should have waited longer still on this one. I’ll have to wait until I’m home to actually figure out all the questions y’all brought up.

Otherwise, Iteki, any links? I know nothing of these kinds of sites.

Along this line… I recently unearthed an old game called “Masters of Magic” that I really enjoyed. It doesn’t seem to want to run on my computer, though, because “you must have 2700K of expanded memory.”

I’m on a fairly new computer (1.2 gigahertz, 128 megs of RAM, etc). Far more than necessary for this game. I played it just fine on my old 486.

Any thoughts? is an “abandonware” site.
They are very clear about only having actual “abandoned” (titles that have been released for free distribution) programs, but they also have information about other old games and probably how to play them. The site is unreachable for me right now however.

You might also want to consider spending 50 dollars on an old 486 or pI to play your old games.

I went through a stint on my win98 k6 machine where I replayed all my old 286 favourites. I had to download a slow-downer; a lot of the old games based their timing on the computer’s clock, and had to be run from within a program that faked them out to think the computer was running more slowly than it was. I can’t remember the name of the program but the underdogs site above sounds like a good place to start.

Johnny Bravo: Masters of Magic was hard enough to run back when it came out. The solution in my household was a carefully crafted boot disk – you might check on some gamer nostalgia sites for what exactly needs to be done, since it was a well-known and notoriously picky game.

This is sort of related to DOS emulation. Modern computers have a flat memory model, meaning you can think of it as one big field, making it easy to go to a specific memory address. DOS based computers had memory that was divided into different sized portions. The only reason for this clunky system was a kludgey sort of backwards compatibility with older programs, but it made memory management a big pain in the ass, especially for games. Thus the special boot disks for each game that Dragonblink mentioned; each game had different memory requirements.

Programs that were written to run in this environment expect the physical memory to be addressed a certain way; since modern computers have different memory systems, older programs won’t work. So in addition to a DOS emulator, for these kind of programs you also need a memory management emulator.

Programs written for older versions of Windows don’t have as much of this sort of problem, since Windows provided a more standardized interface for programs to use. On the other hand, it’s probably easier to get a DOS program to run in Win XP than a Win 3.1 program. While DOS and Win XP are more fundamentally different, writing a DOS emulator is relatively simple. Win XP has huge differences in the way it handles things internally, even compared to Win 98.

I’ve had a lot of fun with Mac abandonware games. Some can be tricky or impossible to run. If you can boot to an older OS, success is much more likely (eg OS9.2 direct works a thousand times better than using the Classic layer).

You might also have a look for emulators. I even played old Amstrad CPC-464 games on my Mac with this (effectively legit, as I used to own the same games on my Amstrad decades back). Managing to finish “Heroes of Khan” thank to game cheats site was brilliant - a long delayed, but very satisfactory victory!! Those sites - in fact the whole internet - just wasn’t available back in Amstrad days :wink:

There is a wealth of information out there on specialist sites. As someone suggests, you may be able to download clean version of the games on your disk, if they are corrupted. There may also be cracked/hacked versions of the games to enable them to play on more modern systems, but obviously this may be less legal.

For the Master of Magic game, you may have to make a boot disk. Windows 98 proudly declare that they will handle all DOS memory for you so that you always have enough conventional RAM to run your games. Well, it’s a lie on my machine :frowning:

So pull out your DOS 5.5 manual and start formatting…

I managed to get Master of Magic (great game!) to run on my windows 98 machine, but it took quite some time and effort. Basically turn off everything but the mouse and sound card and memory drivers and load everything High.

What I did when Advanced Civilization (based on the original board game, not Sid Meier’s computer games) wouldn’t run under Windows XP was the following:

[ol][li]Used Partition magic to seperate off a 1-gig portion of my 20-gig hard drive[/li][li]Made a boot disk from an older Win98 machine[/li][li]Formatted the small partition and copied the files from the floppy onto it, modifying the AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS accordingly (e-mail me for details)[/li][li]Installed Norton Boot Commander so my machine offeres me a choice to boot WinXP or Win98, with WinXP loading automatically after 10 seconds[/li][li]Booted the Win98 partition (this consisted of simply the Win98 system files; I didn’t bother with the Win98 GUI) and installed appropriate DOS mouse and sound card drivers[/li][li]Installed the game[/li][li]Conquered the world[/li][/ol]

<b>Iteki</b> the site can be reached more reliably at

The origional URL was taken over a while back, and it would seem that they haven’t quite sorted out the problems remaining from that situation.

whoops, thinking in html there


me too stoopid

A good place to go to find out how to actually get the damned things running is VOGONS (Very Old Games On New Systems). They have extensive FAQs on the worst “problem children” games and well-informed forums for asking questions.