"A free and useful DOS-emulator."
Looking to fulfill a bit of PC nostalgia? Than DOSBox may be what you’re looking for. It’s been a long time since any operating system has supported the classic MS-DOS system. Making it difficult to play some of your old favorite games lying in the back of your closet. With the DOSBox emulator and relying on the MS-DOS commands you can start to play some of your old favorite games on pretty much any current computer. DOSBox works as an emulator for the MS-DOS system and has versions out for Windows, OSx, and Linux platforms. It currently has well over three thousand games on its compatibility list giving you a good chance that it will probably work with your favorite classic games.
I tested three games on DOSBox Elder Scrolls Arena, Warcraft Humans & Orcs, and Descent 2. Each game played as well as I remembered on my first home computer. As most emulators out there, it does have its share of bugs and required tweaking for some games. I found that it works best if you stay in the console while playing games as sometimes going out of the emulator window and back in caused some temporary graphical issues.
You’ll also be looking at setting up and configuring many games through the setup.exe or install.exe files included in most games. Though there are several games that will work right off the launch, depending on your hardware setup you may need to make some adjustments to sound or video. All in all though, if you’re looking for the classic MS-DOS experience it just wouldn’t be the same without the MS-DOS console and setup.exe files.
At under 2MB DOSBox is a quick an easy download & installation. You’ll find most of the setup after you’ve installed the console. Once launched you’re greeted with a command console screen with a few starter commands like “INTRO and “HELP” that prove to be very useful for someone unfamiliar with MS-DOS commands. There is also a helpful readme.txt file included with the emulator. DOSBox currently has builds for Windows, OSx, and Linux. It doesn’t specify what versions of Windows on the download list, but I did successfully test the application on Windows XP, 7, and 8.
It’s exactly like the original MS-DOS console. You’ll be greeted by an 8 bit screen with not much more than a drive path and blinking cursor. The top of the window does give some information like Cpu speed and frameskips. There is also an intro box at the top of the screen displaying some additional functionality, though expect it to disappear shortly after launching a game.
- A large database of compatible games
- Runs any MS-DOS applications
- A few small graphical issues while switching windows
- Need to be familiar with MS-DOS
ScummVM is another MS DOS emulator, but focuses more on Adventure games resulting in a small compatibility list. Boxer is also another good alternative. It supports more features such as copy & paste, built-in screen shots, and more. Boxer is only available to Mac OSx.
If you have an itch to experience the days when computers had x86 chips and MS DOS was the dominate operating system than DOSBox may be just what you need. Games run just as well as they ever did and it’s a nice experience to actually use the full MS-DOS console.
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