Ahh, nostalgia strikes. For those early sprouted Millennials, DOS games may still hold a special spot in their hearts. With only some games sharing compatibility with Windows '95, most of them were made to work on systems that barely saw 256 colors and 8-bit sounds. DOS was heavily used as a platform for games before game companies warmed up to Windows. However, once that happened, old gems (and less captivating titles) were left behind in favor of more complex configurations and higher system specs... much like what happened with the PS4, but worse.
DOSBox recreates the DOS environment on modern machines. Its interface mimics the original DOS almost in its entirety, the main differences being the fact that it no longer works with physical drives and features specific commands that deal with it being an emulator, not an operating system. Oh, it also lacks a lot of functionalities of the original DOS. But you're here to play games, so who cares?!
After launching DOSBox, you will need to create a virtual C:\ drive to use it properly. That means to assign a folder of your choice as the main drive, making whatever is located there also visible in DOSBox. In this way you can run applications and, more likely, games just like you would in the olden days.
You might be aware that older games were clocked to run at the speed of the CPU cycles. That wasn't a problem when you get 66 MHz after pressing the 'Turbo' button, but at a couple of Gigahertz or more, the term 'unplayable' is an understatement. Luckily, DOSBox has commands for simulating lower CPU cycles, so it's just fine.
Sound is also covered by emulating the Gravis Ultra Sound, SoundBlaster sound systems and more. So you may safely choose any from that blue sound menu.
The starting screen in DOSBox contains all the information you'll need to familiarize yourself with the commands. Most importantly, the INTRO command takes you over how to mount and use a folder as the C:\ drive. Beyond that, there's not much you'll need to learn.
Finally, if you have the technical prowess of a ninety-year-old granny and don't have a clue about what console commands are, don't worry. DOSBox has been put to good use and works by default on the DOS games that GOG sells. You know, those Poles that made the Whicher.
- DOS emulation with command console
- Low CPU cycle emulation
- Emulates DOS era sound cards
DOSBox is a free and wonderful avenue for experiencing old games. Given that AAA releases nowadays are mostly dumb, repetitive, and politically laden, the quality of older designs puts them to shame. It was a time when the game devs were passionate about their products, not the CEO's and certainly not the PC committees.