I have games. I mean, I have lots of games. Old games, new games, interesting games, rare games, big box games, err…PC games? Yes. I have lots of PC games. How can you play old PC games? With a PC? Yes. But what is your operating system? What is your graphics card? Processor? Do you actually have today a SSD instead of HDD and does it really matter?
The point here is that you were, earlier, playing these games with a computer that had maybe Windows 98, Windows XP or MS-DOS. Now it is 2021. The standard in Windows is Windows 10. It was only while ago when Windows 7 lost its support from Microsoft. Hardware does evolve. Operating systems keep developing. There are many changes. PC is a strong standard but its weakness is that old games that you were able to play earlier don’t necessarily work anymore.
You can have an old PlayStation or NES. You can then play these games with this device. And the strength of consoles compared to PC is just that. They can deliver games and playing them is reliable. This might have something to do with the traditional mentality of computer gamers. It used to be a good thing that your PC was fast. So basically we are having games as physical copies lying around in corners. I have made tens or maybe even hundreds of purchases from flee markets. Many times the game finally ended up not working on my Windows 10.
One solution for this is setting up an old computer that is running some old operating system. I haven’t tried this trick. Some games are so popular that there are fan-made patches that enable you to play the game. If your game is compatible with DOS you can always download DOSBox. You can also try to run your games on some virtual machine that has the right operating system. Steam is full of old games that are available for purchase. They work. That’s what you pay for.
So operating systems change. So does the hardware. So drivers play a big role in this game of games. We are forced to update our devices. You have to buy a new phone in say two to three years. Computers might last a bit longer but you can’t play latest games with a pc that is five years old. At least if you don’t update it anyhow. This problem is also visible on PlayStation and even Xbox. Basically the problem is that some old games are just so good that some gamers still want to play them.
Why aren’t there better emulators for old PC games? And this applies most to Windows 98 and XP era. There would even be some commercially interesting ideas about this subject. Would you pay for a retro console or software that you could play your old retro style games?
So this game is actually “Space Commanders”. It was released as a DOS game back in 1983. This is actually a game that I remember playing as a very young kid. This was made possible by the fact that I was extremely interested in computers when I was a young boy. There really weren’t any real violence in this game or I was too young to understand it. It is a game where you shoot objects but thanks to poor graphical presentation the deeper meaning of this game didn’t really come clear. Nowadays it is more important as the graphics are better to make sure that the content of the game is appropriate.
This is actually a clone of well known classic called “Space invaders”. I tried Space Commanders after so many years. It’s design is very interesting. I could be interested to see its source code. I don’t know if it is possible. Maybe I use my favorite search engine to find more information. I didn’t see, at least yet, who has designed this game.
I see already some structures in this game. I mean I understand some concepts and some designed features. I almost see the code in front of my eyes but not so clearly. The game works like this. You have a space ship that you can move to up, down, left and right. You can also shoot a bullet. Your mission is to shoot these, we can call them invaders, that are moving towards you. The game ends when invaders reach the bottom of the screen. Invaders move in, is that, six rows or in some kind of a formation. I don’t describe the movement so accurately.
There is a high score chart. It holds only the best score and the score gets deleted if you exit the game. After you have shot all the invaders you get back to where the game started and you face the next group of enemies. They are a bit faster this time. At the top of the screen there is a randomly appearing space ship that moves from left to right. If you shoot it you will get a bonus score. When you get 10000 points you get one ship more for you to use. So you have limited lives or fighting ships to use.
This was a nice short moment for me to play my dear, now so retro, game. I remember playing the EGA version while this game was in CGA. I mean actually that this game is black and white while EGA version had some colors. It definitely brought some memories to my mind. And if you wonder what kind of a computer I played this with back then I can tell you that it had a 286 processor. I can’t remember accurately any more details about the computer.
Ever wanted to play those old and definitely retro MS-DOS games you played tens of years ago? Guess what? That is completely possible! There is a tool called DOSBox. It is basically an emulator which then operates an emulation of MS-DOS. It might be a bit tricky to first get it to work but I am glad to say that there is a solution that makes running your DOS games easier. The thing is called D-Fend Reloaded and I am going through in this article where you can get it, how to install it, how to fiddle the settings and how to install a game for it. You can even go as far as installing some other frontend for your mobile device but that can be discussed later in some other article.
1.) Download D-Fend Realoaded
It was very easy to install D-Fend Reloaded on my Windows 10 computer. DOSBox is included in the setup. You can download it here . I am not going into so much details when it comes to different options you can download. Just choose “Default package” and download the installer of version 1.4.4. That is what I am using here. It might be alreaady updated but that’s usually a good thing. Installation is pretty much easy. Make sure you have a folder somewhere that has some zipped, preferably freeware, games that you can install with D-Fend Reloaded.
2) Download a .zip file of some “freeware” game
Next, we are going to download a free game so we can go through the process of installing a DOS game. There are lots of DOS games on “DOSGames.com”. Let’s download “Acid Tetris”. Just click “Download The Game Free”. The .zip file gets downloaded. You can move it to some folder you like.
3) Adding/installing a ´game to the frontend
This is the trickiest part of this easy tutorial. Open D-Fend Reloaded. Now click “File” and navigate to “Import”->”Import archive file…”. Then select the file we downloaded (“DOSBOX_SABA.ZIP”). Click “Open”. Add “Profile name”. It can be for example “Acid Tetris”. Click one more time “OK”. And now we have the game in the list.
4) Play the game we just installed
Just double click the name of a game (inside D-Fend Reloaded) that you want to play …
When the file sizes were smaller and graphics simpler there was a time when small games (I don’t know if there’s a good, English, term for these) had a place in a players hearth. Maybe they even had their place inside the computers operating system and more precisely the file system. That depended on how well the user of the computer had organized his or her hard drive space. You had to remove games sometimes to free some space. So you just couldn’t launch all of them. You had to make a choice.
Nowadays you rarely need to go through your hard drive trying to figure out what software to keep installed. You sometimes have to. I think it is stupid and slow. Did you nag about PS4s small hard drive? Do you think PS5 has too small amount of space included? Well, think about me trying to expand my hard drive, by updating my hardware, to be about 16 GB in the beginning of the 2000s. Do you get the picture..? We are super retro right here, you know.
If you have never played Space Invaders you might not get why I am writing about this clone of a classic. I actually didn’t play the original game but I did play a cloned game that was called Space Commander. The idea is to try to shoot some sort of “space bugs” that are moving slowly towards the player. Bugs are moving row after row. There are some good strategies for trying to beat this game but I think we are not going to go inside them so deeply. If these bugs reach the player the game is over. As a some sort of plot the game describes that these things you are shooting are aliens and you are a space soldier trying to block their way from destroying the whole planet Earth.
Cash Invaders saw the daylight in 2002. For me there is no nostalgia. I didn’t play it back then. It caught my attention as I was going through a library of DOS games found from the internet. It takes about 420 kilo Bytes of space. As I am crawling through internet to find more information about the game I arrive at a website that is dedicated solely to Cash Invaders. I feel happy. I didn’t find this through Google. I found it the way I have always found interesting homepages – through web pages that are linked to each other. On this website you can find the download of some versions of the game and there’s also a list of high scores. You can also find some pictures. The website is funny and I feel some nostalgic vibes when I read the contents and see the graphics.
This is the website
So there’s 100 levels. I reached level 16 on my first attempt. I read that the developers used some sampled sounds (from a movie “Independence Day”). Some sounds were taken from other smaller games. The graphics of the game are nice. A bit of 3D modelling also included. The game is nicely designed. I have only played a bit of this game so I didn’t get to the “cash system” but I think there is a way to upgrade your space ship as you collect coins from destroyed bugs. In overall it is a very nice and small DOS game that I can warmly recommend to any player that likes DOS content. See you on the next post. Have a nice day.
DOS stands for “Disk Operating System”. It has to be mentioned also that it was developed by Microsoft. It was the most popular and most used operating system before Windows, and even Linux, started to dominate. Windows brought graphics to user interfaces of operating systems. MS-DOS required users to type commands to for example list files in a folder, move from one folder to another and to start a program or launch a game.
It has to be mentioned that while DOS was the most popular main stream operating system it wasn’t the only one. In academic world there existed an operating system called UNIX. I have stumbled on UNIX as I have studied computer science. In UNIX you have to write commands also.
This article deals more with the use of DOS and games that you could play on it. I am not going to explain more about technological views of DOS. I remember playing many games. Some games were clearly made for children to learn new skills. My dad even programmed a tool for me to learn multiplication table.
I remember times when I tried to program a simple game with QBasic. This is crazy. I remember the kinds of floppy disks that were used back in the day. I can hardly translate the names in Finnish that these were called. If you want to know the bigger and flat one that had less space on it was called “lerppu” and the newer, smaller and one that had more capacity was called “korppu”. So remember this words if you ever have a chat with a Finnish nerd.
I have written earlier another post about this topic. You can read it here.