D-Fend Reloaded – A Frontend for DOSBox

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 …

 

 

 

Getting to Know Nintendo

I have played a lot of Sega Mega Drive, various PlayStation consoles, PC and even Xbox. I started thinking about what have I to this day missed. What would be something for me to get to know next? I figured I hadn’t played Nintendo so much and seriously. What were the titles I would like to get into and could I maybe purchase a new console. Could I learn something new about gaming?

I thought about this for some days. I had some plans about first getting some NES games. I figured also that I haven’t played any games in the Zelda series. It would be expensive to buy first or second game for NES. It was almost 50 euros and I would have only old retro game. It wouldn’t be a great experience.

I was thinking about this. I thought that I could buy Nintendo Switch. This would however cost over 300 euros and I would have to think about games and spend even more money to get them. I finally made my decision. I would get my hands on Nintendo Wii.

My Nintendo Wii came with one game that was Super Mario Galaxy. The price tag was 80 euros. Shipping didn’t cost anything since the purchase was expensive enough which was a nice deal for me. I was a bit surprised of the size of the console – it was definitely small and light.

I haven’t played any Wii games before. I have barely seen it. I knew the controls were very different if compared to PlayStation or Xbox. I had ordered a gamepad with my Wii. It was a bit of an surprise that I had to plug the gamepad to this other controller called “Wii Remote”. And I didn’t get the gamepad to work. What to do next? I started the device. I even had to go to the store to buy some batteries for this new and exciting thing I had just added to my gaming collections.

So it was soon getting late and I just had this thing called Wii in my hands. I knew also that I could play GameCube games with it. I had ordered also one game for GameCube. I found out that I would need at least an original GameCube controller and maybe even a memory card. So I had to order them also. I did that next morning.

Nintendo Wii is a very nice product. I connected it with my television through SCART. There was a HDMI adapter also available but I haven’t, at least yet, ordered one. That would surely make the display more detailed and sharp. I found out that playing a bit of Super Mario Galaxy introduces this system for a complete beginner. The controls aren’t so difficult once you get the hang of it. You have to be a bit careful not to slash your friend or drop a bottle of lemonade from your table while playing. But after all it works great. You are playing with both of your hands and not only with your thumbs and index fingers. You have several buttons and sometimes you have to shake your Wii Remote for Mario to spin fast around for couple of times.

I am going to play my Wii some more. I already have three games and one GameCube game. Those three are Zelda – The Twilight Princess, Resident Evil 4 and, the one I already mentioned, Super Mario Galaxy. The GameCube game I got is Resident Evil and it’s a remake of the original one that was released for PS1. If you want to get yourself a Wii just remember to check if it does run also GameCube games. Newer versions of the console don’t support this feature. And remember that you have to have yourself at least a controller of GameCube and preferably also a memory card. I might write a post or a few about Nintendo Wii games in the future so stay tuned.

My Recent Experiences of SEGA Mega Drive

I recently stumbled on a nice deal. I found that SEGA Mega Drive Mini was on sale. Its price was 59 euros. Of course my living, or gaming, room is full of consoles. So I had to buy also a new HDMI Switching Console to get some more devices connected to my television. I forgot to buy one more HDMI cable so I ended up unplugging my PlayStation Classic. I’m getting a new cable some time after the holidays. Anyways I got my “retro nostalgia” on again. Played a game of Streets of Rage II with my wife. She usually doesn’t play so much but this game inspired her a lot. We played some time maybe an hour or so. Mega Drive has so many great games.

Some might say that SNES is better than Mega Drive. In my opinion there isn’t “the best console” or “better console” just a different type of console. If someone says Mega Drive doesn’t have any reasonable, decent or good games, I believe is wrong. There is always this comparison. Mega Drive and SNES were competing hard. SNES seemed to capture younger audience with games and characters like Super Mario or Donkey Kong or Zelda. Mega Drive brought fighting and violence in the form of hockey games with fights and blood in games like Mortal Kombat. I’m not going very deeply in the technological differences of these two. Let’s just say that Mega Drive was released, in Europe, 1990 and SNES was released 1992. So I believe SNES was slightly better in purely technical view.

As I am saying these consoles were not bad or good. They were different. For me it was always Mega Drive. I remember getting it in maybe 1993. I still have the original box it came in. It is a bit worn out because I took my Mega Drive with me at times when spending time outside our homes living room when I was a child. It has so many memories. I played hours and hours. At that time games wouldn’t take ten to thirty hours to complete. They were smaller and often more difficult to play. So there really was no room for SNES inside my gaming hobby at that time. I have got to know SNES better as I grew more older and understood better its meaning as one of the most popular gaming consoles of the past.

Music and graphics are a bit old but at the same time very nostalgic. I don’t know if it’s reasonable to spend some hours to play these old games. Why do I keep coming back to Mega Drive? Because I like also about the fact that it was a part of history. It was part of my history and it was part of the history of gaming. The price for this purchase I made was low. If you consider that the price was about 100 euros, and 59 euros was the price I bought it,  and that this device had 42 games installed I think this was a very good deal and it brought many great memories to my mind. It is a reflection of the times of the 90s.

I am saying Merry Christmas for all the readers of this blog. Take a break. You have earned it!

Return to Golden Axe II

Golden Axe II has been one of my favorite games that I used to play back in the 90s with my Sega Mega Drive. I didn’t own a copy. I borrowed this game several times from a friend. I played it. I played it a lot. Today I have a Retro Trio that can be used to play NES, SNES and Mega Drive cartridges. So, some time ago I figured that I definitely should get a copy of this great game. Finally I made the purchase and it wasn’t even a pricey game. I bought it for 30 euros.

Golden Axe II was released 1992 as a PAL version in Europe. You just have to admire how well this game was made. It is an old game. I think there’s just the right mixture of fantasy and realness. There are dragons, axes and swords, magic and different kinds of monsters. Graphics were good when the game was originally released and they still feel pleasant considering it is a retro game. Playability seems nice. It is a beat-em-up game but you still find a rich environment that includes lots of fantasy elements. This game could have even some role playing game features but I think it wasn’t a time for that kind of a game to be released back in 1992. I think this combination of action, adventure and roleplaying was reached later when games like Diablo became very popular.

I have always been a bit doubtful on fantasy and roleplaying. I haven’t got in to this kind of material so much. I like FPS and racing games more. I just like to concentrate fully on the game and get rid of my everyday worries and stress. So, games involving deep fantasy elements aren’t so appealing to me. I also find fantasy books not so interesting. Maybe some day I pick up one of those Tolkiens books and start reading it. You may like roleplaying, stories and fantasy elements. It just isn’t for me.

One thing I haven’t really written about here in this post is that the first Golden Axe was a kind of a pioneer in artificial intelligence of enemies. It was among first games that used this kind of programmable variety of different kinds of actions. You can clearly see these elements when you are playing also the sequel. In the beginning of the game you have to make your choice about which player you wish to begin your journey with. You have a hero with a powerful axe but not so effective magical attacks and a hero with a sword and very powerful magical attacks. And I think the third hero is something in between of these abilities.

I finished the game in the roughest difficulty setting with the hero that had a sword and more powerful spells. I finished the game in maybe two hours but you have to take into consideration that I have played this game a lot. It is still one of my favorites when there is a conversation about Mega Drive’s best games. It’s a bit sad that there hasn’t been a modernized version of this game. I think it has a lot of potential. I can clearly see it to be improved a bit. It would be so cool if someone would include some elements of character development when for example experience points would be gathered. The levels could be larger. And if graphics and sound effects and music could be updated that would be almost surreal. I have to mention one more time that the world that Golden Axe brings is very interesting and pleasant in all of its details. In every way it would be amazing if a proper remake of this classic would some day be made.

Introducing Cash Invaders (MS-DOS) (2002)

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.

Why did I finally buy a PS Classic?

I remember how it was hyped. Oh, do I remember. It was then discussed how many games would it have, which games it would include, would there be analog buttons included in the gamepad, would there be two gamepads, would the device be “hackable” and finally – how much would it cost. My expectations were high. The price for this product was 120 euros.

When the details of PS Classic were released I was disappointed. I decided it was not for me or at least not right now. The “mini gaming console” received very bad reviews. I watched these video reviews from YouTube. It was a very big disapointment for me and for also all of the retro hobbyists worldwide. It soon became clear that the remake of PlayStation had failed and flopped very badly and sadly. It wasn’t the console it was expected to be.

First thing I noticed was that PS Classics price dropped heavily since retailers had to get rid of it. No one wanted to buy this product. Some months went by. I read some news of how PS Classic would be easily modded to run more games. This would be done using an external USB drive or stick. Suddenly you could be able to bring like hundreds or even thousands of games to this device. It seemed that there was a way to install software through PS Classics USB port that was actually meant for controller and PS Classic had two ports like this.

There were some technical difficulties in this type of operation. All of the USB drives or memory sticks didn’t seem to work. There were lists gathered and brought on-line by users that were going to do the mod to the device. You couldn’t rely that a USB stick you bought to be used like this would work. So there actually was a way to bring more than 20 games to this product.

As the price of the mini console dropped more people got attracted to it. There were more reviews about how the price was lowered and how the modding was possible to accomplish. So what happened was that the price dropped to very low. I remember seeing ads that told the price would be 35 euros. It’s almost a drop of 100 euros compared to the original price. What happened was that Sony released a product that wasn’t truly finished properly. They paid a high price and had to sell the Classic for so low price.

There would be some things to be improved here. You would expect the device to have a decent controller, and yes, you should have analog sticks on the gamepad. The selection of games wasn’t the best possible. The list had nice games like Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil and Grand Theft Auto and also Metal Gear Solid, but it had too many unnotable games. Where were Gran Turismo and/or Crash Bandicoot? Tony Hawks Pro Skater? Colin McRae 1 and 2.0? These points were the most important. There were some technical issues related to the actual emulation. In practice this showed as poorer graphics than could have actually been possible. One positive thing of course was the ability to save a game smoothly.

Let’s say this also. I am not encouraging people to mod their PS Classic. I am just saying that it’s possible. Copying roms is at this moment illegal. If you own the game you are allowed to make a rom out of it but this would be “another topic for another day” so let’s just end this post right here. Stay safe!

My personal history with first PlayStation

It started back in the 90s. I don’t remember the year exactly. I think it was 1997. I was a very young boy then. I had some money on me and somehow I decided to get a PlayStation. I had been thinking about buying a moped with this money but as I thought about it my mind changed. I could play for years with this new console and time for moped riding would be over in some years, maybe three years or maybe until I’ll get a car to ride. I don’t recall clearly how this idea of spending my money to a gaming console went but the decision was finally made. I got a PlayStation.

My parents then allowed me to have a television in my room. It was nice. I remember the time when I first picked up the package that was delivered to the nearest post office. And do I remember? Yes I do. I had some games. Gran Turismo was the best of those games that this so called bundle had in it. The package was a used console and I think it had two games. There was two controllers included. The console, games and controllers and a memory card were delivered to me as used. But the console and all things included were in a good condition.

So back then, if you had a Sega Mega Drive, you were just a loser. That system was ten years, practically a bit of an eternity for a thirteen-year-old kid, old. I had my friend teasing me about it. Yeah, I remember I was a bit sad also. I had to pack my Mega Drive and place it somewhere for preserve. I actually took it later and placed it next to some other retro consoles, but back then I really didn’t have so much space for different kinds of consoles. I had to choose one and that was PSX.

I remember so many games. I played Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil 1, 2 and 3, Gran Turismo, Driver, Colin McRae Rally 1 and 2.0, Final Fantasy VII, Fear Effect, Tony Hawks Pro Skater, Silent Hill and many more. There were loads of games available. More than ever. And then older people, I mean older than a thirteen-year-old, started to get curious about gaming. This was time before the release of Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox. I have to mention also Sega DreamCast here, because that’s the best gaming console that Sega ever released. It was sad that it didn’t survive longer.

So I just played and played and also made my way to High School. I had much fun back then but at the same time I started to get more into studying and that somehow pulled me away from games. I started getting into music production that has been my dear hobby for many years. I finally sold my PS1. All of my games, my controllers, memory cards and the console. I got about 120 euros by selling the whole package. That was it. Or so I thought back then. Could it be that this was my gaming hobby?

Well, it wasn’t. I got into gaming again as I was studying. I was still a young adult. Games were all around and new titles were released. So I first got a PS3, PS4 and then it suddenly got me hooked on again. I bought several new consoles. I bought original Xbox and PSOne. I brought Mega Drive back to my cave, where it belongs. I ordered new stand that could hold all my gaming consoles. It had space for eight devices. I really planned it, but I was surprised when I, after lots of years, started playing Colin McRae Rally 2.0 again with the old controller of PS1. It brought back so many memories. It felt like I had met a friend that I had spent so much time with. And my friend hadn’t changed a bit.

So that is it. This was my story. Today I’m glad I can grab my DualShock any time I want, or anytime my wife isn’t watching telly, and start playing some PS1. I really was away when PS2 made history, but when it comes to playing the first PlayStation nothing in my mind can replace this nostalgic feeling that I get when I have this kind of a session. First PlayStation wasn’t as popular as the second one, but in my scale it’s always going to be first. It made history inside my personal history. And I can keep it that way. Always.

8BitDo M30 2.4g – Wireless Gamepad for SEGA Mega Drive

If you thought that there wouldn’t exist a wireless gamepad for Mega Drive, well, you were wrong. 8BitDo is known for its innovative gamepads for, i think, any platform. You can find a controller for SNES, NES or MD and maybe PC, Switch or one of those Classic Mini consoles. They have also brought us some USB-Bluetooth dongles that I for example find very useful. Prices of these products are low so you can clearly understand why they are so popular. Gamepads and differents kinds of other accessories are also widely available at least here in Finland and many gaming stores, the small ones also, give you an opportunity to buy these products.

I found this model, “M30 2.4g”, very nice and easy to use. You just basically plug the USB-dongle in to your original Mega Drive, make sure that controllers battery is charged, and start playing. Some games allow you to modify key mappings but some don’t. There’s three buttons, “A”,”B”,”C”, and another three, “X”,”Y”,”Z”, axis-button, start-button, one trigger-button on left and right and also three other buttons. You connect the controller wirelessly by pressing blue start-button.

I remember and can still feel how bad the actual, original, controllers felt. Compared to them this is something I find amazing. Price of this product was as low as can be. It was only about 25 euros. I think right now this product is not available. And again, this is not a true commercial. I am just very content about 8BitDos product and happy to write this kind of content to my gaming blog. Be sure to check out any of this companys products. I’m telling you this because I found other interesting equipment for “hardcore” gamers. A while back I found a USB dongle for PlayStation classic that allowed replacement of controller so you basically could plug in any Bluetooth controller. I didn’t buy it so I don’t have any knowledge on how to use it and I am not sure if it supports PC controllers or Xbox ONE and PS4 controllers. So this was just an example and you can find more information from their website. Here’s the link to it: https://www.8bitdo.com/

So how can you find these amazing products? You should check your local electronics shop or at least its website. There is also a shop on 8BitDos homepage. In Finland their products are widely available in smaller game shops and also in bigger, globally influential, stores. As I have told you, my dear reader, already, these accessories are widely available. I found my gamepad ultimately pleasant. I didn’t even know you could produce gamepads for Mega Drive with wireless functionality. And the gamepad is very confortable to hold in your hands.

Streets Of Rage series

Who remembers this classic beat-em-up called Streets Of Rage? It had a strong impact and was very popular so I think most of us, at least ones that played games back then, remember it well. It was originally released on Sega Mega Drive at beginning of nineties. In Japan the game was called Bare Knuckle. Action takes place in city that is covered with aggressive criminals that are being led by evil mastermind named Mr. X. Your mission is to fight your way to this boss and end the misery. First game of the series was released in 1991 and third one in 1994. I played most the second game that I still have in my collection of Mega Drive games.

The idea of this post was basically to reminisce about these retro pieces but also to consider if it would be worth it to get your hands on the upcoming release of Streets Of Rage 4. Judged by the trailer it has completely new graphics. They aren’t so pixelated and they seem like they were drawn by hand. Music of this game has been re-made also but you have an option to change background music to original. Game is released on PS4, PC, Xbox One and Switch.

I have memories, mostly happy ones, about playing part two of this beat-em-up game series. It was actually my brothers game. He had an eye for beating guys up virtually and I got to play this game also with him. We ended arguing and fighting since we hit each other in this game as we played in co-operative mode. It happened also a few times as I played with a friend. The game was aggressive and I think I took the game too seriously as a kid. Today I wouldn’t start such an argument or at least I think so.

Graphics were nice, gameplay was very good and soundtrack had plenty of electronic rhythm and melody in it. You have to consider that these games were released as Sega Mega Drive games. If I could change something it would be the controller. But I think that issue is solved today since I bought 8BitDo’s wireless Mega Drive controller a while back. I have to remember to write a post about that also when I have time.

I liked these games and they gave me a lot as I was a young gamer starting slowly to grow up. We will see if the remake comes close as a fighting game and if it does honor to the name of this game series. And if it doesn’t we’ll always have our retro Mega Drives, Classic Mini and not-so-legit emulator versions of this classic and classic is a perfect word to describe Streets Of Rage.

What exactly is chiptune music?

What means chiptune? Chip reminds of electronic component while tune brings in mind a simple musical melody. This even now popular genre became known when game developers, back in 80s, needed music and sound effects for their games. First very popular system that had decent music was Commodore 64 which came to markets in 1982. It had a chip called SID (“Sound Interface Device”) that was responsible for producing the sound for this system.

You can find chiptune also on NES (“Nintendo Entertainment System”), that was released in 1983. 16-bit systems that were later released also could produce music that would be categorized as chiptune althought they were of higher quality as systems moved from 8-bit to 16-bit. First very popular console that had sound quality very close to CDs was the first Sony PlayStation. You can argue for hours about which has better sound – vinyl or CD, but we are not going to go there. So chiptune was originally popular in video games from 1980s to, I think, 1995.

Today chiptune is still very popular. You can find artists that have been strongly influenced by this type of music. Usually chiptune is strongly associated with retro games or the games that originally had chiptune as their background music. As retro gaming is popular chiptune is alive even today. Some artists are producing chiptune with modern tools such as software synthesizers that are just basically virtual instruments with some presets and the ability to create various sounds, your own presets, and can run inside any kind of DAW (“Digital Audio Workstation”) you can imagine.

Since I started with this topic I have to write also more about so called tracker music that first made its way to home musicians sometime in 1980s. So tracker is simple application that runs on computer that allows you to make music. Amigas computers were first devices that made this functionality available for music production. Inside tracker you can define your songs tempo, basically just how fast the track is flowing, and add drum sounds and melodies that are created using small digital samples of audio. Trackers are used also today but they are not as powerful as music applications such as FL Studio for example. Some now popular trackers are Renoise, a very good one, Mad Tracker and OpenMPT. Some older ones are Scream Tracker, Fast Tracker and Impulse Tracker. You can find many great trackers and please comment and let us know if you have a suggestion for readers of this blog.

You can listen to some chiptune songs for example here:

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