View Full Version : Windows for Retro Gaming PC

03-14-2015, 06:32 PM
Hi all!

I`ve bought some hardware to build a retro pc for play my old games, and my doubt is about the Windows version.

Windows 98SE or Windows Me? Me is compatible with all of 98 games (so long, i can`t remeber lol)

I`m running 98se on the machine, and i`m on a lot of trouble. Like crap usb support, system instability etc.

The hardware:

Pentium 4 1.4Ghz, 512MB of RAM, a ATI Rage 128 and a SoundBlaster Live! 5.1

Any help would be much appreciated!

Thanks! :D (sorry for my poor english)

03-14-2015, 06:38 PM
Windows 98SE is the best for general stability and compatibility. I'm confused as to how you have stability issues.

This should help expand the limited USB support.


Your hardware is a little on the high end side, the wimpy P4 is okay though.

03-14-2015, 07:03 PM
I`m facing some random system freezes, i don`t know if its driver related (specially the SB Live driver, it was hard to find a working one). But it won`t occur everytime, meantime i`m looking for a Voodoo graphics, but in my country is a little bit hard to find a working 3dfx card at a reasonable price

Thanks for the USB tip

03-14-2015, 07:57 PM
It's likely some driver issue I'd have to agree.

Windows 98se is the most stable, useful, and friendly version of Windows until XP came out. ME is awful and lasted like 10mo on the market.

The hardware choices you made seem pretty solid, though depending what you're hoping to run it may even be with the P4 a bit fast if you're looking into some high quality DOS games as not all of those things had speed regulation on them and they'll run super fast. There were programs made in the day like MOSLO that'll slow down old DOS games to work solid on better systems.

03-14-2015, 08:07 PM
The "overspeed" problem affects only MS-DOS games or some old Windows games too?

03-14-2015, 08:39 PM
Certainly DOS, but I do remember it being an issue with some pre-Win95 windows stuff.

03-14-2015, 08:52 PM
Since i`ve tried a lot of sound and video drivers, i think that a lot of garbage was left on the system and registry. I`ll format this machine, install a fresh W98SE again, now with the correct drives and see if i get rid of the instability problem.

I realized that i gonna lose some MS-DOS compatibility going to Windows ME, and with this, my old rig would be useless.

Thanks people!

03-14-2015, 09:31 PM
Certainly DOS, but I do remember it being an issue with some pre-Win95 windows stuff.

Affects some later stuff as well. Grand Prix Legends from 1998, for instance.

Happily, the large homebrew crowd for that classic sim released a CPU speed fix almost as soon as it started to become an issue on any faster than 1.4 GHz.

03-15-2015, 09:09 AM
I suppose it depends on what games you want to play. I found an old 400mhz pentium machine in the garbage at work last year. I installed win98 SE and it runs everything I have without issues, both DOS and Windows. Now everything I run on it is pre-1998 so if you have software written well after Win98 came out you may have issues but personally I'd stick with Win98. Never used ME so I don't know how well that works with DOS, which is important to me.

The only thing with this machine is the crappy onboard video which doesn't affect most games but the graphics in Need for Speed III are quite low but I think I can run that on my XP machine anyway. I'd still like to get an old 386 or 486 to run some really old stuff but even a lot of that can be run on this machine with some tweaking.

03-15-2015, 08:27 PM
I believe WinME was the start of having problems running DOS stuff which was magnified to a degree with XP. It just wasn't well made and probably was some stop gap until they could get XP out just a year later. I just remember how it was a disaster with lots of issues and bug problems too.

There were two versions I believe with Win98 (it and 98se) go for SE, then if there are some all inclusive service packs you can find floating around, apply them and you're set. I wouldn't touch Win95 at all, not even ver C(the last) which added the USB support and some other goodies 98SE had as it's just a hot mess of band-aids over open sores that never healed.

03-15-2015, 10:41 PM
There's a bug in the final version of Internet Explorer 6 for Windows 9x that causes Windows Explorer to freeze on occasion. There's a fix out there that replaces one or two of the DLLs with their IE5.5 equivalents; I think it's included with the various unofficial service packs. (It's still probably worthwhile to install IE6 and then to apply this fix, since IE6 probably fixes a lot of other problems. But of course you shouldn't actually touch the Internet using IE6 these days.)

512 MB is supposed to be the maximum amount of RAM for Win9x, but there seems to be a lot of debate over how well it will function with more RAM and with what fixes. Personally, I would recommend using HIMEMX (a replacement for HIMEM.SYS) to restrict the RAM to something a little lower, like 440 MB.

I was just reading over at VOGONS (http://www.vogons.org) that apparently only newer versions of the SB Live supported the WDM version of the drivers, and that older versions would only work with the VxD drivers supplied with certain install CDs. I don't know if that's actually the case, but it's something to take into consideration. It is my experience that WDM drivers are otherwise considerably more stable.

Like crap usb supportWhat are the symptoms of this "crap USB support" ?

Edmond Dantes
03-16-2015, 01:17 AM
There were programs made in the day like MOSLO that'll slow down old DOS games to work solid on better systems.

MoSlo itself kinda sucks. I remember it had a problem of hanging quite often. Although some specially-configured versions like the one that came on the Ultimate Might and Magic Archives worked pretty well.

Bret Johnson's Slowdown is the way to go if you intend to run pure DOS. On my rig (which is a lot like the OP's but with a 700mhz processor, a Voodoo 3 graphics card and a Soundblaster 16) I use Dosbox for games with extreme issues. Some games are honestly improved in Dosbox. Any that have enhancements for Tandy computers, for instance.

03-16-2015, 11:08 AM
The only problem I ever hit with Mo-Slo was that it sometimes really didn't slow a few games all that well. Sometimes a game would partially slow. Wing Commander 1 and 2 was a hit and miss mix like the cut scenes with the mouth movements and the rest to the big pixel art would move along like it was on speed, but when you were just playing the actual combat the game ran fine. It was more annoying in 2 with the speech pack as it would be totally out of sync because the vocals ran at normal rate.

Edmond Dantes
03-16-2015, 09:50 PM
Truth be told, that happens with Bret Johnson's Slowdown too, and even in Dosbox. It's because of how the Wing Commander games are programmed, so unfortunately there's no real fix that doesn't involve just hacking the games.

Fun fact: Origin actually did just that for a release called the "Kilrathi Saga," which was Wing Commander 1, 2, and 3 (and an exclusive patch for 4) updated to launch in Windows 95/98 and to run at proper speed on the computers of the day. This release is stupid expensive on the collector circuits now since for a long time it was THE way to play Wing Commander on a "modern" system. But now, with Dosbox, its actually easier to get the original Dos releases running while Kilrathi Saga is basically only useful to crazy people like myself who still run Windows 98.... but the collection is still crazy expensive.

Ultima VII is another game where the only slowdown option is to basically hack the game, which in this case there's a fan-made patch which does it. I remember Slowdown not even affecting that game in any noticable way.

03-16-2015, 11:18 PM
Fun fact I own Kilrathi Saga.

Not so fun fact, goddamn game no longer works as the installer fails on Windows 8.1 64bit which I have, but did work on Win7 64bit. You did have to use a hacked DLL file because of the lame version of DirectX it was made with, but it worked and was stable.

Now something COOL if you own it. This dude is pure awesome --> http://www.wcnews.com/chatzone/threads/introducing-wcdx-kilrathi-saga-for-modern-windows.27685/
He's hacking the entire game and even the add on packages to work proper on any modern computer by replacing the direct X version among a few other things. So far Wing Commander 1 plus both add on packages work. It's a little work with a few steps to get them to fire up, but it's right there on that forum post. I've tried it, it's fine. The game still plays the normal aspect ratio currently so you have black on the sides, but it's stable.

The Wing Commander CIC does host the 2 secret mission (and WC2 Secret Ops) addon packages which are freely distributed. Also days ago Wing Commander 1 a tweaked release of the Kilrathi Saga was given a greenlight for that site alone to freely distribute it (it was a give away on a disc in PC Gamer mag years ago) so if you want a free game to play grab it: http://www.wcnews.com/wcpedia/2000_PC_Gamer_Coverdisk_Release and then apply this guys patch and you're gold.

It will be adding WC2 and both its addons next. After that I'm guessing fluff and added features. He is doing a little with fluff now, he has fixed an outstanding bug in the original Kilrathi Saga release where the broken ship bits and planets didn't display, he corrected something EA bungled and didn't bother to address so it will make the game better than the retail release for accuracy.

Edmond Dantes
03-18-2015, 12:20 AM
I actually kinda want a physical copy of Kilrathi Saga simply because it would be something that goes really well with my Windows 98 computer. Cool that a dude is tweaking it and offering it for free though I wonder if that undermines the fact that the DOS version is for sale on GOG? (I just bought that one, mostly because the only WC games I have physical copies of are 1 and the PSX version of 3).

One cool thing I've discovered about GOG is that, most of their games will run on the actual hardware they were made for. Blood II I was worried about since it has patches to give it modern compatibility or some crap, but all I had to do was install it on a modern OS (Gog's installer won't work on 9x), then copy the installed directory over. I became a lot more positive towards GOG when I discovered that.

03-18-2015, 12:39 AM
All of those WC games that were made in dos run on dos box. They're the original games, they'll run just fine and tested as such on an old dos or win98 machine. For some bs reason WC1 doesn't have the install.exe file which makes tweaking the audio output annoying but there's a description what to do to the .cfg file on their forums (yet oddly WC2 and addons have their installs fine on the same setup.)

I've actually been debating just getting rid of the Kilrathi Saga. I mean it's nice having the box and the other junk, but seeing that I got the whole series on GoG and they work just fine I've really been debating it considering what it sells for. Same can be said for both win98 versions of Tie Fighter and X-Wing which also recently got dumped on GoG since they won't run at all in Win8/8.1 at all so it's a stupid boxed paperweight to me now.

Edmond Dantes
03-18-2015, 01:16 AM
Tell ya what, you spend a month or so thinking over whether you wanna sell those games, and I'll spend a month or so trying to balance my finances to afford 'em ;)

03-18-2015, 10:19 AM
Look if you're that interested in them maybe we can figure it out. Just let it be known also I made custom modern installs for the star wars discs because they refuse to work on anything Vista or later 32/64bit. Some german guy awhile back made these new installers if you follow these sorta complicated steps which I did. They just because of changes in win8 vs win7 won't work at all anymore so they're just keepers as a tangible copy.