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Thread: Classic PC gaming, should I get a classic PC, use my new one or wait for something like the Hyperkin x86??

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    Peach (Level 3) xfrumx's Avatar
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    Default Classic PC gaming, should I get a classic PC, use my new one or wait for something like the Hyperkin x86??

    Considering getting back into classic PC gaming. If I do, I'd like to find a classic monitor, maybe a Commodore for my 64, Vic-20 and TI-99 systems and the old PC. Put a whole classic setup in the corner of my game room.

    I want legit copies, cause of course, most of us at D.P. are collectors.

    Or should I use my standard PC and DOSBOX?

    Or should I wait for the possibly never to be released Hyperkin x86. Supposedly it's going to look like a Vic-20 and upscale like the Hyperkin Retron 5 (which I'm super happy with). I just hope it takes floppy disks/CD Rom.

    Mainly I'm looking to play classic games like Monkey Island, Wolfenstein, Mantis, Wing Commander, Day of the Tentacle, Myst, and other games from my childhood.

    I'd love to play the original discs is one of my deals though.

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    I can't seem to find much info on the Hyperkin X86 but I imagine that is only a dosbox machine and you could do it right now with a rasberry pi. You could do it with any computer you own as a matter of fact. I have a classic PC machine I use when am feeling up to it. I wouldn't buy anything Hyperkin is pushing personally because they seem to like using other people's work and not crediting them for it. Dosbox is all you need and you can upscale and apply filters like any emulator. It is actually what a lot of the classic games on GOG use. I personally don't need another emulator for DOS.

    PS you can use all of your old discs with dosbox as well.
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    If you're not being shorted by some 16bit windows installer keeping you out of an earlier Win95/98 (pre-SE) title I'd stick with DOSbox+what you have now. There's no reason to waste the time, money and space on another box as DOSBox is insanely powerful and has been shown to even boot up Windows 3.xx and I believe 98se too when properly configured. I've never attempted doing the OS and in OS thing with DOSBox but I've seen pictures.

    I went back to PC gaming as the Nintendo stuff turned to crap, also went back into Gameboy stuff and re-entered after a decade(and even then was casual) the Sega Genesis.

    I picked up this insane high end gaming laptop and didn't even max out the CPU or ram (1/2 potential) to make it last further. I don't have much for new games, but exploiting GOG.com is a must as they most the time have a proper configuration setup with pre-made installers, pre-setup DOSbox(sometimes fubar), or some other black magic to get things right. Usually when I've bumped into a hosed up dosbox issue, someone on their boards has posted a resolution so it's a non-issue if you can read and follow very basic directions tweaking a .conf(iguration) file.

    Most your games but Tentacle are on GOG.com now in that $5-10 range. Lucas/Disney has a contract with them, have added much of their Indiana Jones and Star Wars stuff, but also some other fluff from the SCUMM engine games as well and there's more to come in time. Watch for the Christmas sale, usually when those hit just like their quarterly season sales you see much go up for 60-90% off (higher cut if you eat most/all of the package up.) Wing Commander 1-5(5 being prophecy) I got for like $10 for everything with one of those insane sales. They just had a week ago the fall sale going and I got wolf+spear for I think $5. Doom(ultimate) was $3, DOOM2+Final was $5 and Quake1 was $5 too which was my worst deal at 1/2 off. Black Stone (uses Wolf3D engine) usually $6/ea for both games I picked up for $1.50 a piece. Watch GOG, setup a wishlist, they'll email you anytime something hits a sale.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Edmond Dantes's Avatar
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    The best solution all around is probably to build a classic gaming rig. Many people conflate "classic" with "DOS" but there's plenty of early windows 3.1/95/98 games that there's no adequate way to run on modern systems, or which are more difficult to run modern. You'd be building convenience.

    I built a comp I named Mazinkaiser. Its motherboard is an Epox 8KTA (700mhz AMD Duron, but it can handle Durons up to 1000mhz), 512mb of RAM, and a Soundblaster 16 in the ISA slot (being ISA is important because PCI soundcards will have trouble working in a native DOS environment) and a Voodoo 3. I've switched out the hard drive multiple times. The worst issue you'll have is Win98SE can't defrag or scandisk hard disks over 30gb but I've found ways around that (for example using an adapter to plug it into my laptop's USB slot and defrg it with Windows 7, or dual-boot WinXP on it).

    So far its been awesome and has saved me lots of headaches. I tried to run Command and Conquer Gold Edition on my laptop.... wouldn't work even after following all the instructions on various websites and using all sorts of fan-made patches, but on Mazinkaiser its as simple as install then play. (Th freeware download edition may be altered to work on newer comps but its a big download and I have legit physical discs so why would I download it).

    And if you need to, you can still run Dosbox on it and get benefits, including more playable game speeds on old RPGs like Ultima.

    The only real issue I've had is recording footage but even then, I've found two ways.

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    Peach (Level 3) xfrumx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmond Dantes View Post
    The best solution all around is probably to build a classic gaming rig. Many people conflate "classic" with "DOS" but there's plenty of early windows 3.1/95/98 games that there's no adequate way to run on modern systems, or which are more difficult to run modern. You'd be building convenience.

    I built a comp I named Mazinkaiser. Its motherboard is an Epox 8KTA (700mhz AMD Duron, but it can handle Durons up to 1000mhz), 512mb of RAM, and a Soundblaster 16 in the ISA slot (being ISA is important because PCI soundcards will have trouble working in a native DOS environment) and a Voodoo 3. I've switched out the hard drive multiple times. The worst issue you'll have is Win98SE can't defrag or scandisk hard disks over 30gb but I've found ways around that (for example using an adapter to plug it into my laptop's USB slot and defrg it with Windows 7, or dual-boot WinXP on it).

    So far its been awesome and has saved me lots of headaches. I tried to run Command and Conquer Gold Edition on my laptop.... wouldn't work even after following all the instructions on various websites and using all sorts of fan-made patches, but on Mazinkaiser its as simple as install then play. (Th freeware download edition may be altered to work on newer comps but its a big download and I have legit physical discs so why would I download it).

    And if you need to, you can still run Dosbox on it and get benefits, including more playable game speeds on old RPGs like Ultima.

    The only real issue I've had is recording footage but even then, I've found two ways.
    Exactly what I was looking for. Should I try to build something, or find something and add to it? Would you be willing to assist me?

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    Quote Originally Posted by xfrumx View Post
    Considering getting back into classic PC gaming. If I do, I'd like to find a classic monitor, maybe a Commodore for my 64, Vic-20 and TI-99 systems and the old PC. Put a whole classic setup in the corner of my game room.

    I want legit copies, cause of course, most of us at D.P. are collectors.

    Or should I use my standard PC and DOSBOX?

    Or should I wait for the possibly never to be released Hyperkin x86. Supposedly it's going to look like a Vic-20 and upscale like the Hyperkin Retron 5 (which I'm super happy with). I just hope it takes floppy disks/CD Rom.

    Mainly I'm looking to play classic games like Monkey Island, Wolfenstein, Mantis, Wing Commander, Day of the Tentacle, Myst, and other games from my childhood.

    I'd love to play the original discs is one of my deals though.
    The 8 bit Commodores and TI-99 use a composite/SVideo monitor; even an older PC will require an EGA/VGA monitor. If you want to get a matched vintage monitor for the older PC, just get a VGA CRT on the cheap at the Thrift store.

    However, your current PC and the DOS Box will be the more sensible approach. Just not having to deal with setting up various memory configuration boot up sequences of HIMEM, EEM and clean boot configurations matched to different games alone makes DOS Box much more appealing. I know I had an older PC with AUTOEXC.BAT setup with the DOS Choice command to select a bootup sequence depending which game I was going to play. You will need a floppy drive (maybe external USB) if you buy really want io install from original copies of older games such as Wolfenstein.

    Quote Originally Posted by CRTGAMER
    http://www.racketboy.com/forum/viewt...978331#p978331

    DOSBox is definitely the way to go. I have it running in a Windows 7 64 bit PC. It does not need all the Memory and Sound Bootup Configurations for the different games. DOSBox does like Sound Blaster IRQ 5 better then 7 though and also emulates the Gravis Sound card. I use an older DOS utility called Power Menu to run all the Games and Utilities.

    I have my older 486 DX2 PC DOS hard drive installs backed up to multiple CD Roms. A nice thing about DOS games is everything is installed in its own directory; no hidden system files buried in Windows. This makes for an easy transfer into a DOSBox created virtual drive.

    All the DOS games with just a tap of the Cursor and Return key. Oooh there is all the Monster Bash levels!



    Now here is a very old Utility, I present you XTPro! A very powerful copy, rename, delete, file set utility program. Take a guess of each Directory Name of the various Game and Utility folders. Lets see how many seasoned PC users recognize the disk copy utility.

    The M.BAT loads the Power Menu (Autoexec loads when DOS Box first is run) from the C:\ prompt and the L.BAT loads a very handy List utility added to the DOS 6.22 folder. A bit of trivia, DOS has 8 letter word limit; the Commodore 64 and Vic20 has 16 letters allowed. The Windows folder is Windows 3.11 Workgroups!




    Emulators DOS versions. Speaking of Arcade Cabs, guess the Windows background in the Screenshot.



    The fantastic DOS exclusive Retrocade works perfect in DOSBox!


    Quote Originally Posted by CRTGAMER
    Quote Originally Posted by Tanooki
    I noticed the Future Crew stuff, used to keep copies of all their work and just kick back and experience it entirely -- especially Unreal and Second Reality. I hate you really can't run them anymore as they're a fun flash back, just not the same captured on some lame youtube video.
    The demos all run fine in DOS Box! The Screenshots I have been capturing on the previous page and below are windowed, they can all be played in full screen. There are many killer DOS games to rediscover!

    A DOS hard drive (hope everyone kept theirs) is easy to transfer to CDR discs or direct to new PC. Simply place the IDE drive in an external USB enclosure. Transfer directly to DOS BOX virtual drive directory created in the new PC. A natural choice would be C:\DOS easy to spot for transferring files between the two operating systems.

    Future Crew Unreal Demo, Jazz JackRabbit Full CD Install and Tempest 2000 pictured below.



    Last edited by CRTGAMER; 11-23-2015 at 07:42 PM.
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    ServBot (Level 11) Edmond Dantes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xfrumx View Post
    Exactly what I was looking for. Should I try to build something, or find something and add to it? Would you be willing to assist me?
    I'd probably be a horrible assistant since I tend lately to be offline for days at a time, but if I can help, I will.

    I'm not sure, in this context what the difference is between "try to build something, or find something and add to it." If you find a pre-built computer that's already good for classic gaming, great! Building's main advantage IMO is you know exactly what's in your rig. The comp I had before Mazinkaiser gave me issues because I didn't know exactly what motherboard or bios I had and thus could never actually look up the documentation for it, which is something you might conceivably need to do... for example if you're buying RAM for it and need to know what kind of RAM it takes (you can't just stick any old ram stick in there--it has to be within a certain speed range).

    Just ask me if there's anything else you're concerned about. If I don't know, then I know people who do. Actually the people over at Vogons might help too-- http://www.vogons.org/ . Though be prepared for a lot of people to say "just use Dosbox."

    Although if all/the majority of older PC games you wanna play are DOS games to begin with, then maybe Dosbox is the better option. Like I said I went with building mostly due to classic Windows games that don't work/haven't been patched to work with modern Windows versions. Although according to the review series Ancient DOS Games, there are a few MS-DOS games that don't play nice with Dosbox--Dungeon Keeper being one of them.

    EDIT: Also, like the guy above me said, you don't want to go too crazy with getting a classic monitor. Getting a ridiculously old one risks it coming pre-damaged and possibly not supporting the higher display resolutions of your video card (quite irritating to have a game that requires 800x600 then be saddled with a monitor that can't go higher than 640x480!) Also, I personally don't swear by CRTs--my Mazinkaiser has an LCD, though I switched to a CRT for awhile, and noticed SOME differences but not enough to make me prefer one over the other (save for one... the LCD I have sometimes needs to be re-adjusted because the graphics of a game will go off screen or be weirdly positioned. This tends to happen in Native DOS mode a lot and with older titles, and it could easily be due to the monitor and not anything inherent to LCDs).
    Last edited by Edmond Dantes; 11-24-2015 at 01:26 PM.

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    ServeBot (Lɘvel 11) RP2A03's Avatar
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    If you do want a CRT then keep an eye out for a late model Trinitron or Diamondtron. They not only do higher resolutions beautifully (my Diamond Pro 2070SB looks good at 1600 x 1200) but they will be razor sharp at 640 x 480. I wouldn't recommend getting a period monitor unless you know what you are doing and are willing to service it.
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    Peach (Level 3) xfrumx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RP2A03 View Post
    If you do want a CRT then keep an eye out for a late model Trinitron or Diamondtron. They not only do higher resolutions beautifully (my Diamond Pro 2070SB looks good at 1600 x 1200) but they will be razor sharp at 640 x 480. I wouldn't recommend getting a period monitor unless you know what you are doing and are willing to service it.

    I have a Trinitron CRT TV for my classic games, love it!!

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    I have a Windows 98SE rig and I love it. I built it by locating an old PC at a PC repair shop, wiping XP, and installing Windows 98SE. I think it is a worthy system to build, and plan to some day upgrade it to a GLYDE system. With 98SE, I can run a lot of newer DOS stuff.

    I would have to say though, from what I have dealt with DOS related that I could never build and older machine. Floppies are so fragile, seem to erase quite often. I have had a lot of games just stop working. It's stressful.

    I think if you have the itch, build a nice Windows 98SE rig, throw a Voodoo2 in there, and a nice soundblaster, or other popular sound card, and get a taste of old DOS floppy gaming, and see if you can deal with it. Then at least you have an awesome 90's CD based rig to still justify the purchase.

    Another huge issue is drivers. You can't just toss these components in these old computers, and expect them to work. It is incredibly frustrating to buy components that you think will work, and realize the drivers are impossible to find, and when you do find them, they are filled with virus's. I had to buy 3 soundblaster Live! cards before I got it right, and those old components can be expensive for the good ones, especially the era you are talking about. I cannot not begin to explain how incredibly frustrating drivers are for old PC's. It's pretty much mandatory you buy parts on eBay with the driver CD's, or research on a forum like vogons, who has an entire website devoted to old popular drivers for PC components.

    If this is something you are considering, you need to visit Vogons ASAP. The people there are experts on vintage PC's.

    Oh, and build it yourself. Old windows XP PC's are abundant right now, just research the minimum and maximum requirements to run the operating system you want to use. A lot of those old operating systems have limits, like for example 500mb hard drive.

    I should also mention, Windows 98SE has DOS built in. It will run most DOS games that are newer. Older ones might have speed issues. That's where you need to really use dosbox, or invest in an older system that solely runs DOS. Which will cost you a small fortune, to run fragile software, prone to erasing, and becoming corrupted. When you get into these older PC's you are talking hundreds for a ready made system for gaming, and they are really hard to find for a decent price on eBay, and damn near impossible to find in the wild. There is also the trouble of building a PC before the windows 98 era, of having to literally tweek every part fo the PC. It is a different beast than current PC's. So if you have never built a PC, this is not a good first project. I however am a firm believer, that you will save a ton building on your own.
    Last edited by greedostick; 01-09-2016 at 01:05 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by greedostick View Post
    I should also mention, Windows 98SE has DOS built in. It will run most DOS games that are newer. Older ones might have speed issues. That's where you need to really use dosbox, or invest in an older system that solely runs DOS. Which will cost you a small fortune, to run fragile software, prone to erasing, and becoming corrupted. When you get into these older PC's you are talking hundreds for a ready made system for gaming, and they are really hard to find for a decent price on eBay, and damn near impossible to find in the wild. There is also the trouble of building a PC before the windows 98 era, of having to literally tweek every part fo the PC. It is a different beast than current PC's. So if you have never built a PC, this is not a good first project. I however am a firm believer, that you will save a ton building on your own.
    I was about to call you out and then I went and looked at what they're selling for on eBay and my jaw dropped. It seems like a year ago you could get one for practically the cost of shipping. Glad I've held on the spares I have sitting around.

    Also, to take it a little further. Windows 3x, 9x, and Me are all really just DOS with a pretty GUI on top. And DOS game will run fine as you're not emulating DOS in any way. However, there are games that rely on the CPU clock speed and if your CPU is too fast the game won't be playable. One that comes to mind is Scorched Earth. There are way to solve this though.
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    Also, old dos games as I kinda mentioned are very picky about the cpu. Technically, you will need two dos pc's to run most of the dos library. One for early dos, and one for later dos. Newer dos games are easy to run on a legacy 98se build, but older dos games require a dedicated old dos pc, so the cpu is slow enough.

    And the have risen over the last several years. There are large groups of people now who collect solely vintage pc games, and systems, and system parts. Some people just buy crap like multiple video and sound cards to test them, and never really use them. The components, are about the same as retro console collectors buying games they never play.
    Currently looking to trade for Magical Chase any version, and especially Dynastic Hero USA version. I have Samurai Shodown V Special MVS, lots of other MVS titles, and tons of games. Check out my profile over at http://gametz.com/user/greedostick.html if you are looking to get rid of one.

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    Yep, that's why I have more than one as well. A PII is nice but just doesn't work at all for a lot of the earlier DOS games.
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    If you're going to do it right you need a good 486DX66 with like 4MB of RAM on it and a solid SVGA/VGA card with a SB Pro or 16 on there and a decent little 100MB hdd or so depending how much you intend to dump on there. Even then some games were poorly made internally with no speed throttling at all so they still even at 33 or 66mhz cause stupid speed problems like the original Wing Commander 1 and 2. I remember on my old 486dx33 I had to use lame MOSLO.EXE to get that thing not to run like it was on speed balls, but 90% of stuff didn't act dumb like that.

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    Personally when I run into a really old PC game that runs too fast on my 98SE rig, I will in fact use Dosbox to run that game, unless there's a reason it would be preferable to boot into true DOS and use Bret Johnson's Slowdown instead.

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    Personally, i'm obsessed with running original systems with authentic, original hardware. There's nothing quite like the feel of running an antique rig with stuff like a real SoundBlaster card with OPL chips on it, and not some crummy SB16 emulation, and to hear the 5.25" and 3.5" floppy drives kick on again every time i boot up always brings a warm, nostalgic smile to my face. That being said... Don't.
    Don't try to get the original stuff to build an authentic DOS gaming machine unless you've got so,e serious cash to toss. Some of the stuff I've wanted to try for years (namely GUS, AWE32, WaveBlaster SB16 daughterboard and pretty much anything from the Roland MT-32 family) doesn't go for less than hundreds of dollars, and replacing RAM can get tricky, especially RAM from the pre-mass internet days, as documentation for just what exactly a RAM stick is often incomplete if available. Looking up info for a specific brand-name PC model from those days can be tricky, and most of those systems were pretty dumpy, but it'd be better than a generic, custom-built system for getting repair/replacement info. I speak from experience as my father had to toss out my 386DX33MHz machine after the RAM fried, simply because he couldn't remember what kind of ram it could take. Seriously, that thing was a beauty, my dad pimped it out so hard it ran Win98 and Duke3d at 640x480 effortlessly, i still scratch my head to this day at how he did it.
    All i can suggest is to do it the way you want to do it, but there's no necessarily right answer here. Yeah, real hardware will run it, and it'll feel awesome when you do it, but that crap's old, and it won't much longer til it dies out on you, and replacment's a pain. Yeah you could do stuff through DOSbox, GOG, Steam, etc. but it won't feel the same, and emulation is never perfect. Just don't look at it as what you should do, but as what you'd rather do.

    Welp, that got kinda weirdly inspirational at the end. I'm just gonna go now... *flies off on a clacky PS/2 keyboard feeling WAY too old now for a 23-year-old man*

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    ServBot (Level 11) Edmond Dantes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ness7281992 View Post
    Welp, that got kinda weirdly inspirational at the end. I'm just gonna go now... *flies off on a clacky PS/2 keyboard feeling WAY too old now for a 23-year-old man*
    ..... if you feel old, imagine me... I'm 33....

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    I remember those days, and I do NOT want to relive them. Getting games to run on those old x86 machines would take so long, I'd lose interest in the games. Awful, just plain awful. I'd gladly take DOSBox or similar, where I don't have to worry about how much EMS memory is available, or what IRQ my sound card is in? No thank you very much. I love original hardware, but no PC was truly original. There was no set standard like say MSX or Sharp.
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    I was an EMS/XMS ninja. I vaguely remember getting it as high as 610 I believe. I never had a problem running games after I hit this one (I think it was Wing Commander 2 with speech pack) as it has some really shitty requirements to run it as far as EMS went (over 600 of 640K.) It took awhile but I figured out this slick way to pawn off some stuff and disable or change figures in the autoexec and config files where it paid off. Sure here and there something may have needed a tweak since, but that was a huge roadblock and when I broke that wall a lot of stuff I had going ran better too. You just needed to know how to mess with stacks, pages, and other goodies. I learned a lot manually messing around and at times on BBS's in the area too so I could get cool Future Crew (and others) demos to go too.

    I don't miss it, it was damn fun, but I wouldn't go back either because I think the lack of speed and screwing around in dangerously old hardware likely to crap out with drive me nuts. DOSBox serves its purpose just fine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanooki View Post
    I was an EMS/XMS ninja. I vaguely remember getting it as high as 610 I believe.
    I got it as high as ~620K on one system, but then I was using replacements for HIMEM.SYS and EMM386.EXE (UMBPCI.SYS, I think), QCDROM.SYS and SHSUCDX for CDROM support (universal-ish for ATAPI-standard CDROM drives), CTMOUSE mouse driver when needed, etc.

    Also, I got damn lucky with UMB availability.

    I still keep around a couple older machines that I found easy to configure (and one 80286 machine), just in case I ever feel the urge to wrangle with the headaches involved, but I'd rather just use DOSBOX instead and get back to a more civilized (Unix-alike) system. I can play MoO 1 & 2, Star Trek 25th Anniversary/Judgement Rites, etc just fine that way.

    Still here are some sites listing useful tools, if you're feeling macho:
    • http://www.mdgx.com/ A metric butt*gently caress*ton of programs and tips can be found here, not just for DOS, but for Windows 3.1 through (some) Windows XP. Windows 98SE updated with the good parts (updated driver files, etc) of Windows ME, without the suck, seems to be his(?) baby, though -- including configuring the MS-DOS 7 underlying it out the wazoo.
    • http://www.hiren.info/downloads/dos-files WOAH NELLY, that's a lot of files. Only ones you'll probably need are ifshlp.sys, mem.exe, qcdrom.sys, shsucdx,exe, vide-cdd.sys (if qcdrom.sys doesn't suit your needs), and maybe duse.exe if you want to try USB devices.
    • http://www.uwe-sieber.de/util_e.html List hasn't been updated since 2005, but maybe you'll find something useful. DOSLFN, for long file names, might be useful. CTMOUSE (or CuteMouse) is very nice, but you can get a newer version on their site (http://cutemouse.sourceforge.net/).
    • http://www.freedos.org/ A free, opensource reimplementation of MS-DOS. I haven't used it in years, and had crashing issues with the main memory managers (XEMM386 mainly -- try UMBPCI instead) of the time, but that was in the 1.0 days.


    I'm not even going to get into 98lite and the like -- it's hard enough to get Windows 98SE to install cleanly and correctly to begin with, let alone muddling it up. Save that experimenting for the inside of a virtual machine, trust me.
    I hate it when people write their initials on a game cart's label. Can't get it off without ruining part of the label!

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