How to Run Classic Games on Windows 10
The advancements in Operating Systems over the last 10 years has been phenomenal and the same with the advancements in gaming technology. Gone are the days when you needed to install a game from floppy drive or CD-ROM. But if any of you are like me, you probably still have drawers with old games in. Some of which will run on Windows 10, others that require a lot of messing around with compatibility mode, or tweaking various settings:
Fortunately there are a couple of avenues you can go down to get those golden oldies working, we take a look at these below:
In a nutshell, DOSBox is an open source DOS emulator that is used to run old MS-DOS classics without too much in the way of hassle. It runs on almost all operating systems and helps breathe second life into games which may now be unsupported. There are several variants of DOSBox. My personal favourite being D-Fend Reloaded, which you can download from here
Go ahead and download and install it and we’ll show you how easy it is to configure a game with the built-in wizard. Once you run the application for the first time you’ll be presented with the following screen:
At first it might look a little on the daunting side, but to add a game, it’s as easy as clicking Profile > Add with Wizard or by pressing the F3 button on your keyboard. The game we are going to use as an example is the hit LucasArt classic, Monkey Island. Once you load the wizard you’ll be prompted to create the new game profile. You can click next and you’ll get the following screen:
Then in the “Program to be started” field, it’s as easy as browsing to the location where you have the game EXE file and pressing next. If the game contains a SETUP.exe or alternative, you can put this in the “Setup program” field. Once you hit that next button, D-Fend Reloaded will attempt to find a template that matches the game you are trying to configure. Again you can click next, next and Ok:
Once you’ve finished you’ll then be taken back to the main D-Fend Reloaded screen and you’ll see the game you have setup now appear in the middle pane of the screen. In our case, Monkey Island 2. To then start the game it’s as easy as selecting the game and pressing Enter:
Voila. One working classic. Granted it wont be the same for EVERY game. But the majority will work like this. If not and you’re feeling brave, you can tinker with the D-Fend/DOSBox settings.
So we’ve covered doing it the easy way, however some games will still not run despite using DOSBox. There is another way that you can try and that is by running a VM (Or Virtual Machine), This involves running a virtual copy of an older operating system (E.g. Windows XP) on a modern system. You’ll need a mid-range PC and a valid Windows license for the OS that you are attempting to run. This isn’t a guaranteed fix but short of having an old PC lying around, this is your next best shot. You can run almost any application inside a Virtual Machine as it isn’t just limited to games.
To start, you’ll need to download a piece of software called VirtualBox from Oracle. You can download that from here – Again run through the software install process like you normally would, and you’ll get the following screen:
To create a new Virtual Machine, click on the “New” button at the top. You then need to configure a few basic settings. We are going to be setting up an XP VM. So we called it “XP Virtual Machine” and selected Windows XP (32-Bit) as the version. Obviously if you are configuring a different operating system, you can adjust this accordingly.
Next up you’ll be asked to configure how much RAM you’d like to dedicate to the Virtual Machine. For an older Operating System, it doesn’t need to be too much, bearing in mind, you don’t want to dedicate too much if you only have a small amount in your machine. I have 16GB in my machine, so I have donated 4GB to the Virtual Machine. Which is more than enough.
The next step is to create a Virtual Hard Drive that the VM can use. Virtualbox suggests 10GB for our setup but you can alter this yourself in a moment:
You then need to choose a Hard Drive type. This shouldn’t matter too much unless you’re planning on working on something other than VirtualBox, so you can just select the default option:
Next up, you need to decide on how you want the hard drive space to perform. Do you want to dynamically allocate the space and it’ll grow up to the size that you specified earlier, or create it as a fixed size partition so all of the space is available immediately. Shouldn’t really matter for most users, so you can just leave the default option selected:
Now you simply neex to select the size of the hard drive and select next. You’ll then be taken back to the main VirtualBox screen:
You can now see that the Virtual Machine has appeared on the left hand side of the screen. But wait, we still need to tell VirtualBox where it is going to install the operating system from. You can either use a CD if you have it lying around, or you can use an ISO if you have downloaded it from somewhere. Just to note, we take no responsibility for any downloaded applications or operating systems. You do this at your own risk. I already have an ISO of Windows XP on my machine, so I need to tell VirtualBox to use this. You can do this by right clicking where it says “Powered Off” and then click Settings:
See where it says “Empty”, this means that no CD Drive or ISO has been configured. I am now going to point VirtualBox to the correct location but selecting the little CD Icon next to where it says “IDE Secondary Master” and point it to the ISO.
The most important options to change here are the “Video Memory”, slide this all the way up to 128MB if possible and then tick the “Enable 2D/3D” boxes. This will enable the Virtual Machine to utilise the graphics card of your machine inside the VM. Select “OK” and then go back to the main screen.
I know that seems like a lot to take in, we are nearly there. Click on “Start” to power up the Virtual Machine. It’ll then start the setup process from the CD/ISO you selected:
You then need to install the operating system as if you were installing it on your real machine. This is where you need to make sure you have a “Valid” license that you can use. Again we cannot accept any responsibility for this.
Once the machine is installed, you’ll then need to run the VM Guest Additions setup. You can do this by clicking “Devices” and “Insert Guest Additions CD Image” – This will then open up a setup.exe that you’ll need to quickly run through:
Do this and then reboot the machine. You can then adjust the screen resolution or go into full-screen mode completely. Sometimes to get Direct 3D support you might need to run the above setup in Safe Mode.
Another thing I’d recommend is applying all available updates and installing a reliable antivirus. Remember Windows XP is now over 12 years old, so this will always be risky. But you can begin experimenting with any games or applications in the Virtual Machine. Again please bear in mind that this isn’t guaranteed to work, but for most of the golden oldies, you should be able to get some playability.
That concludes this guide. Have fun, and feel free to let us know how you get on either in the comments below or on social media.