A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Retrocomputing Why Bother?: Part 6: Dosbox as Shown by Thexder

While I have mentioned buying computers to play classic games.  However there is an easier and more fun way.  EMULATION.

And if you want to play DOS or Tandy DOS games nothing beats the glorious DOSBOX with the somewhat slow and clunky but super handy D-FEND  RELOADED.

Now as folks who follow me on Facebook or deal with me in synirc.net's #retrochat IRC channel know I have bought a MISB Tandy Color Computer version of classic mech action game Thexder.  I even found my old Amiga disk of it.

This was MISB for 15 dollars.  It is no longer MISB.

Well as a user of DOSBOX I can play my classic PC games in a super easy way, saving me time, money, and space.  Plus with programs like JoytoKey I can effectively have as many buttons on a joystick as I own sticks with multiple buttons.  Which OWNS for Commodore 64 and Amiga titles but can be handy for classic titles that loathe various DOSBOX settings or never even had joystick controls!

Yet many games have odd graphics options and D Fend has a dozen or more choices for how to display your software.  

And remember how I mentioned the special graphics and music options of the Tandy 1000 series?  Well now you can play games that support it!  (Note for Tandy sound you need to have Tandy graphics options.)

 My recommended default settings for Thexder in Tandy mode.  Keeps them pixels.  Note 3x is my windowed option for every graphics option here that supports it.  If you don't mind 1/4th or so of my 1080p monitor settings in size on monitor.

 While there may be slight tweaking, in general its as accurate to the pure graphics output you can get.

You can even go with a CRT mode to simulate playing on a well.. CRT monitor.  Might be a good use for those classic CGA games that use Apple II/Tandy Color Computer styled tricks to get more colors out of a limited system.

Or you can go with TV/Composite Monitor styled scan lines.  Many classic gamers INSIST on them.  I do not.

For a not perfectly accurate look if you really hate pixels there is Advanced Upscaling..

With Sharpening if you want some pixels and sorta scanlines..

Or you can go Super 2Sai which does not allow for the 3x image size and instead only doubles it.  There are a couple types of this and honestly I don't want to spend all bloody day getting to this point in Level 1 of Thexder to show it to you.

 My default DOSBOX settings.  The graphics are dreadful and the sound?  PC SPEAKER BEEP MUSIC. The beautiful if somewhat repetitive music of Thexder turned into musical bleating.  It is to be shameful.

Practically zero difference for this game in CRT mode.  It just doesn't really matter.  

I could probably try more options for Non Tandy Thexder but even Super2Sai seemed to make little to no effect.  

This should give you some ideas though.  DOSBOX is an amazing program that really allows for DOS gaming to be more fun if somewhat less authentic.  However being able to do things like run fan made assist programs like All Seeing Eye,

or being able to have cluebooks open, or even a program to make or keep your own maps on screen, or use screen capturing or video making programs to show off some of your old favorites is a super great thing.  Also floppy disks and their drives are dying off just due to age and the elements.  Optical disks or all your games saved to a flash drive is a way of preserving them.

Though to be fair this little entry does make me want to go buy a later model Tandy 1000 anyhow.  I self medicate with buying stuff I do not need...

And let's see what EOB looks like in other graphics modes, eh?

 This here is EGA graphics.  Kind of uggo but.. tolerable really.  If one hadn't seen how it looks in VGA this wouldn't seem bad at all.  Still looks nearly as good if not a bit better than Dungeon Master, which came out on a 16 color Atari ST in 1987.

 Tandy 16 Color Mode.  It looks a touch better but otherwise nearly identical.  The sound is pretty nice and rich compared to Adlib/Soundblaster 1 but I am no golden ear or anything.

OH GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE MY EYES.  It is pretty much the same resolution as Tandy but the color limitations are hideous.  4 Colors at a time in CGA and it usually seems as if BLACK AND WHITE are always 2 of the 4 with the normal CGA palette choice being cyan and lavender here.  Since NUCLEAR GREEN AND ORANGE is even more painful to look at.

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I like to play nerd games! I am a nerd! Join our nerd ways at https://www.facebook.com/groups/112040385527428/