One of my good old friends mentioned the other day that he played some of the games/demos we did back in the BrainBug times. I was like ‘Eh.. How do you do that’, I had already tried out the old BrainBug demo on my new Mac both when running Parallels or Windows XP without luck.
So he introduced me to DOSBox which I gave it a try with the old BrainBug demo I did many years ago. Actually the file I got here is from 1993 which sounds pretty correct, amazing that the date survived after been copied around between so many PC’s.
Here is a screen shot from it (Half size)
So what is DOSBox? As they write on the website:
DOSBox emulates an Intel x86 PC, complete with sound, graphics, mouse, modem, etc., necessary for running many old DOS games that simply cannot be run on modern PCs and operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows2000, Windows XP, Linux and FreeBSD.
To most people this might not sound exciting at all, but from us who lived through that time and even developed games for DOS it is impressive. At that time people did not use DirectX (Hell, it was before Windows 95) but programmed directly to the hardware. So we had no fancy libraries to create graphics and sound. At the same time we had very special memory limitations, split up in normal memory, extended memory and so forth. We knew how to edit and configure config.sys and autoexce.bat, using various memory managers or just himem.sys and emm386.exe to gain the few extra kilo bytes.
So when I ran the old BrainBug demo I was smiling, good old memories coming back. Sure the demo didn’t run as smooth as it used to but it worked. It was running nicely in a window but can also run full screen. Some might ask ‘oh, was it running 1280×1024 in true color’ and I will laugh. It was running in the none-standard mode X (320×240 pixels and 256 colors) and as far as I remember a special tweaked version that changed the frequency of the display. Actually one of the games I worked on allowed the display refresh to be set by the user with any frequency of 50 to 60 Hz and NO I’m not talking about just making the game run faster or slower but I’m talking about the physical refresh rate of the CRT monitor. Sure these things do not work with the modern LCD TFT screens. But it does not matter for DOSBox, it runs it anyway.
What even surprise me more was to hear the good old AdLib music, never thought that would happen again.
Enough talk, time for some action. In case you want to check it out and see how it was in the old days then I suggest you download the DOSBox from their site then install it (of course), create a folder (or as we used to say ‘directory’) for the dos programs, I suggest “c:\Dos”. Then copy the brainbug.exe (download here BrainBug demo 19 kb or as ZIP BrainBug demo (ZIP) ) into that directory.
Start the DOSBox and at the prompt type (press enter after each line)
mount c: c:\Dos\
Sit back and enjoy…
It might be possible to change some settings so that the demo runs in the correct resolution (320×240 pixels) but I have not spent that much time on it yet. It will also be worth to check if there are parameters that can optimize the demo. After all, it just takes a few % of CPU here for me. I even tried to run two of them at the same time, worked fine.
There is also a Mac OSX version which I will give a try later, I also plan to try out some of the old games/demos we did (LollyPop, Super Star Wars…) I will also check if I can find the old Turrican promotions we did back in the old days.