Igor Kromin |   Consultant. Coder. Blogger. Tinkerer. Gamer.

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Archive.org has made available thousands of DOS games for free that can be played directly in your browser. The list of games consists of classics like Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Leisure Suite Larry, Sim City and Prince of Persia. This is all well and good, but the in-browser games do not appear to work in Safari; they do work in Chrome. Not all games are downloadable directly either, but with a bit of URL manipulation and the Boxer app, you can get these running directly on your Mac. Here's how.

Before I show how to get these games running on your Mac, here are links to the two collections that Archive.org has made available. Unfortunately the search feature is not very user friendly and I had to manually go through the whole list to pick out the games that I wanted (list of my picks is further down).

There are two collections, which do not seem to have any overlap:

You can go ahead and launch and play the games directly in a web browser. This is quick and easy and you don't need to install anything, simply click the 'Run' link on the game.

Here's when I launched a few of the games to test this out (not it did not work in Safari for me, I had to use Chrome).

dosgames1.png dosgames2.png

dosgames3.png




Where it gets interesting is being able to run these games directly on your Mac using a DOS emulator, Boxer. You can download Boxer here: http://boxerapp.com. Boxer comes with a number of games pre-installed and you can easily import new games for it with a few clicks.

Not all games from the Archive.org collections have download links however. This is where a bit of trickery is required. Every game has a 'Run' link, which looks like this:
https://archive.org/stream/msdos_Reach_for_the_Stars_-_The_Conquest_of_the_Galaxy_1986/Reach_for_the_Stars_-_The_Conquest_of_the_Galaxy_1986.zip?module=dosbox&scale=2


Note the stream in the address. If you replace stream with download, you can get the game's zip file. Easy!

So for the above link, you get a link like this instead:
https://archive.org/download/msdos_Reach_for_the_Stars_-_The_Conquest_of_the_Galaxy_1986/Reach_for_the_Stars_-_The_Conquest_of_the_Galaxy_1986.zip


I tried the above trick with many games and they all seemed to have worked for me.

So now onto Boxer...When you import a game in Boxer, it can auto-detect if a game needs to be installed or a setup run before the game runs. The games are imported into your User folder under the DOS Games folder. Once a game is imported all you have to do is double-click it to start it.

Here are some screenshots of importing and running Duke Nukem 3D...

dosgames4.png dosgames5.png dosgames6.png


I tried running Duke Nukem 3D within a browser, but the performance was less than satisfactory, in Boxer, it ran very well and was like playing it natively.

Using Boxer you have a choice of rendering styles. It can display the game in its original pixels or it can smooth out the pixels either using fast smoothing or fancy smoothing, it can also render the game using a 'TV Scanlines' mode. Here is a comparison of each one in the order listed: original, fast smoothing, fancy smoothing, TV scanlines.
dosgames7.png
dosgames8.png
dosgames9.png
dosgames10.png


I found little difference between fast and fancy smoothing, however the setting I use now is fancy smoothing as a default.

After having gone through the 2000+ games from Archive.org's collection, here are some of my favourite picks:


Some games like all of the Leisure Suite Larry series were not importable by Boxer for some reason. I did manage to get them running by right-clicking the games's .bat file and opening it in Boxer.

Not all the classics are in the collections. I would love to see Crystal Caves and the Duke Nukem (the 2D platformer) in the list, however this is amazing collection and well worth a look.

-i

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