moho_00 Curator Backer Posts: 5411 Registered: 6/10/2011
# 1 - Posted on 4/24/2016 17:25:45

Well, for me, at least :P

Something I've wanted to do for a while now is rebuild a Windows 98 machine. I know it's possible to use virtual machines these days, but unless there have been some recent improvements for 3D acceleration, that's not really an option for a lot of the games from that era. I'm mostly interested in playing games from 1995 - 2002 and (mostly) just the ones that are not available digitally on GOG or Steam.

After realizing I still had an old desktop collecting dust in my basement, I spent Friday night trying to rebuild it. I knew it didn't work the last time I tried loading it up years ago, and it turned out to be a bad hard drive. Luckily, I had added a secondary 200GB hard drive like a decade ago haha. So I ripped out the old one, dug out my Windows 98 SE disc, formatted that sucker, and installed my shiny new OS.

Okay, so before I get into the games I've tried and the issues I've run across, I guess I should say WHY I felt compelled to do this. Well, it's for a few reasons:

  • I legitimately want to play some of these games and in most cases, there isn't a (legal) way to do so.
  • I love the convenience factor of just having a PC dedicated to Windows 98 gaming. I don't have to worry about compatibility (mostly, more on that later), it doesn't need anything else loaded on it, and it doesn't even need the Internet (sort of).
  • Nostalgia. Even if I just play around with a game for a few minutes, it feels great to reflect back on fond memories of playing some of these back in the '90s. I didn't get my first PC until 1998, so a lot these are what I cut my teeth on in the PC gaming world.

Here's my hardware:

  • It's an old Dell Dimension 4550 that's mostly still in tact
  • Pentium 4 2.0 Ghz
  • 200 GB Hard drive
  • 768 MB RAM (That's what Windows shows, but I thought Windows 98 maxed out at 512MB, so who knows)
  • nVidia GeForce FX 5200 (I purchased this a looong time ago and threw it in this machine when it was my primary box)

Alright, now let's talk about the games! Here's what I've tried so far that WORKS:

  • Beavis and Butt-Head Do U. - An adventure game starring the dynamic duo that I never actually finished back in the day. I barely tested it out, but it seems to work great.
  • Vigilance - An old SegaSoft game that looked really cool, but wasn't well-received. I've always wanted to give it a fair shake and bought a big box copy a while back. It seems to run really well, but it didn't let me turn on hardware acceleration.
  • Get Medieval - A long-forgotten Gauntlet clone by Monolith, oh, you know, those guys that made a little game called Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and the F.E.A.R. games (not to mention BLOOD!!) I should've mentioned this above, but another reason I wanted to do this was to experience games like this (i.e. the humble beginnings of up-and-coming developers). I missed out on this when it first came out, but no more!
  • Hoyle Mahjong Tiles - I found a used copy for $2 on Saturday morning and couldn't pass it up. I love mahjong solitaire and I had just finished rebuilding my machine, so it was a no-brainer. And yes, it's fun :)
  • 3D Ultra Pinball: The Lost Continent - I haven't played much of the 3D Ultra line of games, but they always seemed neat. This one works great and seems like a fun pinball game so far.
  • Die by the Sword + Limb from Limb Expansion - This is one of the inspirations for embarking on this journey. I've had mixed results with the GOG version and it seems really finicky on my current rig. I loooved this game back in high school and I remember my friends and I playing Arena Mode over and over. I'd like to play a little bit of Quest Mode since I never got very far in it. I'm playing the pseudo-sequel Draconus: Cult of the Wyrm on Dreamcast, hence the aforementioned inspiration.
  • KISS: Psycho Circus - The Nightmare Child - I'm probably the only person in the entire universe (yes, universe) that actually enjoyed this game. I love old school FPS games and this one is by-the-numbers. It ran great in 1280x720 resolution.

And now the ones that DO NOT WORK:

  • Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit - I played this game a TON back in high school and was really bummed that it didn't work. The game loads fine, but when you try to race, it hangs on the loading screen.
  • Daytona USA Deluxe - I can't get this one to load up, it immediately complains about DirectX.
  • Mageslayer - Another DirectX error.
  • Outwars - This one loads up, but fails when trying to start a mission.
  • Ultim@te Race Pro - This one loads up, but throws a DirectX error when trying to start a race. noticing a trend? Yeah, DirectX is a real pain! I suspect it's because I'm using a video card that was released a little too late to provide compatibility with a lot of these older games. Most of them have asked for DirectX 5, but I'm pretty sure I have DirectX 9. And although it SHOULD be backwards compatible, I'm finding out that's not really the case. The fact that KISS: Psycho Circus worked while most of the older games did not lends itself to this theory.

I'm going to try and track down a card that was made between 1998 - 2000 (the one I have was from 2003) and see if that helps things at all. One nice thing about my card is it has S-Video Out, so I could potentially record some gameplay videos, which may not be an option with older cards. But I think I'd rather have the higher compatibility, assuming that's truly my issue.

I also ran into an issue with controllers....namely that I don't have a gameport! I had to order a Sound Blaster Live! that has one on it. Luckily, they can be found for about $5 (free shipping) on eBay. Hopefully it works. I also ordered a new Microsoft Sidewinder for $20, so HOPEFULLY that all works hehe.

And now, the last issue worth mentioning (believe me, there were many more bumps in the road, haha!) is the patching issue. Either I suck at Googling or some of these patches have just disappeared from the Internet. For example, Daytona USA Deluxe has a Direct3D patch that I thought might help my issue. But I can't seem to find a copy of it ANYWHERE! FilePlanet has it, but my browsers say "nuh-uh" to that site and even if I force them through, the file can't be found. So not even sure why that site is still up, unless I'm a noob...

I stumbled upon, which had some of the patches I wanted, but did not have Daytona USA Deluxe or some others. What sucks is I know I've had that Direct3D patch before, so this time I'll be backing everything up that I find.

All that being said, do you guys have any game recommendations? I'd prefer to stay away from anything that's available on GOG or Steam. But other than that, I'm open to just about anything. I have a stack of games I still need to try, but feel free to throw out your recommendations anyways :D

Post Edited on 4/24/2016 18:08:48
dhobo Curator Backer Posts: 1812 Registered: 1/5/2015
# 2 - Posted on 4/24/2016 19:30:09

Well, if you want to risk malware, etc... you can get that direct3d patch from fileplanet.

If you're using chrome, after it auto nopes your download, check your browser's download list. The file will still be listed in there with the option to recover it. I just tested it myself and virus scanned the patch which turned up clear. Won't run it though as I have no reason to so if it is bad news, well, you'll be on your own there :P

moho_00 Curator Backer Posts: 5411 Registered: 6/10/2011
# 3 - Posted on 4/24/2016 20:04:40

Excellent! I missed the option in Chrome to let me proceed, but now I have it downloaded. I don't really care if it has malware in it, as long as my PC is still usable :P I'm keeping it off the network (in fact, I don't even have drivers for the ethernet port), so worst case, I'll just reinstall Windows 98.

That leads me to my next issue...I also don't have USB flash drive drivers, so I've been burning files to disc hehe. Once I'm done, I'm going to collect them all onto one disc so I don't have to go through this again, in the event I ever reload the OS or build a new rig.

dhobo Curator Backer Posts: 1812 Registered: 1/5/2015
# 4 - Posted on 4/25/2016 1:05:20

Good call. It's always handy to have a "system" disk with all your drivers, etc... Hard to fathom in this day and age, but sometimes you simply don't have access to the internet when doing a setup, haha.

moho_00 Curator Backer Posts: 5411 Registered: 6/10/2011
# 5 - Posted on 4/26/2016 14:18:22

I played the demo for a game called Hexplore last night and I immediately purchased it thereafter :P Maybe this was a bad idea...

I remember thinking that game looked cool, but I had never played it until last night. It's kinda like Diablo, but almost plays like an RTS. Really looking forward to playing the full game.

Marcus Curator Backer Posts: 311 Registered: 10/16/2014
# 6 - Posted on 4/28/2016 2:22:23

This is awesome! Interestingly enough, I have had a similar urge to revisit PC gaming's past and am also doing that. However, my focus in the past few years has been more over Windows 3.0 and Windows 95. This was first facilitated with the likes of GOG, but I've since moved onto other titles.

It's a shame that the Internet Archive stuff is really so minimal in this regard. Though they do feature old Windows software, a whole heck of a lot of it isn't emulated very well. Or, basically the setup isn't correct so the games never run. Then there is the matter of legal matters forcing large chunks of the collection offline.

For me, I've just been playing retro PC titles on my own machine because it works far better and is more nostalgic overall lol. The hard part is deciding what to try first!

moho_00 Curator Backer Posts: 5411 Registered: 6/10/2011
# 7 - Posted on 4/28/2016 13:27:55

Very nice! So are you using DOSBox / virtual machines to emulate the operating systems? Or do you actually have the old hardware to run it?

My first PC had Windows 95 and I've only played a handful of games on Windows 3.1. I fondly remember playing Chip's Challenge, NASCAR Racing, and some of the Front Page Sports games at a friend's house though :D

dhobo Curator Backer Posts: 1812 Registered: 1/5/2015
# 8 - Posted on 4/28/2016 14:45:29

Oh man, Chip's Challenge.

I lost so many hours to that game...

Marcus Curator Backer Posts: 311 Registered: 10/16/2014
# 9 - Posted on 4/28/2016 15:40:51

Moho, yes I'm using stuff like DOSBox but in a highly customized fashion. IE: Each title played has a custom boot sequence sort of thing so that there are not issues typically associated with emulation of said game (running too fast, graphical glitches, etc).

The setup makes it so I can then record gameplay or even stream if I really want to lol.

Post Edited on 4/28/2016 15:41:15