There are a lot of amazing games these days, but they sometimes take years to develop, and they might still launch in a sorry state at release — looking at you, Cyberpunk 2077. If you want to return to a simpler time, the games of yesteryear are now easier to play thanks to the new DOSBox Pure. This software makes playing DOS games a snap, even for those who didn’t grow up messing around with command lines.
About 20 years ago, Windows XP removed the DOS layer that Microsoft’s previous Windows interfaces ran atop. The DOSBox emulator launched soon after, allowing gamers to run classic games that don’t work on modern operating systems. It’s been long enough that there are grown adults today who might want to play a game like Duke Nukem 3D or Quake but have never touched a DOS command line. That’s where DOSBox Pure comes in. It has all the DOS emulation capabilities of the main release, but it can run games directly from ZIP files or images. And that’s just the start.
DOSBox Pure is a new fork built for RetroArch/Libretro, and it’s technically only a test version at this time. However, it seems surprisingly solid after just six months of development. However, it does not come with any games — you’ll have to provide your own. There are many games from that era that are available freely online, but distributing others is a legal gray area.
To start playing a game in DOSBox Pure, simply point the software at your game directory. If there’s a disc image inside, DOSBox Pure will automatically mount the first found disk image as the A: or D: drive. If a game has multiple executables, DOSBox Pure will provide a list (gamepad-compatible, even) that allows you to select the correct EXE. It can even automatically detect and map your controller based on the game. For games that support mice, you can emulate mouse cursor control with your controller.
It was possible to just plain lose games from the DOS era when you ran out of lives, but DOSBox Pure has a plethora of emulator features that will make those classic games slightly less imposing. You can create multiple save states for a game, and there’s a handy rewind feature in case you screw up and don’t want to burn a life. It also supports RetroArch cheat code searching.
If you want to give it a shot, the DOSBox Pure installer and documentation are available on the GitHub page. It’s currently compatible with Windows, Linux, and Raspberry Pi (Arm7).
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