How I used PCem to create a virtual 486 PC
Now I can enjoy playing Tornado the way it was originally played in 1993! Warning: Geek alert!
Tags: virtualisation, PC emulation, reviving them olde dead games, PCem, DOSBox, Tornado flight sim, high fidelity sound, pure Voodoo graphics, leave your dusty outdated PC in the attic, maximum coolness, extreme awesomenessEXECUTIVE SUMMARY
I don't have a 486 PC. The last time I used one was in 2002. It's 2017 now and I can't play lots of old games on my modern PC. They simply won't work. So yesterday I created a virtual 486 PC on my 64-bit Windows 10 Dell laptop. My specs are Intel i5-4210U, 1.7Ghz, 8Gb RAM. Now I can play any old DOS or Windows95/98 game on my laptop. I did this exercise more as a geek challenge than anything. After all who has time these days to play tons of games?
Using PCEm is about getting older software/OSes running on modern machines and emulating other pieces of period hardware (like 386/486/VESA S3 video, Soundblaster/Adlib sound cards, etc). That what this post is about.H
ere's the thing. You've got lots of CDs of old games, but you can't play them because they can't and won't run on your modern machine. Short of downloading the revived versions from Steam or GOG.com (that's if they are there!), there is another way. PCem.
Today I figured out how to use PCem to play the old DOS and Windows flight simulators in their native environment. Woo hoo!
I'm talking high-fidelity Soundblaster sounds and music, accurate CPU cycles as per the actual PC BIOS and motherboards. I'm talking about Voodoo1 and Voodoo2 3Dfx rendering of graphics (better than what any 3Dfx software Glide Wrapper can do). In short, I can create my own virtual 486 machine with all the trimmings (devices and drivers) so that I can play classic DOS and Windows games with the authentic 1990s aural and visual experience!
PCem is a PC emulator that's been around for some time. After lots of poking around, I managed to setup up virtual machine (emulator) running on MS-DOS 6.22 bootable disk and Windows 95. The MS-DOS bootable disk is for playing DOS games - especially Tornado
which needs at least 605 kilobytes of free conventional RAM. The Windows 95 mode is for running Mig Alley and other dinosaur Windows flight simulators that modern computers abhor.
Using PCem, I emulated a 486DX/2 40Mhz machine. That was expensive state of the art back in the early 1990s.
Here are some screenshots of my efforts. PCem running on my Windows 10 laptop!
Windows 95 running in all its glory on my desktop. To run in MS-DOS 6.22,
I have to attach the MS-DOS 6.22 boot disk image file, just before Win95 kicks in.
My PCem emulator settings (left) and my PCem 486 machine (right).
To see the details, open the image in a new browser window. Notice the boot disk result on the right?
I have more than 630Kb of Conventional Memory (a big wow in the 1990s!)
Switching to C: drive and about to launch Tornado
Tornado is launched!
PCem is amazing! I can resize the PCem window until it is a very, very....very small rectangle. I can't do this in DOSBox!
Various parts of the Tornado game - the pilot's cockpit
Various parts of the Tornado game - the external view
Okay, all this is well and good, but you may ask "So what?".
The BIG picture is that if I want a virtual environment, complete with the emulated PC's BIOS, drivers, sound card and video card, I can do so by using up PCem. In the past I have used Microsoft's virtual machine, but I always gave up because I didn't know where to get the necessary drivers. DOSbox and D-Fend are great, but they emulate the minimum to get DOS games to work.
What's the effect of playing Tornado under PCem emulation? Is it worth all the trouble and geek work to do all this? My answer is "YES IT IS!". I find that Tornado in PCem runs smoother and faster with higher quality Soundblaster sounds, compared to running Tornado under DOSBox or D-Fend. All due respect to both DOSBox and D-Fend as both of these products are superb in their own right. My feeling is that PCem is the BEST way to experience playing Tornado, or for that matter, any
DOS game. If you don't have an old PC, and you want to experience the glory days of the 1993, PCem is the answer.
DOSBox on the left and PCem on the right. Two great software side-by-side.
DOSBox won't allow me to resize its window, so I'm stuck with that window size.
I can enlargen DOSBox's window by editing a conf file (who wants to?), but I can't reduce its window's dimensions.
PCem's window, however, is fully scalable. Even in a small PCem window on the right, Tornado is fully playable.
In the screenshot above, DOSBox is a DOS environment emulated. Get this: PCem is an entire 486 computer emulated
, complete wth BIOS and ready-to-use system drivers!
What this means is that I can create my own PCem MS-DOS, PCem Windows95 and PCem Windows98 emulated computers. I can now enjoy these classic flight simulator gems which are almost impossible to play on today's modern computers:
* Mig Alley (one of the best Korean-era flight simulations, curtesy of the geniuses of Rowan)
* Total Air War (one of the best dynamic campaigns, curtesy of Digital Image Design)
* Steel Beasts Gold (impossible to play in Windows 7 - but hey, who plays it these days when you have SB Pro PE 4.01?)
* fill in your own impossible-to-play-under-anything-more-than-Windows-XP game here
With the march of time and technology, the gap between old classic games and modern PCs running on modern Operating Systems is getting wider each day. Thanks to PCem, you can play almost ANYTHING on your Windows 7 32 bit/64 bit or Windows 10 32-bit/64-bit computer. And you don't need to dust off that old 386, 486 or Pentium computer stored away in the attic (does it still work, or is it junk?). You can use the computer that you are currently
using. Yes, the same one that you use to play SteelBeasts Pro PE, Scourge of War, ArmA3 and DCS. Just think about it.
Before this week, my greatest personal accomplishment was playing Tornado on my iPad. Today, my greatest personal accomplishment is being able to create PCem virtual computers to run old, outdated and neglected, but classic games.
Now that I have whetted your appetite for PCem, if you want to give it a go, click on the link below.BEST step-by-step installation guide for PCem I have ever found.
Frankie "TornadoMan" Kam
Youtube How To setup create a 486 PC running on MS-DOS 6.22 with PCem (the video that started it all for me)
PC Emulator homepagehttps://pcem-emulator.co.uk/
WinWorld's Win95 iso and MS DOS 6.22 iso fileshttps://winworldpc.com/product/windows-95/osr-2https://winworldpc.com/product/ms-dos/622
Disk Imaging Suite Tool to create and edit image files - WinImagehttp://www.winimage.com/winimage.htm