DOS Gaming on the Mac Made Easy

Filed Under Computers & Tech on April 16, 2011 | 5 Comments

DOSBox + BoxerI grew up in the 80s, so I’ve always had a soft spot for the old DOS games I grew up with. I just loved the Apogee games, particularly Commander Keen and Secret Agent. We’ve been able to play these games on the Mac for years, but the experience has been a little too authentic. The free and open source DOSBox provides the basic emulation needed to run DOS games on modern PCs and Linux, as well as the Mac, but the experience is far from simple. You have to manually create a configuration file to even get started with DOSBox, and you need to know DOS to get your games installed and to run them. Not a problem for a terminal geek like me, but quite an obstacle for regular folks.

A few weeks ago my Grandfather asked me about running some of his old DOS games on his new Mac, so I looked into DOSBox again, and specifically went hunting for a nice GUI to simplify things. The first three I tried were horrifically poor. The worst kind of ‘by geeks, for geeks’ free software. Then I found Boxer, and I was just blown away. Boxer makes DOS games as easy to use as any other app on your Mac! The whole design of the project is just genius, and it’s been executed wonderfully. Attention to detail and usability are right at Boxer’s core.

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After much hassle (see here) I finally got SimCity4 installed on my Mac today and I am unbelievably disappointed. The game is so buggy and unstable that I’ve seen pre-alpha releases of software perform better. Both my Macs are dramatically above the minimum spec but the game does not work on either. On my Mac Mini it crashes each time you try to load any city and on my better half’s G5 iMac it just freezes every few minutes and forces you to do a hard reset of the machine. The only way I can describe this game is un-playable. If you’re tempted to buy it, don’t! It is so bad I’ve just emailed to the shop that sold me the game asking for a re-fund because the product they sold me is sub-standard. TBH I am tempted to take them to small-claims if they don’t comply because I genuinely feel defrauded here.

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