MS-DOS: Ten Iconic Games for the Historic Operating System

MS-DOS: Ten Iconic Games for the Historic Operating System


MS-DOS was the operating system that accompanied the world of IBM and compatible PCs towards the affirmation in the videogame field. Developed by Microsoft, it had a very functional text interface, but which we imagine today would hold back more than a few users, and some really stringent limits as regards video games (who does not remember the hours spent editing CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT? ), overcome with the evolution of the technology of the various components. Marketed in 1982, it has turned forty and it is therefore worth discovering 10 iconic games for MS-DOS, some of those that have characterized it most.

Of course, this is a selection, reasoned but still limited. Thousands of titles were published for MS-DOS and many deserved to be on this list, but of course not everything could be included. The hope is that you will discover or remember ten games that made the history of the medium and that at the time made players dream all over the world. But stop the chatter and let's proceed.

Alone in the Dark

Alone in the Dark, an artwork by Frédérick Raynal had not yet had a great success when he launched Alone in the Dark. He was seen as a great developer, mostly because of that forgotten masterpiece that was Alpha Waves (considered by many to be the first 3D platformer), but he lacked a breakthrough title. But when he launched his Lovecraftian horror in 1992, everyone recognized his genius. Considered the first modern survival horror, as well as Shinji Mikami's inspiration for the first Resident Evil, it sold two million copies despite being released only on PC - a very high amount for an era when piracy was rampant on the platform. .

Alone in the Dark was basically an adventure with action elements, which had the peculiarity of using cinematic shots to show the environments. It was a revolutionary title for its time, although it is often not recognized (after all, the winners write the story, those who have a publisher strong enough to influence the collective discourse, in our case). It should be noted that Raynal will not participate in the making of the next two chapters due to the differences he had with the head of Infogrames, Bruno Bonnell.

How to play: buying the collection of the original trilogy on GOG

Command & Conquer: Red Alert

Command & Conquer: Red Alert, game image Arguably the most famous exponent of the Command & Conquer series, Red Alert was supposed to be a simple prequel, but it soon turned into something more, giving birth to a parallel series thanks to the excellent sales and its overall quality. Set in an alternate universe where the Allies and the Soviet Union wage war in Europe, the late Westwood Studios' real-time strategy was a design masterpiece, the offspring of a deep understanding of the genre, which the entire industry ended up looking for. of inspiration, including Blizzard Entertainment. Finished in every element, it was one of the first RTS to successfully introduce an online mode.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert has two expansions, Counterstrike and The Aftermath, and was declared freeware by the publisher Electronic Arts in 2008. In 2020 the source code was publicly released, under the GPL 3.0 license.

How to play: Command & Conquer: Red Alert is part of the Command & Conquer The Ultimate Collection on Origin


DOOM, a DOOM game image was not the first first person shooter in history, but it was certainly the one that had the most impact in terms of affirming the genre in the collective imagination. It is also the maximum expression of a certain way of conceiving and creating video games, true and direct, which will gradually die in the big industry. Developed by id Software then in a state of grace and released in 1993, it was a mix of fantasy science fiction, which put the player in the shoes of a space marine, the Doomguy, struggling with a demonic invasion of Mars.

Divided into three episodes, the first of which is completely free (typical of the shareware distribution model), DOOM was a furious, adrenaline-pumping and violent game; a concentrate of metal joy and ideas that only RPG fans could conceive, they were so bizarre and perfect at the same time. One of the most important games ever.

How to play: Doom, in the Ultimate Doom version, is available for purchase on Steam and other digital stores.

Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia, a Prince of Persia game image had a very long gestation. During development, Jordan Mechner, the author, was also engaged in other activities. His dream was to enter the world of cinema, despite the fact that he had made the acclaimed Karateka for 8-bit systems. After a rather cold start, the adventures of the prince, whose movements were traced to those of the author's brother using the rotoscope technique, soon found a way to assert themselves among the general public, arriving on an enormous number of platforms, including which obviously MS-DOS.

Set in medieval Persia, it tells of the evil Vizier Jaffar, who gave the Princess, daughter of the Sultan, an hour to decide whether to marry him or die. The protagonist, loved by the girl, must therefore be able to get out of the dungeons in which he was trapped by the Vizier and reach the top of the building to stop him within the time dictated.

What made Prince of Persia famous were precisely his excellent animations, which gave the game a cinematic flavor and which will inspire many other video game authors. However, many other innovative solutions adopted by Mechner in his game, such as that of using scripts for certain actions, so as to make them more precise jumps and climbs.

How to play: in online stores you can find the chapters from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time onwards. For the original you have to turn to the Abandonware sites.

Sid Meier's Civilization

Civilization, an image of the game Sid Meier improvised a lot creating the development model simulated by Civilization, strategic to 4X shifts that made history and that still today continues to produce enormously successful sequels and epigones (just think of all those released in recent times, such as Old World or Humankind, just to name two examples). Released in 1991, Civilization asked the player to lead a civilization from its origins to reaching space.

Despite some problems in the progression, invisible at the time because there was nothing to compare it directly with, Civilization was acclaimed by critics and the public, becoming one of the most important games of all time, capable, if not of inventing , at least to assert its genre among the masses. The race from 4000 BC to 2100 AD has fascinated millions of players, who have built empires on maps traced on planet Earth or randomly generated, in which they have founded cities brought from being simple clusters of huts to become full metropolises of modern buildings and wonders. Humanity compressed into four floppy disks.

How to play: in online stores you can find the next chapters of the game, from Civilization III onwards. For the original you have to turn to the Abandonware sites.


SimCity, a game image SimCity is the simulator par excellence, declared by many to be one of the most important video games of all time, such as from Stanford University. Developed by Will Wright and published in 1989, it put the player in the shoes of a virtual mayor who had to make a city develop and prosper, fighting with the typical problems of urban fabrics such as traffic or pollution, in constant search of the improvement of conditions of citizens' life. In the midst of so much simulative seriousness, some more dramatic elements also appeared here and there, such as natural disasters or monsters. The success of the game gave birth to a series and several spin-offs, one of which, The Sims (the inhabitants of SimCity), also made an era.

SimCity is one of the greatest expressions of the potential of video games to represent the world through systems based on strong rhetorical models, which are able to communicate their meaning through a language specific only to this medium. A masterpiece that has produced an innumerable number of children.

How to play it: in online stores you can find the next chapters of the game, from SimCity 2000 onwards. For the original you should go to the Abandonware sites.

Monkey Island 2: The Chuck's Revenge

Monkey Island 2: The Chuck's Revenge, Guybrush with other characters Back in the MS- DOS that of graphic adventures was a very popular genre. Many do not remember it, but in an era of essentially symbolic and sketchy representations, it had the technological primacy of being able to propose well-designed settings on the screen, which appeared alive thanks to some small animation, at the time less obvious than one might think . In addition to the technological primacy, the point and click adventures were also a place of strong experimentation and narrative evolution. Among the many we have chosen to indicate Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge by Ron Gilbert because it was a bit the pinnacle of a certain way of conceiving the genre, with its very marked style, the high quality of writing and the intelligence of many puzzles, which surprised positively even when they seemed absurd.

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is the back story of the events that led the protagonist, Guybrush Threepwood, to end up hanging from a rope, until the surreal ending that made us talk so much and still today , with the arrival of the new chapter of the series, Return to Monkey Island.

How to play it: You can buy Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge from Steam and select the original graphics.

Ultima VII: The Black Gate

Ultima VII allowed you to interact a little with everything The Ultima series by Origin Systems is iconic in its own right and is fundamental to the history of video games, so many and such are the innovations it has introduced with the various chapters, both in terms of gameplay and in terms of game philosophy (just think of the moral system of Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar). For this special we chose Ultima VII: The Black Gate for a specific reason: considered by many to be the best Ultima ever, it was also the one that most realized the promise of global interaction between the avatar and the game world, creating very high expectations among fans. of the genre, which still use it today as a yardstick for comparison with the most recent role-playing games.

Again in the role of the Avatar, the player must solve a case of ritual murder, in a mission that is actually very free that will lead him to travel far and wide to Britannia, carrying out side missions and talking with a large cast of characters. In the game world, everything can be grabbed, moved or used for various interactions. The possibility of baking bread is famous, but in reality there are many others that could be mentioned, such as changing diapers. Only Ultima Online, an MMORPG also by Origin Systems, managed to match Ultima VII: The Black Gate for the freedom granted to the player (but in a completely different game context), while since then the genre has been increasingly closed and simplified, for do not create disorientation and attract a wider audience.

How to play: you can buy the complete edition, which includes Ultima 7: The Black Gate, Ultima 7: Forge of Virtue, Ultima 7 Part Two: Serpent Isle and Ultima 7 Part Two: The Silver Seed, from GOG and Origin

Wing Commander

Wing Commander was very cinematic, with all the limitations of 1990 Wing Commander was the most successful franchise of Origin Systems, as well as the one who made the name of Chris Roberts affirm in the world of video games, however already active for many years with titles such as Wizadore, Times of Lore and Bad Blood. Ambitious and technologically advanced, this space combat simulator represented one of the turning points in the industry, with its being able to blend game mechanics and cinematic storytelling in a very effective way (not for nothing Roberts will also try to make a career in the world of cinema, starting from a Wing Commander film). Set in 2654, it tells of the war efforts of the Terrestrial Confederation against the Kilrathi, an alien species with feline features that wants to conquer the Earth. To make Wing Commander particular, in addition to its technical virtues, was also the game structure, so the progress of the game was influenced by the successes and failures of the gamer.

How to play it: you can find it on Origin, the Electronic Arts digital store.

UFO: Enemy Unknown

We've been stopping aliens in X- for almost thirty years now. COM UFO: Enemy Unknown, known as X-Com: UFO Defense in USA, is a turn-based strategy game from 1993, as well as one of the most loved games in the history of the medium, which still has a large number of fans today. Designed by Julian Gollop, master of turn-based strategy, fortunately still active on the market today, it told of the founding of the Extraterrestrial Combat Unit, or X-COM which, led by the player, was to stop an alien threat.

UFO: Enemy Unknown worked on several levels: that of managing the base, which had to be grown to equip the troops with advanced resources, recruit men and, in general, prepare for the growing threat; and the operational one, in which the units were guided on the field through a deep and multifaceted turn-based system, still imitated today, but hardly reached for the depth and tactical possibilities offered to the player. In recent years Firaxis Games has taken over the brand, launching at least two highly successful games on the market.

How to play it: you can buy it on Steam

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