To play your newly downloaded game, you have several options available to you:
- Novice: Use DOSBox. Recommended for newbies / most people. DOSBox is a free DOS emulator that runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and more, and allows you to play most DOS games just as though you were using "real" DOS. Read our DOSBox Guide to learn how to run the DOSBox DOS emulator on your modern PC.
- Experienced: Use VirtualBox. VirtualBox is a free virtualization program that allows you to run other real OSes on your modern PC. Read a guide to installing DOS on VirtualBox.
- Pro: Build a DOS PC. This is way beyond the scope of this FAQ, but for the true authentic experience, you can build a DOS-centric PC and install DOS on it, or purchase a pre-built PC for that purpose. Here is a post with building advice to get you started, and an extensive YouTube building walkthrough by Lazy Game Reviews.
If you're using DOSBox, you can set the CPU cycles (ie, the speed at which the game runs) by using the CYCLES command. Type "CYCLES #" where # is a number and higher = faster. The DOSBox Performance page talks more about CPU cycles and provides a chart with rough equivalents to x86 systems. You can also try "CYCLES AUTO" to have DOSBox try to guess how fast to run the game. You can manually increase/decrease the cycles by pressing the Ctrl+F11 key to slow it down. (Press Ctrl+12 to speed it up.)
If you're using "real" DOS, try the Moslo utility.
It's true that the Archive.org DOS Software Archive contains a ridiculous amount of stuff to download and try online. It's truly an amazing effort. However, it also contains a lot of "abandonware" (aka, illegally distributed software). Granted, many of the rights-holders no longer care if their software is freely distributed or even still exist. Yet from the start DOSGames.com has been an independently run website to find free to play games, whether those are made available via freeware, shareware, public domain, or some other free license.
Also, I designed the site to provide a more holistic treatment of the topic, including features like:
- Better, more natural search and categorization.
- Extra info about each game, like multiplayer options, violence, and in the future, instructions.
- Video previews with gameplay footage and no commentary.
- A retro-DOS website theme.
- Personalized reviews for each game.
- Curated selections of games such as textmode games, or games offering multiplayer options.
- Discussion boards for finding old games, getting games to work, and other topics.
- Collections of other materials, such as electronic magazines and company game catalogs.
- Blog to announce new additions, extra video content, and news related to DOS/retro games.
If you have suggestions for content that you would like to see here, please feel free to contact me.