As a kid, till about the age of 10, I’d go to one of my aunt’s house during the summer holidays. There she would teach me and my sister arts and crafts, and make us read stories.
One of those days, I walked into the house and found a small white television with wires running around it on a table. My cousin brother, who was in college, saw me curious, and told me it was a computer. I asked him what it does, and he said I could play games on it.
I was sold.
I ran to it, and pressed the big power button and saw it come alive. The screen read Mercury, and then, Energy Star. Then the screen loaded up Windows 95, with its turquoise desktop background, and its pixelated start button and various shortcuts. Among the many colourful icons one of them read ’Prince of Persia’. My brother double clicked on it, and that was how I played my first video game ever.
Most people, especially in the west were exposed to games in arcades (pong, street fighter etc.) and console like Nintendo Entertainment system, 1985, the Gameboy in 1989 and more, and preferred them to computers. But consoles were scarce here in India, so my first encounter with a virtual game, was on the trusty Personal Computer.
Since then, I have played tons of games – all the classics like Dangerous Dave, Wolf 3D, and Skyroads – games which most people around my age would nostalgically recognize. But thanks to the steady inflow of new and exciting games, like Mortal Kombat 4, Need for Speed 2, and the newer Assassins creed, which had better graphics and gameplay, I slowly forgot these old DOS (Disk Operating system) games.
Recently, during a conversation with one of my teachers, who is more or less my age, I mentioned being an avid gamer, and she asked me to find a game that she’d played as a kid. But she didn’t know the name. She explained it was a car game, in space, where you can move the car left and right, and jump over obstacles.
Immediately, I remembered playing a similar game at my neighbour’s house, who I didn’t really like, but would be nice to, so that I would get to play it on his computer.
I racked my brains, but I just couldn’t remember the name of the game. I started frantically google-ing things like “Old car game” “Space car platformer”, but to no avail. And then, some neuron from some recess of my mind fired and in the middle of the class I yelled out “SKY!”
While the teacher and people around me, tried to figure out why I just screamed a random word like a madman, I googled “Sky dos game”. And there it was! The first result read Skyroads, developed by bluemoon, released in 1993.
I waited for class to finish so I could run to my teacher and tell her I’d found the game. We both jumped in joy and then revelled in nostalgia, after which she asked me, “Do you have it? Can we play? ”
Till then, I had not realized that these games are still around, and can still be played. But then again, Skyroads came out in 1993, and there I was two decades later, trying to run it on an operating system that was too advanced to recognize it.
With a little more digging, I found Dosbox, a software that could emulate the DOS environment on a modern operating system, so that any user could install and play dos games to their hearts content. Along with it, I found dosgamesarchive.com, a website dedicated to collecting and sharing DOS games.
Even today, in between my adventures in Dragon Age or matches in FIFA, I race in Road Rash or shoot people in Castle Wolfenstein. Revisiting all the games I’d played as a kid, got me to appreciate them so much more.