Seeking recommendations: video games for old-school computers? (400Mz Win2K)
January 20, 2005 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Games for a 400MHz PII Rage Pro Win2k boxen? Kids I know would like some video games (especially LANable ones), but their computers aren't so hot. Enemy Territory, BZFlag, and the like have hefty video requirements. Various "free game" resources aren't proving helpful; they're all about the latest&greatest. What's available for old-school systems?
posted by five fresh fish to Computers & Internet (29 answers total)
Doom, Quake I or II, and possibly the older Civilization games come to mind.
posted by Captain_Tenille at 10:17 AM on January 20, 2005

Quake II is great simply for the sheer number of quality mods out there. Action Quake remains for me one of my favourite gaming experiences.
posted by pookzilla at 10:21 AM on January 20, 2005

posted by piro at 10:27 AM on January 20, 2005

Just about any game released before 1999 ought to do.
posted by internal at 10:30 AM on January 20, 2005

Second the Worms.

Also, finding a better video card for dirt cheap shouldn't be too hard.
posted by neckro23 at 10:35 AM on January 20, 2005

Possibly "Total Annihalation".
posted by mecran01 at 10:38 AM on January 20, 2005

posted by tumult at 10:40 AM on January 20, 2005

You sure about bzflag? ISTR that it scales down pretty well on older hardware....
posted by aberrant at 10:49 AM on January 20, 2005

Unreal and Unreal Tournament ran just fine on my family's old Pentium II 233MHz Dell with what was probably somewhere between 8-32 megs of video RAM. Your machine will run them fine.

Anything else I would suggest has already been mentioned :) Go Underdogs!
posted by cyrusdogstar at 11:22 AM on January 20, 2005

If you don't mind violence, the original Unreal Tournament will indeed run fine and is a fabulous game.

Tribes is also freakin' great if you have enough players.
posted by selfnoise at 11:28 AM on January 20, 2005

I played Enemy Territory just fine on a 733mhz PIII with a four-year-old GeForce. If you've already tried it, then clearly I'm wrong, but I'd imagine if you turned resolution and detail down to their minimums it'd run fine.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:32 AM on January 20, 2005

I'd go with Doom2, QuakeI, Tie Fighter, Falcon 3.0, and DuneII.
posted by Manjusri at 11:33 AM on January 20, 2005

For single player titles, I'd suggest Thief: Platinum Edition, Omikron: The Nomad Soul, Anachronox, The Typing of the Dead, The Residents: Bad Day on the Midway, MDK, MDK2, Messiah.

For something LANable, there's Outlaws, the aformentioned Unreal titles, and the original Operation: Counterstrike add-on for Half-Life.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:16 PM on January 20, 2005

In general, I look for older games with big mod communities. Others that haven't yet been mentioned include Heroes of Might and Magic III (look for the Wake of the Gods expansion particularly) and the Jagged Aliance II games.
posted by bonehead at 12:19 PM on January 20, 2005

At home we have a similar network. We rotate between Tribes, Diablo II and Starcraft.
posted by Pockets at 12:26 PM on January 20, 2005

Response by poster: I think the big problem is with the video card. It's an ATI Rage Pro with only 4Mb of memory. BZFlag just barfed on it; incredibly slow. Wolfenstein Escape wanted OpenGL and despite having installed DX9 and ATI's latest Rage Pro drivers, wasn't liking what it got.

The abandonware/underdogs stuff is what I'm really gunning for. Especially if it encourages cooperative play.

We've got Little Fighters II going, and it r0xx0rs. I really wish Gish were less hardware-intensive.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:38 PM on January 20, 2005

Upgrade. Seriously. Even if the PCs only have PCI, you can get good graphics cards in PCI flavours.

Max out the RAM, then use Powerleap or Evergreen Technologies to upgrade the CPU without having to change anything else.

The thing about upgrading like this (particularly using Powerleap) is that you can do whatever you can afford whenever you can afford it and you don't have to throw it all away and start again.

Or you can just go the Emulators path. I recommend Lemon64.
posted by krisjohn at 2:45 PM on January 20, 2005

DOOM, DOOM 2, XCOM and Quake are all oldies but goodies.

Moonbase Commander was a fun little turn based strategy game that came out a few years ago which is a bit 'o fun.
posted by alan at 2:58 PM on January 20, 2005

Response by poster: Upgrading is not an option. Sorry.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:51 PM on January 20, 2005

ok, silly question, but do you have access to a *nix box? If so, grab cygwin and install the X server package, then compile X games of your choice on the *nix box (e.g., xfrisk for Risk goodness) and you're all set.

Alternately, join (or create) a MUD :) Not "video game" really, but text adventure is about as old school as you can get.
posted by aberrant at 5:47 PM on January 20, 2005

Find a torrent of MAME. A version with all the roms will take about 8gigs, but you can have several hundred of the best games for only a few hundred megs.
posted by furtive at 6:45 PM on January 20, 2005

Upgrading is not an option. Sorry.

I don't get this. If you can afford the games, you can afford the upgrades. Are you only asking about old games because you hope you can pirate them easily?

As it stands, your question is looking more like a request for warez.
posted by krisjohn at 6:58 PM on January 20, 2005

dude, calm down krisjohn. he implied pretty clearly that he's looking for free stuff/abandonware. i get the feeling he's seeking games he can just install onto a bunch of computers and enjoy as-is, without having to make hardware changes or compile or whatever. it doesn't sound like he's warez hunting at all.

furtive: much of MAME will not run at full speed on a 400mhz PII, though i think the older classics will.

five fresh fish: i just remembered that the classic Marathon trilogy was just released for free. though the original version of the game was only for Mac, the source code was released a couple of years ago and it was ported to various platforms under the name of Aleph One. unfortunately, you still needed to be a legal owner of the game content in order to actually play anything. but now that the game content is free, you can just download it and play away. great single player and multiplayer fun to be had.

game engine: Aleph One
game content: Trilogy Release
posted by tumult at 9:58 PM on January 20, 2005

Is this PC online? If so, check out these free on-line classics:

SimCity Classic

DHTML Lemmings

THE HITCHHIKER ADVENTURE GAME by Douglas Adams - 20th Anniversary Edition

Upgrade, schmupgrade.
posted by Otis at 7:20 AM on January 21, 2005

Oh, and if you dig the interactive fiction thing, the Zorks have been released for free too. OpenGL and Direct X not required.
posted by Otis at 7:24 AM on January 21, 2005

If you can afford the games, you can afford the upgrades.

Because he can afford a couple of potentially sub-$10 games, he can afford upgrading (potentially $100+)?

I can't afford to ugrade either, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying what I already have by buying a couple bargain bin games once in a while.
posted by shawnj at 7:43 AM on January 21, 2005

Diablo, Diablo II, Unreal Tournament. All you need, really, and I've seen all of them for cheap at Meijer (I bought UT GOTY Edition for $10)
posted by dagnyscott at 10:31 AM on January 21, 2005

Response by poster: Otis, your Underdogs link was exactly the right sort of thing.

Others: thanks for all the suggestions! I'll be checking the bargain bins &c.

Tumult: hot damn! I may grab that for myself, let alone the kids! :-)

kris: I don't want warez, I want *old* abandoned games, freeware, etc.

These kids don't have the bucks to upgrade their computers (which their mom scored for fifty bucks a pop). They've been really keen on some of the jump-platform old-school Shockwave games on the web, and they enjoyed a couple of easy LAN games.

I'd like to be able to take advantage of the LAN and let 'em play against each other. At nine and twelve years old, they're not gonna excel at online UT playing against a bunch experts. And, besides, maybe they'll be able to learn to co-operate, or at least shift their sibling fights to online characters instead of real life.

Thanks all! I suspect this thread is mostly dead, but it's really proved useful.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:20 AM on January 21, 2005

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