DOS games only runnable from the floppy drive?
October 1, 2011 1:37 PM   Subscribe

I need suggestions for old DOS era games that only supported playing with the original floppy disk(s) in drive A: and offered no hard disk install option.

I'm doing a bit of game import process usability testing for Boxer, a Mac OS X port of the DOSBox emulator. I've already compiled a bunch of testing scenarios and games to run them through with, but I can't name any games that fit the following description:

A game that can only be run from and with the disk in drive A: and that has no HD install option. Optimally, it won't run even if copied to a subdirectory on drive C.

I need one single-floppy game like that, and one multi-floppy game. I hear that multi-floppy games with disk change prompts and without HD installation support exist, but have never seen one.

Boxer is awesome, help me help the author make the UX even better!

(I'll mark answers "best" once I've located, acquired and tested any mentioned games.)
posted by jklaiho to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure that Pepper's Adventures in Time made you switch out discs... I don't remember if there was an installation, though.
posted by cmoj at 1:43 PM on October 1, 2011

Ultima IV ran floppy-only; I think it was multi-floppy, if I recall correctly. It's available as xu4 for emulators and it's also possible to download the original in a link from that site.
posted by XMLicious at 1:49 PM on October 1, 2011

Best answer: There are so many possible answers I don't know where to start.

How about the original Pirates! for single disk and Ultima IV for multi-disk?
posted by Justinian at 1:52 PM on October 1, 2011

XMLicious: Ultima IV's PC port came on two disks and was not installed to a hard drive.
posted by Justinian at 1:53 PM on October 1, 2011

Another possibility for multi-disk is the original Starflight which I believe came on two disks.

There are a lot of games which came on more disks but there's not a long window for multiple disks but no hard drive games. Most of the games I can think of that came on like 8 disks or whatever could be installed to the hard drive.
posted by Justinian at 2:01 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wasteland! Wasteland came on two disks! Ok I'll stop now! Because I could post so many games!
posted by Justinian at 2:03 PM on October 1, 2011

Best answer: Peeps are doing games with graphics. If you want a real '80s floppy disk experience you need text only. Zork and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy are the only ones I choose to remember.
posted by Webnym at 2:31 PM on October 1, 2011

Mickey's Space Adventure. When you reach a planet other than Earth, you need to insert a new disk. Makes it impossible to play the game on a modern machine.
posted by hammerthyme at 2:32 PM on October 1, 2011

Games by Sierra. Although some of their later games offered hard disks.
posted by KogeLiz at 2:38 PM on October 1, 2011

How about the Ancient Art of War? It's from the MS-DOS 3 days.

Single disk game, no hard disk option. I loved this game when it was new. 64bit Windows 7 refused to run it, for whatever that's worth.
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 3:02 PM on October 1, 2011

I remember running King's Quest IV from the floppies, with one disk as the "Save Game Disk," but I don't remember if it had the option to install to the hard drive. The earlier KQ games are also likely candidates.
posted by stopgap at 4:58 PM on October 1, 2011

And KQ 4 definitely had disk-change prompts as you moved throughout the map.
posted by stopgap at 4:59 PM on October 1, 2011

any kind of game? there was a game called Crypto Cube for the PC that would only run from the floppy - it actually didn't use DOS at all, you booted into the game via the disk, and the disk was unreadable by DOS. (kinda like old Apple II games.) I may still have a copy of it.
posted by mrg at 5:50 PM on October 1, 2011

I remember running King's Quest IV from the floppies, with one disk as the "Save Game Disk," but I don't remember if it had the option to install to the hard drive.

Just popping in to say that KQ4 absolutely did have the option to install on a hard drive. I remember because my family got our first one installed (20 MB! The thing was HUGE!) as I was in the middle of playing it. The difference in screen load times between floppies and the hard drive as Rosella went from place to place was astonishing. The KQ games prior to that, however, did not have that ability as I recall.

The Infocom games I played (Zork, Hitchhikers Guide, Wishbringer) also had the ability to installed onto hard drives but I may have been playing rereleased versions that allowed for that function whereas the originals did not. Not quite sure.
posted by Rewind at 9:48 PM on October 1, 2011

All the Sierra games I played, as well as the Infocom games that I played ran happily from a version copied to a hard drive.

One lead to follow may be games that required an install to unpack files, but needed to be installed from the root directory of a drive. I distinctly remember having to create many memdisks to get some things to run. Bonus is that the games in question could be a lot newer.

For some reason I've got the original Alone In The Dark in my head re: this question. Maybe worth a look? Definitely multiple disks though - maybe 5?
posted by Magnakai at 10:13 PM on October 1, 2011

Best answer: While a subset of what you're asking for, games that only work when booting from the floppy, bypassing DOS, are called PC Booters. Pirates! and Crypto Cube, mentioned above, are examples. Wikipedia has a list; so does MobyGames.
posted by zsazsa at 11:41 PM on October 1, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all. This'll give me something to look at today :-)

Special thanks to zsazsa at this point for mentioning PC booters; I failed to consider them as one of the usage scenarios to try out. I'll report back later.
posted by jklaiho at 3:20 AM on October 2, 2011

Thanks for asking this! I'd just recently gotten an older PC (486/75mhz) up and running that I bought at a garage sale for $6 and have been looking for some games to run with the intent of recording some Let's Play videos.. I'm well on my way now, thanks to this thread =)
posted by Quarter Pincher at 6:01 AM on October 2, 2011

Hunt the Wumpus is the one I remember playing on my dad's Kaypro II (which didn't even have a hard drive).
posted by katy song at 8:22 AM on October 2, 2011

Response by poster: Ended up expanding the tests quite a bit after finding a good collection of floppy images, but Zork and Ultima IV were among those tried.
posted by jklaiho at 4:22 AM on October 3, 2011

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