Thursday, August 23, 2012

Run Classic DOS Games On Your Wii With DOSbox

Run Classic DOS Games On Your Wii With DOSbox:
Run DOS software on your Wii, just because you can. DOSbox for Wii puts the complete DOS experience – command prompt and all – on your Wii.
We’ve shown you how to run old DOS games in Windows 7 with DOSbox. DOSbox isn’t just for Windows, though: it works on Linux, OS X and almost any platform you can imagine…including, believe it or not, the Wii. You’ll need to know your way around DOS to get your favorite games working, but if a DOS prompt doesn’t scare you it won’t be a problem.
You’re going to need to jailbreak your Wii using Letterbomb before you can install DOSbox Wii. Follow those instructions and come back here; I’ll wait.
Ready? Good. Find DOSbox Wii in the Wii Homebrew Browser and install, and let’s get started.

Using DOSbox Wii

First things first: you’re going to need a USB keyboard in order to use DOSbox Wii. That’s because DOSbox Wii, like every version of DOSbox, by default presents you with a DOS prompt:

There’s no way around it: to use DOSbox Wii you’re going to need to learn the basics of the DOS prompt. DOSbox offers a great tutorial on their wiki; read it to get your bearings. It shouldn’t be a problem if you’re a longtime DOS user, however.
Those instructions teach you how to mount a drive. DOSbox Wii automatically mounts the “/DOSbox” folder on your Homebrew drive (the SD card or USB drive you run homebrew from) as “C”. For the sake of simplicity I recommend you put software you want to use there.
When you launch a program, the WiiMote will act as your mouse; you can also use a USB mouse, if you prefer. The Gamecube and classic controller are both supported as well. Check the DOSbox Wii page on for more information

Playing Games

I tested this out with two games: SimCity2000 and Lemmings, because they’re DOS games I happen to have legal copies of. Both installed fine, though it took a while – I suggest doing the installation using Dropbox on your computer and copying the existing files to your Homebrew drive.
Sim City 2000 works very well on the Wii. I’m not sure the WiiMote makes the best replacement for the mouse in the world – precision is challenging from my couch – but everything worked great.

Man, playing this game again brings back memories. I hope that freaking metal alien with the giant eyeball doesn’t destroy my city; that thing sucks.
Lemmings worked well too, the occasional glitch with the mouse notwithstanding.

It was fun playing this game from my couch, which is basically the entire point of using this software. Wonder how well your favorite games will work? Check the DOSbox Wii Compatibility list.
You’ll need a keyboard to play any games that revolve around the keyboard, obviously. The analogue stick on the WiiNuncuck will work as a joystick but you may need to configure this in-game. Read the DOSbox Wii page on for more information.

Using Without The Keyboard

Using the DOS prompt with a keyboard on your Wii can feel a little…off. It’s hard to get around this – the prompt is how you load DOS programs – but not completely impossible, especially if there’s really only one game you want to launch.
Longtime DOS users are no doubt familiar with AUTOEXEC.BAT; a section of DOSbox’s configuration file (dosbox.conf) emulates it. Basically: any commands written here will automatically launch when DOSbox is opened. As such, to launch your favorite game automatically when DOSbox is opened, all you need to do is edit this file on your computer and add the commands to launch your game. Assuming your game works without a keyboard this is a great way to launch it directly and start playing immediately.
You’ll find dosbox.conf in the “DOSbox” folder on your Homebrew drive.

Random Tips and Ideas

  • There is a menu you can bring up by pressing your home button, but it’s basically a quick way to quit. No GUI launcher for software or settings.
  • It’s probably best to install your software in DOSbox on your computer, then copy the folder full of working software to your Homebrew drive – especially if you have a lot of software you wan to get working.
  • It’s possible to run Windows 3.1 in DOSbox and I’ve managed to do so on my computer. It wouldn’t start on the Wii for me, however. Let me know if you get it working in the comments below; plenty of people on YouTube have.
  • Ryan showed you how to turn an old computer into a Star Trek clock with LCARS24. You can do the same thing with your Wii, if you want. Enjoy.
  • Many classic point-and-click adventure DOS games are easier to set up using ScummVM for Wii because of it’s GUI interface. Check it out if you’re primarily interested in those.
Let me know which games you manage to get working on your Wii in the comments below! Feel free to ask questions, too, though be warned: I might not be able to answer everything.

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