Let's Get Old Sega PC Games to Work Again

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Scarred Sun, Nov 28, 2020.

  1. Scarred Sun

    Scarred Sun

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    Welp, this.
    One of the less-documented parts of Sega Retro that I've been looking to work on is around Sega's PC games, namely the run of non-console titles that were made between ~1995 and 2005. In order to do this, I need to be able to at least start the games for each to take a title screenshot. Five titles I've been particularly looking at are Rocket Jockey (1996), Sonic's Schoolhouse (1996), Emperor of the Fading Suns (1997), The Space Bar (1997), and NHL Eastside Hockey Manager (2004). I have copies of each game's software (and can share disc copies if you're serious about helping). In every case, the game will not load on Windows 10, will not load in Compatibility Mode, and will not load when using winevdm. I'm also leery of looking at any potential repacks, as I'd like to ensure that any screenshots/footage/etc. captured for Sega Retro is accurate to the original software.

    Short of spinning up a Windows 95 VM, can anything be done to try to get these older Win16/32 titles to run? Are there other methods? I ask because it'd be good to have that publicly documented somewhere as well beyond "you're on your own" for modern users.
     
  2. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    I've been tempted in the past to go down the route of a Windows 95/98 virtual machine for exactly this purpose (although not tempted enough to actually do it). It was mainly for the demo versions of games Sega offered on their website, and maybe the Flash and Shockwave content too.

    If you don't want to fight VirtualBox or whatever, I hear DOSBox can run Windows 95. In fact, there's even an online version (though you can't copy your own files to it yet).


    It also gets complicated when you start taking into account different graphics cards. Genuinely don't know how to handle that without a physical Windows 95 build.
     
  3. Hivebrain

    Hivebrain

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    VirtualBox 6 dropped Windows 95 and 16-bit support, so you'd need VirtualBox 5. I'm guessing this would be a simplest way to do it.
     
  4. MartiusR

    MartiusR

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    In case of Emperor of Fading Suns - it was quite recently released on GOG.com (digital version) and has no issues with working on modern systems. I've tested it personally on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 (both 64 bit) and it's working fine.

    (By the way - it's the Hollistic Design's game, same company which made Warhammer 40k: Final Liberation and Machiavelli the Prince games - both available on GOG, I would recommend to try them ;))

    Other titles - I highly recommend DgVoodoo. It is the thing which helped me with multiple older games which were never re-released in digital version (with adjustments to work on modern systems). And it's extremely simple to use, just unpack it, launch once to configure the files, save the config and close, and then just copy 3 files into game's folder.

    You can find it here:
    http://dege.freeweb.hu/

    Glory to the PC Imperium.
     
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  5. farmerbb

    farmerbb

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    I'm able to get Sonic's Schoolhouse working on Windows 10 x64 using these steps:

    * Copy the contents of the SONIC directory from the CD to your hard drive
    * Inside the SONIC directory is a SONICSH.INI file - this needs to be moved to your C:\Windows folder
    * Finally, copy the WING32.DLL file from the DRIVERS\WING directory on the CD to your C:\Windows\SysWOW64 folder
    * The game can now be started by running SONIC.EXE

    I've also gotten Bug!, Panzer Dragoon, and Virtua Fighter PC running fine under Windows 10 as well. I can post instructions for those as well if there's interest :)
     
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  6. Vangar

    Vangar

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    Just had a look at the sonic schoolhouse article. Is it true the game was only released in the US? I got a copy of the 'Sonic & Garfield' pack as a kid for christmas in Australia, and it has an 'also available: sonic's schoolhouse' on the back of the manual. So i guess for sure Sonic & Garfield collection was in australia in 1999, but i can't completely confirm schoolhouse was.
     
  7. muteKi

    muteKi

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    How is sound under those circumstances? Outside a VM I've been able to get the game running but if I don't run it in 98 compatibility mode the sound screws up, and if I do it runs very slowly.
     
  8. biggestsonicfan

    biggestsonicfan

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    I'm gonna investigate this with some sysinternals tools. It's gotta be looking other places before SysWOW64...
     
  9. Billy

    Billy

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    Could you possibly put it into any folder that's been added to the PATH? Though in that case it'd be weird if you can't just add it to the same folder as the executable.
     
  10. farmerbb

    farmerbb

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    You're right, I'm seeing the same behavior you're describing. Never owned the game back when it came out so I don't have a sense of how it runs on era-appropriate hardware. It does play some sound effects without compatibility mode applied, but not all.

    If you try to run the game with the WING32.DLL file inside of the game directory, the game will refuse to start and will instead throw up a dialog box asking you to move the DLL into C:\Windows\System32. For 32-bit apps, that path actually translates to the SysWOW64 folder.
     
  11. Sappharad

    Sappharad

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    This sidesteps the actual problem of getting these games to run on modern hardware but: One thing I discovered a few weeks ago is that you probably do not want to use a Virtual Machine for running old versions of Windows.

    Background: A random discord conversation made me realize there weren't a lot of materials regarding actually using the Sonic R network patch to play the game online. I did this back around 2001 on a Windows 98 PC and it worked fine, but the network patch stopped working with Windows XP and game input (both controller and keyboard) no longer worked on XP if you had it installed. I decided to install Windows 98 in a VM to get some video of the network patch working, and discovered the game would not run. This is probably common knowledge to some people, but for those who it's not - the unpatched game (and network patch) will not run on a computer that is too fast. The game will just crash at launch and not start. Some posts mention using a CPU hogging app to slow down the computer will allow the game to launch, but there is a patched EXE available. There are also Hex Edit instructions for manually fixing original version, but the byte sequence you change for the patch does not exist in the network patch and even if you try to patch the most similar one it doesn't work. (Have not done the analysis to figure out exactly what the patch is doing to try and replicate it. Might look into this at some point, but since I can't fix the input problem it's probably not worth it)

    Considering some games do not run properly / crash on computers that are too fast, I started looking for ways to slow down the VM. That's not really a thing (aside from CPU hogging tools) because it's a virtual machine thus running on your native CPU and can't be slowed down.

    Summary:
    If someone is looking to run Windows 98 for old games, you might be better off NOT using a Virtual Machine due to problems caused by your computer being too fast. The recommended alternative that I found was a fork of DOSBox called DOSBox X. It supports Windows 95 and 98, which vanilla DOSBox does not work correctly with. It also has emulation for 3DFX Voodoo graphics cards, and you can set what kind of CPU you're running (eg. Pentium 4) as well as the CPU speed. This seems to be the best option for running old games IF you can't get them to run on Windows 10.

    Although I never actually got Sonic R to run. I couldn't get DOSBox to work correctly with my actual physical disc drive. I never finished troubleshooting the problem, the files are still sitting in my downloads folder. I'll probably pick it back up again over the holidays.
     
  12. Gryson

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    Likely the best solution here is to use PCem:

    https://pcem-emulator.co.uk/

    This is an incredibly comprehensive PC emulator that allows you to select the components (CPU, video card, etc.) to emulate, and Windows 95/98 run great on it. There are a ton of CPUs and video cards supported, including Pentium, Pentium II, etc, as well as the 3DFX Voodoo cards, S3 ViRGE, some ATI cards, and more. It's not as well known as DosBox, and it requires a beefy CPU to emulate some of the higher end components, but it's probably the most accurate way of doing what you want to do (which I think is key here).

    This video is good at showing what PCem's capabilities:

     
  13. Pirate Dragon

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    Just came across this old Sega PC site which might have some different demos than Sega.com.

    Edit: Yep, seems like only these were archived on the main site.

    Edit2: Unfortunately they all seem truncated at 1mb.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2020
  14. Pirate Dragon

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    Last edited: Dec 22, 2020
  15. Blastfrog

    Blastfrog

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    https://github.com/otya128/winevdm

    This may or may not be of any help (I hope it is, however), apparently this lets you run 16-bit binaries on 64-bit Windows. More based around Wine than anything, but still, potentially useful for this purpose.