My time with iDOS

Much of my Thursday was distracted when I heard that iDOS was re-released on the iPad and iPhone.  I was sad to miss this the first time.   When I found out there was a work around to get more than the provided shareware games on it, I was ready to experiment. I grew up on DOS, with the DOS for Dummies book in hand, doing whatever I could to tweak out the games I was playing.  This was a super geeky moment for me. < I found out the PhoneView for the Mac, which I just happened to purchase in a past MacHeist, I prepared to waste a lot of time on it.  I immediately looked through my CDs for some DOS games.  My first attempt was with the old standby, Quake.  In PhoneView, it was a matter of selecting Apps, be sure to select to see all apps, and a message board posting told me the “Documents” folder was your C: drive, for the app’s purposes.  Quake ran, though very slowly.  Which is interesting since I’ve played with Quake for iPhone on my jailbroken iPhone Edge at a pretty good clip recently, which should be based on the same core.  Next up was Shadow Warrior, the Asian population offending cousin to Duke Nukem 3D (since my copy of that seems to be missing a disc).  Again, the game loaded, even giving me the CG intro video, but the menu sloshed enough to abort, as far as I was concerned.  Last for this session, I tossed an old DOS version of Dragon’s Lair on.  Loaded slowly (there was a slow “preprocess” that always took forever on fast DOS machines as well).  I got in, the videos played, but the keyboard and gamepad were not nearly responsive enough to get past the first scene in the game.

This ended my first attempts, so I decided to aim a little lower.  Thankfully, there are a few repositories for DOS shareware and demos to try.  So I reached back and remembered one of the first titles by Epic (Unreal Tournament, Gears of War) called Jazz Jackrabbit, which was one of my favorite Shareware-titles-that-I-never-bought.  And it worked!  A little sluggish, but it certainly worked.  After a couple more demos, namely One Must Fall 2097.  Basically, at this stage,  I’m comparing performance to my first 486 PC, so on that level, expect programs to run like they were on a 386, perhaps.  This is, no doubt, a matter of emulation being developed since the iPad is more than powerful enough for these old games.

But the biggest geek out is trying to remember those old DOS commands I haven’t used in ages.  And for your game playing, there’s a handy Command List History to I don’t have to remember what you did to get Jazz Jackrabbit running.  The keyboard is more functional than expected for being crammed into an iPad like that.  The alternative joystick and gamepad overlays are pretty well done, mimicking

It’s very sad that iDOS has been, again, repulled from the App store.  It makes you wonder why it was approved in the first place (re-approved).  Maybe the Shareware included was the key until the workaround to sort of “sideload” DOS programs broke the deal?

Will this whole be closed too?  Will I ever be able to easily play my Commander Keen on my iPad?

Stay tuned, true believers!

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