I found a box of CD-Roms and floppy disks in my mum’s basement and damnit, I want to play them! I could use emulators, DosBox or VMs but it’s never quite the same as having the real thing, so between an eBay mobo and a box of old parts I managed to build my new gaming rig to cover 1990-2005.

Its running a P3 at 1GHz, 512MB of ram, and an ATI Xpert98 with 8MB of memory. As I didn’t want to run an old IDE drive with a million hours on it, I tried an SATA-IDE adapter, it caused some issues during the install but that just felt like the standard Windows experience.

Though unpopular, I went with ME for 2 reasons, the first was Dos support, the second is that I went from W95 to ME as a kid, 98 wouldn’t have felt the same. The install bricked twice with video drivers but I finally got it up and running with the default drivers and an 18" Samsung flat CRT (runs up to 1600x1200 at a nauseating 60hz).

So what were your favorite games from the 90’s and early 2000s?

  • 9point6@lemmy.world
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    ME is a bold choice regardless—those installs always seem to destroy themselves before long in my experience (admittedly from quite a while ago now)

    As for games (in no particular order):

    • Command & Conquer (basically all of them up to including RA2)
    • Diablo 2
    • Warcraft 3
    • Dungeon Keeper
    • Theme Hospital
    • Rollercoaster Tycoon (and RCT2)
    • Unreal Tournament 99
    • Fury 3/Terminal Velocity
    • Z
    • Age of Empires 1 & 2
    • Pharaoh & Caesar 3
    • MechWarrior 3
    • Serious Sam
    • Sim City 3000
    • Quake 2 & 3
    • Half Life
    • Deus Ex

    I’m definitely forgetting some

    • Donut@leminal.space
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      Great list, pretty much my childhood. I’ll add some more:

      • Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1/2
      • Empire Earth 1/2
      • Civilization II
      • Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines
      • Theme Park (World?)
      • Populous: The Beginning
      • 9point6@lemmy.world
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        Yes to all of those, though I never actually played empire earth, so that goes on my modern day list

      • A_Random_Idiot@lemmy.world
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        21 days ago

        Great list, I’ll add some more

        • Alpha Centauri (Alien Crossfire Expansion optional but encouraged)
        • Bladerunner
        • MechCommander 1
        • MechCommander 2
        • Civilization: Call to Power ( Often Neglected Cousin of the Civ games, but I always enjoyed it)
    • ThirdWorldOrder@lemm.ee
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      Fantastic list and love that you put Z on there. Gotta add some classics like Wolfenstein, Doom, Descent, Quake 1, Mechwarrior Mercenaries, Kings Quest… damn guess you could go on and on…

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      When I had ME the first time around I do remember there being some stability issues but I never had it totally brick, even with the assload of sus softeware that came from Kazaa and Morpheus.

      • Pacmanlives@lemmy.world
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        From what I remember hardware support was weird with ME. If you had the right hardware you were golden. Also last release of MSDOS

        • DarthBueller@lemmy.world
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          I had an entirely different experience with Windows ME than seemingly everyone else. In my experience windows Me fixed a ton of hardware issues. I preferred it over 98 SE back in the day.

  • Mossy Feathers (They/Them)@pawb.social
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    Rollercoaster Tycoon 1 and 2; Need for Speed 2 and 3; SimCity 3k.

    Also, check your monitor properties. Afaik most CRT monitors (not TVs; those run at 60hz/50hz depending on region) are meant to run at 75~85hz. If it’s running at 60hz when it’s meant to run at a higher refresh rate, then that might be why it’s nauseating (my crt has a very noticeable flicker at 60hz, but that goes away at 75hz).

    Edit: to expand on this for any late-comers: CRTs work by using an electron gun (aka particle accelerator aka a motherfucking PARTICLE CANNON) to fire an electron beam at red, green and blue phosphors. When the electron hits a phosphor, it emits light based on the color hit. This beam sweeps over the phosphors at a speed dictated by the display’s refresh rate and illuminates the phosphors one-by-one until it has illuminated the entire screen. This is why trying to take a picture or video of a CRT requires you to sync your shutter speed with the CRT. If your shutter isn’t synced then the monitor will appear to be strobing or flickering (because it is, just very, very quickly)

    These phosphors have a set glow duration, which varies based on the intended display refresh rate. A refresh rate that is too low will cause the phosphors to dim before the electron beam passes over them, while a refresh rate that’s too high can cause ghosting, smearing, etc because the phosphors haven’t had a chance to “cool off”. TVs are designed to run at 60hz/50hz, depending on the region, and so their phosphors have a longer glow duration to eliminate flickering at their designated refresh rate. Computer monitors, on the other hand, were high-quality tubes and were typically geared for +75hz. The result is that if you run them at 60hz then you’ll get flickering because the phosphors have a shorter glow duration than a TV.

    Note: this is a place where LCD/LED panels solidly beat CRTs, because they can refresh the image without de-illuminating the panel, avoiding flicker at low refresh rates.

    Edit 2: oh! Also, use game consoles with CRT TVs, not computer monitors. This is because old consoles, especially pre-3d consoles, “cheated” on sprites and took advantage of standard CRT TV resolution to blend pixels. The result is that you may actually lose detail if you play them on a CRT computer monitor or modern display. That’s why a lot of older sprite-based games unironically look better if you use a real CRT TV or a decent CRT emulator video filter.

  • iAvicenna@lemmy.world
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    512MB RAM? Go wild cowboy. As for games:

    • Arcanum
    • Planescape Torment

    if no one mentioned them.

    • Psythik@lemmy.world
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      Yeah seriously that’s an ungodly amount of RAM for a PC of this vintage. My old WinMe machine had 128MB.

      (And an 800Mhz PIII. I later added a GeForce 4 MX 4000 so I could actually play games at more than 15-20 FPS. It was my first graphics card purchase ever. Also upgraded to XP cause Me would BSoD so often that I never got a chance to do a proper shutdown at the end of the day. When the machine crashed, I was done for the day.)

      • blusterydayve26@midwest.social
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        I remember going from 128 -> 192 MB in order to upgrade from ME to XP so I could learn programming with Visual C# 1.0. It was completely doable, assuming you manually disabled almost all the background services.

      • kbotc@lemmy.world
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        It’s still bonkers to me that Kazaa’s network still technically lives on in Skype, though all the Supernodes are in Azure these days rather than the original P2P setup.

  • kurikai@lemmy.world
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    Looks good. I also went from win95 to winme. I got myself a p3 running win95 and got a crt too. It’s definitely better on real hardware. Got yourself a ball mouse rather than laser?

    Doom, doom2, red alert, Tyrian, warcraft, warcraft2, death rally, settlers 2, caesar 2, age of empires, Indiana Jones and his desktop adventures.

    • yeehaw
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      Yesssss death ralley was so good

    • Nik282000OP
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      I have an MS Trackball Optical (that I have been using since 2002). Just can’t go back to a regular push-mouse.

      Tyrian is such an awesome game, I must have replayed it a dozen times!

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    Carmageddon and GTA were quite some bangers, and I think they still are. Or Age of Empires 1&2.

    Honorable mentions:

    • Dark Project
    • Soul Reaver
    • Blood Omen
    • King’s Quest
    • Ballistics
    • Dethkarz
    • Ken’s Labyrinth
    • The Settlers
  • yeehaw
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    So many favorites.

    • Diablo 1 and 2
    • Star craft brood war
    • Red alert
    • Doom, hexen, heretic, quake
    • Doom 3 I think was out around then
    • Dawn of war
    • Guild wars
    • Heroes of might and magic 3
    • Counter strike 1.6, half life, half life 2

    And so many more I’m sure I’m forgetting.

    • saltesc@lemmy.world
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      Hexen to CS 1.6. We must be very similar in age. That’s basically my teens.

      Red Alert was my favourite. Dial-up multiplayer with my school friend. Rarely finished a game because someone’s house got a phone call or someone picked up the phone. We both got in trouble when the first phone bills came in. Would spend about $2.50 in local calls each time tuntil the computers linked up. A $60 phone bill was savage back then for families living in government housing and struggling to pay off a base model computer.

    • Nik282000OP
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      Huh, I wonder if there is a way to play HL2 on this setup without Steam.

  • psilotop@lemmy.world
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    1600 x 1200 at 60hz is actually quite respectable today. You can still buy laptops with 1366 x 768 resolution in 2024!! 🤢🤮🤢🤮

    I remember having a 1440 x 900 monitor and wondering how far we would go in 10 years…10 years later 1366 x 768 was more common and I wanted to die.

    Amazing project btw, you might inspire me to do something similar.

    • Nik282000OP
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      I have a few of those “HD” laptop’s rolling around, they are pretty horrendous (and easy to get for free). When LCDs first came out I was kinda disappointed that I was going from ~2k CRTs back to 1024x768. Even now the default is only 1920x1080 which is only 10% larger than the CRT for this PC.

      • psilotop@lemmy.world
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        My company just bought 30 new 1080p monitors for my office which can’t display our main software completely. Imagine spending thousands of dollars for tech from 20 years ago that still cuts off information for average use. I could rant for hours about resolutions…

        • Nik282000OP
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          Oh man, we have 30+ PCs in the building that are used to control big automated machines, they used to run on XP at 1024x768. When they started to fall apart I offered up the solution of using modern machines running Debian and putting the SCADA software in a virtual machine, this was rejected. They instead went with Lenovo micro-PCs and Windows 10. They then paid a programmer to manually rearrange and scale up every machine page page to fit on a 1920x1080 screen. FML.

  • PraiseTheSoup@lemm.ee
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    • Jazz Jackrabbit
    • Descent
    • Need for Speed 2
    • Witchaven 2: Blood Vengeance
    • Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness

    These are the games I remember best on our win95 IBM PC. My personal favorite of this era is Hexen: Beyond Heretic but that has been mentioned a few times already.

    • Nik282000OP
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      Jazz Jackrabbit

      Epic game music, up there with Sonic for getting stuck in your head.

      • PraiseTheSoup@lemm.ee
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        Epic game music

        Not sure if the wordplay was intentional, but I chuckled a bit. Agreed though, the music was awesome.

  • InFerNo@lemmy.ml
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    Quake series are good, but 3 is mainly geared towards multiplayer. Return to castle Wolfenstein is great, uses the quake 3 engine.

    Other great games that haven’t been listed… system shock 2, strife, knights and merchants, commander keen, supaplex, Dune 2000

  • AwkwardLookMonkeyPuppet@lemmy.world
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    That sounds like a fun project, although I’d recommend XP over Me. XP has a DOS emulator, and it’s a lot easier to configure drivers for.

    My favorite games from that era are Star Wars: X-Wing and Wing Commander: Privateer. Both games stood out as exceptional back then. Warcraft was also an excellent game. Command and Conquer is worth checking out too.

    Edit: I’m pretty sure I played the first two games on Windows 3.2, so I’m not sure how they’ll play on Me or XP.

    Edit 2: Silent Hunter is another memorable game

    • Nik282000OP
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      Did you play Squadrons? The mission briefings were still not up to X-Wing/Tie Fighter standards but the flight was 10/10.

      I seem to remember having issues with XP and Dos games but if ME is too problematic I will try 98 and XP. Though if I’m going with XP I’ll be using a half built P4 PC that I have hanging around.

      • AwkwardLookMonkeyPuppet@lemmy.world
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        I never did play Squadrons. I joined the Army right after the X-Wing era and had a several year gap where I didn’t touch a computer at all.

        Now that I think about it, if these are straight-up DOS games then you don’t need Windows at all. You can just load MS-DOS and then run the game straight from the command line. I think you’re right that XP broke a bunch of old DOS games. It’s been so long that I completely forgot we were mad at Microsoft for the removal of DOS back then and the move to an emulator only experience.

      • hydrospanner@lemmy.world
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        I was so, so hyped for Squadrons, even had a HOTAS setup on my list…then the game came out.

        Everything I heard, even from people who loved it, totally turned my view of it sour, and I was so glad I didn’t sink any money into it.

        Maybe someday we’ll get a SW fighter sim that delivers.

    • Nik282000OP
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      UT GOTY was one of my main reasons for this project. I played the hell out of that game!

      • raspberriesareyummy@lemmy.world
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        1 month ago

        Oh, a person of taste! :) May I recommend BunnyTrack maps? I played those a lot in the 2015 timeframe and enjoyed myself immensely.

  • Lost_My_Mind@lemmy.world
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    “Its running a P3 at 1GHz, 512MB of ram, and an ATI Xpert98 with 8MB of memory.”

    Stop. PLEASE! 15 year old me in the year 2000 can only get SO erect!