Computing and technology evolve and change by leaps and bounds. And, although we always try to have some backward compatibility with old software, sometimes it is very difficult to do so. And although today no one would think of using a program from 20 years ago (not even 10 years ago), when we talk about video games we get nostalgic and we miss old times. Unfortunately, there is more than one retro game that, when trying to run them on a current computer, gives us all kinds of problems. In that case, what can we do?
The problems that we can find can be of various types. For example, we can find incompatibility problems with a DLL dependency that is not present in the operating system, with the version of DirectX installed and even with the system itself. In addition, it can also happen that the game is already very old and is designed for 16 or 32-bit systems and, if we have a 64-bit computer, we cannot even run it.
It may also happen that our problem is that we are trying to run a game that is not compatible with our operating system . Either because it is an MS-DOS game, or because we are Linux or macOS users and the game is not compatible with our platform.
Whatever the reason, there is always a solution. Next, we are going to see how to be able to run these games again without problems.
Download the necessary DLLs by hand
Problems are often very easy to fix. These problems are due to the fact that, due to the age of the game, some of the modern Windows 10 libraries are not compatible with it, and, therefore, an error appears when trying to run it.
These libraries can be dependencies of the .NET Framework, or Windows Redistributables . Or they can be independent libraries that were previously part of the operating system and now are not. For whatever reason, before trying other options we can try to find and download the DLL that indicates the error message from the Internet. Once downloaded, we copy it to the program directory, together with the executable, and try again. If all went well, the game should start up smoothly and work again.
Use Windows compatibility mode to open the game
Windows 10 is backward compatible with older programs and games. However, there are developers who have introduced a verification system for the operating system used in their programs and, if it does not recognize the Microsoft operating system, it will give us an error indicating that the program is not compatible with it.
To help us solve these problems, Windows has a compatibility mode, which we can apply individually to any executable of the operating system. In this way, for example, we can tell Windows to impersonate its version so that it appears that we are running it in a previous version, such as Windows 95, or Windows XP. Thus, the program will believe that we are opening it in this operating system and, sometimes, it can work. This compatibility mode also allows us to apply a lower resolution and color, run it as an administrator or deactivate different desktop effects.
To get to compatibility mode, we simply have to open the properties window with the right mouse button, and select the “Compatibility” tab.
Emulators or virtual machines
It may also happen that the program is not compatible with our operating system in any way. Either due to a compatibility problem with the version of our OS, or because it is a program so old that it does not work on 64-bit systems, it is easy to find games that, when opened, do nothing directly, or they ask us to search a version suitable for our team.
In this case, we will be able to do little in our operating system. If the program is not compatible because it does not work with the instructions of the processor, or directly because it is blocked to work in any modern version of the system, then we can only resort to slightly more drastic alternatives.
If what we are trying to run is a game from the MS-DOS era, then we can use a program called DOSBox . This program is nothing more than a DOS emulator that we can run from Windows itself and that will allow us to open programs or games that only work on this system. In this way, for example, we can run the game on emulated hardware that makes it compatible.
If what we need is a specific version of Windows (for example, Windows XP), then it is already necessary to resort to virtual machines. VirtualBox, for example, is one of the most complete programs thanks to which we can run an operating system over our own. It is true that the performance is very limited, especially when it comes to graphics. However, as games that are not compatible with a modern operating system usually have fairly low requirements, there is no problem in this regard, and they will work perfectly.
Finally, if the problem we are facing is the use of an incompatible operating system (for example, trying to run a Windows game on Linux), then we can choose two alternatives. The first one is, as in the previous step, create a Windows virtual machine to run on it. And the second, opting for emulators, such as Wine, which allow us to run Windows programs and games on Linux or macOS as if they were native programs. And, although we may have to configure something, the result that we usually obtain is usually exceptional.
Find a “remaster” or updated version of the game
Retro is in fashion, and it moves a lot of money. And, of course, the developers are aware of that. Therefore, it is very easy to find us in stores, such as GOG or Steam, updated versions of classic games that work perfectly on any modern operating system. Of course, we will have to pay for them if we want to play them again, even if we had previously paid for the original game. An example of games updated to work on Windows are the « Larry « saga , which we can find on Steam.
We can also find remastered versions of the games that not only work again on systems like Windows 10, but also improve or soften the graphics to try to improve the experience of the players a bit. One of the classic games with the best remastering concept has been ” The Secret of Monkey Island “, which allows us to play it with improved graphics and controls or, by pressing a key, do it in its original version, with its original graphics.
In addition, the Steam community can sometimes be very useful for us to run old games on the latest version of Windows. If we want to play, for example, ” Fallout 3 “, it won’t work as standard. But in the community we will find instructions and patches thanks to which we can make the game work without a single problem. Everything is a matter of research.