Breaking out DOSbox

I've been indulging my fetish for "vintage" (i.e. really old) games again. This time it's with my 10 year old copy of Wing Commander: Privateer.

I really loved the Wing Commander series, and Privateer was always one of my favorites. It's a very free-form game, but it still has a story line. The flexibility it affords you is really enjoyable. You can be an honest trader, a mercenary, or even a pirate if you want to! Plus you get to customize your ship, which is always fun.

After digging out my Privateer CD, which also includes the Righteous Fire mission set and a copy of Strike Commander (another Origin title in the same vein as Wing Commander but set much closer to the current day), getting it installed and working was a pretty easy matter. The only special thing I had to do was turn off EMS support in my dosbox.conf file and bump up the CPU cycle and frameskip settings. The emultation is bsaically perfect!

Of course, I've long since thrown out the Privateer documentation, so my first problem was remembering how to play the game. Forunately, I found a handy page that included a PDF version of the manual along with various other helpful information.

The only thing I really dislike is the controls. See, I don't own a joystick anymore, and apparently DOSbox doesn't really support them that well anyway. If you've ever tried to play a Wing Commander game without a joystick, you will recognize this as a problem. Oh, sure, I can use my gamepad or the keyboard. Without a joystick, your movements are jerky and it's hard to keep an enemy ship in your sites. Maybe I'll have to see if I can get a cheap joystick in the local EB Games. Come to think of it, do they even have cheap joysticks anymore? I can't remember the last time I saw one.

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