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Much of the 1980s and ’90s were dominated by point-and-click adventure games, with LucasArts leading this genre with classics like Indiana Jones and The Fate of Atlantis and Day of the Tentacle. These games were designed to work on computers that don’t even have a fraction of the power of a typical smartphone, so it’s no surprise they usually don’t work on today’s machines. Thankfully, Eugene Sandulenko and his massive team created ScummVM, a tool that runs LucasArts classics at their respective speeds and scales them up perfectly for today’s screens. The team has since expanded to support point-and-click games from other makers, including Simon the Sorcerer and Leisure Suit Larry.
Nowadays, ScummVM doesn’t just run on PCs, but on basically every platform you can imagine. Versions exist for Sega’s 2000-era DreamCast console, Nintendo 64, Bada and even Nintendo DS. With rare or closed platforms, you’ll need to do some hacking to make the classic games work. But on the most popular platforms like PCs, Android, Linux or Mac, this process should only take seconds.
So how does this work? Go to the ScummVM download page and find the right version for your platform. Once it is installed, you’ll need the original versions of the games you want to play. If you don’t have these, try looking online or on eBay. Then, simply copy the contents of the game discs into a folder. For example, I have the regular PC version of ScummVM, to which I copied and sorted all of my LucasArts adventures, so I can easily access them using the tool.
Then, fire up ScummVM, and click on “Add Game” and browse to the folder of any game. In my case, I clicked on The Secret of Monkey Island, and hit “Select.” Next, you can go through the settings and see if you like any of the graphical enhancements that ScummVM offers. Once you’re ready, click “Ok” and “Start” to launch the game. To save a game at any point or exit, hit “F5″ to pull up ScummVM’s main menu.
Not all classic games run under DOS. In fact, many of the games developed between 1995 and 2002 require Windows 95, 98 or Millennium Edition. These modern classics also ran on the early version of DirectX, which is still around today. So, if you want to play Windows 9x-era games, just install and run them using compatibility settings.
You’ll need to right-click on the executable files or game files (game.exe), go to “Properties” and select “Compatibility.” Also, be sure to run them under the Windows 95 or 98 settings, and select “Reduced Color Mode” and the “Run in 640×480” screen resolution. After doing this, however, if the game won’t run, you’ll need to jump through some hoops and install a Windows 95/98 virtual machine using VirtualBox.
If the game runs, be prepared for its color palette to be slightly off. This is because the DirectX component, DirectDraw, has been severely depreciated in later versions, causing older games that require it to run poorly—or not at all. Thankfully, some fans have already gone out and written their own DirectDraw file hacks, which will allow you to not just run the games, but run them under your native display resolution of 1920×1200. The most notable of those hacks is DDHack—you can get a very detailed description of how it works here and get the latest version here.
What’s old is new again when it comes to video games, with even the Smithsonian unveiling a new exhibition, The Art of Video Games, for aficionados of the classics. But thankfully, revisiting retro games isn’t limited to visiting museums; you can enjoy them on your Windows machine using easy tricks like these. For more PC gaming optimization tips, please visit the TuneUp Blog about Windows.
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