There have been many great PC games released over the years. From our old favourites like Commander Keen, to more modern classics such as Unreal. Running them on a modern computer can be problematic. Since I tackle this problem myself regularly, I thought it would be useful to put up a section on my website detailing the problems I have encountered and workarounds.
You certainly can do that, and some people do (check out Lazy Game Reviews on YouTube - fantastic channel by the way). The problem is this takes up space, can be costly (look at the prices of some old popular sound cards) and there are major issues with maintenance.
Even if you are comfortable doing things like repairing old AT power supplies, eventually parts you cannot repair start to fail such as hard drives. Then you rely on modern solutions (such as a Compact Flash → IDE converter). It all gets ugly quite fast.
For me the main problem is the space required.
You mean something like VirtualBox? Have you tried running games in VirtualBox / VMware? Performance is terrible as these virtualisation solutions, while fast, were never designed for gaming.
For console games emulation (which is virtualisation, kinda) this is a valid method that I'll cover in some guides.
For DOS games, DOSbox is an option but there are better methods, see below…
The official website of the DOSbox project shows that it has not been updated for years!. There are problems using a Japanese keyboard, poor support for modern OS under some circumstances and generally a lack of polish. Some forks exist that try to address problems but no one has fully taken over maintenance as of the time I wrote this page.
Where possible, a good source port is preferable.
Some kind game companies release the source code for games a few years after release - notably Id software with the Doom games. People take this source code and modify it to update it to run on modern computers and multiple platforms, usually correcting bugs and adding features in the process.
Source ports can be an excellent way to enjoy a classic game on a modern system.
I recommend searching YouTube to see people trying this. If you can get it to install at all, and that's a giant if - modern hardware such as sound cards will not work. The faster CPU speed and huge amount of memory (compared to when the game was originally released) usually causes the games and old OS to crash too.
See my sidebar on the left (on a mobile device, with the current theme you need to open that “hamburger” menu) to get started!
Websites go offline. Information is lost. As long as I can do so without legal issues I will mirror any patches / updates I recommend to get a game running on my web server.
Sometimes I cannot do this for legal reasons. If this is the case I'll mention it - and please don't contact me asking for the file(s).
If this helped you out, I'm happy it did. That's enough satisfaction for me. However if you'd like to donate towards my projects, website hosting fees and continuing this work, please see my donations page for instructions. Thank you.