Category Archives: Windows 95

Sony VAIO PCV-90 (86Box)

Another machine that’s supported by 86box and has a recovery CD available online

A desktop PC with a Pentium 166Mhz (No MMX), 32MB of RAM (Although we will be giving it 128MB, the max amount), an 8X CD-ROM, floppy drive, and a 2.1GB HDD. The PCV-90 was a higher-end machine and featured the Pentium at 200Mhz and a 2.5GB HDD. Both systems use the ATI RAGE 3D graphics card with 2MB VRAM.

Setting Up

86box does not support all of the hardware that the PCV70 shipped with, the ATI RAGE graphics accelerator is missing and currently un-emulated so we had to substitute another graphics card instead.

Recovery Disc

A copy was posted onto the Internet Archive which was the full backup disc that shipped with the computer, which was intended to restore the PC back to factory shipped state.
This is where we encountered issues, the recovery utility rightly detected that the hard drive was unformatted since this was a new machine VHD, and instructed me to exit the interface and run a command, which would have initialized the disc. But these commands fail to run, they appear to be batch files that would have run FDISK with a specific argument to create the disc. There are two of these, one for each model since both models had different hard disk sizes.

When the CD-ROM boots, it mounts a virtual floppy drive to drive A: and the actual floppy drive is moved to B:
This image is located as an IMG file and can be extracted and mounted in modern Windows.
For some reason when this IMG file is booted, it loads some sort of customized boot disk but fails to load the CD-ROM drive despite it being detected by the Windows 95 or 98 bootdisks. As a result, the recovery utility cannot see the CD-ROM drive since that is running off the virtual floppy drive mentioned earlier.
The reconvey utility is non-functional due to the lack of CD drive detected by the emulated boot disk, likely Sony is using a custom boot disk that came with its own set of drivers. When the driver loads you can quickly see an error message informing no CD drivers were found.

So in order to make these CD’s work with 86Box we are going to have to work around them

Solution

The easiest way was to install Windows 95 RTM, then boot into the recovery program and have it overwrite the files and replace the install, this also involved initializing the disk. To save time I would opt for a minimal install and use the RTM version instead of the later OSR releases as that’s the version Sony used (They actually used the plus pack version, which is integrated into the recovery image and gets installed regardless)

Once Windows 95 is installed and fully bootable, I had to trick the recovery utility to load files from the G: CD-ROM drive, but the regular Microsoft boot discs will place the CD-ROM drive as D: which the Sony utility will refuse to see.
Multiple ways to do this was:
Both methods work best when you have a basic Windows 95 install, this is because the recovery software has issues writing to the bootsector.

Method 1: Bruteforce SCSI

Add a supported SCSI adaptor to the 86box machine, and add a load of both IDE and SCSI CD-ROM drives with the hope one of them would become the G: drive.

I would then use the Windows 98 recovery disc, which has the SCSI drivers to detect the drives and load the recovery program. Once the boot disk environment had loaded, verify the C drive was accessible (If not FDISK it using FAT16). You have to type ‘lock C:’ to enable full access to the C: (See the Note below)
Then I mounted the extracted OSBOOT file as a floppy disk in 86box. This was done by extracting the OSBOOT file from the iso and mounting it after the Windows 98 boot disk had loaded, once mounted I ran the recover.exe file and mounted the actual iso image under the G drive.

Once the recovery utility loads, select restore system without format, and it should begin the restore process, where it will copy the files onto the C drive, once completed you can reboot the system and it will go through the initial setup procedure.
Remember to eject any floppy discs

Note: The version of DOS that the Windows 98 bootdisk shipped with disables direct writing to the C: drive by default unless the lock C: command was used before the recovery software was loaded. Even then the software had issues writing to the boot sector, so even after transferring and unpacking the files we were still left with an unbootable system. This is why I advised installing an RTM version of 95 then using the recovery utility to overwrite it with the Sony image.

Once the OS is installed you can remove the SCSI drive if you prefer.

Here we modify the existing Windows 95 boot disk to set the CD-ROM drive to be G: instead of D: The easiest way to do this was to mount 9Make a backup first) the bootdisk in a working Windows install or use a third-party utility, and edit the AUTOEXEC.BAT file on the root of the boot disc and change the line:

LH A:\MSCDEX.EXE /D:mscd001 /l:d

See the /l:d
We want to change that to /l:g instead
Then save
This tells the DOS driver to start allocating CD-ROM or ATAPI drives from G: onwards

Now we mount and open the OSBOOT.IMG that was extracted from the Recovery CD, and pinch some files off it, namely the recover.exe, recover.ini, profile.ini and sony.exe
All four of the files total 236KB and we want to copy them to the Windows 95 boot disk, If you run out of space there are a few utilities like regedit that can be deleted off the boot disk.
Save and then mount the modified boot disc and boot the machine into it.
If prompted on the startup disc, load the NEC IDE CROM driver.
If everything is correct it should show

Drive G = Driver MSCD001 unit 0

At the prompt, type recover then hit enter (Should be on the A: drive)
The recovery environment will then load
Select Complete Restore
Select Restore Original Software w/o Format
You may get a few error messages that it was unable to copy certain system files, I believe this is related to the boot sector files I indicated earlier, as long as your original Windows 95 install was bootable then the recovery should work regardless.

I should note that despite testing both methods, both methods result in missing applications like Netscape Navigator. This wasn’t so much of an issue since I could reinstall them alter, and the recovery CD has dedicated options for reinstalling both browsers anyway, along with Microsoft Works and Money.

Update: It seems I had to do another reinstall, and on that one it did install both Netscape and Internet Explore, not sure what I did differently?

Windows 95 Bootdisk

Windows 98 Bootdisk

Post Install

We had to substitute a few device drivers in order for us to have a working system

The ATI RAGE card is unemulated in 86box, instead, I used an ATI MAch64VT2 instead. Do note this card lacks MPEG decoding support so some video sequences will be corrupted and will just display a pink color screen

ATI Mach Drivers

The Yamaha sound card was also unemulated, instead, I replaced it with a Crystal ISA soundcard instead. The originally bundled utilities will still function to an extent.

Crystal Drivers (VOGONS)

PreInstalled Software

There is a shedload of software bundled with this VAIO PC, with many titles requiring an additional CD-ROM to be inserted in order to run, which would have been bundled with the system.

VAIO Space

This was the default launcher that came with the system and would run in place of the Windows desktop, similar to the Packard Bell navigator and RM Window Box, oh and don’t forget Microsoft BOB.
VAIO Space tries to take full advantage of the hardware that Sony offered and many parts of the launcher make use of MPEG video (which isn’t functional in 86box since no graphics card can accelerate MPEG video, so your left with pink squares instead.

There are a few different areas of the VAIO Space that contains links to dedicated applications:
Home: Features links to My Space, a Welcome demo, the setting page. The Windows button takes you back to the 95 desktop
My Space: Add shortcuts to your favorite applications.
Windows: Take you to the Windows 95 desktop
Help: Gives you a short description on how to use the VAIO Space utility

Net Space
Accessible by clicking towards the top of the screen, this takes you ‘up’ and gives you a selection of internet applications like AOL, Netscape and Internet Explorer which were not installed on my system. There’s also links to Sony’s online website and an SOS button which opens up a phone dialler to dial 911

Screen 2
Click left from the home screen takes you to this screen, here you see four different categories:
Work Center: features productivity software like Microsoft Works, Microsoft Money and Paint
Reference Library: Links to reference stuff like Encarta, Family Doctor and Compton’s interactive encyclopedia. As the internet wasn’t very widespread it made sense to bundle this software/
Game Arcade: Links to various games like Wipeout and Mechwarrior 2, also featuring the entertainment pack games and the bundled windows games.
Kids Land: Child-friendly software like 3D movie maker

Screen 3
Multimedia applications like the CdPlayer and WAV/MIDI player. These do not open the standalone windows applications, rather Sony’s own that they have bundled. The More A/V button shows the Window standard programs.

Judging from the software bundled, this was designed to be a family PC with various bits of software to suit everyone.

Overall its defiantly a unique experience and was designed to make it easier for novice users to use the system. Not sure how Microsoft felt about it though, image developing a new user interface only for some OEM to replace it with their own.

VoiceView: Seems to be a gateway to various online services, has an online game but this crashes when you try to open it

Billboard Music Guide: Needs CD-ROM

Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia: Needs CD-ROM

AOL: Desktop client for AOL, an internet service provider

Compuserve: Another Internet service provider client

Microsoft 3D Movie Maker: Popular movie maker application that was part of the Microsoft Home bundle

CyberPassage: Needs CD-ROM

DeltaPoint: Needs CD-ROM

Cartopedia: Needs CD-ROM

The Family Doctor: CD-ROM needed

Investor Insight: Another financial application

LAUNCH: Unknown, does not even open without the CD inserted

Microsoft Money: Accounting management software, the 96 edition is included here

Microsoft Phone: Looks like a phone dialer, to make calls through your PC

Microsoft Works: Microsoft’s basic productivity suite, version 4

Microsoft Reference: Works like an offline Wikipedia, needs a CD to run

Quicken SE Gateway: Looks to be a finance application and has a lot of links to various banks, requires a CD to fully run and appears to be trialware – limited to 10 launches.

Sidekick 95: Some sort of personal information manager, like Outlook that would store user contacts email address and phone numbers

Reader Rabbit: Needs a CD in order to run

American Heritage Talking Dictionary: Mainly functions as a dictionary, but has a few extras including an anagram generator and a thesaurus

Telephone Directory PC411: A phonebook application

Games

Wipeout: A 32bit version of the popular PlayStation game, running using the ATI CIF graphics engine. Sadly 86box cannot emulate this and using a 3DFX or the S3 ViRGE won’t work because it’s designed exclusively for the ATI CIF API, which I hope to cover later on as there are quite a few titles that use this technology.

Also to note, WipEout was one of the launch games for the PlayStation

MechWarrior 2: Retail game that I’ll cover separately at some point in the future, again it needs its own CD-ROM

Microsoft Entertainment Pack: Included games like Chip’s Challange, Dr Black jack, and Jezzball to name a few

Hover: That game that came on the Windows 95 CD

Other

USB Support

This was one of the first home desktops to ship with onboard USB, two years before the iMac which was said to have popularised the standard. However, the version of Windows 95 that Sony shipped with the computer had no USB support. The intention was to ship USB support in an update once Microsoft had released the upgrade for Windows 95, which would be introduced in a supplement update to OSR2 which was released in August 1997, nearly a year after Sony had released the PCV-70/90.

Early Windows 95 USB was a bit of a disaster and didn’t have much support, in fact, it wasn’t until Windows 98SE that USB support was to the standard that we accept today, with the earlier versions lacking many USB drivers.

86Box does not allow for USB devices to be connected, so there isn’t much point in upgrading to this version anyway. Regardless i did try to upgrader it to a USB supported build, which ended up bricking the OS completely. Apparently you have to upgrade in steps first, to OSR1, then OSR2, then install the USB supplement, whilst I tried to install the USB supplement update only, which resulted in a VxD error upon bootup. Not even safe mode could rescue me here, I had to reinstall from scratch.

You would think the Microsoft installer would check first and tell me to upgrade to a supported version of 95, instead it just happily installed

Gateway Tigereye (86Box)

Another OEM system, but this seems to be a motherboard that was used in multiple Gateway systems from around 1997.

Motherboard appears to be based on an Intel design, might be a clone of an Intel board but with a Gateway customized BIOS. This was possibly used in various different models used throughout the late Pentium era. I actually had a Gateway system that was in a similar time frame, but we had it second hand and the original owner had wiped it in favor of a fresh Windows 98 install.

Supports up to 128MB RAM
Supports CD-ROM booting
No sign of USB, 86Box cannot interface with USB currently

Install/Recovery CD

You will get the option to format as FAT32 or FAt16, whichever one you choose will depend on what build of Windows 95 you have, this restore Cd does not feature a Windows 95 install, instead it contains a set of drivers and utilities that are installed in conjunction to Windows 95, but you must use your own Windows install disk instead.
FAT32 is supported on OSR2.1 onwards, whilst earlier builds use FAt16, if in doubt choose FAT16. I believe you can ‘Upgrade’ to FAT32 once you update the OS.

One potential issue here was the IDE CD-ROM driver, the restore CD gives you the option to choose, possibly because some systems might have used a propriety CD-ROM interface, or might be using the IDE interface on the soundcard instead. This could potentially cause issues if you choose the wrong option. For this I chose the Generic IDE-ROM driver, which can be found all the way at the bottom.

Once you begin the restore process you are requested to insert the Windows 95 install Cd and reboot, of which the system will begin to copy the Windows 95 files.

From here setup runs like a typical Windows 95 retail install, however on mine I encountered an error with the OEM serial number, and had to manually enter another one. I’m not sure of eyes are specific to the OEM version they were bundled with, or if each manufacture uses a slightly different algorithm, or maybe something failed to validate in the background.

Reboot, then Gateway software proceeds to install


Installs keyboard multimedia utility, then install utility freezes. I had to force a reboot at this point


A quick reboot and it then installs McAfee Anti-Virus

Installs DirectX 5, reboots again. Kind of redundant since OSR2 already included DirectX 5

Installs Microsoft Intellipoint, Gateway possibly bundled the Microsoft mouse with their systems

Lastly the sound card software install, Windows had already detected the SoundBlaster on install, but here it inclused the Creative sound software.

Post Install

Megaphone

Appears to be a modem and address book software to manage internet connections and user contact information.

AudioStation2

A MIDI and CD player with a Hi-Fi like interface, something similar was also installed on the Sony VAIO PCV-90

Adding a second drive

The motherboard has two IDE channels for a total of four IDE drive, with the SoundBlaster 16 PnP card we can also add an extra two for a total of six IDE devices.

Adding the second IDE drive, I encountered a problem since after adding it as IDE slave (0:1), Windows 95 would freeze upon bootup. The way to fix it was to use the Windows 95 bootdisk, use the FDISK /FPRMT command to initialize the salve drive, format as FAT32 (Or FAT16 if you are using an earlier version of Windows 95), then reboot and format within the boot disk.
After then would Windows 95 boot up and mount the drive.

Preinstalled Software

This was a bit dry, I presume Gateway didn’t bundle much with their systems or this is typically stored on another disk. From browsing the CD-ROM it’s a generic recovery disk with a range of drivers that covered the hardware that gateway would have shipped in their desktops. Any additional bundled software would have been shipped on a separate disk.

Even the OEM branding was scarce, I expected there to be a cow-skin themed wallpaper like the cardboard boxes used

Adding additional devices

PCI: Video Card (S3 Trio64)
PCI: 3D Accelerator (3DFX Voodoo)
PCI: For future use
PCI: For future use
ISA: Ethernet (AMD PCnet-ISA)
ISA: For future use
ISA: Soundcard (SoundBlaster 16 PnP)

PCI slots are based on the amount found on the Vogons wiki, there are four PCI slots in total but there may be many more as this board could optionally come with onboard video (This could be AGP?) Or sound.
Some versions of the board came with an onboard S3 Trio64, the Phoenix in 86box was the closest match and as a bonus was automatically detected and installed during instillation.

Device Manager with some duplicate devices

Restore Image – Archive

Windows 95 OSR2.5 (2.1 might be a better fit, or the original Windows 95, make sure to choose the FAT16 option when formatting for pre-OSR2.1 Windows 95)

Motherboard Information – VOGONS – Not a 1:1 match but the Gateway might be a close match to it


Compaq Presario 4500 (86Box)

86box has been able to emulate a large amount of motherboards, and has recently added a few OEM desktop systems to its roster. These are mostly faithful to the original hardware to the extent that you can access their bios. Quite a few OEM recovery discs have popped up on Archive.org which will only run on those actual systems they were intended for, since they often include an OEM copy of Windows.


Whilst this emulates the motherboard and the BIOS firmware that was shipped, certain pieces of hardware are left unemulated like the graphics adapter or the soundcard. Fortunately you are able to substitute alternative components, but you might run into issues upon first boot up since Windows may not have drivers preinstalled. The machine here I’m trying to emulate is a Compaq Presario 4500, of which the specifications can be found here: http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/bpb12296.pdf

Compaq QuickRestore Utility

This ran straight off the CD-ROM which was bootable from the BIOS and performed a few tests before initialising the hard drive, which had been newly created and had no partitions. After copying was done, the system rebooted and Windows 95 started up.
This utility did require me to enter the serial number of the system, which I was able to find online.

Setting Up Windows 95

After the first reboot Windows seemed to have problems finding the graphics driver and reverted to using the failsafe VGA driver instead, which limited us to 16 colours. At this point we were prompted to register our system and to fill out the registration form. I somehow doubt Compaq (Or HP as its now known) have the registration servers active.
After manually installing the graphics drivers for the S3 ViRGE that I had selected for the system, Windows went to the desktop and we are presented with the default Compaq desktop theme.

Bundled Applications & Utilities

Compaq Quick Access: Runs in the background and provides functionality for shortcuts to be used on the keyboard that would have shipped with the system. Here you can reconfigure the different ‘Easy Access Button’ to perform different function. By default they are used for the calculator and to open in the internet browser.
This utility also manages the on screen display, which appears when the volume keys are pressed or if one of the media control keys (Play, Fast Forward, Rewind) are used. I’m not sure if 86box is capable of passing these commands through since it only emulates a regular PC keyboard.

Compaq Diagnostics: Displays information about your computer system and the Windows OS. You can view the specifications here

SPRYNET Connection Manager: Manages internet connections for the dial up analogue modem, replaces the standard Windows utility.

The Palce: A third party application that was bundled with the system, it seems to be some sort of online chat room server, similar to IRC but uses animated avatars and colour backgrounds to give the illusion of environment. Users could join different room dedicated to certain subjects. This Compaq system would have come with a free trial allowance to entice the customer to subscribe, beck before social media mould datamine the hell out of you.
Sadly the servers are long gone.

SimCity 2000: Not sure what this is doing here, its just the network client and not the full game, maybe it was bundled with the Palace as a game that could be played using it? The full game is not bundled here.

Microsoft Works: The OG Oxymoron, this was a basic version of Microsoft Office bundled with OEM systems to give them basic Office functionality. It is considered productivity software suite which combines a word processor, spreadsheet and a basic database system. As it was a lot cheaper than Microsoft Office, it was commonly bundled with OEM systems to increase their value, although it was also available separately.

Money 97: Software to help manage your bills and bank accounts, before internet banking was widespread. I like the interface design and art used here, you defiantly wouldn’t expect to come across design like this in accounting software

AOL: Also bundled with the system and serves as the recommended ISP

Compaq Quickrestore For Compaq Presario 4500 Series

86box Github

The Palace (Archive)

Packard Bell Platinum (86Box)

A mid-range OEM system released in 1996, when Windows 95 was beginning to hit its stride, and another system we can (mostly) recreate in 86Box

Full Specifications here

The S3 ViRGE is supported on 86Box, albeit a slightly different variant that the Packard bell had used, possibly an OEM exclusive model. The SoundCard differs, using the Aztech 2316R, whilst 86Box is able to emulate the Aztech SoundGalaxy Washington instead, being the closest match.

Install

A floppy disk was required to initiate the installation, since the CD was not bootable, despite the motherboard BIOS supporting CD-ROM booting. Once started, a recovery version of Windows 95 started up, and we were presented with the Packard Bell recovery screen where we were given a list of a few options:
Restore the original boot files
Re-Install the Packard bell software
Re-Install the Windows 95 operating system

The only option that worked was the Windows 95 recovery since our virtual machine had currently lacked a formatted drive.
When starting the OS recovery process, we were prompted to enter the system serial number to identify the system that we were running on. Since we did not have this to hand, we were able to bypass this by entering a series of random numbers. A warning message popped up regarding the number not being recognized but offered to install anyway.
The recovery process then started, with a Windows 3.11 looking dialog box appearing to transfer various files to the hard drive.

Setup

After the file had finished copying over, the computer rebooted and started the Windows 95 setup utility, which looked the same as a generic install. You will be prompted to enter an OEM serial key, so be sure to have one when installing.
Once again the system reboots and performs the device detection process.

USB Support?
The motherboard BIOS has references to USB support, but this seems to randomly appear and disappear when entering setup, possibly an issue with the emulation?
I’m not sure if the actual system even had onboard USB ports or if they were even functional, this was early 1996 when the motherboard was designed.

Additional drivers
S3 Drivers

Packard Bell Navigator

This serves as a replacement shell for Windows and as a way for novice users to navigate their system. From here you can open various applications that were bundled with the system itself, and add future applications that have yet to be installed.
Some of these programs require their own CD-ROM to be inserted, as only the minimal install files have been installed, and many were intended to be run off the CD-ROM to conserve disk space.


Navigator (Packard Bell, Not Netscape) uses a house metaphor to present the interface to the user, which was intended for novice users and was exclusive to Packard Bell computers of the era. Some other OEMs also provided their own interface such as Sony with the VAIO Space, which offered a 3D-like user navigation interface for advanced users.

You can see there are a few custom icons for launching the applications, with the facility to install more. Packard Bell presumably sold additional software packages that were navigator friendly and included icon art that suited the navigator interface, and would automatically add themselves to the software room

Also to note was Navigator only runs in 640×480 resolution, when running the desktop at 800×600, Navigator retains its default resolution, personally I prefer it like that since it lets you quickly jump back to the desktop, although it does break the immersion of the Navigator interface.

Bundled Software

The example start menu items, organized by Packard Bell

Microsoft Works & Money

These two were very commonly bundled with OEM system bundles and serves as basic productivity suites for Office and accounting respectively.

Quicken

Some sort of finance application that helps you keep control of your accounts. Bills and monthly payments, it’s a bit redundant considering Microsoft Money is installed, based on what I’ve seen so far.

Macromedia Action!

It’s like Microsoft PowerPoint where you can create and showcase sideshows, although it has no compatibility with PPT files. There are a few premade templates available to choose from. Files are saved in either the Act format or (Player) ACP or (Stationery) STA.
There is an option to export the presentation to an external VCR, this would involve connecting the VGA output, or composite if the graphics card supported it to the VCR to record from. This is known as Print To Video.

Microsoft Word Viewer

For viewing Microsoft Word DOC document format, you would think Microsoft Works would be able to handle this format (It does, but I’m not sure if its fully compatible with certain features/formatting)

Microsoft Entertainment Pack

A few selections of games are included from the Best Of Entertainment pack, this is fairly common to be included in Packard Bell’s prebuilt systems. Skifree, Rodent Revenge and JigSawed are common games included here.

Call Center

Looks to be some sort of modem/phone line dialer to make phone calls through your PC. Could also be used to contact Packard Bell support.

Stick Ups Lite

Stick ups

It’s the MacOS sticky notes but for Windows, you can create various sticky notes to help remind you of upcoming tasks and reminders. You can customize the colour of the note itself and the font/style of writing. This is kind of a good addition as its rather useful, and Microsoft wouldn’t bundle something like this in Windows until Windows Vista as one of the widgets gadgets, although a few third-party applications included similar functionality

Conclusion

Packard Bell was one of the few hardware OEM systems builders to make their systems unique from both a hardware and software perspective, despite the restrictions Microsoft had enforced following the use of alternative shells post Windows 95, however, Packard Bells’ bundled applications help give off a certain personality with the system being aimed for family and novice users.

SimCity 3000

The next installment of the popular SimCity series of games, where the goal is to build and maintain your own city. All aspects of city-building have to be managed, from the power stations to building roads and zoning for different houses/buildings, all whilst being prepared for any disaster that might strike.

Playing SimCity

Residential:
Where sims will live, the density relates to how large the buildings are, with low density being used for small houses, and higher density for apartments.

Commercial:
Shops and businesses, where sims go to work and spend their money

Industrial:
Another place where sims can work, but also where materials are manufactured and produced, and also helps with jobs for your sims.
Farms are one of the types of industry available, but they are difficult to actually have them be built. Every time I zone for farmland, it does start to build a farm but eventually, it will lose out to dirty industry with farm lots being replaced with a bunch of smog-o-matics. I cant see why they would not just give farms their own industry zone?
Supposedly the key is to not give them any water, just power and roads. But then the news ticker will keep bugging about sims being too far from any water.

Have no idea why the text is missing…

Versions / Ports

SimCity was ported to most of the popular PC platforms, even a port for Linux operating systems. Sadly a port for OS/2 was not released, as IBM had phased the operating system out by then.

SimCity 3000 was not released on any consoles of the era.

Windows (Original Release)

The Windows release only supports Windows 95 or 98 onwards, it does not support NT 4 unless service pack 3 or higher is installed. DirectX does not seem to be used, running solely through the Win32 API.

Windows (Unlimited/Edition)

Released a year later and features a few changes compared to the original release.

  • The user interface was changed slightly, with the query button being moved to a more prominent place on the UI
  • The music was changed with some tracks being added and others being removed
  • This version of the game is available on gog.com and will run effortlessly on modern Windows versions.
  • New city templates have been added which are based off real world locations, like Liverpool, London, Berlin, Madrid, etc
  • Some existing cities have been renamed, Metropolis has become Europolis but remains the same
  • Some exisiting cities have been removed in favour of the new cities: Littleburg, Big Mountain City, Sim Isle
  • New scenarios mode has been added, which are small ccities that have objectives to complete
  • Outside of the game, new tools have been made like the scenario creator tool whic uses the Microsoft Access engien to create and customize customs senarios

MacOS

Simcity 3000 was released for the PowerPC Mac OS platform and was targeted for the classic Mac OS. The Mac platform only had a port of the original Windows version, it did not receive the updated unlimited edition that was released for Windows and Linux.

Compared to the Windows version, there are a few differences, the opening FMV seems to have less compression compared to the Windows version and appears to be of higher quality, the animations on the menu buttons are much more fluid on the mac (Is this due to the graphics card?), lastly the close button on the menu box is on the left side for the mac, and on the right side for the PC.

Playing this on modern Macs is a challenge as modern MacOS does not have native support for PowerPC or applications using the older mac libraries. You must use emulation software like QEMU (screenshots above) or Sheepsaver. The last version of OS X to support PowerPC applications was OS X Leopard (10.5)

Linux

Corel Linux

The installer worked, but the game would not run.

Ubuntu

A Linux port of the game was released by Loki games in 2000, and is a port of the Windows PC version. It’s mostly accurate to the Windows version but is more difficult to install and get working, depending on the distro and the libraries/packages installed. I’ve tested it on a few distros of the era, and some more modern distros.

Installing and running the game on Ubuntu

  1. Install the game as normal, remember to note the install directory – you will need it later
  2. Download the official Loki Simcity 3000 patch
  3. Run the patch installer, preferably as root. Easy way is to open a root terminal session (Should be an option in your Linux application launcher) Easy way is to copy the patch file to your home directory/folder, open the terminal and run the command: sudo sh sc3u-2.0a-x86.run -keep (Why you cant just double-click to run the installer in Linux I do not know)
  4. Once this finished, you should see a success message
  5. Now you need to run the game in a specific way, in the terminal you have to run the below command: LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.4.26 /usr/local/bin/sc3u

Hopefully, it should now start the game and you should see the intro movie play. This worked well on Ubuntu 4.04 running inside a VirtualBox VM, although there were a few issues. The sound was rather high-pitched and played too fast, and would stutter at high resolutions or when having a busy/large city map. Also running in a windowed mode wasn’t perfect, since it would display in the upper left part of the screen whilst the Ubuntu desktop remained in the background. The fullscreen mode works fine though. This could be due to the lack of drivers in my Ubuntu VM, it’s likely using stock/fail-safe drivers which provide little to no acceleration.

You could just use the Windows version running through Wine, although where is the fun in that? Plus it’s nice to play a native Linux game and in early 2000 there was a push for certain developers to embrace Linux as an alternative to Windows, That said, I can see why this didn’t take off…

Mandrake 7

Worked but had issues but these could be due to the emulation in 86box. The game installs and runs mostly Ok but some of the colors are messed up, the game also runs very slowly. Interestingly this uses a graphical installer which is missing when running in either Ubuntu or Corel Linux.

Last Bronx

Another Sega fighting game, but with weapons

Title Screen

Set in Japan (But from the title you would assume Brooklyn, new York) the game features actual real life locations set in Japan. It was the first Sega fighting game to use motion capture footage giving the character detailed and accurate move sets compared to Virtua Fighter.

The fights typically take place in the evening or night, and most of the stages have a dark urban tone to them in contract to Virtual Fighter 2 where most stages take place in the daytime since its meant to be based on a worldwide tournament, Last Bronx has a more underground fight club like feel to it.

Stages

All characters have their own stage, but when you select their characters their personal stage is skipped until the end, where you will face Red Eye on that characters stage

Cross Street: which is complete with advertising billboards and may be based off the Tokyo/Shibuya crossing. This is the first stage for all characters, unless you choose Tommy then Tears Bridge will be the first

Tears Bridge: is set near a warehouse / cargo park near a large bridge, hence the name. At this point the game is set in the evening, and most stages thereafter have a night time ambiance to them.

Dark Rooftop: reminds me a lot of Lei Wulong’s stage in Tekken 2, as its set on top of a skyscraper helicopter pad, with many building in the background. From the sky it looks like its set in the evening sunset, but Tears bridge gives the impression it is already night time, assuming the game is intended to simulate nightfall.

Saturn Version of the brilliant room stage

Moonlight Garden: A nice stage which is a departure from the industrial urban settings, this appears to be set on a garden or a large park and is a nice departure form the other stages

Lust Subway: Which is your typical Japanese underground subway, complete with display monitors. Thankfully this isn’t set at rush hour. This will be Yoko’s stage

Nightmare Island: Set on a construction or a building site, despite the name insisting its an island, you will fight Zaimoku on this stage.

Naked Airport: Set on an airport runway and reminds me of the Shooting Hoops track from Ridge Racer Type 4 This is Yusaku’s stage

Radical Parking Lot: Kurosawa’s stage, not much to say here except its set on a moderately used parking lot.

Brilliant Room: Hidden and only available if you beat Red Eye with the lowest time

Lust Subway from the Model 2
A common occourance – Saturn Version
Survival Mode Results

Modes

Arcade: The main game mode, you choose a character and progress through 8 stages, with a bonus 9th stage if you complete the game with a new time record.

Saturn/PC mode: Similar to arcade player but features a story mode complete with cut scenes, and opponents are chosen at random

Team Battle: Pick multiple fighters who will battle

Survival Mode: You only have one life, and the health bar carries over to the next round. Objective here is to last the longest

Training Mode: A basic training mode that show the different fighting moves across the roster

Network Play: On the PC version, allows two players to play over a LAN

Character Select

There is also an extra mode in the Saturn/PC version that allows you to view unlocked FMVs

Versions

Arcade

The game was released on the Sega Model 2 arcade board, and was designed to be an upgrade for Virtua Fighter 2. This version has the best graphics, and it makes full use of the Model 2 graphics hardware which was more powerful than the Sega Saturn or common Windows PC’s of the time, in terms of 3D performance. However this version lacks FMV endings. It should be noted that the AI in this version is difficult to beat, since it was intended for the player to use multiple credits within a single play-through, you’d be surprised at how hard it is to beat on a single credit, despite using the easy settings in the games config.

This version of the game is fully playable in the Nebula Model 2 emulator, but is still unplayable in MAME as of 2021.

Most of the other screenshots captured are from the arcade version, except where noted.

Sega Saturn

Introduced a Saturn Mode which is similar to arcade mode but the opponents are randomized. This has a few changes compared to the arcade version, with the 3D background options being exchanged for sprite based background which are handled flawlessly by the Saturn’s VDP2. You will mostly notice the effect when the charicters move to an extent where the camera has to pan to follow the player. FMV videos are also present in the Saturn mode. Although they are in Japaneese, English subtitles are provided.

Most Saturn emulators will play this game, being a 3D titles it will play slowly on less powerful hardware. The Nvidia Shield struggles to play at full speed using the Yaba SanShiro emulator, and the FMV videos pixilate whilst playing. Mednafen Saturn will work the best

Microsoft Windows

A Windows PC port was released in 1998 and is very similar to the Sega Saturn version, and makes use of DirectX. Saturn game mode is renamed to PC Mode but remains the same with random opponents. The PC version supports higher resolutions then the Saturn version, and retains most graphical effects but lacks the texture quality and geometry of the arcade version.

Like most PC titles that were released in the 90s, the game is reliant on using analogue CD audio, which can cause problems on modern systems that use SATA or IDE CD drives without the CD audio line being connected. The reason is that from Windows 2000/ME on wards, Microsoft introduced digital audio for CD decoding, where audio is sent via the IDE cable itself rather then than the CD audio line. There’s no easy workaround unless you play the game in Pcem or 86box, otherwise the game will play but with no background audio or music.

I’ve not tested the game on modern Windows NT based release, but can confirm the game to be playablle using PCem or 86Box using any Windows 9x based operating system with a 3DFX or S3 based accellerator.

Daytona USA

Sega’s hit racing game and part of the new generation of 3D arcade titles. Here we are introduced to texture mapped polygons, an upgrade from the flat shaded graphics from Virtua Racing. Daytona would be in prime competition with Ridge Racer, which was released by Namco.

Tracks

Beginner: A simple track but has 40 opponent cars, this track can get crowded in places. The only track on the game that begins with a rolling start and features a pit in area. There are 8 laps to race in total, but this can be extended to 20 or 40 with the Grand prix or endurance modes.

Advanced: A regaular track but has a couple of sharp turns. ‘Lets Go Away’ is the song that plays for this track, which a portion also plays during the games attract mode. Theres a few hidden messages in this track that appears in the grass during the race.

Expert: The hardest track with frequent sharp turns and a couple of obstickles in the track, Thankfully these don’t affect your cars speed and are mostly for visual effect. Powersldiing is reccomended to get the best lap times.

The tracks would be renamed in later releases after further tracks would be added.

Modes:

These can be set in the options menu (Test mode on the arcade release)

Standard: The default option with 8 laps for the beginner track, 4 for the advanced and two for expert

Grand Prix: Addidtional laps are added which expands the game’s length, with 20 laps for the beginner, 10 for advanced and 5 for the expert. With these laps you will want to use the pit stop to replace the cars tyers.

Endurance: 80 laps for beginner mode, 40 for advanced and 20 for expert mode.

There is also a time attack mode which can be accessed by holding down the 1P Start button on the arcade version whilst choosing transmission.

Releases

Arcade

Where it all started, running on Sega’s Model 2 hardware. This was initially released in 1993, and a updated version came out in 1994 to promote the Sega Saturn version. This version also amended the HUD elements slightly. 3 tracks are present in this version and lcoal multiplayer is avalible by linking the arcade machines together. This version of the game runs at a constant 57fps and a higher resolutiob compared to the Saturn, but lower then the PC version.

Can be emulated using the Nebula Model 2 emulator, or recently MAME. However the Model 2 core is still under development and there has been some improvements to the MAME core.

Daytona USA Arcade had three releases, all of which run on the original Model 2

  • 1993 release that was exclusive to Japan
  • 1994 release that was worldwide that amended the on screen counter display
  • Sega Saturn update that added adverts for the console, for before and after the consoles release (Changeable in the games test mode the Model 2 had no RTC clock)
  • There were a couple of unofficial modifications that were done by a few third party programmers that added RPG like elements to the game, known as GTX edition and To the Maxx

The game was only compatible with the original Model 2 board.

Sega Saturn

The first version that was ported for the home market, this was a rushed port due to wanting to be a Saturn launch title and the difficultly of the Saturn’s hardware for the developers. Also, its no secret that 3D wasn’t the Saturn’s strong point, being built primarily as a 2D sprite scaling system, and Daytona USA being designed for the 3D model 2 arcade board. The music is altered in this version, taking advantage of the red-book CD audio.

There are two game modes, an arcade mode which plays the same as the arcade original, and a Saturn mode which gives the option of selecting a car. Mirror tracks are also selectable for all tracks in the game and a 60 lap endurance mode. This version has no support for multiplayer.

Sega would later release a revised version for the Sega Saturn that corrected a couple of issues that the original port recieved.

Windows

Very similar to the Saturn version, the game is designed to run on Windows 95 but features little graphics acceleration, rending entirely in software mode (on the CPU). The game uses DirectX 2 which limits it to Windows 95, although it will work on later Windows 9x releases, things start to break on more modern systems.

This release is not recommended since a better version was released a few years later, and the limited resolution and graphics settings this game offers. There’s also black bars at the top and bottom which makes it feel like I’m playing an ported PAL game, either that or they thought Daytona PC needed to be cinematic?

Comparison

Arcade version is running in the Nebula Model 2 emulator with default settings, Saturn is running the NTSC build in Retroarch Beetle Saturn, Windows is running in a PCem virtual machine running Windows Me.

Arcade

Saturn

Windows

The home versions remain very faithful to the arcade original when it comes to the menu layout

Car transmission selection

Saturn version has the worst draw distance, to the extent that some background elements don’t appear fully and look like they are floating

Only major difference being the lap time dispay, with other HUD elements remaining consistant.

Conclusion

Daytona USA would go on to become very popular in the arcades thanks to the pioneering 3D graphics technology, despite the high price of the Model 2 hardware. The home ports were not greatly recieved, with the Saturn port having a negative reception in comparision to Ridge Racer, which was also ported from the arcade to the Playstation and was considered a bettrer adaption.

Sega would later release newer home versions of Daytona USA, being the Champtionship edition which helps fix the issues of the initil Saturn port and was ported to the PC shortly after. It was released again for the Sega Dreamcast in 2001 with slightly remastered graphics.

In the arcades, Sega would follow up with Daytona USA 2, being a showcase for the Model 3 platform.

Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines

Set in one of the World Wars, here you are the commander who is responsible for the lives of up to six men, and possibly the rest of Europe.

The games uses an isometric view, similar to the Sims but without the rotatable camera. Locations start off in Europe, but also range to Africa. The game is played using an isometric 2D view from only one angle, similar to The Sims. There are a couple of FMV sequences with footage from the time period itself which is related to the mission, this makes the game a good history lesson. Unfortunately in order to run on 1998 era hardware the footage ha to be heavily compressed to fit on a CD-ROM.
The games cover art is rendered in 3D, and there are some renders of the main character themselves. Sadly this is never used in game but would be ideal if the game was to be remade.

Installing the game

The game is mainly played in single player, but a multiplayer mode using LAN is supported. Here one player runs a server which will allow the clients to connect, and missions can be played cooperatively.

The game itself

Characters

There are six character in the game, each has their own voice and skills depending on their branch in the military. Each character will have a different loadout depending on the mission, and some missions require a certain character to be above in order to complete the objective, otherwise its game over.

Green Beret: The badass from Ireland, defiantly the man you want on your side during the World War. He is one of the more common characters you will command, being present in nearly every mission. Typical load-out consists of a pistol, a decoy radio to distract enemies, a knife to stab enemies in close contact. The green beret can also climb certain surfaces without the use of a ladder and can move barrels and corpses to hide from the enemy which prevents the alarm from being set off. In certain missions he can also bury himself in the terrain (typically snow). The green beret will be the most used character in the game, so its worth keeping him alive.
The Sapper: Expert in explosives and demolitions of which there are two types of bombs that he carried, a timed explosive which is deployed and explodes after a short amount of time, and a trigger explosive which is triggered by using a switch. Grenades are also equipped which can be used to destroy a group of enemies, but the loud noise will cause the alarm to sound. The explosives are only used towards the end of the mission.
The Driver: An American soldier., Is mainly present in missions where a truck or a vehicle is being used. He also functions as the medic and can heal other commandos if they lose any health. He also carries a machine gun if things get a little heated.
The Sniper: A well mannered Sniper with a deadly weapon, also services as the teams medic if the Driver is not present on the mission
The Marine: An Australian who is able to go underwater. Ideal for maps that contain a lot of water or a river, which may be needed to navigate to certain areas. The marine carries a diving suit that allows him to swim underwater, and will sometimes have a inflatable raft that can carry up to two other commandos.
The Spy: A French former soldier who can wear the Nazi uniform as a disguise, although this only fools regular Nazi soldiers and has no effect on commanders, who will see through the disguise. Carries a syringe loaded with leather poison to silently take out enemies making I’m sort of like an assassin.
• There are two over controllable characters that appear in some missions, the Pilot which is used to escape at the end in a plane (Level 10), and the prisoner who your commando will have to rescue as part of the mission (Level 12)

Levels

First few levels are set in Norway, and feature green terrain with some parts of snow on the ground. Be mindful of this as enemies can see your footprint in the snow and will investigate. Level 5 is completely covered in snow and takes a while for them to disappear.

Waka Waka Its time for Africa

Levels 8 – 12 onwards are set in North Africa, and you will notice the new terrain as well as the new outfits your commands will be wearing. In these levels oil canister’s can be used to set building and vehicles alight, with the game considering this as an explosion and trigging an alarm. You can place multiple barriers nearby to create a chain reaction explosion.

Level 13 – 15 and onwards are set in Normandy and features a varied terrain.

Finally levels 16 – 20 are set in Germany.

There are also a few tutorial levels available to learn the game mechanics.

Gameplay

Guards – these will be populated throughout the map and are your main enemy. Some of these will be stationary but will others will follow a preset patrol route. There can also be a group of guards, typically 3 but sometimes up to 8 following a preset route. You will need to study their route and make sure your commando does not fall into their field of view. If the tertian contains snow, make sure they don’t catch your footprints.

Enemies can also be stationed in machine guns or armed vehicles, and may also be hiding in various building indicated by the Nazi flag.

A patrol

Alarm – If a group of soldiers notice any dead fellow officers (They shout something along the lines of uncle Lester), or hear any gunfire or explosive, an alarm will sound which will cause more enemies to appear on the map, and will often patrol more quicker. This makes it harder to complete the objects since guards will be on higher alert, and you will have to be more stealthy from then on.
Sometimes soldiers will should Alarm, but one will not sound as they are too far from base. You can use this to your advantage by studying the map to see where the nearest bunker is.
In some levels, sounding the alarm is an instant mission fail.

Game settings

Submissive to enemy halt, if your commando gets caught by the enemy, this option determines if they halt their existing command, or if they will continue as normal.

Laconic commands refers to the acknowledgment your commando will make when you issue a command, if this gets annoying you can disable it and will mute your commandos.

The third option I would assume refers to background noise, but I wasn’t able to change this option.

Multiplayer

There are two ways to player a multiplayer game, either locally using IPX, or over the internet using TCP/IP. Both options are difficult to do since IPX support has been deprecated in modern versions of Windows (XP onwards) and the MPlayer service, which the game relied on for its central server is longer online. Trying to connect results in the above error message.

However it may be possible if you use two Windows 98 machines, and dedicate one as the server, since the server application is simply a console/MS-DOS program that runs in background.

Theme Hospital (Multiplayer maps in CorsixTH)

Note: This isn’t a guide on playing multiplayer games in CorsixTH, more like loading the maps in single player

Theme Hospital shipped with a few multiplayer maps that were intended to be used with network play, which were not intended to be played in single player. With the original PC release, there is a way to force the game to play them, after a while this can cause the game to crash since the game does not know how handle the maps in single player mode. Also there are two bonus maps which were used for the bonus rat levels, that are also discussed here.

A very busy first level, with all rooms available

In CorsixTH and the use of the map editor, we are able to import these maps and convert them pack to single player use, for which we can play then in single scenario.

2 Player Maps: large sized hospitals intended for two players, in the range of Level 20-24

3 Player Maps: larger sized hospitals for 3 players, uses level range 30-34

4 Player Maps: huge sized maps intended for 4 players, level range 40-44. Unfortunately I could not get the game to load these maps due to a lua script. Seems CorsixTH does not recognise 4 players (or maybe the original came counted from 0 and CorsixTH counts from 1?)

Bonus Maps: two maps are bonus maps that were used for the rat killing levels, these are Level 13 and level 14. They are rather small but functional as a basic hospital, Although the second one has a few graphical errors, like a misplaced water tile.

  • Level 13: Looks similar to level 1 at the front of the hospital, possible this was an early design  of it that was later reused. Has a rear door with a path that leads no nowhere and has no mapping data so it wont be used by patents
  • Level 14:  Another that has the same entrance path design to level one, this hospital is highly symmetrical.

Along with the maps came with was the SAM files, which contains level variable data such as the type diseases, rooms available, emergency and pandemic probability. The bonus levels do not have these as they were not intended to be used as a regular hospital.

Converting the maps for CorsixTH

To do this the legacy map editor was used from the 2014 release (Version 0.4.0) where the map was opened, and then saved which converted the map to the new format. The original game did not use a specific extension, with files being named as Level.L01, LEVEL.L31, etc. CorsixTH uses the .map extension.

Whilst the 4 player maps will open in the map editor for this version and can be saved, trying to open it on the latest build results in an error.

The levels seem to have their own names, CRUDSVILLE, NICEVILLE, Emergency!, RUMBLETOWN and ST. SCAVENGERS. I don’t know if these names ever appeared in game, the only reference to them are in the SAM files for each level.

The newer CorsixTH builds don’t recognise the maps files from the original game unless you amend the file extension to .map however i still cannot get the game to load the 4 player maps this way.

Download

Download (Box)

Extract into the Levels directory in the CorsixTH folder, maps can be played using the single scenario menu option

The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield

A look at Springfield in 1997

Simpsons Virtual Springfield

Released for both Mac and PC in 1997, Virtual Springfield puts you directly into Springfield where you can freely explore the Simpsons town, Springfield. Whilst promoted as being a 3D game, it’s actually 2D with a 3D-based perspective, using an engine built by Vortex Media Arts. This isn’t the first Simpsons game released, with previous titles being released on the NES and the Sega MegaDrive, and it wouldn’t be the last either.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Launcher where you can start the game

This game was an interesting look at Springfield since in the show, whilst there was never any continuity of the town itself, buildings would come and go and the layout of the town never remained consistent, not helping was the change of animation studio from the first few seasons. Still, a lot of references to the early seasons of the show are present.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Marge cooking the cat

The main object of the game is to collect all 74 of collector cards, which are hidden across 17 different locations. Some locations are locked and can be unlocked by collecting specific items. The game’s HUD is designed around the player wearing a VR headset and using it to navigate Springfield.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield

The game runs slowly on PCem when running it directly from the CD-ROM (being played from an external Blu-ray drive) so it’s usually based to create an iso image of the game, then mounting it into PCem. (Update: It seems that I had set the CD-ROM speed in PCem to 4x, which wasn’t fast enough for the game, since increasing it to 16x the stuttering issues have reduced, but you still get the odd delay, defiantly dump to BIN/CUE when running in PCem)

Simpsons Virtual Springfield

The game is navigated using a point-and-click approach, moving your mouse cursor to a specific area lets you either select or interact with an object or if it turns to an arrow, lets you move in that direction. If the game is left idle, random animations are played out.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Milhouse had a growth spurt

Some buildings (Like the Simpsons house) can be entered some have multiple rooms that can be navigated through. Some rooms/buildings are blocked and require an item to be in the inventory before it can be accessed, these can be obtained by picking up the item by clicking on it.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Who shot Mr. Burns – Part 3
Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Aye Caramba
Simpsons Virtual Springfield
RIP Krusty
Simpsons Virtual Springfield

It’s not really a game in the traditional sense, there’s no fail state or any challenge, except for collecting cards. It’s more of an application like the previous Simpsons Cartoon Studio. Nowadays you could probably build the same game within a modern browser, like Bing maps but for the Simpsons universe, and maybe leverage a VR headset for full immersion.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Sappy and Pelma

Being a long-time fan of the show (For seasons 1-9) and an obvious target for this product, my only gripe is that there weren’t more things to interact with per location. Sure the game will have a limited scope, imposed by the technology of the time.

There are the occasional mini-games featured in the Noiseland Arcade, but certainly more activities like this could have been sprinkled into the game.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield
Thought this was a banjo at first

Quite a few locations are missing like the Springfield dog track where they adopted Santa’s little helper, Krusty Burger (appears in-game but cannot be entered), Department of Motor Vehicles, Police Station (again cannot be entered)

Macintosh

Virtual Springfield uses a hybrid disc that allows the PC copy of the game to run on a Macintosh system. To get the game up and running, you simply insert the CD into the Mac and click on the Virtual Springfield icon on the desktop, the game will launch, providing you set the colour depth to 256 colours. No installation is required.

The game will run on a G4 PowerPC-based Mac, running on OS 9.2.2, but you must change the display colour depth to 256 colours, otherwise, the game will crash the system upon startup. Virtual Springfield will not change the display automatically. It also works by changing the resolution to 640×480 since the game will not scale for a higher resolution, resulting in the game being displayed in the center of the screen with black borders around, if run at a higher resolution. What annoys me is the game does not give an error message informing you of this, just crashes the Mac instead.

The classic environment on Mac OS X does not seem capable of playing the game, this was tested on both OS X Jaguar and Panther classic modes.

External Links

FOX Interactive

Virtual Springfield Technical Info