Category Archives: Windows 95

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

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 explorer the Simpsons town, Springfield. Whilst promoted as being a 3D game, its 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, building 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 the collector cards, which are hidden across 17 different locations. Some locations are locked and can be unlocked by collecting specific items. The games HUD is designed around the player wearing a VR headset and using it to navigate Springfield.

Simpsons Virtual Springfield

Unfortunately the game runs slowly on PCem when running it directly from the CD-ROM (being played from an external Blu-ray drive) so its usually based to create an iso image of the game, then mount 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 reduce, 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 ad 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

Its not really a game in the traditional sense, there’s no fail state or any challenge, except for collecting cards. Its more of a 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 there weren’t more things to interact with per each location. 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 which allows the PC copy of the game to run on a Macintosh system, if only I could find one. I’d imagine its very similar to the PC version however given the era, it would most likely only work on a System 7 PowerPC Macintosh

External Links

FOX Interactive

Virtual Springfield Technical Info

WipEout

A futuristic racing game released in 1995 for various platforms.

In Wipeout your mostly battling against the track itself, rather than the rival ships, and at fast speeds the game can become a challenge, requiring quick reflexes. Thankfully it comes with a banging soundtrack, something which is a staple of the Wipeout series of games.

2 Player mode exists for the console versions, but its one of those games that needs a serial cable, two PlayStation or two Saturn’s, TV’s and copies of each game.

PlayStation

Probably the best version, since it has all the graphical effects, and the sound effects when you enter a tunnel. Can also be played on the PlayStation 3 and PSP as part of the PS Classics. Only issue with this port is the low resolution and the pop-in textures on the track, poor draw distance. As a bonus the game supports the use of a NeGcon controller, allowing for an analogue control, useful for turning and for the airbreaks.

On modern emulators you can sort of re-create the PC effects such as higher resolution and texture filtering, but you are still stuck at 30fps. Overclocking the CPU results in the game running too fast.

Duckstation: Enhanced

The game clears up rather well compared to how it originally looked

Sega Saturn

Wipeout was released for the promising Sega Saturn, and serves as an example of the PSY-Q dev kit for the Saturn, which Psygnosis were trying to promote at the time as an alternative to Sega’s devkit (a version of PSY-Q was released for the PlayStation). The soundtrack has been altered with some songs being removed

Screenshots: SSF emulator

Windows

WipEout was ported to the PC a year later than the PlayStation release, and was designed exclusively for ATI video cards and was typically bundled with Windows PC that had those cards. It’s one of the games that supports ATI’s CIF API rather than Direct3D. This limits it to ATI Rage series 3D chipsets, the one in my Dell OptiPlex being one of them, but in order to play CIF games you need to use an older 1999 driver from ATI (The Windows 98 bundled driver has no CIF support), also CIF is only supported under Windows 98, there is no support for Windows NT 4.0. ATI later removed CIF support from its drivers from late 1999 onwards, so you may have to downgrade the driver order to play. A CIF wrapper exists for Windows 7 onwards, although I’ve not tested it.

Screenshots below are captured from a Dell OptiPlex GX1 with an Intel Pentium 2 350mhz and an ATI RAGE 2 with 4Mb of VRAM

The main difference is the ability to play the game in a higher resolution and with the ability to play at a higher framerate, it’s not exactly 60fps on a Rage2 but its a lot more smoother than the PlayStation version. However the sound is not has good as the console versions, with the PC missing the echo sound effects that play when you enter a tunnel. It’s also one of those games that’s stores the music as Redbook CD audio, and the game plays the audio back like a regular CD player would. This gives the option to change the CD (as the game runs from the hard disk) to play your own music.

MS-DOS

Very similar to the accelerated Windows version, but has a lot of enhancements removed, there’s no texture filtering, the framerate is lower and the resolution is reduced, likely because everything is being done on the CPU. You are limited to a low 320 resolution, 16 bit colour.

Personally I would stick with the PlayStation version, or the Saturn if you prefer more detailed textures. The PC versions sacrifice too much for what benefit they give, although you get the opportunity to run in a higher resolution, the missing sound effects are a huge setback and ruin the immersion of the game. besides with modern emulators you can run the game with additional filtering and upscaling, the FPS is still stuck at 30fps.

Hackers

A concept imaging of Wipeout appeared in the movie Hackers, which features slightly different gameplay with obstacles on the track, a crew that speaks to you instead of techno music playing. It was believed to be rendered on a SGI workstation and features perspective correct texture mapping

External Links

WipEout – Archive Website

WipEout – DOS Support

Windows 95 Chicago (Beta 3: Build 347)

Compiled and made available in March 1995, this was to be the Final beta build of Windows 95, with the release candidates coming soon after.

Installation

Windows 95’s setup procedure which looks the same as the final release. Towards the end of the install procedure, there is an option to use the program manager as opposed to the 95 interface, in practice this retains the default Windows 95 interface, just opens the program manager window.

Stage 2

The second stage of the install boots into the kernel, and prompts the user to enter information. Also, in Windows 95 you were able to select a time zone by clicking on a location in the map, a feature that was removed in the later versions.

Windows 95 Beta boot

Boot screen, which was altered in the final release. The bottom segment is animated to indicate the system is actively loading. The final release replaces it with colour cycling bar

Desktop

When Windows 95 first boots, a welcome screen is displayed which shows useful tips

When a new plug and play device is detected, Windows will prompt for driver instillation. The Windows 95 CD has a moderate library of drivers on the disc, but this is mostly applicable to hardware from 1991-95

Adding additional features in Windows, some features don’t have their own icons and use the default Windows icon

Build Information

Microsoft Network

Microsoft bundled their own internet service platform, similar to AOL, Apple @World or Compuserve designed to get users online

The presence of this and the lack of a web browser being bundled with this release of the operating system signals that Microsoft intended for MSN to the primary way for users to access the internet, rather than using the http protocol that we all use today. Also TCP/IP not installed by default but can be added using the Windows components, you will be prompted to supply the Windows 95 CD to install it.

Accessories

Party Line

Not sure what this was intended for, some sort of multiplayer game like Microsoft Hearts? It seems to just open a blank window and sits there unresponsive.

Volume Control

The volume control, of which it’s appearance will vary depending on the soundcard and the driver installed

Microsoft Fax

Registration Wizard

You have the option to register your copy of Windows 95, which would send a description of your PC hardware to Microsoft, possibly for them to gauge which is the popular configuration of hardware (surely they can get that from the OEM sales?)

Disk Defragmenter

CD Player

Windows Explorer

The main Windows Explorer interface which gives a tree view on the left sidebar. This replaces the Windows 3.1 File Manager

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer wasn’t included in this build, but was in development from around that time. To install I had to use the installer from oldversion.com, the WinWorldPC version failed to install.

This one failed

But this one worked instead, not entirely sure of the difference between the two installers but it could be due to this OS being a pre-release build.

Once installed a few changes need to be made before you can ‘browse’ the world wide web. Windows 95 did not include TCP/IP by default but could be enabled by installing it thorough the Network applet via the Control Panel.

The first version of Internet Explorer was based on NCSA Mosaic and incorporates various technologies that originated from Mosaic. Attempting to use these browsers on the modern web results in a bunch of garbled html, assuming the browser will even connect to a server. Most times you will gets an unsupported protocol since these browsers do not speak https. Here’s where theoldnet comes in

Trying to install Office 95 on Windows 95, which failed since it checks the OS build number

PCem Specifications

Motherboard: AMI WinBios 486

Processor: AMD Am5x86/P75

Video: Trident TGUI9440

Audio: SoundBlaster 16

Network: NE2000

Mouse: Serial Mouse

Microsoft Plus! 95

Sort of like an expansion pack to Windows 95, this adds additional features that enhance the Windows 95 experiences such as desktop themes, maintenance utilities and some bundled software like Internet Explorer which would be its debut.

Install

Looks like your typical Microsoft installer of the era

Post Install

The boot screen has changed!

Desktop Themes

A selection of themes from the Plus pack. Users of Windows 98 will find these themes look familiar as these themes later appeared in Windows 98 (Along with the Space and Underwater themes). These themes change everything, from the desktop icons to the toolbar layout and fonts (that carry over to the programs that you use), to the sounds and mouse cursor. Science and Inside Your Computer where my personal favourite, used to rock those a lot back in the day.

Utilities

DriveSpace: Compresses the entire dis to allow for more efficient use of hard disk space at the expensive of performance, only works on FAT16 volumes

Internet Starter Kit: Designed to help get users online

Task Scheduler / System Agent: Allows you to schedule certain tasks, such as programs being run at a specific time. Useful for maintenance tasks like Scandisk or the Disk Drefragmenter but also for anti virus programs. Also useful if you wish to run a program at a reoccurring time.

Visual Enhancements

These were designed for high performance systems of the time that supported graphics acceleration

High Colour Icons: By default Windows 95 only supports up to 256 colour icons, with the Plus! pack you can have icons with up to 65536 colours.

Window Dragging: The contents of the windows can be seen when the user drags the application window around the desktop. Previously only an outline of the window could be seen

Anti-Aliasing: Softens the edges of screen fonts and UI elements, similar to ClearType in Windows XP, using the hardware acceleration of the graphics card

Wallpaper Stretching/Scaling: Desktop wallpapers can be stretched to fill the screen if the image resolution does not match the display resolution, using the hardware acceleration of the graphics card

Product Catalogue

The multimedia catalogue, this isn’t installed onto the user system, instead its run straight off the CD-ROM. A showcase for other Microsoft consumer software and products.

Microsoft BOB, which was released from around that period.

Microsoft arguably made the most ergonomic mouses, and loved to show them off

Pinball

The Pinball game was originally developed by Maxis (Yes, the SimCity and The Sims Maxis) makes it debut here although the actual retail game had a lot more levels/machines, in plus pack only one level is featured.