How to Play a 16 Bit Dos Game That Requires a CD-ROM

In a previous guide, we discussed how to play 16-bit DOS games on a modern computer. While that guide is able to get a number of games working, there are a few games that require the use of a CD Rom. This guide will show you how to emulate a CD Rom drive for games or application that require this.

Before we begin, this guide assumes that you have already done the steps involved in the 16 Bit DOS games guide and are simply running into the issue of the game or DOSBox prompting you to insert a CD. One such game that has this requirement is the original Warcraft II – Tides of Darkness (There is a Steam version that allows players to play the game without the need of emulating a 16 bit environment, but we are simply using this game as an example for other games that require a CD-Rom).

The first thing you want to do is take a look at the contents of the game and look at the name of the executable in question. In this case, it is “war2.exe”. Some games require you to create a folder that go by the same name as the main executable. So, we simply create a folder called “war2” (without quotation marks of course) in the directory where we want to later mount our drives (never mount the main root of your actual hard drive). Once we have created the folder for this game, we can simply move all of the contents of the game into this folder. You’ll probably have something like this:

CD_1

Once that is done, we can open up DOSBox:

CD_2

First, we want to mount the C drive as per usual:

CD_3

Now, we want to mount the CD-Rom drive. For that, we need to use the command “mount d c:/[directory to game here] -t cdrom”

The “-t cdrom” at the end tells DOSBox to map a CD Rom drive to the drive letter you selected (in this case, the “D” drive). Otherwise, the system simply operates as though that you have made another drive, not specifically a CD Rom drive which is what the game is looking for. So, in my case, I put in the directory string, the CD Rom label and hit enter to see this:

CD_4

Cool! Our CD Rom and our C drive have both been successfully mounted! Now, let’s browse to our game. In this case, what works for me, I just switch to the emulated c drive:

CD_5

Now, I just browse to the directory for me game:

CD_6

Finally, I type in the name of the executable (while adding “.exe” also works, it’s unnecessary):

CD_7

Hit enter. Not only does the game start, but it behaves as if the CD is in as well (critical for this particular game). Congratulations! You have a working game!

We should note that this may not always be the be-all, end-all solution for 16-bit games that require a CD-Rom, but this should, at the very least, show you a few critical steps needed to at least allow you to tinker with the game in an effort to get it to work. In this case, our game works fine simply by following these steps. We don’t know if these steps alone work for every game, though. Some manufacturers may provide you with detailed instructions on how to get the game to function properly in DOSBox (as is the case with the free to download Elder Scrolls 2 game which details specifically what to set in terms of cycle speeds, etc. right out of the box for smooth operation).

We hope this helps you get some of those harder to emulate games to work.

Happy gaming!


21 Comments

  • Hello,

    Thanks for the step by step info! This is the first that I can follow (obviously beginner at anything programming but liking the language and thinking of software as structure!).

    When I do all these steps, it reads that both my “C” and “D” are mounted, the game starts but then prompts me to insert the CD, and I cannot go any further.

    Help? I am running Windows 7 and I made sure every single caracter in your demo was correct.

    Sincerely,

    Gabriel

    • Drew Wilson says:

      Since I already have the game installed, I’m struggling to replicate the problem, but when you did mound the d drive, did you at the “-t cdrom” at the end? I remember when I first tried to get this particular game to work, I ran into the insert CDROM issue and it was because I just did the mount d [directory] and not mount d [directory] -t cdrom. When you mounted the CD Drive, it should say it has been mounted with limited support. I think if you mount the d drive normally, DOSBOX just reads the d drive as another hard drive and not a CDROM drive (likely read somewhat differently)

      • Amanda says:

        Hello! I am having the same issue with mine. I mounted the c drive (no “-t cdrom”) and then mounted the d drive (with “-t cdrom”). I got the limited support message. When the game opens and I click single player, I then get the message that I have to insert the CD. Any idea what might be causing that issue? Thanks so much for your help!

  • Gabriel Bouchard says:

    oh yes,

    additional info:

    the message I get when I launch war2 (the last command of your example) is the following:

    “MSCDEX Failure: Drive-letters of multiple CDRom-drives have to be continuous”…

    thank you again for your time

    • Drew Wilson says:

      Hmm, I don’t think I’ve run into this, but a quick Google search on my end suggests that you may have mounted two CDROM drives instead of one? When you mounted the C drive, did you also add that -t cdrom to it too? If so, you only need one CD drive and one regular drive to be mounted. That might correct the problem. 🙂

  • josh marsilio says:

    Hello. I have just recently acquired dosbox version .74 and have decided to break out my old warcraft2 cdrom game. I have followed instructions and have successfully installed it. Also i have been able to run the game manually within dosbox by following some instructions, but when i try to create an icon file using command: “C:\Program Files\DOSBox-0.74\DOSBox.exe” “C:\DOSGAMES\WAR2\WAR2.EXE” in the target window so i can load the game up with a simple icon click, the game is running, but behaving as if the cd rom is not inserted into the computer and asking me to insert the cd, when, infact the cd is inserted. I suppose altering the target command code might fix this but i don’t know how to do this or what to type. I don’t know why this is happening. Any suggestions?
    Once again, i will clarify; i am having trouble opening this game (warcraft2) from a shortcut-icon (which would allow me to open dos box and load the game with a simple double click of an icon that i created and placed on my desktop). The game is opening normally but acting as if there is no cd-rom inserted and not allowing me to continue into gameplay when infact the warcraft2 cd is in the drive!

    i am running windows vista 32-bit on a laptop

    • Drew Wilson says:

      This is going a little outside my current knowledge of Dosbox, but I think it’s possible to set up a batch file so that Dosbox executes the correct commands on boot for you so that commands like “-t cdrom” are entered. It is also possible to modify how Dosbox starts up by working with the config files so that certain commands pointed at certain destinations are set up for you on startup. Setting up a file to get Dosbox to execute commands automatically might be something I can look into a future guide, but as of right now, future guides are quite far down the road. I personally just manually type in the commands on start each time in part so I can memorize the basic commands.

      There are Dosbox frontends available as well, but I’ve never actually used any to see if they are good or not. My understanding is that frontends are supposed to add a more user-friendly interface to Dosbox.

      Sorry I can’t be of much further help for the time being.

    • Anderson Rodrigues says:

      I made a BAT file whit this:

      @ECHO OFF
      MOUNT F C:\JOGOS\WAR2 -t cdrom
      WAR2.EXE

      Named as WAR2.BAT e put this into the shortcut.

      I hope this help you.

  • josh marsilio says:

    I don’t know why they make this damn “dosbox” program so hard to use. Why can’t they just phase out the command prompt aspect and make it completely point and click!?!? this is rediculous. I might try the “daum” version but i doubt that will be any easier to use. Would someone with programming skills please make a point and click version without these damn config files and dos prompts….

    anyway, thanks for responding i will try to investigate further myself, but i would really like to be able to launch my game from an icon and i still can’t. oh well
    thanks anyway let me know if you figure it out.

  • Art says:

    okay figured it out, type:

    mount c C:\OLDGAMES

    then,

    mount c C:\OLDGAMES\war2 -t cdrom

    you mount the drive, then you mount it to a cd drive

  • Pete says:

    I copied the cdrom files into a folder called oldgames/war2/cdrom. Then ran DosBox, mount c c:/oldgames/war2 and mount d c:/oldgames/war2/cdrom -t cdrom. Then changed to D: and typed setup. The game installed right from the folder.

  • Will says:

    How do you get this to work with windows 3.1 in dosbox?

    I did everything in this setup here but it requires Windows.

  • Dave says:

    hello there I have done all the steps u have provided and im still getting asked for the CD when it starts? help me out please and ty

  • Matt H says:

    This is what I’m trying (with no success)

    mount c c:\dosprogs\hospital
    (where theme hospital is saved)

    mount d e:\ -t cdrom
    (my cdrom drive is my e drive)

    Same as the others above, it’s giving me the CD required error.
    I have had DosBox work before, but it’s well over a year ago and I can’t quite remember how I did it.
    Any help appreciated, thanks

    • elias says:

      I think your problem is that you didn’t run setup. Once you’re done mounting (the way you said you do), then do:
      > E:
      > setup

      In the setup menu press save and exit. After that, just:
      > C:
      > cd
      > WAR2

      That did the job for me, hope it helps

  • Alex says:

    For warcraft II, I found that it is not necessary to mount the cdrom. I found a version with a crack, and this fixes everything, including background music:
    > mount c C:\Users\\downloads\war2
    > c:
    > .\WC2CRACK.EXE
    > .\SETUP.EXE (configure audio card to play music)

    No CDROM mounting necessary, no batch scripts.

    [ warez link removed ]

    • Drew Wilson says:

      I had to remove the links because it is technically warez. Warcraft II is still, if you can believe it, sold online: https://www.gog.com/game/warcraft_2_battlenet_edition (therefore, it’s not technically abandonware. Even if it might be a different “edition”, I have to err on the side of caution).

      The use of WarCraft II in this guide was more illustrative than anything simply because there might be other games or apps that require use of the CDRom. I just needed an example so I could write the guide so that others might make use of it for other games or applications.

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