How to Play DOS Games on Your Mac With Boxer

Gaming has come an awfully long way over the last decade, but many of us still have fond memories of the age of DOS based gameplay. Whether it’s to rekindle a sense of nostalgia, or enjoy some of the classic game story-lines, the ability to play DOS games on a modern Mac is something that many would find interesting.

Enter Boxer, a wonderfully designed OS X application for running these classic games on your Mac. Boxer is completely free, and takes away all the hassle of getting these old games to run. It even includes a few sample titles, and points you in the right direction to find more.

This how-to will walk you through the process of setting up Boxer, and explain where you can get your hands on a few classic titles to experiment with.

Setting Up Boxer

After downloading and running Boxer, it’s as simple as dragging and dropping the app into your Applications folder – the usual process:

Installing Boxer

Installing Boxer

Boxer will ask whether you’d like to manually select a folder for games to be installed into, or whether you’re happy for it to be handled automatically. I selected the latter, and the directory was created at ~/DOS Games/.

You’re then shown the Boxer directory, which makes up the main interface of the application. Here you can see a short “readme” file, and various other icons/folders:

The Game Shelf

The Game Shelf

Installing & Playing Games

If you drill down into the “Sample Games” folder, you’ll find a selection of example titles that you can try out immediately – just double click one to launch it. Installing games is as simple as dragging the CD or game folder over the “Drop games to install” icon. This will set the game up, and place it in the shelf for you to play.

When you launch a game for the first time, a few titles still require a little configuration (such as selecting the type of input you’d like, graphics and sound options etc). I found that opting for the pre-selected values generally worked fine.

Some games still require a little config

Some games still require a little config

After a few config steps, you’ll be up and running. Games are fairly intuitive, and I found that Boxer had no problem correctly handling both mouse and keyboard input. Everything is seamless, and far easier than installing DOS games used to be in the 1990s!

Digging into Doom

Digging into Doom

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with a few classic titles over the past couple of days, and have been impressed with the range freely available online. Many are demos with only a few levels available, but if you’re really passionate about a particular game, a quick search on eBay is likely to yield a full copy for sale.

Finding New Titles

Various websites are well-suited for finding new DOS games to experiment with. Most are free, though a few are limited versions with only a couple of levels. Here are a selection of websites for digging around for old titles:

DOS Games Archive

A very easy-to-navigate website, DOS Games Archive has over 250 games to download free. Many of the more popular titles are only commercial demos, but there’s more than enough to re-kindle that nostalgic spark. Files can be filtered by genre, year, or license.

Classic DOS Games

A more “DOS-esque” site, Classic DOS Games is a regularly updated website containing several hundred titles. It also has a fairly active forum for discussing titles, and I particularly enjoyed the animated game videos in the head of the site. Cheesy, but it gets you into the spirit!

DOS Museum

DOS Museum does exactly what it says on the tin, providing a simple list of links to download various games. Some are certainly better than others, but it’s a simple way to browse through what’s on offer.

Share the Love!

If you decide to give Boxer a go, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to know what your favourite games turn out to be – which are the classics you’d like to try again?

Personally, I quite enjoyed a little Doom and the memories of F15 Strike Eagle. Good times!