Retrograde Station >> Frequently Asked Questions


The Retrograde Station FAQ

What is a booter?

What is the difference between "Download game" and "Download DOS conversion"?

...and just what the hell is a PCjr cartridge file?

Special images.

What is this Flopper that is mentioned all over this place?

What do the Flopper Status things mean?

How can you contribute?

How do I contact Demonlord (me)?


What is a booter?

A booter is a game (most common), or program (not so common, but MCS and PCS are examples) that doesn't need any operating system to work. You just stick the disk into the drive and boot, hence the name. Booting games (on the PC) were common in the early and mid eighties. The concept has many advantages for the programmers. They didn't have to consider that any other program were interfering, so they could hook any interrupt they wanted, without bothering to call the original handler. They had the machine entirely for themselves, all memory open for use. No poorly written OS to consider, and the disk could be in virtually any layout (which also was a great thing for protections!).

Of course, the booter concept also had its downsides. You couldn't copy the booting game to harddisk, for example. Since there were usually no files to copy, and the disk was usually protected somehow, it was impossible to store the game on HD. This was of course no problem at first, since HDs were few, far between and expensive! But as HDs became each man's property, booters became a nuisance. You had to keep a lot of disks around just to be able to play your favorite games, even when you had a HD! So, eventually the concept of booters were dropped...

This page is meant to be a resource of booting games (and programs), since I haven't seen any such page anywhere on the net. It's also meant to be a resource of image files that you can run in Flopper.


What is the difference between "Download game" and "Download DOS conversion"?

The difference is this: The Download game link will download an image file of the booting disk. This image either has to be written back to a disk and booted, or run in Flopper, or similar program.

Download DOS conversion will download the DOS version of the game. These conversions are mostly just rips of the booting game, made to work under DOS. I will not add updated versions of a booting game, like King's Quest I VGA (or even EGA), or 7 Cities of Gold Commemorative Edition.

Note that these files are runable in DOS. MS-DOS prompt in Windoze is *NOT* DOS! So if you experience problems running these versions under Windoze, the problem is probably not with the game, but with your choice of OS... If you are a Windoze-only type of guy, booting with Command prompt only seems to be your best option. Also note that very little or no effort will be made to make DOS conversions work in Windoze DOS prompt!

If you have a game, either booting, or for DOS, that is marked "Not available" on this site, please contact me below (see the parts about contributing and contact)...


...and what the hell is a PCjr cartridge file?

A PCjr cartridge file (.JRC) is an actual PCjr ROM image! The PCjr had 2 cartridge ports that could be used instead of disks, and .JRC files are dumps of these cartridges. I'm not aware of any program that can run them yet (or any other page that host such images), but Tand-em, the Tandy 1000/IBM PCjr emulator will support them in the future. Visit the Tand-Em page for more information about Tand-Em and its development.

Since I've managed to gather a few of these cartridges, they've gotten their own page now...


Special images

Some games has a disk layout that can't be represented as a normal image. The EA booters are excellent examples of such games. (almost) All EA games have 10 sectors/track on side 0, and only 9 on side 1, which creates a problem. It's pretty obvious that 10 sectors won't fit in 9 (which is a standard format), so I've made these images have 10 sectors/track, making the image file either 200K (single sided) or 400K (double sided). To write these images back to disk, you either need a specially formatted disk, a disk with 10 or more sectors/track (1,2/1,44MB disks comes to mind), or a special program to write these images back. All games that have images like this also have the image files in 3 different formats. .IMG is the raw 10 sector/track image which should be able to run in Flopper, or write to specially formatted 360K/standard 1,2MB/1,44MB disk. .TD0 is for use in Teledisk and .CP2 is for use in Snatchit. These programs can be found for download on the programs page.


What is this Flopper that is mentioned all over this place?

Flopper is a program that runs image files of booting games, such as the ones this site is full of. Flopper loads the image file, and "boots" it, as it would be booted if you booted the original disk. However, Flopper remains in the background, and will allow you to change image files, save screenshots of the current game, quit back to DOS and alter the game speed if it runs too fast (future feature). Check out the Flopper project's homepage here.

Eventually, I will list "Flopper status" on all games up (how the games perform in Flopper. Not all games work at all, or work perfectly yet. This is tricky business, but it is of course an ongoing project...). If the status is listed as "n/a", it means that I haven't had time to test this particular game yet. I will also add a link to the game's entry in Mobygames. (Mobygames is another project, of which the goal is to list all games ever released for PC. If you're looking for info about a game, take a look at Mobygames, and hopefully you'll find what you're looking for... You can even contribute yourself, either by sending box scans, screenshots, or enter games you own yourself.)


What do the Flopper Status things mean?

The Flopper Status in the game's frame states how the game performs under Flopper. As I've mentioned, Flopper is an ongoing project, and many games work, but does not work perfectly. A lot of old booting games use custom handlers for timings and keyboard, since there was little or no documentation on how those things worked back then. Also, most companies felt that they could write better, more optimized, and more specified routines themselves, and just ignore the BIOS stuff already there. With keyboard handlers, there was no reason for the game to call the original BIOS handler after it had finished its own. This is creating a major problem for us today. Flopper hooks INT 9 to gain control over the keyboard, but if the game also hooks INT 9, Flopper's keyboard handler will be ignored by the game. Since the game doesn't call the original INT 9, Flopper's keyboard handler won't be called either, which means that Flopper can't bring up the chooser when you press F12. This is just one of the problems we're working on, but if you want to read more about Flopper, please visit the homepage linked above.

Anyway, on to the cryptic things that appear in the Flopper Status row:

Works: Works means that the game starts and functions properly, *with* the exception listed after it. A game that doesn't start won't be listed as "Works". A game that starts, but you can't do a single thing in it, because the keyboard handler only works on 8088s will be listed as "Works, no keyboard at all", or something similar. One thing that is never listed is the game speed. A game can run a thousand times too fast, and still be listed as "Works" without additions.

No Chooser: The game uses its own custom keyboard handler, snubbing the original, and Flopper's keyboard handler. This kills all access to the Chooser, and also the ability to quit the game. The keyboard in the game itself works fine, only Flopper's "keys" doesn't work.

CGA Only: This game requires real, original CGA/EGA graphics adapter to work properly, or at all. When the VGA card was developed, they needed a bunch of ports for the card to use. They figured that nobody uses CGA anymore, and won't have any reason to now that we're developing this new, hot card. And since nobody was going to use CGA anymore, nobody needs to use the CGA ports either. So, they used the CGA ports for new, hot stuff on the new VGA card, using the same port numbers to do entirely different things that what the CGA card would do. This is also a problem for us. Many old games use the CGA ports directly, without going the route through BIOS (read above). Since VGA uses the same port number as CGA, sending CGA data to those ports won't do what the game programmers intended them to do. Most often these hardware CGA ports were used to set special videomodes, or alter the existing videomodes in ways that the BIOS didn't handle. Running these games on a VGA/SVGA/whatever card is impossible without some kind of CGA emulator. I've never heard of or seen any such beast, but if you know about one, let me know and things can more forward!

Odd effects after quit: Some games modify the hardware in ways we haven't thought of, or figured out how to restore on quit. These games will most likely cause problems after we quit them back to DOS. Sideeffects vary from Divide overflow to crashes in Chooser and in DOS. If you encounter any odd sideeffects after quitting a game, the only solution is to reboot the computer.


How can you contribute?

If you have a game that is listed on any page as Not available (either as booter or for DOS), please contact me.

If you have a booting game that is not up at all, please contact me, also... (be sure to check my booters list before writing, since I have a lot of games still to add to this page).

Your contributions will greatly improve this page, and ultimately, the Flopper project.

Please contact me (see below) before sending images or games, to make sure I don't already have them. Like I said, I have a lot of stuff still to add to this page...

When sending images to me, Teledisk or Snatchit files are preferred over raw images. (and TransCopy images are preferred over anything else!). This is because these formats will capture (or at least try to capture) all sectors of each track, including odd & weird sectors which are often part of protection schemes. On the programs page you can find the programs required.

If you have a game that's in my wanted list, or any EA booter not up, *please* don't hesitate to contact me... I promise I won't bite!


How to contact Demonlord (me)

The easiest way would of course be to send me a little mail... Otherwise, hmm, I don't know... (Click on Mail in the left frame)