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Thread: Does Steam/GOG Wolfenstein 3D work on a real 286?

  1. #1

    Question Does Steam/GOG Wolfenstein 3D work on a real 286?

    So, I recently built a NuXT v2.0-based system and have been messing around getting some 286 games running on the system's NEC v20 processor. My first success was God of Thunder. Then I managed to get the shareware version of Wolfenstein 3D running, albeit slowly. When I tried the same approach on the full version grabbed from Steam or GOG, it would crash due to an illegal opcode.

    Based on what I'm seeing in the DOSBox debugger, the code for what I think is the memory manager includes MOV and CMP instructions involving DWORDs or E*X registers. This is 386+ code. While all versions of the game should check for a 386 and do some insane self-modification to speed things up, I do not believe that this is related as I've stepped through that code and it seems to correctly realize that it's not on a 386.

    Would anyone with a Steam or GOG copy and a real 286 be able to verify that it bombs on real hardware? I just want to make sure that I'm not taking crazy pills here. Based on this https://wolf3d.de/changelog and the file sizes, it seems Steam and GOG are using the 1998 Activision release with the 108,779 byte WOLF3D.EXE.

    I was able to patch the September 3, 1993 version of the game just fine and I'm satisfied with that for my own purposes. But it would be unfortunate if there is no longer a legitimate way to get a 286-friendly version of the game. You can find all my mentioned patches here, if anyone is interested: https://github.com/jcross/jacpatch

  2. #2
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    I don't have a 286 to test it on, but the Steam release is indeed the 108,779 release, with an MD5 of "ce402023d1c5dc16307c62df639940cb". The filesizes of the WL6 files match up too.
    Is it possible to force 286 mode via DOSBox?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BakaOsaka View Post
    I don't have a 286 to test it on, but the Steam release is indeed the 108,779 release, with an MD5 of "ce402023d1c5dc16307c62df639940cb". The filesizes of the WL6 files match up too.
    Is it possible to force 286 mode via DOSBox?
    My answer would be 'don't think so'. The first hurdle is your ability to 'connect' to Steam with that 286. Since Steam has given up on XP, I think your chances with a lesser system is little or none.
    Surely not everyone was Kung-fu fighting

  4. #4

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    Why would you need to connect to Steam? You get the original files from the 1998 re-release, which you can just run.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by BakaOsaka View Post
    I don't have a 286 to test it on, but the Steam release is indeed the 108,779 release, with an MD5 of "ce402023d1c5dc16307c62df639940cb". The filesizes of the WL6 files match up too.
    Is it possible to force 286 mode via DOSBox?
    It's possible with DOSBox-X and maybe others but not vanilla DOSBox. DOSBox-X in 286 mode definitely fails hitting what it thinks is an "illegal" instruction. 386 or higher works fine. 186 fails in the same way as the 286 if I just patch out the CPU check.

    This should be pretty good evidence that it won't run on a real 286. I can't think of any rational reason why it would at this point. But I was hoping that someone with real 286 would be able to test it and describe what the failure looks like.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Orange View Post
    My answer would be 'don't think so'. The first hurdle is your ability to 'connect' to Steam with that 286. Since Steam has given up on XP, I think your chances with a lesser system is little or none.
    Some games distributed on Steam do not have any sort of copy protection like this. This is particularly true of old DOS games served up on Steam. They're just prepackaged bundles of the game in question and DOSBox. If you copy the game files over to a real computer, you're usually in business. Aside from the 386+ limitation, Wolfenstein 3D works exactly like this. Good Old Games does basically the same thing, too.

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