Play Your Favorite DOS Classics in Chrome or ChromeOS

by Jonathan Schlaffer

Another day, something new: this time I’m taking a look at NaClBox, a Website that is beta testing the ability to play classic DOS games within a browser without needing the user to install DOSBox or configure their system. Several recognizable classics are available including The Secret of Monkey Island, Duke Nukem, and Duke Nukem II, but the icing on the cake is Star Wars: TIE Fighter. The real question is: how well does it work?

The first thing to note is that this will only work in Chrome version 11 or 12; all other versions are out, including the developer version. If you have the developer version, you will have to uninstall it and then install the release version.  (Side note, on both my Mac and PC I had to clear out some configuration files from the Chrome Library folder). You will also need to enable NaCl in “about:flags” and “about:plugins”; instructions for doing that are on the NaClBox website.

As you can see, setup was a bit of a pain. As for the games themselves, lag can be an occasional minor annoyance or major problem. And, in the case of TIE Fighter, it would loop the intro, forcing me to reload the page, at which point I got the C prompt, where I had to type “tiemiss” to get it to run. Lag was especially a problem in this game.

When I tried Falcon 3.0, the controls appeared to be mapped incorrectly. I don’t know if this can be attributed to its DOS-era coding or to some other issue that I can’t readily see; either way, the select weapons and fire buttons as mapped never worked.

If they can manage to fix the lag problems and some of the key mapping issues, then this is a service that I might actually pay for (if the full versions of the game become available). As a free beta, it’s a fun distraction but nothing to write home about. The concept is excellent, but the execution in quality of the gameplay varies from game to game.