Return to the Dungeon

As much as I love this blog and enjoy writing, sometimes I curse it, especially when I mention a glistening gaming memory I have which thus triggers a case of inner want and thus I have to play the game in question. Bloody Bullfrog. They made such an awesome game, and I had to remember the demo didn’t I?

As you might have guessed, I’m now playing Dungeon Keeper, after a frantic search around the house to find the disk. It’s hard to know whether I should attempt to review it at my current state in gameplay (I’m now in the 4th dungeon or so, but I can remember most of game. The fact I’m relying on memory makes me say no), and in all honesty reviewing a game that’s now in the realms of Abandonware thanks to the muscling out of Bullfrog by EA (If that isn’t a reason to hate EA then nothing is), but I can tell you what I remember, and some lost soul on Google can find this and find out how to get it running.

You’d be amazed at the first thing you need: A disk*.Depending on how you’ve been keeping up with your sacrificial offerings of virgins to Khorne, then you’ll be a lucky soul and it’ll work straight away, so feel free to skip to here to avoid the rubbish about getting it working. If that didn’t work, you can try to run it in compatibility mode, by going to the disk, right clicking the setup file and choosing Properties. Then go to the compatibility tab and change the compatibility to earlier versions of Windows until it works. If it does, I hate your guts and thus you can skip ahead. If it didn’t work, or you’re on a different OS, then you’ll need to join the DosBox brigade.

You’ll need to download DosBox, which is available here for the great price of £0.00. DosBox is a DOS emulator, allowing you essentially have another machine inside your current one which has Dos commands. Anything that DosBox runs will think it’s being run by a DOS machine. The other neat little advantage is that you can feel like a little hacker using all those DOS commands you learnt while you were avoided revision for those GCSEs. There are a few things you’ll need to do to start playing.

The first involves using the mount command. On your hard drive, make sure you have C:/DOS created (Or wherever you want to install it. I’m putting all DOS games there for the sake of neatness), and type the following into DosBox: “mount C C:/DOS”. What this does is tell DosBox to use C:/DOS as its C drive. That might sound odd, and I’ll try to explain without sounding crazy. As far as DosBox is concerned, there isn’t anything attached to it. Remember that idea of a machine inside a machine? This is where it becomes apparent. Imagine that you’ve got a 2 computers (A and B) linked up via Ethernet. If I had one file on Computer A and wanted to access it on Computer B, I need to tell Computer B to use Computer A’s drive as one of its own. It’s a similar idea here. Think of DosBox as Computer B, and your actual computer as Computer A. To use any file on your main computer, you need to map the drive on DosBox, which is what the mount command does. If that doesn’t make any sense, it’s alright. Just think of it as you have to mount the drive in DosBox otherwise it won’t work and little gremlins will poke you continually.

Next, you need to mount your CD. I suggest copying the contents of the CD drive and putting it in an obvious place (I dunno, C:/Keeper), just because the game is that old you can get away with doing that for a no CD crack. This works because when you mount the D drive, you can tell DosBox to use anywhere you like as the D drive, so you have a no CD crack right away. The game is that old you can get away with it (Though the expansion looks for a disk with a certain label), so you may as well. To mount the CD type “mount D C:/Keeper” or wherever you copied it to.

Now you can install the game. First switch the active drive to D by typing “D:”. This now means that all commands you type will now be performed on the D drive (Which is actually C:/Keeper. You can try this if you want. Type md test and look at the drive in windows explorer. It should now have an extra folder called Test). Now just type “setup” and thus the setup will begin. I’ll assume you know how to install, but it’s worth noting that it will install to C:/Keeper. Of course, remembering that C: is actually C:/DOS, it will actually install to C:/DOS/Keeper. After installing, go through the audio setup and have a play until it works. When it works, feel free to exit. Once you have, you can just type “keeper” and you’ll get to play. Aren’t you a lucky person?

Now, before I get to work on these thoughts, just to tell you how to play when you want to load it up again. You’ll need to remount the drives before you can play, and move to the Keeper directory, then type Keeper (the commands for doing this are below). If you get annoyed at doing this each time, then you can edit the configuration files to mount them automatically. If you go to wherever you installed it, there should be a folder containing a shortcut to the configuration file. Open it, scroll to the end of it and add the following lines and then the game will open automatically when you run DosBox:
mount c c:/Dos
mount d C:/Keeper
Cd Keeper

Now, onto how I’m finding it. After loading up the first level, I remembered why I thought it was such a good game. Even that first level, where you just have to make little treasure rooms and the enemy heroes come so late on in the game that you can refuse to let them in if you so wish, by shoring up your walls which they then can’t break through, I was enjoying myself. I may have just been enjoying the fact that I could see the heroes running around in circles but that’s by the by. It’s also the first game in that genre, with nothing else like it (Which is probably the core design philosophy for Bullfrog), and it just works. There’s nothing else to it.

People talk about Evil Genius being the inheritor of the Dungeon Keeper franchise since we’re unlikely to see a Dungeon Keeper 3, but I disagree. The style was there, but Dungeon Keeper didn’t/doesn’t start raping you until about the 10th level or so in. Evil Genius starts to attack you right after you finish your tutorial, and doesn’t really give you the chance to recover. The learning curve of Dungeon Keeper was much shallower, which I think is a good thing. I don’t like to be thrown up a brick wall of difficulty. I like to stroll leisurely across the hills of adversity and enjoy the game until it gets hard and I lose continually and I throw the machine out the window.

Dungeon Keeper also got voice acting right! Of the many games I’ve played, it’s in the select few in which I haven’t thought ‘I could make this game much better just by taking the headphones out and using the subtitles’. The evil voice is just right. It fits in with the whole ethos of Bullfrog games: Let’s just take the piss. It’s stupidly over the top, but not in a cheesy way. It works as a game, and it works as a chance for Bullfrog to extract the urine out of all these goodie goodie games that you always see.

If I were to give it a score, I’d have to give it top marks (Around 95%), but since this isn’t a review, I won’t. Also I don’t like the idea of giving games a score. Seriously, go out and buy this game and get it running. You won’t regret it

* If you want to use an ISO/zip that you’ve downloaded then you can, but it is 12 years old, and you can probably pick it up for tuppence somewhere. Don’t go to Amazon though, they’re charging £30. It’s good, but it’s not THAT good. Return

  1. I found an original big-boxed copy of this in a charity shop in the summer. Eagerly bought it for the bargain price of £2.50, got back to the car…no disk. They didn’t have it in the shop either, and I couldn’t tell them I wanted my money back. So, I paid £2.50 for nothing. So is my Dungeon Keeper anecdote

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