Tornado – DOS video game on Raspberry Pi

Tornado – DOS video game on Raspberry Pi

Back in 1993, while in college, I purchased an Intel 486 computer. The intent was to save me the hassles of the computer lab. It was extremely convenient to be able to do my work on my schedule. As a consequence, I tinkered with the PC in my spare time. I had created the DOS 6.x / Windows 3.x install disk sets, at the suggestion of the sales agent. I eventually needed them. Breaking and rebuilding was a clumsy cycle that I become familiar with.

A few months had passed since I bought the computer, so I decided to buy some peripherals. These add-ons enhanced the power of the computer and expanded my usability of it. I picked up a 16-bit sound card, a 14.4 kbps modem, and a video game called Tornado from Digital Integration and Spectrum Holobyte.

A few posts ago I reminisced about the days of old with DOS on the Raspberry Pi, thanks to Christopher Barnatt. I had spotted my Tornado manual still sitting on my book shelf and figured I’d load it on my Raspberry Pi.

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I searched through my stack of floppy disks and found the original install disks. To my delight they still worked and I copied the contents of the disks to my Linux folder.

A refresher on DosBox is needed. DosBox mounts a folder on the Linux computer, in my case the folder is named “Pi_C”. DOS has a 8.3 filename limitation, so that’s why the folder name is short. This folder it located in the home directory of the user running DosBox. To mount a drive letter in DosBox to the folder, issue this command.

mount c Pi_C

Before I continue on about the Tornado game, DosBox has key commands you should keep in mind. The special keys can be referenced at http://www.dosbox.com/wiki/Special_Keys. I had found that the game captures the mouse and keyboard inside DosBox and this can force you to hard reset if you don’t know the keys to press to escape. If all else, know that CTRL+F9 will kill (close) DosBox. Back to Tornado.

Now the working drive can be changed and DOS commands can be run as usual. I changed to the folder that contained the Tornado installation and ran the “Install.exe” command. It started the install by doing a system compatibility check. It was humorous to see that the Raspberry Pi had no trouble handling it. Unlike my experience, the install did not prompt me to install the next disk, since they were all copied into the folder.

Once the install was done, I changed to the game directory. Here I ran the “Tornado.bat” command saw the game start up. One thing I had forgotten was that the game quizzed you when it was run. It asks a question and references the page number of the manual. Good thing I kept the manual around.

The game operates just as I remembered. One thing with DosBox is you can increase you process power by pressing CTRL+F12 to add CPU cycles to the emulator. It is fascinating that the game uses a less that 40MB of data, compared to games today. Granted the visual effects are very limited, but the game has overall detail that makes up for this limit.

There are some die hard fans of this game. While looking into some background about the manufacturer, I came across a forum. The company that developed and marketed Tornado is no longer in existence, however there are owners of the holdings that remain from the work. The forum had discussions about the possible release of the source code from the game, will have to wait and see if anything comes from that.

Forum discussion – http://www.moodurian.com/tornado/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=5de61013a02dc2c382d466e2dc8a4fa5&topic=9.msg32#msg32

Another interesting discovery was the game is online and available to the public to play. The Internet Archive has a DosBox version here, https://archive.org/details/TORNADO_1020. This DosBox runs inside the web browser. The Internet Archive has cataloged over 2000 of the retro games, Tornado being one of them. Cool find!

If all this reading has made you hungry, here’s a tip Chef Ramsey gave to the crews that operate the Tornado. Cheers!

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