Classic Gaming – Running Populous in DOSBox

This weekend I got the urge to play Populous, a game I haven’t seen for over fifteen years. It was a favorite of mine at a younger age and a nostalgic twinge brought it back to mind. I originally encountered Populous on the Sega Genesis but was aware also of a PC version. Some brief searching on google brought me to and within five minutes I had Populous up and running in DOSBox.

DOSBox is a DOS emulator for Windows that is available from SourceForge here. More information about DOSBox is available from their website.

Abandonia is a site that offers “abandonware” (sic) DOS games. These are games that have ostensibly been abandoned by their publishers in terms of profitability1.

For those unfamiliar with the process, here are the basic steps necessary to get a game up and running in the emulator.

When you first run DOSBox, two windows will spawn. The first is a monitoring service that indicates where log files are being written and the status of the main emulator. The second is the emulator window itself. The first thing to do is mount a local folder to a drive within the emulator. This is achieved using the mount command as shown in the screenshot below. By mounting c:gamesdospopulous to c: we are performing the equivalent of inserting a floppy disk into a DOS pc.

DOSBox-howto populous

Once the drive has been mounted we switch to it with c: and then can use dir to list the contents of the drive. From here it is as simple as typing the name of the main game executable to launch it. For populous there were five options. I chose popvga3.bat to run with VGA graphics and Adlib sound. For the specifics of how to run a game it is best to refer to the instructions at or other classic-game fan sites. The instructions are usually easy to figure out or find. For example, the instructions for Populous can be found here.

1 I am not a legal authority and offer no warranty or promise that games downloaded from or anywhere on the internet are legally abandoned or available for free download. Evaluate at your own risk and please respect copyright.

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