Wing Commander II Took Its Installation Guide Very Seriously

Wing Commander II Took Its Installation Guide Very Seriously

You know how these days you just download your PC games, maybe tweak a few settings? As Redditor FhjullForkedTongue points out, back in 1991 PC game installation was a bit more intense. DIRE WARNINGS FOLLOW. Back then, buying a PC game was the beginning of an adventure fraught with danger. How many disks would have to be swapped? How much hard drive space would we need? Would HIMEM.SYS come into play, because I don’t know if I can handle that?

According to the full install guide for Wing Commander II, the answers are seven plus three if you want voice instead of subtitles, at least 1MB of space for minimal installation, and not only HIMEM.SYS but EMM386.EXE as well. And be sure to do all of those things properly, or the planet — nay, the very universe could be doomed.

Wing Commander II Took Its Installation Guide Very Seriously

Intense, right? And that “several hours of your time” doesn’t mean running off to do something else while your data downloads. That’s sitting in front of the computer, typing in commands, modifying configuration files and swapping discs. Back then we worked to enjoy “one of the most powerful entertainment products available”, and we loved it.

Now get off my lawn or I’ll be VERY ANGRY.



  • First game I ever bought. $110. Which is a lot for a 12 year old. I played it on a 286 that ran at 12mhz with 640k of Ram.

    It did not run well. I replayed it a few years later on a 486sx at 100mhz and it was a lot happier.

    • While I first played it on my brother’s PC, later I played the Amiga version (!!) which was definitely A Thing, although unfortunately it was quite a Slow Thing. With horribly dithered 16-colour graphics. Since Amiga Wing Commander was targeted at the A500 (which was about half as fast as a 12MHz 286) you can imagine what it was like.

      (While Amiga users often trumpeted it’s 4096 colour HAM mode, HAM was incredibly fiddly to actually use – I believe only one game was ever published that actually used it. HAM worked by having two bits per pixel which either chose from a palette of 16 colours, or modified exactly one of the R, G or B components of the pixel. The result often looked surprisingly good, but generating HAM images dynamically was a nightmare.)

      • Wow. So technical! Amiga was only a concept for me. I always only had access to MS-DOS machines.

    • Wtf? Where the hell did you ever pay $110 for Wing Commander 2 in the 90s, I never, ever saw a pc game priced that high then???

      Major issue with even *getting* WC2 to run on a 286 (if you could and were that lucky) was it was created for the 386 processor primarily. Hence using EMM386 to access enhanced graphics and sound. Oh those were the days…

      • I remember paying $75 for the very first Need for Speed, and that was early-mid 90s. Considering inflation, that’s damn expensive! Games are still around $75 20 years later! whoah!

      • I remember plenty of PC games being around the $100 mark ‘back in the day’, so $110 isnt a stretch for me. Something like Wing Commander was a AAA game back then, and would have had a hefty price tag in a lot of stores.

        In a different way, what would that $100 be worth today? If you think about it from an inflation point of view, games have never been cheaper than they are today. That $100 would be the equivalent of over $200 today.

        • I remember trying to convince my parents to buy Command & Conquer in ’95 and that was around $100 at the time.

          Worth every penny though!

          • It was Civ 2 for me in 1996 (came out a week after I bought my first PC for myself) and I was well and truly working at the time, but the struggle was just as real. Ended up my dad bought it, so I just took his copy.

            And again, worth every penny. 🙂

      • It was at my local Brookside. I can’t remember the name of the shop. It was probably Tandy, Myer or The Disk Shop. It had only just come out so it was a big deal at the the time.

        It didn’t have the hand at the bottom or debris when you shot the enemy ships, because I had no extended ram. I still thought it was the greatest game ever though.

        I really wish I could go back in time to experience the excitement that I used to get from computer games. There was nothing else like it for me back then.

        • Sorry didn’t mean to make it sound like I was calling you a liar, no doubt there were opportunists manipulating people for maximum profit back then. The late 90s were when we started getting a hold on regular pricing but damn 110… wow.

          • Stop for a second and think of what you pay for a full AAA game these days. With DLC, expansions, episodes, etc it adds up quickly if you get them all day one.

            These were the equivalent back in the day of Starcraft 2 with all the xpacks. Something that you’d be spending well over $200 if you bought everything day 1.

          • Haha. It’s a little late for me to be feeling sore over getting price gouged. I was 12 years old and it was almost 25 years ago. It’s all good man. And I TOTALLY got my money’s worth from that game.

      • ACTCOM at Belconnen Mall in the ACT.
        Also, Space Quest V – 99.95
        Quest for Glory IV – 99.95
        Wing Commander 3 – 119 – had half a dozen discs.

        I still have the boxes with the tags.

        • Goddamn :O The Price gouging was extreme back then!!!!!! I heard of stores back in the early 90s who would screw people bad but damn. Our local store, a shop called “Nothing But Games” charged no more than 79.95 thankfully.

  • Chris Roberts doesn’t mess around. Hence why Star Citizen being the most ambitious project on the horizon in a world of safe re skins and why so many people have supported it.

  • I remember my brother buying this. Was a looooooong boring day of waiting haha.

  • I only played WC2 when I bought the Kilrathi Saga trilogy which had WC1-3 optimised for Win95. It was on CD too from memory. Still have the box and it came with some cool goodies too. I’ve got the original boxed versions of WC4 and 5 also.

    Still bought the entire WC collection on GOG a couple years ago for about $15 though.

  • Bugger that. I remember games that didn’t come on any disk put in the back of a book. As in, you had to literally type pages of jumbled code and characters into the computer and run some compiler or something and it would build the game for you.

    Loved WC, though. I still have 1 and 3 in their boxes and even the fighter blueprint posters from 1 that were used as a form of copy protection back then.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!