I used to play quite a lot of DOS based games, until I switched to the Win 2000/xp platform. As these two OSes are not based on DOS, the performance of most DOS based games under them is pretty poor (if they run in the first place). However, I found an interesting little application some time back – DOSBox. It is a DOS emulator, & is available for different platforms (Mac & Linux too). So, those who have switched to non-Windows OSes can also play the DOS games.
Being an emulator, DOSBox also lets you configure the kind of hardware you want to emulate. This means two things to say the least. First, you can setup the sound card quite easily for most games. Secondly, you can also control the CPU speed. This means that you can play those old games (1980s) which couldn’t be run due to the speed problems (running too fast).
To use the emulator, you need to mount the folder you want in it as a drive (say, c:\games as c drive), & the rest is more or less like using DOS. It is probably easier to use a frontend (check the links) for playing games though (I use D-Fend). The frontends allow you to save configurations for different games, like the CPU speed, sound, memory etc.
One problem with DOSBox is that it is pretty CPU intensive, especially if you want the sound to go with the games. If you have a recent machine that shouldn’t be too much of a concern (& if your machine is really old, it’s unlikely that you will be requiring a DOS emulator anyway).
DOSBox home page – The site also has a list of games with the level of support in the emulator.
D-Fend – a Windows based frontend for DOSBox
DBFrontend – another DOSBox frontend
DOS Games Archive – In case you don’t have those old games anymore – has demos & full versions of many DOS games