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A-10 Tank Killer: Running in DOSBox


Version 1.5 splash screen
Version 1.5 splash screen

This is my guide to running the original A-10 Tank Killer and A-10 Tank Killer Version 1.5 under DOSBox Staging.


Due to the large size of the previous Gunship guide, this will be a little different. Other posts will be referenced, which provide background to a topic. The rest of this guide will be very focussed on getting A-10 Tank Killer / Version 1.5 running under DOSBox.



Which version?


See A-10 Tank Killer: A version retrospective for a discussion on versions. The preferred versions are:


  • Original A-10 Tank Killer v1.4

  • A-10 Tank Killer Version 1.5 (v1.52b1)

Version 1.52b1 doesn't fix the joystick dead-zone issue but also includes mouse fixes which may be useful.


Game folders


I use my DOSBox game folder scheme described in DOSBox game management. So in my case I have a D:\games\dos\A-10 Tank Killer folder with the following sub folders:


  • fdd (floppy disk drive, DOSBox A: drive), floppy disk images.

  • hdd (hard disk drive, DOSBox C: drive), folder used as hard disk by DOSBox.

  • cd (cd drive, DOSBox D: drive), cd images.

  • conf (DOSBox configuration file).

  • docs (manuals, other docs, etc.)


Installation


A retro simmer loads his DOSBox config
A retro simmer loads his DOSBox config

A-10 Tank Killer is an old game with a number of releases over the years that have been archived into a wide variety of formats. The Dynamix install utility in use at the time, SmartStart can make thing a little more complicated, as it can be picky on where it is, or where it thinks it is on disk. Here are some of the examples I've come across:





From floppy image


Original A-10 Tank Killer was released on 2 x 3.5" 720k disks or 4 x 5.25" 360k disks, so you may find 2 or 4 disk images. A-10 Tank Killer Version 1.5 was released on 4 x 3.5" 720k disks so you should find 4 disk images.


Mount the C: drive and the disk images (in order) as the A: drive in the DOSBox configuration file:

[autoexec]

imgmount A "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk01.img" "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk02.img" -t floppy -ro

mount C "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\hdd"

Run DOSBox, go the A: drive and run install.exe to run the SmartStart installer. There may be an option to copy A-10 Tank Killer to the hard disk, select it. Midway you will probably need to switch to the other disk image(s) with <CTRL>-F4.


If it's a very early original A-10 Tank Killer release there might not be an install to hard disk option (yes it's that old). If that is the case, you need to manually copy all of the files from the floppy image onto the hard disk, remember to switch to the other images once one disk is complete.


Run the installer from the hard disk to setup graphics and sound options to complete installation.


From combined floppy image folder


Depending on the disk images you find, SmartStart may fail to install. This was the case when I tried to install using 4 disk images:

[autoexec]

imgmount A "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk01.img" "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk02.img" "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk03.img" "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk04.img" -t floppy -ro

mount C "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\hdd"

I had all the files but they were spread across disk images in a way the installer wasn't happy with. This can be solved by creating a single large floppy folder, fdd-inst (or any name you want) and mounting it as an E: drive:

[autoexec]

imgmount A "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk01.img" "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk02.img" "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk03.img" "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk04.img" -t floppy -ro

mount C "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\hdd"

mount E "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd-inst"

Run DOSBox and copy the files from each disk image onto the E: drive. Quit DOSBox once complete.


Now we need to mount fdd-inst as our A: drive (as the installer may complain if we don't)

[autoexec]
# commented out
# imgmount A "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk01.img" "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk02.img" "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk03.img" "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd\disk04.img" -t floppy -ro

mount C "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\hdd"

# Was E now A
mount A "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\fdd-inst" -t floppy

Run DOSBox and run the SmartStart installer, install A-10 to the hard disk. Remember to run the installer from the hard disk once more to set graphics and sound options to complete installation.


From cd


If you have a compilation cd image in a DOSBox supported format (.iso or .cue/.bin) then they can be mounted as a cd and the cd installer run as normal in DOSBox. There may be Windows based installers as well as DOS installers on cd compilations, so check and run the correct DOS one.


For some of the unsupported cd image formats you may have to use a 3rd party tool to mount the image in Windows and then copy the A-10 folder on the cd image to your DOSBox cd folder.


So in my case I copied an a10 folder to

D:\games\dos\A-10 Tank Killer\cd\a10 

The installer expected to be on a cd and in an a10 folder so my drives were mounted as follows:

[autoexec]
mount C "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\hdd"
mount D "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\cd" -t cdrom

I could then run the installer successfully in DOSBox from the D: drive. Remember to choose the full install from cd.


From zipped folder


To install from a zipped folder simply unzip the contents into your hdd folder. Run the A-10 installer in DOSBox to set graphics and sound options to complete installation.


Patching


The patches are normally zipped up so they'll need to be unzipped first, you can unzip them directly into the A-10 installation folder under the hdd folder, although I normally use an intermediate folder first.


Original A-10 Tank Killer v1.4 patch


You'll need to find the A-10 patch, A1014.ZIP. Unzip this file and run the patch executable A1014.EXE in the A-10 installation folder.


A-10 Tank Killer Version 1.5 (v1.52b1 patch)


You'll need to find the A-10 patch, A10PATCH.ZIP. Unzip this file and run the patch executable PATCH.EXE in the A-10 installation folder. If a cd releases is used, this step can be skipped, as they already include this patch.


DOSBox Setup


The DOSBox Staging video and rendering setup defaults provide a solid set of options that don't need to be tweaked for either version of A-10 Tank Killer.


Midi setup


For a discussion on midi setup see DOSBox midi. For DOSBox Staging the versioned MT-32 roms are used. The VOGONS wiki page List of MT-32-compatible computer games indicates MT-32 old roms are optimal for A-10 Tank Killer Version 1.5 and there is no preference for the original A-10 Tank Killer.


Controller issues


They're not happy with the joystick handling either
They're not happy with the joystick handling either

For an in-depth look at modern HOTAS controller configuration for retro flight sims, take a look at my series of posts, Controllers and retro sims.


Original A-10 Tank Killer v1.4 has the best joystick handling of any version in the series and is perfectly playable with a modern stick.


Unfortunately any of 1.5 versions took a large step back by introducing a large joystick dead-zone, which affects stick usage to such a degree that keyboard is still the preferred control mechanism for Version 1.5.


All versions of A-10 use the keyboard for throttle control. The rudder axis can be mapped to a second joystick, so for those with a twist joystick axis or pedals, this is an option.


My example config


This is my example config with the changes/options most likely to change from the DOSBox Staging default.

[sdl]
fullscreen          = false
fullresolution      = desktop
windowresolution    = default
viewport_resolution = fit

[render]
aspect			= true
glshader			= crt-auto
integer_scaling	= vertical

[cpu]
cycles    = fixed 3000
cycleup   = 100
cycledown = 100

[midi]
mididevice = mt32
mpu401     = intelligent

[mt32]
model       = mt32_old
romdir      = "D:\Midi\Versioned"

[joystick]
joysticktype                = 4axis
timed                       = true
swap34                      = true
deadzone                    = 0

[autoexec]
mount C "D:\Games\Dos\A-10 Tank Killer\hdd"

# specific to the release I use
C:
cd sierra\a10
call a10cd.bat
exit

Manuals


There are manuals available on the cd releases but they require Windows help applications no longer available under Windows 10. You could install a retro Windows version in DOSBox-X or PCem, but there are pdf versions of the A-10 manual available and easily found, rendering a retro Windows install unnecessary.


Running


Before running the game, ensure the mouse has been captured by the DOSBox window. When the game starts it will attempt to detect the mouse, it may fail to do so if the mouse isn't captured, disabling the mouse in game.





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