PC Games on a Cartridge

Video game consoles of the 80’s and early 90’s had cartridges that could store both the game and the save files. That way, you could go over to your friends house and bring your cartridges with you. A second benefit to having the cartridges is not having to install the games. You might be asking, how is that possible as most computer games come on a CD and require an installation. Even with cloud storage today, you still need to install the software. Even PSX games require a memory card setup, so how is this all possible? Well, this is very possible, thanks to several new technologies.

VMWare Thinapp
– SD Card Reader
– SD Card
– USB thumb drive
laptop_sdcard external_sdcard usb_thumbstick

A quick description of both pieces of software. Both are software visualization technologies, but dosbox is for DOS software and Thinapp is for software that requires installation, basically for Win95 and above.

The SD cards and USB thumb drives are perfect for portability and the storage space is very good for most software applications. Also, most laptops today have SD card readers built in. If you are using a custom built desktop and don’t want to purchase the extra SD card reader front panel, you can purchase a USB SD card reader and take that with you. If the storage device is big enough, you can store multiple games on 1 device. With using dosbox and thinapp all of your saved game data will be placed on to this SD card or USB thumbdrive so you can take it on the go!

DOSBox Game Setup

1) The DOSBox executable only requires DOSBox.exe, SDL.dll and SDL_net.dll. Places these 3 files inside of your executable folder. Either way, put the dosbox software on the SD card or USB thumb drive.

2) Configure a batch file to run the game with dosbox.



GAME BATCH FILE (game.bat)

echo “Starting Warcraft Orcs & Humans WAR”
cd “%CD%\Warcraft\”
start DOSBox.exe -conf “%CD%\Warcraft\game.conf” “%CD%\Warcraft\war.exe” -fullscreen -exit -noconsole

VMWare Thinapp Game Setup

1) Run thinapp, and press the PRE-SCAN button. This will scan your system registries and program folders. During this process, do not do ANYTHING on your computer. Let it sit.

2) Once complete, the software should say it is now safe to install your software. So at this point, you will install your video game on the computer. Install patches and replace files with no-cd cracked files if needed. Don’t forget to test if the game is in working order!

3) Everything running perfect? Press the POST-SCAN button. Don’t forget to press the 2nd radio button to say you will be placing this folder on a portable USB device. You can also select the compress option if you want. They recommend you store the data on the .dat file, but you can do the executable if you want. I highly suggest the .dat file encase the game patches later down the road.

4) Press the BUILD button, and you will have your game folder built to place on to your SD card or your USB device.

5) Create a batch file to execute the game from inside the folder. Your game starting executable for the thinapp should look like this:


start .\StarCraft\bin\Starcraft.exe


start “” “.\Diablo II\%%ProgramFilesDir%%\Diablo II\Game.exe”

So now you have your game(s) that you want to place on your hardware. What I like to do to prevent any sort of accidental deletion is hide the game folder, by right clicking and pressing Properties > Hidden checkbox. Then on the batch file right click and press Properties > Read-Only checkbox to prevent modification to this file. Your finished product should look something like this:


Here are some options to add some more fun to this project.

– Place your SD card inside an NES/SNES/Genesis/GBC cartridge and make a unique SD card reader look like a console to read these game cartridges from.

– Make your own artwork to put on the SD card, USB thumb stick or cartridge body.

– Make an autorun file to run a shortcut or build your own splash screen menu using C# winforms.