How to Add DOS Games to Launchbox & Big Box


For those who you who didn’t know the feature rich tool set that is Launchbox was originally intended to be a front-end for DOS Box only. It has since evolved into something much bigger supporting almost every emulator that has been developed. Because of it roots Launchbox is one of the best front-ends for MS-DOS games and the software makes it extremely easy to import your favourite DOS titles. In this “How to Add DOS Games to Launchbox” post we will take you through the full Launchbox DOSBox setup and show you everything you need to start playing your DOS games in Launchbox [Read: LaunchBox & Big Box Emulator Frontend Review]

Best Game Controllers for Emulators

Try some of the top game controllers listed below for use with Launchbox and emulators.

XBOX 360 Wireless
XBOX 360 Wireless Controller
2.4GHz wireless technology with 30-foot range. Use four controllers simultaneously. Adjustable vibration. Integrated headset port. Requires 2 AA Batteries.
XBOX 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver
XBOX 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver
Use up to four Wireless Controllers and four Wireless Headsets simultaneously. Plugs into PC USB port & has a six foot cable.
Valve Steam Controller
Valve Steam Controller
Control any PC game including those not designed for gamepad. Dual trackpads, HD haptic feedback, dual-stage triggers, back grip buttons, and customizable control schemes.
Nintendo Wii Remote
Nintendo Wii Remote
Classic controller from the Nintendo Wii games console. The perfect choice for games console emulators such as Dolphin. Requires Bluetooth & configuration. Available in multiple colours.
PS4 Dual Shock
PS4 Dual Shock Controller
Precision controller from Sony. Multiple buttons, analogue sticks & triggers. Features built-in speaker & stereo headset jack. Required Sony adapter for PC use. Great for Arcade emulators!
Mayflash Arcade Stick
Mayflash Arcade Stick
The full arcade experience! Compatible with PS4, PS3, XBOX ONE, XBOX360 & PC, Android, Switch. Supports both XINPUT & DINPUT.

How to Add DOS Games to Launchbox & Big Box

For this “How to Add DOS games to Launchbox” guide we are using Launchbox version 8.0 which is the latest available at the time of writing however these steps can be used with most versions of the application. You have probably put a lot of time and effort into developing your Launchbox gaming system so we must recommend that you take a system backup prior to making any changes. Remember that you do not need to make any changes to Big Box and that your MS-DOS games will all be carried through. [Read: How to Add Emulators to Launchbox & Big Box]

1. Starting the Launchbox DOS Game Import Wizard

Launchbox comes prepackaged with the popular emulator DOSBox for playing your old MS-DOS titles.  It also features an intuitive wizard for making the import and installation process for DOS games simple. To kick this off click on “Tools” from the main Launchbox menu and the select “Install DOS Game” as shown in the below image. [Read: How to Add ROMs to Launchbox – Import Game Collections]

dos games in launchbox
Open the Install DOS Game Wizard

On the first welcome screen you see you must enter the name of the MS-DOS game that you are looking to import. Launchbox will then use this to download information and artwork etc for you chosen game. We are going to install the popular title; Death Rally as an example. Hit next. The screen that follows asks you about the files you have for your DOS game. It asks is your MS-DOS game already installed? Here you must decide if your DOS game is a bunch of files in a folder that has already at some point been through its original install process or do you have installation media like a CD? Select the option that best suites your game. [Read: Create Launchbox Custom Playlists for your Favorite Games]

Section 2 talks about DOS games in Launchbox that are already installed. If your game is on its installation media i.e. CD or ISO skip to stage 3.

2.  Import DOS Game from Folder

The next screen you will see asks you to specify the start-up executable that the DOS game uses to Launch. Hit the browse button and a navigation window will popup. Navigate to your game executable and click “OK”. When you launch DOS games in Launchbox it is this executable the application will start. You can see from the image below that we have navigated to the executable file for Death Rally. Click “Next” when your executable has been selected. You will now see a notification saying MS-DOS installation wizard complete. “Click Finish”. [Read: How to Change Big Box Theme – Big Box Custom Themes]

launchbox dosbox setup
Game Executable Location

3. Install DOS Games from CDs & other Installation Media

If at stage 1 you told Launchbox that your game has not yet been installed you will now be asked what type of media your install files are on. You get the following options; on a physical CD, inside a CD image (ISO) or in a folder on your hard drive. Select the option that suites your installation media and then in the two screens that follow you will be asked to provide source & destination. For the source select either your physical CD drive, ISO file or the folder on your PC that your game install is located in. The destination is essentially a virtual hard drive location. If we select C:\DeathRally as the destination the root of this folder will become the C:\ drive within DOSBox and your game will be installed into a sub folder here. [Read: How to Integrate Launchbox on Kodi and get the Best of Both]

If you selected an ISO as your source you will be presented with the following screen.

Add DOS games to Launchbox

This is asking if you would like to mount your ISO file when you boot this game so that the image file appears as a real CD drive on your PC. Hit “Yes” here as this is a requirement for many games. The next screen you will see asks if you would like to copy the CD image to the destination folder? This is purely for house keeping of your computer and is up to you.[Read: Best PC Game Controllers for HTPC – Emulators & Steam]

3.1 DOSBox Game Install – Launchbox DOSBox Setup

At this point Launchbox is ready to perform the installation inside DOSBox. Hit “Next” and the installation will begin. The original MS-DOS installation program for your game title will open. Run through this installation process exactly as you would back in the day and install the game. The installation process will use the destination folder that you selected earlier. [Read: Xenia Project – The Working XBOX 360 Emulator for PC]

Add DOS games to Big Box Emulator Frontend
Death Rally Install

Once you have finished the original DOS install Launchbox will ask you; did the installation process complete successfully? If you select “Yes” the Launchbox DOSBox setup is complete. If you select “No” then the install process will run again. When you are happy that the original DOS install has completed successfully the next screen you will see asks you to browse for game startup file as shown below. Launchbox will recommend an executable or your can hit the Browse button and select this yourself. [Read: RPCS3 – The Working Playstation 3 (PS3) Emulator]

Install DOS games to Launchbox
Locate Your Startup File

You game is now playable and you can hit “Finish”. The next stage is to configure how your DOS games in Launchbox will look. [Read: Dolphin – The Nintendo Gamecube / Wii Emulator]

4. DOS Game Details, Configuration and Artwork

At this point the Launchbox DOSBox setup is complete and the game is ready to be started. We now need to tidy it up a little and configure how it is displayed in Launchbox & Big Box. The “Edit Game” screen shown below will popup showing the game title we entered earlier. To add some game information click on the “Search for Metadata” button. Launchbox will now come back with source recommendations for your game metadata from either the Launchbox database or Wikipedia. Select the most appropriate source from the drop down that follows. We recommend that you take the Launchbox database where possible. When you select a metadata option many of the fields on this screen will populate. You can make further amendments here yourself.[Read: Steam Link Review – Stream Games to Every Room]

Install MS DOS Games to Launchbox
Edit a DOS Game in Launchbox

Your game is now ready to play and we will leave most other configuration items on this page as default. Once you have provided a metadata source click on the “Download Images/Media” button to fetch down suitable game covers. Notice the series of tabs at the bottom left of the screen. These will contain the configuration that you provided to the setup wizard. Have a look at these to see what is available to you but we will not amend anything further for this game title. Click “OK” and your new game will appear under MS-DOS games in your main Launchbox menu. The add DOS games to Launchbox process is now complete. Click on the game to play. [Read: Best CPU for Emulation – Computers, Consoles & Arcades]

HMP Verdict – DOS Games in Launchbox

The Launchbox DOSBox setup makes playing your old PC titles simple. Using DOSBox without a front-end can be tricky and it can be difficult to get your games to behave how you want them to. Launchbox makes this straight forward and its excellent wizard talks you through everything you need to know. You can add DOS games to Launchbox in minutes, have them all launchable from one place and the software will ensure that they look great! [Read: Gaming On Your HTPC]