It's quite a letdown when your favorite childhood game, that you've been longing to play once again, fails to load due to incompatibility issues with modern operating systems. Is the game forever unplayable, or is there a way to resurrect it? These are the questions that recently drove one programmer to exceptional lengths to play his beloved game, Worms 2, on a Windows 11 PC.
In the world of retro gaming, compatibility issues with old games on new systems isn't uncommon. The typical way around this involves scrolling through countless forum posts, hoping to find a solution. But Nathan Baggs, a programmer and YouTuber, decided not to take the easy route out.
Baggs had a sudden impulse to play Worms 2, a game he had fond memories of. Finding it available on GOG for less than £1, he excitedly downloaded the game but was met with disappointment. After the introductory cutscene, the game failed to progress any further. Apparently, this is a common issue associated with Windows 10. It can be rectified by downloading a ZIP file and replacing some DLL files, but Baggs had a firm policy of not downloading questionable files from unverified sources. He saw it instead as an opportunity to make the game work by himself.
His journey, documented in a new video on his channel, shows him troubleshooting the problem. Baggs found that the game was caught in a continuous loop, struggling to initialize winmm.dll, a library for Windows audio components, loaded by another library module, Win32.dll. Baggs discovered that the game always anticipates a CD-ROM load, so GOG to facilitate digital play, had patched the game's libraries to change any functions trying to load from a CD into a file instead. But this patch had a flaw that prevented it from loading on Windows 10, a nuisance for any ardent gamer wanting to play this classic.
After much technical tinkering, Baggs managed to overcome the problem, finally getting the game to load. But he noticed an anomaly once the game was up and running. A peculiar menu option seemed out of place. He eventually recognized it as a button for network play, a feature not included in the GOG re-release. Intrigued, Baggs decided to try and access the network menu for the game, succeeding by modifying the game’s code to reactivate the option. However, his victory was bittersweet, as the servers for Worms 2 had unfortunately shut down in July 2020, clarifying why GOG had never removed the menu.
Baggs' journey demonstrates not just his dedication to playing his childhood game, but also the extraordinary efforts some gamers will go to preserve the games of their past. The experience also shows the broad problem faced by retro gamers, trying to play older games on increasingly advanced systems. As the technology marches forward, more and more classic games will inevitably become unplayable on modern systems. But with determined gaming enthusiasts like Baggs, there's always a chance that these games will not be defeated by the relentless advancement of technology.
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