Noctis is a sixteen year old DOS game lost to time. Try running it on your hot new modern PC, and it will immediately bring up an error message and close. That’s a shame, because Noctis owns, and is something that should absolutely be shared with future generations.
A couple nights ago, I figured out how to run it, without needing a virtual machine, a USB flash drive, or dusting off an old eMachines somewhere in a garbage dump.
To do this, you’ll need at least two programs: the first is, obviously, Noctis itself. The other is D-Fend Reloaded, a frontend for DOSBox. It also includes a copy of DOSBox in the download, so you won’t need to download that, too. If you know your way around DOSBox, and can mess around with game settings no problem, you probably won’t need D-Fend. I use it for the sake of convenience, and as such, I’ll be going through the rest of the guide using it.
Keep in mind, this is meant for Windows users. I have no idea how Mac or Linux computers work, so I can’t help you there.
(This guide also assumes that you know how unzipping folders and installing programs works)
Step 1: When pointing D-Fend at the game executable, you want to make sure you DO NOT select go!.exe. Rather, you go into the “Modules” folder, and select NOCTIS.exe, instead. Otherwise, it won’t work. Everything else on this page can be skipped. The rest of the pages can be skipped, as well.
Step 2: Once that’s ready to go, it’s now time to edit the profile so we can get Noctis running properly. If you try running it now, it’ll chug along at a low framerate and crash the second you try using the GUIDE system. Given that half the game’s features are in the GUIDE system, that’s a bad idea.
So, like the screenshot demonstrates, you just right click and hit “Edit.” That will take you here:
Hit the “CPU” tab, and change the emulation core to “dynamic,” and the CPU cycles to “max.” That’s it for the important steps.
Step 3 (optional): Graphics settings. Leave both resolutions at their default. And if you don’t want to quint at your monitor (and you don’t feel like playing in full-screen), Nearest Neighbor upscaling (x2 or x3, your pick) will get you a bigger viewing window without taking away from the original graphical style.
Step 4: HAVE FUN!
That’s pretty much it. I made those few adjustments and have been running Noctis with no problem, aside from the (very) occasional frame rate drop, and I still can’t figure out if that’s a problem with DOSBox, or with Noctis itself. Otherwise, you should be solid.