Running Theme Hospital On Windows

I bought Theme Hospital recently after getting a wave of nostalgia seeing it at the bargain bin. Actually, at S$20, it wasn’t that much of a bargain. It’s been re-released by Sold-Out. Too bad GOG still has yet to get their hands on it. It will be an instant buy if it’s released there.

Theme Hospital

However, I realized that the installer is a 16-bit application. Windows 7 64-bit (or any 64-bit version of Windows for that matter) does not allow 16-bit code to run. It’s not really a bad thing. It’s very rare to stumble across a 16-bit application that you want to run. And if you do need that rare 16-bit application, most of the time it can be run in DOS. Which means one thing: DOSBox.

DOSBox is one of the most useful emulators around. It’s actually much better than installing DOS (MS-DOS or some other variant) on a virtual machine yourself. If you need to run DOS applications and not just games, DOSBox is the way to go. It’s available on every Tom, Dick, and Harry OS you can think of. Or if you are in that minority that runs that particular obscure OS, just to be “different” and a “rebel” and you think “Modern OSes sucks! The best computer is the Commodore 64!”, then I think you’re savvy enough to compile DOSBox for yourself. The source code is also available.

I popped the CD in the tray and started DOSBox. Of course, one must know how to properly mount the drives to DOSBox.

Running Theme Hospital On Windows

D: GamesDOS represents my booty of treasured DOS games and F: is my optical drive. From there, it was easy enough to run the setup program for Theme Hospital in DOS.

Once that is done, starting the game is a simple matter of inserting the CD, starting DOSBox, and remounting the drives! If you’re satisfied with this arrangement, then this will work. But of course, there is a way to streamline it further. I’m not sure about this, but the requirement of the CD isn’t a DRM check. It’s because the game requires data on the disc. Copy the “HOSP” folder on the disc to where the game is installed (or anywhere else if you prefer). Then open the HOSPITAL.CFG is a text editor of your choice. Then change the location of the INSTALL_PATH to where you have copied the HOSP folder too.

As you can see from mine, even a relative path works. I’m not sure if you need the trailing “but since it was originally included, I’d just put it there to be safe. Now you can start Theme Hospital without the need for the CD to be in the drive!


What I like to do further is make a copy of the DOSBox.conf file and add the following lines at the Autoexec section at the end:


(Replace D: GamesDOSHOSPITAL to where Theme Hospital is installed on your PC.) This way, you can simply create a shortcut to the DOSBox executable with the -conf switch and it will immediately run the game.

Tags: theme hospital

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 30th, 2010 at 9:35 pm and is filed under Gaming. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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