Initial shareware release
Full version released (5 3.5" floppy
Anniversary Edition (CD-ROM; contains the
"Levels of the World" add-on levels, as well as an updated
The Ultimate Edition / DI+II (2+ CD-ROMs;
contains the D1 Anniversary Edition, D2, D2: Vertigo, and Descent
Mission Builder II.
The first game in the series,
DESCENT: First Strike, features 30 levels,
including 3 secret levels; the shareware release contains the first 7
levels. It has modem, serial, and LAN netgame support, as well as
many options for graphics and sound (e.g., the CD-ROM version has a
"-640x480" command-line switch for high resolution
gameplay). Joysticks including the MS Sidewinder, CH Flightstick
Pro, Logitech Wingman Extreme and Gravis Gamepad, as well as the
standard mouse, are supported. It also seems to have virtual
reality headset support, but I've never seen one, nor do I know where
to find one.
IBM/compatible running DOS 5.0+, 386/33+, 4MB+
RAM, hard disk
486/66+, 8MB+ RAM, SoundBlaster or compatible
sound card with General MIDI
7MB (shareware) / 16MB (CD-ROM)
Windows 95/98, XP
If you are going to run the DOS version of DESCENT under Windows 95 or
98, you shouldn't have any problems with sound as long as you have a
SoundBlaster or General MIDI-capable ISA sound card (e.g. a
SoundBlaster 16 ISA, Gravis Ultrasound, etc.); PCI sound cards are not
likely to work. With Windows XP, it will most likely not have
sound, unless you have
installed. For a better alternative for XP and up, see below.
Network Game Support
Requirements:Null modem cable (for serial play); 9600+ baud
modem and ISP (for Internet play), or network card and an
IPX-compatible network driver (for LAN play).
• For IPX netgames in Win9x, simply installing Microsoft's
IPX/SPX protocol does the job; if you want to run DESCENT in DOS mode
instead of Win9x, once in real-mode type "net start
nwlink" at the command prompt to enable IPX. (I believe
Windows for Workgroups 3.1x also supports this command.)
• For DOS 6.22 and earlier, IPX support is a bit more
complicated; you need a minimum of three drivers to create the IPX
"stack"—LSL.COM, IPXODI.COM, and a
DOS driver for your network card. I'm not sure exactly where to
get them, but searching Google for "ipx dos" should help.
• DOSBox, of course, has its own IPX support built-in, so
you might want to go that way instead of hassling with ancient network
drivers and hardware to run the game.
• For UDP support, use D1X-Rebirth.
Where to Find It
Shareware: Piece of cake;
Games has versions 1.1-1.4 (just download 1.4).
Full Version (CD-ROM): You're not likely to find it in an
actual brick-and-mortar retailer unless you're lucky enough to know a
place that sells old used software.
Some places to look online:
• You can search for "descent pc cdrom" or
similar on eBay (I bought a copy
there) or other online merchants like
Amazon.com; the same search should
return hits for DESCENT II as well. If you're lucky, you'll find
one with the manual included.
• If you'd like to save money and the risk of buying it
used, I recommend you consider the DESCENT I +
II collection from
Games, a digital distributor specializing in older game titles made
compatible with modern hardware and Windows XP+, DRM-free, and sold at
very low prices (the DI+II pack is $6—neat, huh?). Be
aware, though, that it's a 548MB download (mostly because of the D2
movies and Redbook audio). GOG's DI+II pack is the same as the
one that was sold as a 2-CD set back in 1996, except that it uses
DOSBox to run.
Playing under DOSBox
DESCENT works well under DOSBox, as of version 0.73; both the shareware
and CD-ROM/GOG versions are supported.
• I usually use a CPU setting of core=dynamic and
cycles=max, with EMS enabled. However, YMMV depending on the speed of
• Using DOSBox IPX: In an IPX game using DOSBox, one
computer on the network needs to be the server and all others to be
clients. On the server computer you would type "IPXNET
STARTSERVER", then run DESCENT and host the game.
Clients would type "IPXNET CONNECT <hostname or IP
of server>", then run DESCENT and join the game. For
more information, read the DOSBox documentation.
Windows XP/Vista/7 (32- and 64-bit), Mac OS X, Mac
OS 9, any POSIX-compatible OS (build from source)
The original game's data files: DESCENT.HOG
and DESCENT.PIG; these can be from the shareware, CD-ROM, or
GOG versions; an OpenGL-capable graphics card.
Install Size (v0.57.1)
4.4MB (base) / 16MB (with game data)
Nearly identical to the DOS versions; requires a Macintosh PowerPC with
Mac OS 7 or later. (I do not know if it will run in OS X Classic
Mode, but I doubt it would work well if it did.) The CD-ROM
version (distributed by MacPlay) requires the CD to run, as it uses
Redbook audio, like DESCENT II.
• I have yet to find a key layout on the Mac that suits my
style of play; complicating matters is the fact that it's a PowerBook,
and thus has a slightly different KB layout to begin with.
• With OS 8.5, USB support, and GameSprockets (or an actual
gameport, if there is such a thing for Mac), you might be able to get a
USB joystick to work, but I haven't tried yet.
•With third-party software such as MacIPX, you can play
netgames between Macs, or (I suppose) other IPX-connected computers.
Availability: The MacPlay CD-ROM is harder to find than
the DOS CD-ROM or I+II collection, but not impossible; I found one on
eBay at the same time as my DOS copy. So, as before, check eBay or
Amazon.com. I am still looking for a reliable source for the
Sony Playstation (PSX)
Despite my classic gaming background, I don't have a Playstation 1 (or
PSX, if you prefer), nor do I have plans to find one used, as I already
have 4 old Nintendo systems to juggle (SNES, N64, GC, and GBA);
nevertheless, I was slightly intrigued when I read that a version of
DESCENT was made for the Playstation. From what I've read, it's
the same as the DOS version.
Availability: I suggest checking eBay or Amazon.com; you
might be able to find it.
The beveled panels, buttons, and page design are ©2011
Thomas Keith / Insectoid.
The fonts for the banners and dark grey sidebar buttons are TrueType versions
of the fonts from DESCENT II; ©1997 Harald Koenigsperger (Wild Style
DESCENT is a registered trademark of Interplay Productions.
DESCENT, DESCENT II, and all related content and images are ©1995, 1996
Parallax Software Corporation.
DXX-Rebirth and D1X-Rebirth are ©Christian Beckhaeuser.
All other copyrights and trademarks are property of their respective owners.