Say what you like about games design guru Peter Molyneux, his games are nothing if not ambitious. When Bullfrog Productions decided to make a game about flying on magic carpets, rather than just produce a simple shooting game, Molyneux’s team instead came out with this engrossing and innovative strategy title. Playing as an apprentice wizard in the great wizard war, you will need to fly around on your carpet fighting creatures, possessing villages and battling other wizards too. While the game feels dauntingly complex initially, perseverance pays off and this often overlooked classic PC title is well worth a second look.
To prepare your PC to run this game, use our DOSBox guide here. Set up DOSBox with the SVGA configuration we detail on that page.
Before starting the game there’s a setting you need to change in your DOSBox options file. Search for “Dosbox Options” on the Start menu or Start screen, and the file will open in Notepad. Find the section that begins “[cpu]”. Now, change the line that reads “cycles=auto” to read “cycles=fixed 70000” (do not copy the quotation marks). Magic Carpet also has a simple stereo 3D mode, if you want to check out this mode then use “cycles=fixed 140000” instead, since this mode is more processor intensive.
Don’t forget to change this value back to “cycles=auto” when you run your other games. Save the file and now you can move on to installation. If you want to avoid having to change this file every time you play, see our tutorial on custom DOSBox configuration files.
To install the game, place the Magic Carpet CD-ROM in your computers optical drive. Start DOSBox with the CD-ROM mounted as per our guide. We will assume you have mounted the CD-ROM as drive letter D for this example.
With DOSBox running, enter the following commands to install the game, pressing enter after each one.
At this point the games installer should start in DOSBox. The first thing you need to do is select a language. Choose your preferred language then click on the little blue globe icon near the bottom right of the screen (it looks like a bookmark sticking out of the book).
The installer will then ask you about sound settings. This is a throwback to the DOS days when configuring sound hardware was extremely complicated. Choose the following options and everything should work just fine in DOSBox.
Sound Source:- Soundblaster 16
Music Source:- Soundblaster 16 FM
Sound IO:- 220
Sound IRQ:- 2
Sound DMA:- 0
Once you have configured these settings the game should start. You may need to watch the intro just once, but in future pressing the spacebar should skip it.
The installer actually copies data to a folder on your DOSBox virtual C drive called CARPET.CD. If you ever need to reinstall the game, you simply delete this folder. Of course if you do so you will lose any saved games too. To start the game in the future, do not try to open this folder, instead run the “CARPET.EXE” from the CD-ROM, exactly like you did when installing the game.
Tweaking visual options
There are one or two visual options you will want to enable when playing the game. First of all, start a game and then press the following keys:-
R – Changes the game to “high res” mode. This mode is basically 640×480 or 480p, far from what is considered high res by modern standards, but better than 1994’s idea of low res.
F5 – Toggles reflections on and off
F6 – Toggles the sky (clouds and other effects) on and off
Although the games manual mentions joystick support, we could find no way of enabling joysticks while playing the game. Fortunately our old friend Xpadder comes to the rescue once again. Below is a picture of our Xpadder profile for the game.
The layout is fairly basic. The left analogue stick is set to emulate the mouse. We found flying the carpet around with the analogue stick much easier than with the mouse, but your air-miles may vary. The analogue triggers control acceleration, while the right analogue stick can also be used to speed up and slow down as well as strafe left and right. Spells are cast by pressing either A or B. Y enters the spell select menu.
Pressing Start will pause the game and pressing Back will take you back up from a menu.
There are some special functions that we mapped to the D-pad. Pressing L on the keyboard will destroy your castle and pressing R will restart the level. Because you don’t want to press these accidentally, you need to hold down Shift while you press them for it to take effect. We mapped shift to the X button so when playing with this Xpadder profle, you need to press X and left or right on the D-pad together for these functions.
Magic Carpet can be an intimidating game for the new player. Rather than give you a tutorial level, the game simply throws you in at the deep end with little idea of what to do. The instruction manual isn’t great at explaining it either. The object of the game is to capture mana. You get mana from killing creatures, possessing villages and fighting other wizards. On the first level look for pots, these are spells, you will need to find the posses spell to capture mana and the fireball spell to fight creatures. You also need to find a castle spell in order to create a castle. When you find mana around, you must cast your posses spell on it to change it into your own colour. A little balloon will then launch from your castle and come and collect it for you.
There are a few gameplay videos on Youtube to help you, one of the better ones is here. Although the player is playing the expansion pack rather than the original game, it still gives you a good idea of how to play.