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The wild west might not be the most common setting for videogames, but that’s not to say there haven’t been some classic titles set in this often romanticised period in American history (as well as some stinkers!). Back in 2001, Spellbound Entertainment treated us to this curious but playable little title, which blends elements of real time strategy, stealth and puzzle solving (Wikipedia describes it as a “stealth-based real-time tactics computer game”). In the game, you take on the role of bounty hunter and all round Clint Eastwood clone John Cooper. With the help of your old crew, you’ll track down the notorious train robber known as “El Diablo”.
To install the game from CD, place the CD-ROM in your computers optical drive, but close or ignore any autorun prompts or notifications. Now, open Windows Explorer or File Explorer and browse to the CD. Find the file “DESPERADOS.EXE”, right click on it and choose “Run as administrator”. Now, simply work through the games installer as usual, performing a full installation when offered the option to do so.
If you purchased the game as a digital download from GoG.com or Steam, simply follow the instructions provided by your chosen digital marketplace to install the game.
There was just one patch released for the game. If you bought the game from GoG.com or Steam, you don’t need to install this as your game is already pre-patched. For users installing from the original CD-ROM, download the patch here. To install the patch, simply run it and follow all on-screen prompts.
Running the game
Desperados requires read/write access to its game folder when running. Ever since Windows Vista, tightened security means that programs can no longer write to their installation directories by default. If you installed the game to its default installation location (C:\Program Files (x86)\Infogrames\Desperados for the CD version) then you need to browse to this folder and set read/write permissions for your user account. For a tutorial on how to do this, click here.
If you’re not running an administrator account, you will find that when you start the game and click the “Play Desperados” link in the launcher, that you get a message saying “To play Desperados on a Windows NT system you must have administrator rights”. To work around this problem, you simply need to launch the game directly, without going through the launcher. Browse to the games folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Infogrames\Desperados by default for the CD version) and open the “Game” sub folder. In this folder there’s a file called “Game.exe”. Run this file directly to start your game without the annoying “Must be run as administrator” prompt. If you need to create/update shortcuts on your Start menu to point to this file, see this tutorial.
Windows Vista and 7 users can now skip ahead to “Tweaking game settings”, while Windows 8 and 10 users should read the next section “fixing frame-rate issues”.
Fixing frame-rate issues
While Desperados should run fine in Windows 7 and earlier versions of Windows, it runs extremely slowly in Windows 8 and Windows 10. This is due to some changes Microsoft made to the legacy Direct Draw compatibility in newer versions of Windows. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. All you need to do is use the excellent dgVoodoo2 DirectX wrapper software. You can find a tutorial on this excellent package here. To use dgVoodoo2 with Desperados, you must copy the files into the Game sub folder in the Desperados game folder. Desperados is a DirectX/DirectDraw game, so use the dgVoodoo2 files from the “MS” sub-folder.
Note that the dgVoodoo2 fix is also required for the GoG and Steam re-releases of the game too.
Tweaking game settings
Before you saddle up and get too far into the game, you might want to take a moment to make sure your wild west adventures look as pristine as possible. Start a new game then press the “Escape” key. Now, from the menus that appear, choose “Options” and then “Graphics”. Here you can turn on all the special effects and also turn the resolution up to the maximum of 1024×768. This will make the game look dramatically better.
While you’re busy tinkering with settings, you should also check that the sound options have the audio set to “Stereo” and “High res”.
Frame-rate issues with dgVoodoo2 installed – If you still get poor performance even after installing dgVoodoo2, then check that you placed the dgVoodoo2 libraries into the “Game” sub folder. You can always turn on the dgVoodoo2 watermark to make sure that it is working correctly.
Problems saving games – Like many older games, Desperados requires read/write access to its installation directory. If you installed the game into the program files or program files (x86) folders, you may find that the default Windows security settings prevent the game from saving any data. To fix this problem set the permissions on your game folder so that your user account has full control/read write permissions. You can find a tutorial on how to configure folder permissions here.
Click on the screenshot to enlarge it.