Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive

Genre: Real Time Tactics, Stealth
Release Year: 2001
Developer: Spellbound Entertainment
Publisher: Infogrames
Age Rating: 12+
Playability Status: Perfect
Tested On: Windows 10 x64
Availability: Copyright retained - Still sold

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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 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 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.


The games opening level running on Windows 10. Screenshot taken using Evolve.



  1. Tobias Seidel says:

    Hello , my name is Tobias .

    After I followed your tips for configuration of Desperados , it runs better than ever with Windows 10. But whenever I . The ” visual cone ” , it increased again and runs unplayable slow Do you have any configuration tips for ” voodoo ” with which I could fix the problem ?

    Apologies possibly ambiguous expression , I have translated Googel .

    Thanks in advance!

  2. boss says:

    When I do that, a prompt says install newer version of Directx. My directx version in 10.1. Any idea?

  3. Swenson84 says:

    I have slowing problem. I try this
    Works for me on W7 X64, have glithes in menu and text but not ingame and works with Robin Hood :)

  4. Kean says:

    I can’t understand how and what to copy files in vgvoodoo. Please help. I want to improve the graphics of my game. Thankyou.

  5. mzso says:

    Sadly, it’s rather slower than normal, even with dgvoodoo. (Though it might be playable.)

    Anyone tried it with this wined3d build?
    For me it crashes as soon as I move the mouse in-game.

    • mzso says:

      So the maker of the windows WineD3D builds claims that it crashes because of direct input.
      Does anyone know of any third party direct input dlls (dinput.dll and dinput8.dll) that might work? (Especially ones tweaked for windows 8)

    • BuckoA51 says:

      make sure in dgVoodoo too that on the “DirectX” tab, “Fast video memory access” is selected. Should run at full speed then.

      • mzso says:

        I did. Without that it’s uselessly slow

      • mzso says:

        Someone suggested to increase RAM usage to 1024MB. (I didn’t know you can add manual values into that input field, it’s a bit awkwardly made) And it did help a lot. I think it runs at fool speed now.
        So I think you can add this tip to the guide.

  6. mzso says:


    I was pointed to this DDrawCompat:

    It works really well! (v0.2.1) The game runs at full speed. There’s only a short (2s) hang whenever I quicksave or pause the game.

  7. Tobye says:

    Hi! I’m trying to copy the files into the Game sub-folder but it says that there not enough disk space for the dll files to be copied over, help!

  8. dirkus says:

    The game runs perfectly until i turn on the visual cones. Fast video memory access is selected, but the framerate still drops. Is there any other option i can use?

  9. JossBeaumont17 says:

    Hi thanks for the tutorial it works great ! :)

    Only a small issue remains when I go in the escape menu and try and save the game it doesn’t work. It only saves at the end of each mission. And they could be long sometimes :D

    I tried the tutorial you are mentionning in “Problem saving games”. I still cannot click on save in the escape menu.

    Do you know what could be the issue ?

  10. Roya says:

    I’m running dgVoodoo 2.53 on a Windows 10 with DirectX 11.1 with “NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M”.
    I copies all the files in “MS” sub folder to “Game” sub folder. Directed the path to the folder where the Desperados.exe is sitting (the same folder where “Game” sub folder is sitting).
    Turned on “dgVoodoo watermark” and “Fast video memory access”.
    When I try to run the game it says: “Please install a newer version of DirectX”.

    Should I have done something else?

    Any help is appreciated.

  11. Anry says:

    Have anyone tried to run it in Dosbox+win95? I was able to run many windows games there, and heard that commandos which is similar works just fine in win95 thru dosbox

    • BuckoA51 says:

      Seems a lot of faff for a game that can usually be coaxed into working natively in Windows 10.

      • Anry says:

        I can’t quite agree. If you made something run in DosBox that means you made it run everywhere: mac, pc, linux, android, even browser. There are ports of that emulator on most platforms, and looks like it will be available forever. In addition to that DosBox has all that useful stuff like screen capture, lossless video recording, speed control, screen scaling. So imo, it makes sense. So far surprisingly i was able to run in DosBox most of the win95 games i tried, like Outlaws, Red baron 3d, Diablo, Sudden Strike 2, f/a-18 hornet- and they all run perfectly.

      • Anry says:

        I eventualy got it working under DosBox. It works well in DosBox SVN Daum build with win98lite and win95osr1 systems installed. Absolutelly playable, performance is solid, no crashes, but it suffers from sound stuttering, especially during script scenes, which seems like software problem, since its similar on diffirent computers with diffirent performance. Enabling v-sync in dosbox conf improves it somewhat, but not completelly. Haven’t found solution yet.

  12. popo_de_la_fleur says:

    hi friends

    so i got dgVoodoo 2.53 on windows 8.1.
    In the first level everything runns perfect. but everytime i try to start the second level, the game crashes after the loading sequence.
    can anybody help?

  13. valentin says:


    Thank you for this solution.
    I have Desperados in CD version and i play in W10 / 64 bits.
    I follow your instruction but the game is always slow…
    I had use the patch in the first place (many files had replace).
    Then i use the latest version of voodoo (2.55)
    When you said “put the files into game folder” is it the main desperados folder or the “game folder” into the main folder ?
    Indeed, if i put the .ddl folder in the “game” folder and voodoo inside, when i launch the game after have configue voodoo, i have this messgae : “re-install direct X”.

    can you help me to configure the file please ?

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