FC5025: The Mystery of the Blue Disk
So as you may or may not have noticed, I’ve been a DOS/PC gamer since I can remember, dating back to a Tandy 1000 in the mid 80’s (640k of RAM whoo hoo!) Combine this with the fact I tend to be a
hoarder pack-rat, and you wouldn’t be surprised to read that I have a big stack of 5.25″ disks… rather, I have several big stacks all over the place. Since my girlfriend and I set up a game room last August, I’ve been itching get a few disks going to see what’s on them since I consolidated everything gaming in one central location. I know what’s on the ‘labeled’ disks and I’ve covered some of these games in previous articles, but I’m actually more interested in the shareware/obscureware disks. The game room has an old Pentium 4 based eMachine computer that served me well for almost 10 years, but no 5.25″ floppy drive. (I could fire up my old 386, but it needs a power supply and a battery soldered to the motherboard.. ergo, it sits in the closet).
With the help of my generous girlfriend, I built a modern PC as a result of some very nice Christmas gifts. (Intel i5, Asus P8z77-VLK motherboard, 16 GB G.Skill Ram, EVGA Nvidia GTX 550 Ti.. I’m very happy)
My only disappointment was the lack of a floppy cable connector on the motherboard. I’ve never really been deeply involved in PC building, but I had installed cards/fixed things in the past. As a result, this was my first build where I really paid attention to a motherboard. Apparently, these floppy connectors have been lacking for about 5 – 10 years now. Oops. I knew that, really. Wondering if there was a way to use the drive from my 386, I did some
research Googling and found the FC5025 USB >> 5.25 floppy controller by Device Side Data. Jumping head first into the pool, I bought, received, and installed the card along with my old Mitsumi 5.25″ floppy disk drive I stole from my closet-dwelling 386 (not before painting the face with automotive “Trim Black” paint to match the rest of the hardware.) It came with a ribbon cable and a USB cord. The card mounts nicely in any standard hard disk bay and comes with some software to access programs that is fairly easy to use.
So what was on this magical blue disk that’s been haunting me off and on for over a year? I came across this disk when I cleaned up the basement. Hazy memories of using it flashed across my mind. “ADVENTURER” The title taunted me. Google searches revealed nothing. I carefully inserted the 5.25″ disk into the drive, as if I were inserting a dilithium crystal into the warp core of the starship Enterprise. Running the disk image program that came with the FC5025 card and selecting “MS-DOS 360K” from the disk selection screen, the drive LED illuminated and the whole thing creaked to life. Two files I recognized were listed, along with a bunch of supporting files.
BEYOND is actually a text game – Beyond the Titanic. You are a passenger on the ship of the same name, right before it sinks. You survive the sinking, only to end up in an underground complex that you must both figure out what it is, and how to escape! Interestingly enough, this game is by Apogee. Yes, that Apogee. It’s now available as freeware , and is a decent play if you are into text adventures.
SAILING leads to, well, Sailing: An Adventure in The Bermuda Triangle. It’s surprisingly well done game which has you pilot a sailboat with the goal of rescuing people stranded in the ocean. The control is keyboard based, and you must learn to ‘sail with the wind’, all while avoiding Bermuda Triangle-like storms and whirlpools. Bear in mind, this was released in 1983. I played the eff out of this game in elementary school. I’d say both deserve a fair shake for different reasons. Of course they need DosBox. The FC5025 can create a disk image that works neatly in a ton of emulators, including DOSBox. I’ll say this blue disk isn’t what I expected at all!
I’ve had about a 50% success rate with saving these old disks. Some are damaged due to improper storage, and some were damaged long ago physically and I just never threw them out. The FC5025 won’t write data to 5.25″ disks, only read them, but with a price tag (as of this writing) of around $60, I can deal with that, as I only wanted to be able to rip data to use in DOSBox. It will also read Commodore, Apple, TI, Atari disks and more. I’ll be back with a more traditional console game next week, but I wanted to share my latest
toy tool I’ll be using to present more games and to rip data from disks I have hanging around. The Commodore 64 I picked up last fall also came with a few disks that I’ll be able to access now. Besides, something just seems ‘wrong’ about a 5.25″ disk mounted above a DVD burner in 2013. Good idea? Bad idea? Comments below!